Post Prayer Speech 1947-11-18


Mahatma Gandhi


You must have read the resolutions¹ passed by the All-India Congress Committee. Some of those resolutions are useful in our life—in a good part of our life. It may as well be said that they are useful in the life of every man. They are not the resolutions merely to be implemented by the Government. For instance, the resolution on controls is the one which has to be implemented by Jawaharlal, Rajendra Prasad—now Rajendra Prasad is out—and also by others. They have to implement the policy of control on food, cloth and every other thing. We too have to do the same thing. If we resort to cheating and do not abide by the law, the result would be disastrous. When we can do with one yard of cloth, why should we buy ten yards and try to convince ourselves that no harm will be done if it is bought and tucked away in the house? If we develop such an attitude, become self-centred and not think of India we will turn into rogues.

The resolutions of the All-India Congress Committee are so important that I wanted to explain them to you one by one. I am still here, and I shall say something about the resolutions if I get a chance. But let me at least tell you the substance today. There is a resolution about bringing back the people who have left their homes in panic and this resolution applies to everybody. All of us, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, belong to India. What if India has been divided? All of us have to shoulder the responsibility because we are all brothers. If only one individual goes on stuffing his belly and does not care for the poor—if he eats for pleasure—he is stealing and commits a crime against India. What if India does not possess all the foodgrain she requires? The poor also should get foodgrain. If the rich get just a few chhataks² and are able to manage with the same I would consider that the rich and the poor have become equal. Apart from anyone else, let me talk about the rich person in whose house I am living. If you ask me whether Shri Ghanshyamdas manages with his legitimate quota, I would say he does not. I have got to tell the truth after all. Because he is a man of means, he is able to procure everything. I do not know if all those who come here are able to have milk. I get milk. I do not know how and from where that milk comes. His idea is to somehow get milk for me, whether he has to keep one goat or two; and to get the best quality of wheat, because I am, after all, a Mahatma. He provides for me greens or fruits, whatever I want. I do not ask him from where he gets those things. Something must be offered to the members of the Working Committee when they come to visit me. So, they are given fruit juice. He owns property worth crores of rupees. That is the case with the wealthy people. Millionaires can get all those things. But something can happen only when they deprive themselves a little. How else can the poor get things for themselves? Let the rich and the businessmen not indulge in profiteering. Let them become honest. They may make profit but just enough to satisfy their hunger. How wonderful if all of them would follow the same system about profits! Why should there be control on food? There is no need at all for it. It would be good indeed if everyone became like this.

The most important thing is that we cannot rest in peace till all the refugees go back to their homes. It is madness to kill the Muslims or drive away those who have run away from Pakistan in panic leaving their property there. Now the AllIndia Congress Committee has issued orders that people have to be kept wherever they are, and in comfort, and those who wish to return to their homes have to be sent back. Thousands of millionaires managed to come away even leaving their beautiful houses, but the poor are still left behind. I do not intend speaking about every point today. But the resolution shows where our duty lies. And that is the most important thing. If we take it for granted that the Muslims are a worthless lot, it is a grave sin. It is the supreme duty of all of us not to drive away anyone. People have seen the Working Committee resolution three or four days ago and they have also seen the indications in the Press. In spite of that the Muslims are running away. People say that the A. I. C. C. accepted this resolution because of my insistence. They say that the Muslims should go away, otherwise they would be killed. People ask me if I would be a witness to the slaughter of Muslims. I have already said what I would do—I would ’do or die’. When I am ready to die, the Muslims too should be ready to die if the need arises. We have become so heartless that we want them to walk 300 miles in this cold winter. It is said that there are not too many deaths in the camps—some ten or twenty die every day. Now, out of five, ten or fifty thousand if so many people die, has anyone tried to estimate how many people would die in India at this rate? Should it not be our concern as to how they die? Some of them do not get food, some have cholera, some get dysentery, or something else happens to them. But does anyone bother to know why these people die? We are worried about the availability of food and all the other things we need. We are always on the look-out for settling the Hindus and the Sikhs in the houses of Muslim evacuees. Of course, the situation is not the same everywhere. But it is certainly so in many places. This has pained me very much and I have conveyed my feelings to you many times. Now even the A. I. C. C. has said that what has happened is highly deplorable. This thing has to be conveyed to the millions and it cannot be done in one day. There are great men in the Government—Jawahar, the Sardar, Rajendra Babu (but Rajendra Babu is not there now)—and how could [other members] displease them? That is why they agreed to it. I have heard that now there are even some Congressmen who think that the Muslims should not live here. They think that only then can Hinduism prosper. But they do not know that Hinduism is degenerating day by day. It would be dangerous if they did not change their attitude. All the members of the A. I. C. C. are the representatives of India as a whole. If they are all one at heart, as they should be, then the entire face of India would change. It is their duty not to allow anything else to happen. Their primary task is to find out how they can bring back all those who have fled from here. We would be restless till we brought back all the Muslims who have gone away from India. We have to create the necessary climate and that is not difficult. It is a great thing that there are still 350 million Muslims in India. Nobody knows how many have gone away and how many are going to come. Supposing all those who have gone away came back, it would mean no expenditure for us, for they would be living in their own houses, since they have their houses here. Our job is only to return their houses to them. But are all those houses vacant? Refugees have occupied those houses by force. But they would have to be accommodated in spite of that. If we act without proper thought and if our hearts are not clean, outsiders would wonder if the representatives of India were hypocrites. I think they are not. Those days are over when we used to be angry with the Muslims and wanted them to go away. Today we consider them as our brethren.

I would like to believe that the people of Delhi and Gurgaon have become good. When I had been to Panipat recently, I saw people living in amity. But now I hear that the refugees have occupied the houses of the Muslims and the Muslims want to go away to Pakistan. The Muslims might say that they did not want to go to Pakistan willingly as neither any delicacies nor good clothes would be available there. And how could things be otherwise? The people there are in the same condition as we are here. After all, it is not as if there were more provisions for them there while they had nothing here. Those who have gone away write back that it would have been much better if they had remained in India. Having left their hearth and home, they are now living in camps and are in great distress. It is bound to be so. Then, why do the Muslims of Panipat want to go to Pakistan? If that is so, Panipat is a test for me and I too may have to go there. Panipat is about 50 miles from here. It cannot be called a distant place. It is just like Delhi. Now, even if a single Muslim is forced to go to Pakistan, it would hurt me and it would hurt you. Of course, when they stay here, they must get food and clothes from the money they receive. They are industrious, they earn and subsist on it. How will they live if they earn money but cannot have food? If the craftsmen, who have been like brothers, have to leave just because refugees from the Punjab have come, nothing could be worse than that. I would tell all the refugees at Panipat that they should give up the houses of the Muslims and the Muslims too should say that they would stay there. They should say that they do not need police for protection and they would live in amity. The police should only see to the distribution of food and clothes. They need do nothing more. Then I would say that the A. I. C. C. has done a good thing and we are all with it. We may not be fouranna members of the Congress, but we respect the organization. Let us today also support and follow what this organization, which has served the country all these days, is with full deliberation saying in these adverse circumstances. That is all I would like to say for the day.

[From Hindi]
Prarthana Pravachan—II, pp. 88-93



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