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October 27, 2017

 

Lucknow Pact and Gandhi’s Lies Afterwards – History of Lucknow Pact and how Gandhi lied to the Sikh Nation.

 

April 27, 2017

 

The Sikh Gurus and Khalistan – Discusses whether struggle for Khalistan is justified based on philosophy and lifestyle of the Sikh Gurus.

March 28, 2014

 

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March 10, 2014

 

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Lucknow Pact and Gandhi’s Lies Afterwards

Gurmit Singh Advocate

There is not and never was an India” (Sir John Stracher)

Is there a people of India? Can the diversified assembly of races and religions, with the barriers und division of caste, of language and other differences, and with the widely varying range of social and cultural levels, inhibiting the vast sub-continental expanse of India, be considered a “nation”, or ever become a. nation?

If these questions were asked from our ancestors living a century ago, they would have replied in the negative because to them India in this sense had no meaning and no existence.

When the struggle against the British rule started, an attempt was made for the first time to inject the spirit of nationalism in the people of India. But even at that time concept of nationalism was given a narrow meaning. It was founded on the bedrock of common religion, culture and historical tradition but, was given a Hindu colour.

In Bengal Naba Gopal started an association called “National Society” and edited a paper called “National Paper.” The avowed object of the National Society was the promotion of unity and national feeling among the Hindus. When objection was taken to the use of the word “national” Naba boldly argued in his paper that the Hindus certainly formed a nation by themselves. Ho supported his theory by the following argument:

Nationalism is based on unity which is brought about, sustained and promoted in different people by different means such as love of liberty among the Greeks, Romans and the English, and the Mosaic Law among the Jews. The basis of national unity in India is Hindu religion. Hindu nationality embraces all the Hindus of India irrespective of their locality or language. The Hindus are destined to be a religious nation.1

Congress leaders organising anti-British movement in India concentrated more on appealing to the communal sentiments of the people rather than rousing national enthusiasm. Leaders like B.G. Tilak organised “Ganesh Festival” and “Shivaji Festival” and tried to infuse religious fervour among the Hindus. The result was that the religious pride was made to precede the national pride and Congress leaders appeared to be active protagonists of Hindu revivalism.

At the very height of the national non-cooperation movement when Gandhi ji stood as leader of the united national movement, and had the responsibility to make his every utterance as the leader of a united movement, he was publicly proclaiming himself a “Sanatanist Hindu” (a kind of extremist Hindu). He wrote:

“I call myself a Sanatani Hindu because:

  1. I believe in the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas and all that goes by the name Hindu scriptures, and therefore in avataras and rebirth.2
  2. I believe in the Varnashrama Dharma, in a sense in my opinion strictly Vedic.
  3. I believe in the protection of the cow in its much larger sense than the popular.
  4. I do not believe in idol worship.

When Gandhi ji was asked why he was propagating ahimsa, the spinning wheel, tricolour, the Sanskritized Vandematram, fasts, cow protection and Hindu prayers, which were symptoms of Hindu religious revival, instead of propagating economic and political policies of his party, he proclaimed that the approach was personal or exclusive to himself and that he was not the official head of the party (Congress) nor even a four anna member of the Congress.3 But many a men could judge that under the garb of Swaraj, Gandhi ji was aspiring for the establishment of Hindu Raj.

Gandhi ji’s “Harijan Sewa” was also motivated by his desire to retain the untouchables within the Hindu fold. He told Dr. Ambedkar:

I am against the political separation of the untouchables from the Hindus. That would be absolutely suicidal.

The Muslim masses became apprehensive by the strong Hindu religious flavour of Congress propaganda. They felt that Gandhi ji was trying to identify the national awakening with revival of Hinduism. Their apprehensions were strengthened by Gandhi ji’s conduct. Even when appealing for Hindu-Muslim unity, Gandhi ji made the appeal not as a national leader appealing to both sections, but as a Hindu leader. This Hindus were “we”; the Muslims were “they”.

We shall have to go in for tapasya, for self-purification. If we want to win the hearts of Muslims.

The result was that majority of the Muslims disassociated themselves from the Congress.

