34. 'NAVAJIVAN' AND 'YOUNG INDIA'
Thus, whilst this movement
for the preservation of non-violence was making steady though slow progress
on the one hand, Government's poicy of lawless repression was in full career
on the other, and was manifesting itself in the Punjab in all its nakedness.
Leaders were put under arrest, martial law, which in other words meant
no law, was proclaimed, special tribunals were set up. These tribunals
were not courts of justice, but instruments for carrying out the arbitrary
will of an autocrat. Sentences were passed unwarranted by evidence and
in flagrant violation of justice. In Amritsar innocent men and women were
made to crawl like worms on their bellies. Before this outrage the Jalianwala
Bagh tragedy paled into insignficance in my eyes, though it was this massacre
principally that attracted the attention of the people of India and of
I was pressed to procced to
the Punjab immediately, in disregard of consequences. I wrote and also
telegraphed to the Viceroy asking for permission to go there, but in vain.
If I proceeded without the necessary permission, I should not be allowed
to cross the boundary of the Punjab, but left to find what satisfaction
I could from civil disobedience. I was thus confronted by a serious dilemma.
As things stood, to break the order against my entry into the Punjab could,
it seemed to me, hardly be classed as civil disobedience, for I did not
see around me the kind of peaceful atmosphere that I wanted, and the unbridled
repression in the Punjab had further served to aggravate and deepen the
feelings of resentment. For me, therefore, to offer civil disobedience
at such a time, even if it were possible, would have been like fanning
the flame. I therefore decided not to procced to the Punjab in spite of
the suggestion of friends. It was a bitter pill for me to swallow. Tales
of rank injustice and oppression came pouring in daily from the Punjab,
but all I could do was to sit helplessly by and gnash my teeth.
Just then Mr. Horniman, in whose
hands The Bombay Chronicle had become a formidable force, was suddenly
spirited away by the authorities. This act of the Government seemed to
me to be surrounded by a foulness which still stinks in my nostrils. I
know that Mr. Horniman never desired lawlessness. He had not liked my breaking
the prohibitory order of the Punjab Government without the permission of
the Satyagraha Committee, and had fully endorsed the decision to suspend
civil disobedience. I had even received from him a letter advising suspension
before I had announced my decision to that effect. Only owing to the distance
between Bombay and Ahmedabad I got the letter after the announcement. His
sudden deportation therefore caused me as much pain as surprise.
As a result of these developments,
I was asked by the directors of The Bombay Chronicle to take up
the responsibility of conducting that paper. Mr. Brelvi was already there
on the staff, so not much remained to be done by me. But as usual with
my nature, the responsibility would have become an additional tax.
But the Government came as it
were to my rescue, for by its order the publication of The Chronicle
had to be suspended.
The friends who were directing
the management of The Chronicle, viz., Messrs. Umar Sobani
and Shankarlal Banker, were at this time also controlling Young India.
They suggested that in view of the suppression of The Chronicle,
I should now take up the editorship of Young India, and that in
order to fill the gap left by the former, Young India should be
converted from a weekly into a bi-weekly organ. This was what I felt also.
I was anxious to expound the inner meaning of Satyagraha to the public,
and also hoped that through this effort I should at least be able to do
justice to the Punjab situation. For behind all I wrote, there was potential
Satyagraha, and the Government knew as much. I therefore readily accepted
the suggestion made by these friends.
But how could the general public
be trained in Satyagraha through the medium of English? My principal field
of work lay in Gujarat. Sjt. Indulal Yajnik was at that time associated
with the group of Messrs. Sobani and Banker. He was conducting the Gujarati
monthly Navajivan, which had the financial backing of these friends.
They placed the monthly at my disposal, and further Sjt. Indulal offered
to work on it. This monthly was converted into a weekly.
In the meantime The Chronicle
was resuscitated. Young India was therefore restored to its original
weekly form. To have published the two weeklies from two different places
would have been very inconvenient to me and involved more expenditure.
As Navajivan was already being published from Ahmedabad, Young
India was also removed there at my suggestion.
There were other reasons besides
for this change. I had already learnt from my experience of Indian Opinion
that such journals needed a press of their own. Moreover the press laws
in force in India at that time were such that if I wanted to express my
views untrammelled, the exisiting printing presses, which were naturally
run for business, would have hesitated to publish them. The need for setting
up a press of our own, therefore, became all the more imperative, and since
this could be conveniently done only at Ahmedabad, Young India too
had to be taken there.
Through these journals I now
commenced to the best of my ability the work of educating the reading public
in Satyagraha. Both of them had reached a very wide circulation, which
at one time rose to the neighbourhood of forty thousand each. But while
the circulation of Navajivan went up at a bound, that of Young
India increased only by slow degrees. After my incarceration the circulation
of both these journals fell to a low ebb, and today stands below eight
Incidentally these journals
helped me also to some extent to remain at peace with myself, for whilst
immediate resort to civil disobedience was out of the question, they enabled
me freely to ventilate my views and to put heart into the people. Thus
I feel that both the journals rendered good service to the people in this
hour of trial, and did their humble bit towards lightening the tyranny
of the martial law.