Post Prayer Speech 1948-01-27


Mahatma Gandhi

No one had difficulty in visiting the fair. When I asked the Muslims whether as many people visited the shrine this year as in the previous years, they said that some at least must have been too frightened to go. This shows that there are amongst us people who cause a scare. They say that what happened in Allahabad could happen here and ask what the Hindus would do then. It is a shameful situation that one man should be frightened of another man. But at least I observed at the fair that there were as many Hindus and Sikhs as there were Muslims. I also saw something that distressed me. The shrine is very ancient. It is second only to the Ajmer shrine. The chief thing about it was the beauty of its marble carvings and inlay work. Much of it, though not all, has been destroyed. I was sorry to see it. It is sheer vandalism. Have we fallen so low that we should violate and desecrate a tomb of a saint on which thousands of rupees had been spent? I cannot go into the account that says that what happened in Pakistan was ten times worse. To me it is meaningless to consider whether the crime committed was of greater or less magnitude. To me it is a shameful thing. If the whole world indulges in shameful acts does it mean that we should do the same?

You will surely agree with me that we should not resort to such shameful conduct. I am told the shrine has always attracted large crowds both of Hindus and Muslims who go there to seek fulfilment of some wish. It is associated with the name of a saint in whose eyes Hindus and Muslims were all equal. This is a matter of history and it does not do to falsify history. We should have respect for such men of God and should not be guided by what happens in Pakistan.

I see from the newspapers today that at one place² in Pakistan one hundred and thirty Hindus and Sikhs have been murdered. There was also looting. There are many small tribes of Muslims around the borders of the Frontier Province. These tribals attacked the Hindus and killed them. No one says that these Hindus had caused any harm. The Pakistan Government says that it took prompt action and many of the attackers were put to death. We do not know how far that is true. But since the Pakistan Government says so we should accept it. Let us not be provoked and start killing the Muslims here. Today you are living like brothers but if you harbour any malice in your heart you will be untrue to the pledge you have taken. It is for our Government to ask for an account from the Pakistan Government. Our part is only to keep our pledge to keep our hearts clean.

Rajkumari³ had been on a visit to Ajmer. She told me of a tragic and shameful situation. It seems the Harijans there, from whom people take a lot of work which they willingly perform, live surrounded by dirt and filth. The administration there is our own. And the officers—Hindus and Sikhs—work under our Government. How can they allow this disgraceful state of affairs to continue? There are many white-collared Hindus there who earn a lot of money and are quite well-to-do. Why do they not go to the Harijan locality and stay there even for a day? If they went there they would be nauseated and some of them might even die. It is criminal that people whose only sin is that they were born Harijans should be allowed to live in such squalor. I have been to the Harijan locality in Delhi too. The conditions there are pretty bad. But Ajmer seems to be much worse in this respect. We have secured our independence, but it is of no value if we cannot stop such a thing. And it can be done in a day. Can we not provide a piece of dry ground for the Harijans? If they must remove garbage, as they do, must they also be made to live in it? We seem to have lost our reason and we have become heartless. We have forgotten God. That is why we continue to commit such crimes. How can we then find fault with others?

Finally I want to tell you about Mirpur. I have referred to the matter briefly earlier. Mirpur is in Kashmir. It has been occupied by the raiders. A number of women and children there have been abducted. They include not only young women but also some elderly ones. They are in the power of the raiders who, I have no doubt, have violated their honour. The food given to them is very bad. A few of them are within the border of Pakistan. Some of them may have been taken up to the Jhelum in the Gujrat district.

I must tell the raiders that they must exercise a modicum of restraint. What they are doing will bring about the downfall of Islam and yet they say that they are doing all this for a free Kashmir.

I can understand it if people indulge in plunder and rapine for food. But it is too much to assault innocent young girls and to deprive them of food and clothing. Is this what the Koran teaches? I must ask the Pakistan Government to recover all the abducted women and girls and let them go back to their homes.

The Mirpur people who came to me are quite strong and sturdy. But they feel disconsolate. They ask me why it is that such a powerful Government cannot do anything about this. I tried to explain matters to them. Jawaharlal himself has been deeply distressed and is trying to do what he can. But how does his grieving or his trying help? How can those who have lost their all, who have been ruined and separated from their nearest and dearest, be comforted? One of the men who came to see me has lost fifteen of his relatives. He asked me what was to happen to those still left there. I must ask the raiders and the Government of Pakistan, for the sake of humanity and for the sake of God, to return all the abducted women with due respect and without waiting to be asked. It is their duty. I have enough knowledge of Islam about which I have read a good deal. Nowhere does Islam bid people to carry away women and keep them in such a disreputable condition. It is irreligion, not religion. It is worship of Satan, not of God.

The Hindustan Times, 28-1-1948, and Prarthana Pravachan—II, pp. 344-7


  • 1. The Hindi version in Prarthana Pravachan has been collated with the report in The Hindustan Times.
  • 2. At Parachinar; vide footnote 1, p. 502.
  • 3. Amrit Kaur


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