To please the Muslims, Gandhi ji entered into an agreement with them, which is known as Lucknow pact. It conferred several undue concessions on the Muslims and the Harijans but completely by passed the Sikhs. There was strong resentment among the Sikhs who felt that Gandhi ji had betrayed them.

Gandhi ji tried to induce the Sikhs to accept Hinduism on the glib plea that they were only a sect or part of the reform movement within Hinduism but he was rebuffed by the Sikhs. He wrote in Young India on October 1, 1925:

I do not regard Sikhism as a religion distinct from Hinduism. I regard it as part of Hinduism and reformation in the same sense that Vaishnavism is. I read in the Yervada prison all the writings that I could lay my hands upon regarding the Sikhs. I read portions of Granth Sahib. Its deeply spiritual and moral tone I found to be uplifting. In the collection of hymns we have at the Ashram, we have some of Guru Nanak’s also. At the same time I do non quarrel with the Sikhs for considering, if they wish, Sikhism as totally distinct from Hinduism and when during my first visit to Punjab a few Sikh friends told me that my reference to Sikhism as part of Hinduism displeased them I ceased to refer to it as such.4

Sikhs refused to full into the trap laid for them by Gandhi ji and started organising themselves to safeguard their interests. Feeling that he had alienated the support and sympathy of the Sikhs, Gandhi ji along with Ali Brothers attended the session of the Sikh League at Amritsar and begged for Sikh support for his non-co-operation movement out by holding out his plighted word that he would not repeat the policy of Lucknow pact. Sikhs, the simple folk, could not see through Gandhi’s diplomacy and made tremendous sacrifices by joining Gandhi’s movement. They got their reward with the “Nehru Report”. It recommended weightage for all minorities except the Sikhs whom it offered as a scape goat at the altar of Muslim domination. That was how Gandhian crosses were distributed for gallantry in the fight for independence. How could the Sikhs, who did not accept Gandhian non-violence, be considered for any military decoration by the G.I.C. Gandhi?

Sikhs again protested against this Brahminical dispensation. At the all parties conference held at Calcutta the Sikh leaders spoke their grievances to Gandhi ji who expressed his helplessness to remedy the wrong done. Gandhi ji could fight for the Muslims or the Harijans but could not utter even a word of protest for the Sikhs. He could only keep quiet. He knew he would win over the simple folk again by making generous promises which he need not fulfill. But there was a growing feeling among the Sikhs that Gandhi ji was indifferent to Sikh urges and ignoring Sikh interests.

Therefore, in 1929, when All India National Congress met at the bank of the Ravi river, the Sikhs book out a five hundred thousand strong procession under the leadership of veteran Sikh leader, Baba Kharak Singh, to impress upon Gandhi ji the idea of Sikh disillusionment with anti-Sikh policies pursued by Congress. Mahatma Gandhi along with Pandit Moti Lal Nehru went to meet Baba Kharak Singh and gave the Sikhs a solemn assurance that after India achieved political freedom, no constitution would be framed by the majority community unless it was acceptable to the Sikhs5 and further promised to bury the Nehru report in the sands of Ravi. But those solemn assurances were soon forgotten. When the British Government, announced the communal award which the Sikhs rejected as it was detrimental to their interests Gandhi ji did not make any protest and kept silent.

Gandhi ji’s conduct did not inspire confidence among the Sikhs who continued to express their apprehension from time to time. Speaking at Gurdwara Sisganj Delhi, before an audience of Sikhs, Gandhi ji stated:

I venture to suggest that the non-violence creed of the Congress is the surest guarantee of good faith and our Sikh friends have no reason to fear that it would betray them. For, the moment it did so, the Congress would not only thereby seal its own doom but that of country too. Sikhs are a people. They know how to safeguard their rights by the exercise of arms if it should ever come to that.

“Sardar Madhusudan Singh in his speech has asked for an assurance that Congress would do nothing that might alienate the sympathies of this Sikhs from the Congress. Well, the Congress in its Lahore session passed a resolution that it would not endorse any settlement with regard to the minority question that failed to satisfy any of the minorities concerned. What further assurance can the Congress give you to set you at ease I really fall to understand.

