Tuesday, 29 January 2013

THE DELHI DECLARATION OF JANUARY 18, 1948

 'Badla nahin, bad-laav chaahiye' - Mahatma Gandhi

On January 18, Gandhi ended his final fast. Over a hundred representatives of various groups and organizations including the Hindu Mahasabha, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Jamiat-ul-Ulema who had assembled at Rajendra Prasad’s residence, called on Gandhiji at 11.30 a.m. Those present included Jawaharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad, Rajendra Prasad, INA General Shah Nawaz Khan, Hifzur Rahman and Zaheed HussainPakistan’s High Commissioner. Dr. Rajendra Prasad reported that even those who had some doubts on the previous night were confident that they could ask Gandhiji with a full sense of responsibility to break the fast. 


As President of the Congress, Rajendra Prasad said that he had signed the document in view of the guarantee which they had all jointly and severally given. Khurshid, the Chief Commissioner and Randhawa, Deputy Commissioner of Delhi, had signed the document on behalf of the administration. It had been decided to set up a number of committees to implement the pledge. Rajendra Prasad hoped that Gandhiji would now terminate his fast. Deshbandhu Gupta described scenes of fraternization between Hindus and Muslims which he had witnessed when a procession of Muslims was taken out that morning in Subzimandi and was received with ovation and offered fruit and refreshments by the Hindu inhabitants. A seven-point declaration in Hindi was read out solemnly affirming the people’s desire for communal harmony and civic peace. This read as follows:

SEVEN-POINT DELHI DECLARATION OF JANUARY 18, 1948
“We wish to announce that it is our heart-felt desire that the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs and members of the other communities should once again live in Delhi like brothers and in perfect amity and we take the pledge that we shall protect the life, property and faith of Muslims and that the incidents which have taken place in Delhi will not happen again.

“We want to assure Gandhiji that the annual fair at Khwaja Qutub-ud-Din Mazar will be held this year as in the previous years.

“Muslims will be able to move about in Subzimandi, Karol Bagh, Paharganj and other localities just as they could in the past.

“The mosques which have been left by Muslims and which now are in the possession of Hindus and Sikhs will be returned. The areas which have been set apart for Muslims will not be forcibly occupied.

“We shall not object to the return to Delhi of the Muslims who have migrated from here if they choose to come back and Muslims shall be able to carry on their business as before.

“We assure that all these things will be done by our personal effort and not with the help of the police or military.

“We request Mahatmaji to believe us and to give up his fast and continue to lead us as he has done hitherto.” .” (vol 98, p 249, 253).

Read about the events preceding the Declaration
Another time, another mosque: Gandhi’s Last Fast: January 13-18, 1948

Reliving Gandhi’s last fast, frame by frame
In a tribute to the causes close to Mahatma Gandhi's heart, the Teen Murti Nehru Memorial Library here has put up an exhibition on his 'Last Fast' for a fortnight, choosing to start on the day that marks 65 years of his assassination. The 20-panel exhibition includes some rare material, including letters, that reflect the turmoil of the Partition days.
See also: Kumar Gandharva sings:

 उड जायेगा हंस अकेला / जग दर्शन का मेला ।।


I append below extracts taken from two CPI pamphlets issued in September/October 1947:
‘Bleeding Punjab Warns’ by PC Joshi and Dhanwantri

“What happened in the Punjab cannot be called a riot. It was a regular war of ex
termination of the minorities, of the Sikhs and Hindus in Western Punjab and of Muslims in East Punjab. It cannot be compared to Calcutta or Noakhali, Bihar, or even to Rawalpindi for in all these cases it was mobs of one community that took leading part in killing, looting and burning the minority in the area, their communal passions being roused to a pitch of frenzy and savagery.. In the Punjab, however, in the recent biggest killing ever seen, it was the trained bands equipped with firearms and modern weapons that were the main killers, looters and rapers. These were the storm troops of various communal parties such as National Guards of the Muslim League in the Western Punjab, and the Shahidi Dal of the Akalis and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of the Mahasabha in the Eastern Punjab. They were actively aided and often actually led by the police and the military in committing the worst atrocities.. in violence and in brutality, in the numbers killed (which Syt Shri Prakasha, India’s Ambassador to Pakistan places at 1 ½ lakhs) in the use of plenty of modern deadly weapons, in the devastation spread over 14 districts of the Punjab and in the way in which the police, the military and the entire administration was geared not to stop the riots but to spread it – the Punjab tragedy is without parallel.. p 5-6 of a printed CPI report ‘Bleeding Punjab Warns’ by PC Joshi and Dhanwantri - September 1947. (Comrade Dhanwantri was a comrade of Bhagat Singh; President of the Lahore Distt Congress Committee and communist leader of Punjab)

