VOL.17 : 26 APRIL, 1918 - APRIL, 1919
1. LETTER T0 SIR CLAUDE HILL
April 26, 1918
DEAR SIR CLAUDE HILL,
It was not without considerable pain that I had to decline thehonour of serving on any of the Committee that will be appointed atthe eventful Conference
or speaking to the main resolution
.I feel that the Conference will be largely abortive with themost powerful leaders excluded from it. The absence of Mr. Tilak,Mrs. Besant and Ali Brothers from the Conference deprives it of anyreal weight.
I must confess that not one of us who were present attoday’s meeting has the influence of these leaders with the masses.Refusal to have them at the Conference shows that there is no realdesire to change the attitude hitherto adopted by those who areholding the reins of Government. And without any real alteration inthe spirit all your concessions will lose their grace and force and willfail to evoke genuine loyalty from the masses. If I understand thepurpose of the Conference aright, you wish to work upon the masses.How to evoke in the Indian the loyalty of the Englishman is the ques-tion before the Indian leaders. I submit that it is impossible to do sounless you are prepared to trust the trusted leaders of the people andto do all that such trust means. So far as Ali Brothers are concernedthere is no proof of their guilt before the public and they have emph-atically repudiated the charge of having corresponded with the ene-my. Most Mahomedans think what the Brothers think on the situation.I feel that for other reasons also I could not effectively serve on
This was the War Conference convened by Lord Chelmsford.
The resolution read as follows: “That this Conference authorizes and requestsHis Excellency the Viceroy to convey to His Majesty the King-Emperor anexpression of India’s dutiful and loyal response to his gracious message, andassurance of her determination to continue to do her duty to her utmost capacity in thegreat crisis through which the Empire is passing.”
Tilak had not been invited; but, after an interview with the Viceroy on April27, Gandhiji wired asking Tilak to attend the Conference. This he declined to do asGovernment would not rescind the externment order issued against him. AnnieBesant, too, had received no invitation, while the Ali Brothers were still ininternment.