........ I ask you to accept my word and the resolution of the Congress that it will not betrays single individual, much less a community. If it ever thinks of doing so, it will only hasten its own doom. No nation determined to immolate itself at the altar of freedom can be guilty of breach of faith. My life has been an open book. I have no secrets and I encourage no secrets. I pray you, therefore, to unbosom yourselves of all your doubts and apprehensions and shall try to meet you as best as I can. What more shall I say? What more can I say than this? Let God be witness of the bond that binds me and the Congress with you.

But did Gandhi ji keep his word? No! He was never sincere even to his own party. “The Gita”, wrote Gandhi ji, “has been a mother to me ever since I became first acquainted with in 1859. I turn to it for guidance in every difficulty and the desired guidance has always been forth coming.” “He who has one thing in mind,” says Gita, “but represents another thing to others, what sin he is not capable of committing? For, he is s thief and robber of his own self.” “Therefore”, wrote Gandhi ji in the Harijan of August 9, 1942, “I have been a votary of Truth from my childhood. It was the most natural thing for me. As a result of prayful quest, then came to me the revelation that ‘Truth in God’ instead of the commonly held view that, “God is Truth”. But was Gandhi ji really so, is doubtful. At the Lahore Congress, at the end of 1929, resolution for “Puran Swaraj” i.e., complete independence, was adopted under the guidance of Gandhi ji and it was resolved to launch civil disobedience movement for its attainment. But immediately after the Lahore session, Gandhi ji published a statement through the New York World of January 9: “The Independence resolution need frighten nobody” and on January 30 through his paper Young India, he made an offer of eleven points covering various reforms (rupee ratio of 15:4, total prohibition, reduction of land revenue and military expenditure protective tariff on foreign cloth, etc.) in return for which he offered to call off the civil disobedience movement. Was it not an attempt to hoodwink the masses, who had responded to the Congress call and was it not the betrayal of the defined aim of the Campaign? But Gandhi ji was never in favour of the demand although due so pressure of public opinion he had to voice it. In 1921, at Ahmedabad when Maulana Hasrat Mohani made the demand for Sawraj, Gandhi ji had led the opposition to it saying “the demand has grieved me because it shows a lack of responsibility.”

So, Gandhi ji soon forgot the solemn assurance given by him to the Sikhs. When the question of deciding the National Flag for India came up, the Sikhs were again ignored. Describing the significance of the colours and the designs of the proposed flag, Gandhi ji had said:

At Bezwada I asked Mr. P. Venkayya to give me a design containing a spinning wheel on red (Hindu colour) and green (Muslim colour) background. His enthusiastic spirit enabled me to possess a flag in three hours. It was just a little late for presentation to the All India Congress Committee. I am glad it was so. On maturer consideration, I saw that the background should represent the other religions also. Hindu Muslim unity is not an exclusive term. It is an inclusive term, symbolic of the unity of all faiths domiciled in India. If Hindus and Muslims can tolerate each other they are together bound to tolerate all other faiths. The unity is not a menace to other faiths represented in India or to the world. So I suggest that the background should be white and green and red. The white portion is intended to represent all other faiths. The weakest numerically occupy the first place, the Islamic Colour comes next, the Hindu Colour, red, comes last, the idea being that the strongest should act as a shield to the weakest. The white colour, moreover, represents purity and peace. Our national flag must mean that or nothing. And to represent the equality of the least of us with the best, an equal part is assigned to all the three colours in the design.6

Sikhs demanded that they being the third major party to the struggle for India’s freedom should be given specific representation on the national flag. Gandhi ji, instead of exerting his influence to get the Sikhs their due representation on the proposed national flag tried to pacify them with false promises and lame excuses. He tried to cool them off by suggesting that time was not ripe for such a confrontation. He said:

...Then there is the controversy about the inclusion of the Sikh colour in the national flag. No blame can possibly attach to the Congress in this respect. The present design was suggested by me. The Congress has not even formally adopted it. I had offered to the Sikh friends to place before the All India Congress Committee their view point if they could apprise me of it. But as it turned out the A.I.C.C. could not meet after that and no one knows as to when it will be able to meet at all. Even the Working Committee is out today on sufferance. To raise this controversy at this time, the time when the Congress is fighting for its very existence would to say the least, an unseemly act.

