Spite of the Pakistani aggression in Kashmir,
Gandhiji fasted to compel the Government of India
to release an amount of Rs.55 Crores due to Pakistan.
The matter regarding release of Rs.
55 crores to Pakistan towards the second installment of arrears to be paid to it
under the terms of division of assets and liabilities requires to be understood
in the context of the events that took piece in the aftermath of partition. Of
the 75 crore to be paid the first installment of Rs. 20 crore was already
released. Invasion of Kashmir by self-styled liberators with the covert support
of the Pakistani Army took place before the second installment was paid.
Government of India decided to withhold it. Lord Mountbatten was of the opinion
that it amounted to a violation of the mutually agreed conditions and he brought
it to the notice of Gandhiji. To Gandhiji's ethical sense the policy of tit for
tat was repugnant and he readily agreed with the Viceroy's point of view.
However, linking his stand in this matter with his fast he undertook, as you
will find in the following lines, is an intentional mix-up and distortion of
facts of contemporary history. The fast was undertaken with a view to restoring
communal amity in Delhi. Gandhiji arrived from Calcutta in September 1947 to go
to Punjab to restore peace there. On being briefed by Sardar Patel about the
explosive situation in Delhi itself he changed his plans and decided to continue
his stay in Delhi to restore peace with the firm determination to "Do or Die."
Influx of Hindus from Pakistan who
were uprooted and who had suffered killings of relatives, abduction and rape of
women and looting of their belongings had created an explosive situation. Local
Hindus who were outraged by the treatment meted out to their Hindu brethren and
the anger of local Muslims against reports of similar outrages on their
coreligionists in India made Delhi a veritable witches' cauldron. This resulted
in killings, molestation, torching of houses and properties. This caused deep
anguish to Gandhiji. What added poignancy to this was the realization that it
happened in India itself just after an unique incident in the history of mankind
: doing away of the shackles of a colonial regime by non-violent means. It was
in this background in his mind that he undertook fast unto death to restore
communal amity and sanity in Delhi. And, as if to allow the critics of Mahatma
Gandhi a chance to mix-up and maneuver, the decision of the government of India
to release Rs. 55 crore to Pakistan came during this period of his fast.
The following facts dissolve this much touted
thesis that Gandhiji had fasted to bring moral pressure on government of India
Dr. Sushila Nair, as soon as she heard
Gandhiji proclaim his decision, rushed to her brother Pyarelal and informed
him in a huff that Gandhiji had decided to undertake fast till the madness in
Delhi ceased. Even in those moments of inadvertence the mention of 55 crore of
rupees was not made which clearly proves that it was not intended by Gandhiji.
Gandhiji's own announcement about his
resolve on 12th January in the evening prayer meeting did not contain any
reference to it. Had it been a condition, he would have certainly mentioned it
Similarly, there was no reference to it in
his discourse on 13th January.
Gandhiji's reply on the 15th January, to a
specific question regarding the purpose of his fast did not mention it.
The press release Of the government of
India did not have any mention thereof.
The list of assurances given by the
committee headed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad to persuade Gandhiji to give up his
fast did not include it.
We hope these facts should put at rest the 55
crore concoction at rest.