by Lala Lajpat Rai

PART 13 -- [A plea for mutual co-operation]

[A] No Indian who loves his country can look upon the prevailing state of things except with the most excrutiating pain and anguish. There are men in the public life of the country, who have given their all in the hope that before they die they may see the Goddess of Liberty ruling over their beloved native land. They have put up with all kinds of humiliations, sufferings, and losses, and sacrificed every comfort and convenience, and even neglected their children for [[219]] the sake of this, the one single object of their life. Absorbed in this their one passion, they have treated with supreme contempt all kinds of calumnies, libels, and slanders, that have been heaped on their devoted heads by the foreign rulers of the land, and also by some among their own countrymen. They have seen their juniors rise over their heads to the highest offices under the State and to the most alluring positions in life. They have suffered insults and rebukes at the hands of men who were not leven worthy of unloosening the strings of their shoes. They have been followed like criminals, imprisoned and banished like common felons, but have never lost hope.

[B] And after all this, they are told most seriously and solemn]y, both by Hindus and Mussalmans, that Hindu-Muslim unity is impossible, which means that Swaraj is impossible, or in other words, that they have been pursuing a shadow, a phantom, and living in [a] fool's paradise and wasting their lives!

[C] Oh! how crushingly painful it is. Yet in the light of what is happening, how plausible and apparently unanswerable! Amongst those who hold that unity is impossible there are men of light and leading, men of learning and scholarship, men of influence and position, even men who have a record of great service and sacrifice in fields other than political. On the other hand there are men who assure us that this is a passing phase, that Hindus and Mussalmans can be made to, and will eventually, forget what has happened at Multan, Saharanpur, Delhi, Allahabad, Lucknow, Shahjahanpur, Lahore, A:mritsar, Amethi, Sambhal, Gulbarga, and Kohat, that they will not only shake hands but embrace each other in love and fraternity, as soon as Englishmen will have left us, and that therefore, all that is wanted at present is a union which will result in the expulsion of [the] foreigner. They do not tcll us, however, how, in face of the prevailing distrust, this union is to be brought about, how the foreigner is to be expelled, and lastly how the expulsion of the foreigner, even if it was practicable, would, by itself, solve the problem of Hindu-Muslim differences. Is it the foreigner that loots and desecrates teinples ahd mosques? Is it he that kills people and burns property? Is it his hand that strikes children and women or dishonours the latter? No, they say, the hands are those of the Indians, but the brains are of foreigners.

[D] [[220]] Assuming that to be so, how are we going to put these brains out of operation? The reply is, by conceding Muslim demands in almost every respect. Mahatmaji himself said that the average Mussalman was a bully, and the average Hindu a coward, and also that cowardice was worse than death; and yet the remedy he suggested was that Hindus must concede to the Mussalmans and other minorities all that they demanded in the political field. Applying that rule to the Punjab, the result will be Muslims 55, Sikhs 33, and non-Muslims and non-Sikhs 12. Is that the remedy? No, say the Muslims, we do not want concessions, we want our rights; and the rights, as they view them, are what have been stated above.

Some of their spokesmen add: "If you don't do that now, you won't have Swarajya." Another says: "If you don't do that now, we shall declare Jehad against you, when you have got it." Nationalist Muslim leaders, men who advocate communal representation in all institutions in the land and a fixed proportion of Government services, say "Oh! Don't listen to Ziauddins/30/ and Fazl-i-Husains, they represent nobody. They are in alliance with the foreigner."

They forget, however, that the demands put forward by themselves are exactly the demands of Ziauddins and Fazl-i-Husains, the difference being no greater than that between tweedledum and tweedledee. The only difference is that one is called M. A. Jinnah, Esquire, and the other Dr. Ziauddin. These friends of ours forget that there are as many Ziauddins and Fazl-i-Husains among the Hindus as among the Mussalmans, and if the Hindu Nationalists had listened to them, there would have been no movement for political freedom. And without that movement there would have been no Shafis, Sarmas, and Saprus in the Government of India; nor would there have been Fazl-i-Husains and Mahmudabads in the Provincial Governments.

[E] At least this much credit must be given to the Hindu Nationalists: that their efforts have been principally instrumental in bringing the country near[er to] Swarajya than it would possibly have been otherwise. The Muslim educated community, with a few honourable exceptions, had in the past and until only a short while ago, consistently opposed these efforts. The Hindus do not want any special favours. All they ask for is justice and fair play. If the present situation is in any way unfavourable to the Muslim community, they will be only too willing to agree to any changes which the Muslims [[221]] desire, subject only to one condition. They will not willingly and voluntarily be parties to any compromise or arrangement which will make real and lasting unity impossible.

For God's sake, don't threaten us with Jehad. We have seen many Jehads! For the last twelve hundred years we have heard that cry every day of our national existence. Yet, Jehads have not suceeded in killing us, and God willing, no threat of Jehad will influence us by one hair's breadth in our determination to continue to live. We are prepared to subordinate our communal life to national life. For united national existence, we would do anything, but we shall not submit. to threats or to coercion. It is true that Muslim distrust of Hindus can successfully block the avenues of Swarajya, but brother Muslims! don't forget that active Hindu hostility may also be productive of some harm to the Islamic world. Away, then, with these threats and distrust. Let us live and struggle for freedom as brothers whose interests are one and indivisible. Let us live and die for each other, so that India may live and prosper as a Nation. India is neither Hindu nor Muslim. It is not even both. It is one. It is India.

[F] To the Hindus, I will say, "If there are any among you who still dream of a Hindu Raj in this country; who think they can crush the Mussalmans and be the supreme power in this land, tell them that they are fools, or to be more accurate, that they are insane, and that their insanity will ruin their Hinduism along with their country. For God's sake don't listen to them and don't be guilty of patricide. You have no one outside India to help you. You are like a lonely waif in the world, and your position is extremely delicate. Be sensible, and show your readiness to listen to the dictates of justice, fair play, and patriotism. Be even ready to make sacrifice, if such sacrifice does not stultify you or nullify your desire for nationhood. Give up your pride and listen to reason and common-sense. That is the only way to salvation."

[G] To leaders like Mahatma Gandhi I would say in all humility: "Sirs, do not put the cart before the horse. Do not assume the existence of conditions which do not exist. Listen to the voice of experience and caution. It is better to proceed slowly than to run away with assumptions and presumptions which would not only do no good but might land your country into pits. Do not try to change human nature simply by resolutions and exhortations. Give [[222]] it time." I am convinced that if in 1920 and 1921, Mahatma Gandhi had listened to the voice of those who had greater experience of the public life of the country, the reaction of 1923 and 1924 would not have been so terrible. The assumption that seven crores of Muslims had accepted Non-co-operation, was absolutely unwarranted. It was too much to expect educated Muslims to give up opportunities of preferment and promotion which they were just beginning to get, the Hindus being already much in advance. This was a demand which was bound to, and did eventually, strain thdr loyalty to the leaders. I don't blame them for "not listening to the latter." Let us restart our work with greater regard to the actualities of life and the possibilities of human nature, and we may yet live to see our efforts proving fruitful. Amen!

[H] I have not said all that I wanted to say. I have deliberately kept back some important and unsavoury facts that recently came to my knowledge, in the hope that there will be no need to give publicity to them.


/30/ Dr. Zia-ud-din Ahmed (1879-1947) was a pro-government Muslim leader. He was Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Muslim University, Aligarh, 1920-28, and Vice-Chancellor, 1935-38. Dr. Zia-ud-din Ahmed was knighted in 1938.

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