But Sikhs were not satisfied by these hollow promises and they continued pressing their demand for proper representation on the national flag. Although unwillingly, Gandhi ji had to refer the question of national flag to the A.I.C.C. for suggesting alterations in it, to meet the objections from the Sikh community. Gandhi ji on April 8, 1931, speaking at Amritsar said:

Take my attitude on the national flag question. The national flag is my own personal creation. It has been before the country for ten years and a lot of sentiment has gathered round it, much sacrifice and suffering has been gone through to keep it flying. Do you think it is a pleasure to me to agree to its being altered? But l know that you are dissatisfied and if only to please your community I agreed to have a Committee about the flag.7

But again a hoax was played upon the Sikhs. Instead of giving them due representation on the national flag, just a new interpretation was put forward to silence the Sikhs. On August 7, 1931, A.I.C.C. confirmed the following change in the national flag:

The flag is to be three coloured, horizontally arranged as before, but the colours shall be saffron, white and green in the order stated here from top to bottom with the spinning wheel in dark blue in the centre of the white strip; it being understood that the colours have no communal significances but that saffron represents Courage and sacrifice, white, peace and truth, and green shall represent faith and chivalry and the spinning wheel the hope of the masses.8

Baba Kharak Singh, the veteran Sikh leader, whose election as president of Punjab Congress in 1922 Gandhi ji had hailed as an honour to the Congress and “an excellent choice” and whom Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru had described as “the bravest among the captains of our struggle for freedom,” refused to accept the flag as such and declared his intention to start a campaign to get proper representation for the Sikhs. Gandhi ji was so upset that he lost his mental balance and completely forgot the sacrifices made by Baba Kharak Singh. He said:

The Flag controversy is being conducted mostly by those who have held aloof from the present movement.9

He tried to satisfy the Sikhs by sheer sweet talking. He said:

“The Sikhs have given their loyal and unstinted co-operation to the Congress in many parts of India like Bombay, Delhi, etc. but these brave people have never bothered themselves about the flag question. A brave man always gives credit to the other party for its bonafides. Why don’t you have faith? If the Congress should play false afterwards, you can well settle scores with it, for you hold the sword. I would ask you, therefore, to cast out suspicion and distrust from your mind and plunge into the sacred Yajna of freedom whole heartedly. You will find that when you are ready to make the extreme sacrifice you will disdain to ask for guarantees. It will be for others to look up to you as the champions of their rights as it will be for you no fulfill their expectations.......”10

Realising that Sikhs might not fall into his trap this time and might disassociate themselves with his movement, Gandhi ji held out a mild threat by saying:

You may not obstruct if you cannot help......... What I have said about the Muslims applies equally to Sikhs. If thirty lakhs of Sikhs will obstruct Indian independence, we shall deal with them non-violently. Non-violent Sawraj cannot be won except by non-violence.11

Sikhs were again taken in by these promises. A rift among the Sikh leaders developed on the controversy and with it the Sikhs demand for due representation on the flag died down.

Sikhs thoroughly trusted Gandhi ji and again plunged themselves heart and soul into the freedom movement organised by the Congress under the leadership of Gandhi. When meetings in Delhi were banned and the Congress committee could not assemble, a band of one hundred Sikh volunteers engaged the police in front of the Kotwali and suffered batons and lathies and thus they enabled the Congress committee to meet at Fatehpuri and adopt resolutions. Again, when the Khan brothers faced difficulty in Peshawar, the Congress deputed one hundred Akali Sikhs to rush to their aid and bear the batons from the police; which was done promptly. Thus the Sikhs formed the suicide squad in the Congress movement.

What was the reward? In 1937 when Congress gained control of Government in as many as seven provinces under the leadership of Gandhi ji, in pursuance of Government of India Act, 1935, it persisted in its policies with a view to demoralizing the Sikhs. Over fifty Sikh bodyguards of the Governor of Bombay, were replaced by Hindus. Bombay, with a Congress Government remained the solitary province in India, where the restriction on the length of Kirpan, the religious symbol of the Sikhs was not withdrawn. Gandhi ji did not intervene to undo this injustice by his own party government. He could fast unto death if the Hindu solidarity was jeopardized but not when the Sikhs were being denied freedom of conscience.

