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Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi-VOL021

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi-VOL021

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Published by tij15
This are the volumes form the revised - erroneous - version of the CWMG as published on the CD-Rom "Mahatma Gandhi - Interactive Multimedia - Electronic Book" in 1999. Page and volume nos. are not identical with the original print version of the 1960's-1990's. The content of this CWMG version is to be credited as "The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book), New Delhi, Publications Division Government of India, 1999, 98 volumes"
vol 021- July 1, 1920 - November 14, 1920
This are the volumes form the revised - erroneous - version of the CWMG as published on the CD-Rom "Mahatma Gandhi - Interactive Multimedia - Electronic Book" in 1999. Page and volume nos. are not identical with the original print version of the 1960's-1990's. The content of this CWMG version is to be credited as "The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book), New Delhi, Publications Division Government of India, 1999, 98 volumes"
vol 021- July 1, 1920 - November 14, 1920

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05/13/2011

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I gladly publish Mr. Pennington’s1

letter2

with its enclosure3

just
as I have received them. Evidently Mr. Pennington is not a regular
reader of Young India, or he would have noticed that no one has
condemned mob-outrages more than I have. He seems to think that
the article4

he has objected to was the only thing I have ever written
on General Dyer. He does not seem to know that I have endeavoured
with the utmost impartiality to examine the Jallianwala massacre. And
he can see any day all the proof adduced by my fellow-comissioners
and myself in support of our findings on the massacre. The ordinary
readers of Young India knew all the facts and therefore it was
unnecessary for me to support my assertions otherwise. But
unfortunately Mr. Pennington represents the typical Englishman. He
does not want to be unjust, nevertheless he is rarely just in his
appreciation of world events because he has no time to study them
except cursorily and that through a press whose business is to air only
party views. The average Englishman therefore except in parochial
matters is perhaps the least informed though he claims to be well
informed about every variety of interest. Mr. Pennington’s ignorance
is thus typical of the others and affords the best reason for securing
control of our own affairs in our own hands. Ability will come with
use and not by waiting to be trained by those whose natural interest is
to prolong the period of tutelage as much as possible.
But to return to Mr. Pennington’s letter he complains that there
has been no “proper trial of anyone”. The fault is not ours. India
has consistently and insistently demanded a trial of all the officers
concerned in the crimes against the Punjab.
He next objects to the “violence” of my language. If truth is
violent, I plead guilty to the charge of violence of language. But I
could not, without doing violence to truth, refrain from using the
language I have regarding General Dyer’s action. It has been proved
out of his own mouth or hostile witnesses :
1. That the crowd was unarmed.
2. That it contained children.
3. That the 13th was the day of Vaisakhi fair.

1

J. R. Pennington, a retired I.C.S. officer

2

Defending General Dyer

3

Entitled “Is India Worth Keeping?”

4

Vide “General Dyer”, 14-7-1920.

322

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI

4. That thousand had come to the fair.
5. That there was no rebellion.
6. That during the intervening two days before the
“massacre” there was peace in Amritsar.
7. That the proclamation of the meeting was made the same
day as General Dyer’s proclamation.
8. That General Dyer’s proclamation prohibited not meetings
but processions or gatherings of 4 men on the streets and not in
private or public places.

9. That General Dyer ran no risk whether outside or inside the

city.

10. That he admitted himself that many in the crowd did not
know anything of his proclamation.
11. That he fired without warning the crowd and even after it
had begun to disperse. He fired in the backs of the people who were
in flight.

12. That the men were practically penned in an enclosure.

In the face of these admitted facts I do call the deed a
“massacre”. The action amounted not to “an error of judgment”
but its “paralysis in the face of fancied danger”.

I am sorry to have to say that Mr. Pennigton’s notes, which too
the reader will find published elsewhere, betray as much ignorance as
his letter.

Whatever was adopted on paper in the days of Canning was
certainly not translated into action in its full sense. “Promises made
to the ear were broken to the hope” was said by a reactionary
Viceroy. Military expenditure has grown enormously since the days
of Canning.

The demonstration in favour of General Dyer is practically a

myth.

No trace was found of the so-called Danda Fauj dignified by
the name of bludgeon-army by Mr. Pennington. There was no rebel
army in Amritsar. The crowd that committed the horrible murders
and incendiarism contained no one community exclusively. The sheet
was found posted only in Lahore and not in Amritsar. Mr.
Pennington should moreover have known by this time that the
meeting held on the 13th was held, among other things, for the

VOL. 21 : 1 JULY, 1920 - 21 NOVEMBER, 1920

323

purpose of condemning mob excesses. This was brought out at the
Amritsar trial. Those who surrounded him could not stop General
Dyer. He says he made up this mind to shoot in a moment. He
consulted nobody. When the correspondent says that the troops
would have objected to being con- cered in “what might in that
case be not unfairly called a massacre’,” he writes as if he had never
lived in India. I wish the Indian troops had the moral courage to
refuse to shoot innocent, unarmed men in full flight. But the Indian
troops have been brought in too slavish an atmosphere to dare do any
such correct act.

I hope Mr. Pennington will not accuse me again of making
unverified assertions because I have not quoted from the books. The
evidence is there for him to use. I can only assure him that the
assertions are based on positive proofs mostly obtained from official
sources.

Mr. Pennington wants me to publish an exact account of what
happened on the 10th April. He can find it in the reports, and if he
will patiently go through them he will discover that Sir Michael
O’Dwyer and his officials goaded the people into frenzied fury—a
fury which nobody, as I have already said, has condemned more than
I have. The account of the following days is summed up in one word,
viz, “peace” on the part of the crowd disturbed by indiscriminate
arrests, the massacre and the series of official crimes that followed.
I am prepared to give Mr. Pennington credit for seeking after
the truth. But he has gone about it in the wrong manner. I suggest
his reading the evidence before the Hunter Committee and the
Congress Committee. He need not read the reports. But the evidence
will convince him that I have understated the case against General
Dyer.

When however I read his description of himself as “for 12 years
Chief Magistrate of Districts in the South of India before reform, by
assassination and otherwise, became so fashionable”, I despair of his
being able to find the truth. An angry or a biased man renders
himself incapable of finding it. And Mr. Pennington is evidently both
angry and biased. What does he mean by saying, “before reform, by
assassination and otherwise, became so fashionable”? It ill becomes
him to talk of assassination when the school of assassination seems
happily to have become extinct. Englishmen will never see the truth
so long as they permit their vision to be blinded by arrogant
assumption of superiority or ignorant assumptions of infallibility.
Young India, 29-9-1920

324

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI

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