§ 13. Mr. Sorensen
asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any statement to make respecting Mr. Gandhi's fast and circumstances arising therefrom?
§ 14. Mr. Edmund Harvey
asked the Secretary of State for India whether, in view of the tension that has arisen in India as a result of Mr. Gandhi's fast and the ensuing risk to his life, he is able to make a statement which may help to remove misunderstanding?
§ The Secretary of State for India (Mr. Amery)
The circumstances in which the Government of India found it necessary to detain the Congress leaders are well known. The correspondence between Mr. Gandhi and the Viceroy preceding Mr. Gandhi's fast has been published and is available in full in the Library. It contains no indication that Mr. Gandhi sees cause for regret in the outbreaks of murderous violence and sabotage which followed the authorisation in August last by the Congress party of a mass struggle. By rejecting the offer of the Government of India to release him for the period of 278 his fast and declaring that his fast would be unnecessary if he were released, Mr. Gandhi has also made it clear that the object of his fast is simply to enforce his unconditional release.
The Government of India, composed when the decision was taken of nine Indian and four European members, including the Viceroy, decided that they could not yield to this threat. His Majesty's Government are in entire agreement with their decision. India has a vital part to play in the general cause of the United Nations. She is still herself menaced by invasion. There can be no justification for the release of the men who deliberately planned to paralyse India's defence at a most critical moment and who have shown no sign of abandoning their criminal purpose; nor is there any reason in this respect for discrimination between Mr. Gandhi and the other Congress leaders. Subject to their general decision the Government of India have wished to show Mr. Gandhi every consideration. He has, at the Aga Khan's Palace, his own medical attendants as well as those provided by the Government, and is allowed, subject to their advice and to the Government's permission, to receive visitors.
§ Mr. Sorensen
In view of the grave concern felt in some parts of the House and in the country, and of the request of man prominent non-Congress Indian leaders for the release of Mr. Gandhi, can the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a Debate on an early opportunity?
§ Mr. Harvey
Would the right hon. Gentleman give favourable consideration to the suggestion made by Mr. Gandhi on 19th January to the Viceroy that he might be put among the Working Committee of Congress leaders?' That would not involve his release from internment but might ease the situation very greatly?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Will the right hon. Gentleman produce the evidence supporting the implication of his statement that Mr. Gandhi is responsible for outbreaks of violence?
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Is it not the case that Mr. Gandhi's release would be an indication of our strength, showing that we could afford to be generous?
§ Mr. Mander
Have the Indian leaders who are interested in this matter made an appeal to Mr. Gandhi himself to abandon his fast in the public interest?
§ Mr. Driberg
Even on grounds of practical politics, is it wise for the Government to connive at suicide and martyrdom?
§ Captain Godfrey Nicholson
Is it not a fact that the Government of India is earning universal respect by its recognition of the fact that its primary responsibility is the maintenance of conditions under which the masses of the Indian peoples can lead peaceful and normal lives?
§ 15. Mr. Sorensen
asked the Secretary of State for India whether White Papers will be published covering, respectively, the letter sent by Mr. Gandhi to the Secretary of State on 21st September, 1942, Mr. Gandhi's letter of 14th August and other correspondence not already published; and also the recently published allegations against the Congress responsibility for disturbances in India?
§ Mr. Amery
No, Sir. The whole of the correspondence which passed between Mr. Gandhi and the Viceroy and the Government of India, including his letters of 14th August and 21st September, has been given to the Press and made available in the Library. No letter was addressed to me by Mr. Gandhi. The Government of India's statement on Congress responsibility for the disturbances will likewise be given full publicity as soon as it has been received here.
§ Mr. Sorensen
Is it not necessary to publish not only the truth but the whole truth regarding this correspondence, and, as Mr. Gandhi refers to a letter sent to the right hon. Gentleman, will he make inquiries why he never received it?
§ Mr. Sorensen
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a reference in the published correspondence to a letter which Mr. Gandhi sent him on 21st September? Has he received it?