In 1932, at the time of second round table conference, when the British government through Sardar Bahadur Shivdev Singh, then a member of the Indian Secretary of State Council made an offer to the Sikhs than if they disassociated finally with the Congress movement, they would be given a decisive political weightage in the Punjab, such as would lead to their emergence as third independent element in India after the British transferred power to the inhabitants of this sub-continent, Sikh leaders rejected it. Similarly, S. Baldev Singh under the influence of Congress leaders rejected cabinet mission’s offer to provide suitable safeguards for the Sikhs in the Independence Act of India. But the Congress leaders including Gandhi ji let down the Sikhs. The Sikhs at the time of transfer of power found themselves in a predicament. Congress leaders on whom they had depended, deserted them.

Their dependence on Congress and the Sikh representative’s dittoing of Congress attitude had taken away much of their weight which they could have otherwise carried in the deliberations for the grant of freedom or the ultimate decisions with regard to that.

Gandhi ji and other Congress leaders took Sikh support for granted and therefore ignored them. Jinnah regarded and skillfully demonstrated them as only an appendix of the Congress. Consequently, Sikh interests were completely ignored and when Gandhi ji accepted the partition of Punjab, Sikhs felt themselves to be sacrificed on the altars of Muslim ambition and Hindu opportunism.

Notes and References

  1. Quoted in Three Phases of India’s Struggle For Freedom by Dr. R.C. Majumdar at P-8.
  2. Sikhs do not believe in the divine origin of the Vedas. According to Sikh Gurus, the Vedas, their metaphysical expositions, the Shastras and the Codes of Law, the Smritis none of them is eternal and thus inerrant. Says Guru ji:

“The Vedas talk of controversial things by which neither peace of mind is attained nor the world is realised.” (Maru M: 3)

  1. Even today. Gandhi’s chief disciple, Vinobha Bhave, who enjoys the active support and patronage of the Government for propagating his Sarvodya ideals, is in fact a Hindu missionary propagating Hindu religion. A few years back when he visited Sirsa, author of this book, approached him for his autograph. He declined saying he gives his autograph only on the first page of his book ‘Gita Parvachan’ which is a commentary on Hindu scripture 'Gita'. The author offered to purchase any book on Sarvodya to have his autograph over it but he insisted that he will sign only over “Gita Parvachan.” This clearly shows that he is more interested in propagating Hindu religious thought than Sarvodya ideals which he ostensibly professes to propagate.
  2. He continued his effort to finish the separate identity of Sikhism. He again declared:

I personally do not see any difference between Sikhism and Hinduism. They are varieties of the same faith. When I read the Granth Saheb written in Devnagri characters I did not have much difficulty in following the language. The thought in the various bhajans of Nanak Saheb and other Sikh Gurus is derived from the Puranas. But at the same time, I do not mind if the Sikhs regard themselves as distinct from the Hindus. Thus regarded, I admit that their’s is a desolate condition. The remedy, no doubt is in their own hands. (Mahatma, Vol 8, Page 33)

Again he said:

It was wrong to make a difference between Sikhs and Hindus. Master Tara Singh had compared the Hindus and Sikhs to the nail and the nail bed. No one, could separate the two. I am glad to hear it. Who was Guru Nanak, if not a Hindu? The Guru Granth Saheb is full of teachings of the Vedas. Hinduism is like a mighty ocean, which receives and absorbs all religious truths. (Mahatma, Vol 8, Page 213)

  1. After independence, when constitution of India was passed Sikh representatives including S. Hukam Singh, former speaker of the Lok Sabha and now governor of Rajasthan, refused to append their signatures there on as the constitution failed to meet the Sikh demands.
  2. D. G. Tendulkar, Mahatma, Vol II, p. 37.
  3. D. G. Tendulkar, Mahatma, Vol 3, p. 95.
  4. Ibid., p. 103.
  5. The way to Communal Harmony, M. K. Gandhi, Page 135.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.

Source – Gandhi and the Sikhs