Citations from Gandhi's speeches in 1947:
“Let not future generations say that you lost the sweet bread of freedom because you could not digest it. Remember that unless you stop this madness, the name of India will be mud in the eyes of the world.. Anger breeds revenge and the spirit of revenge is today responsible for all the horrible happenings here and elsewhere. What good will it do for the Muslims to avenge the happenings in Delhi or for Sikhs and Hindus to avenge cruelties on their co-religionists in the Frontier or in the Punjab? If a man or group of men go mad, should everyone follow suit? I warn Hindus and Sikhs that by killing and loot or arson they are destroying their own religion.” (prayer meeting, September 12, 1947)

“.. if the Hindus felt that in India there was no place for anyone else except the Hindus, and if non-Hindus, especially the Muslims wished to live here, they had to live as slaves of the Hindus, they will kill Hinduism. Similarly, if Pakistan believed that in Pakistan only the Muslims had a rightful place and the non-Muslims had to live there on sufferance and as their slaves, it will be the death-knell for Islam in India” (Address at Bhangi Colony, September 16, 1947.)

“I cannot rest in peace till every Muslim and Hindu and Sikh in India and Pakistan is not rehabilitated in his own home. What is to become of Juma Masjid, the biggest mosque in India or of the Nankana Sahib or Punja Saheb if no Muslim can live in Delhi and no Sikh live in Pakistan? Are these sacred places to be turned to other purposes? Never.” (prayer meeting, September 18, 1947)

All quotations taken from CPI pamphlet ‘On his 79th birthday – Our Homage and our Pledge’ that begins thus: “The Communist Party of India pays its homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 79th birthday: - ‘In his grand old age, the father of the nation has been fearlessly stirring the conscience of the nation on the most vital issues on which depends our future.. by his personal intervention in defence of the Hindu minority in Noakhali, then of the Muslim minority in Calcutta and now in Delhi he has demonstrated how courage and confidence can be roused in the minority and a sense of shame in the majority for being misled by a handful of reactionary hate-mongers, and bonds of fraternity restored among the common people.. 

"Let us make the nation's homage to Mahatma Gandhi the culmination of a people's peace campaign in which Congressmen, Nationalist Muslims, Leaguers, and all Left parties and popular organizations participate... We shall then be able to declare before millions of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Touchables and Untouchables, that the riot-demon stands buried and the minorities shall enjoy the protection of the living wall of the majority.. thus alone can we defeat the anti-national communal reactionary and go forward.. And play our proud role in shaping the destiny of the new world..”

Abha Gandhi talks about Mahatma Gandhi's assassination

Godse pushed Manu forcefully aside with his left hand, momentarily exposing the gun in his right. The items in her hands fell to the ground. For a few moments she continued arguing with the unknown assailant. But when the rosary dropped she bent down to pick it up. At this precise moment, a burst of deafening blasts ripped apart the peaceful atmosphere as Godse fired three bullets into Gandhi's abdomen and chest. As the third shot was fired Gandhi was still standing, his palms still joined. He was heard to gasp, "He Ram, He Ram". Then he slowly sank to the ground, palms joined still, possibly in a final ultimate act of ahimsa. Smoke filled the air. Confusion and panic reigned. The Mahatma was slumped on the ground, his head resting in the laps of both girls. His face turned pale, his white shawl of Australian wool was turning crimson with blood. Within seconds Mahatma Gandhi was dead. It was 5.17pm.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUjna9vkUBk

The Futility of Common Sense: An Essay on Ahimsa