Uprisings and Suppression
The Gandhi-Irwin Pact had been concluded. Yet, at the government’s order’s a meeting at Utmanzao had been fired on.
It happened like this. A meeting of the Khudai Khidmatgars was being held. Troops came and surrounded the meeting hall. They ordered the people to adjourn the meeting and disperse. The people refused, whereupon the soldiers opened fire. Some people were killed.
But our meetings continued to be held, in spite of all the British tyranny and oppression, and the army continued to break them up.
The Khudai Khidmatgars said that the Sikhs and the Afridis in the Army were very sympathetic to our cause, but that our brothers, the Bangash and the Khattaks had no mercy on us whatsoever. On the contrary, they used to assault and beat up our people.
When the troops fired at our meeting in Utmanzai, they sent down such a shower of bullets that the audience, unarmed and defenseless, had no choice but to run away for life.
A strange thing happened. Many women and girls had come to see what the meeting was like. Once of them was the young sister of Rabnawaz Khan. This girl was struck by panic, or so it seemed, for instead of running away from the firing she ran straight towards it. Those who were running away from the meeting hall shouted at her:
“Where are you going, sister? Come this way! For God’s sake, look out! Can’t you see what is going on? Stop! Don’t go any further!”
Rabnawaz Khan’s sister shouted back:
“Let me go, please. I am going that way because you are all running away. Let me go. Let a bullet hit me and I shall die, or the British will say that not one among the Pathans is ready to lay down his life for his faith.”
The girl’s courage and pride made such an impression on the other people that they all trooped back into the meeting hall. When the British soldiers saw this they shouted:
“What do you people think you are doing?”
They replied: “We want to take away the bodied of the dead and save them from your hands.”
Such a huge crowd collected that the soldiers found themselves surrounded and became very frightened. The people allowed them to leave but they first wanted to make sure that they were not carrying any of the martyr’s bodies away with them. The British soldiers had to agree and each and every one of them was searched.
Though some of our brothers had been killed the people of Utmanzai also scored a great victory that day. It was not only the Frontier people who were annoyed with the British, but the people in the Agencies and the tribal areas, too, were boiling with range. Therefore the Afridis launched an armed attack on the Makri go down in Peshawar. The Mohmands, the safis, the Utmankhails, the Mamunds and the Salarzai attacked Shabqar Dheri, Mathra, and other localities.
These crusaders made Lekandi and Sobankhuar their Headquarters, and the hostilities against the British went on for months. Attacks were made in those tribal areas where the British were in absolute power and where they kept troops. But in those tribal areas where the British had not fixed permanent frontiers, they approached the British through the jirgas and sent them an ultimatum. They demanded that Malang Baba (Gandhiji) and I be released from prison immediately, that the Red Shirts be released and that the Government refrain forthwith from tyranninsing and oppressing the Pathans. Unless their demands were complied with, the tribesmen said, they would wage an open and armed war against the British.
All over the tribal areas these uprisings were taking place.
The Tarkani tribe organized a large jirga, composed of Mamunds, Salarzais, and Utmankhails. This jirga approached the Political Agent at Malakand. Eyewitnesses have told me what happened at that meeting. When the members of the jirga arrived at the Agent’s house, they found the table laid with sumptuous food and tea. There were also heaps of coins and bundles of currency notes on the table. This show of honouring his guests on the part of the Agent was only to disguise his hope that greed and the temptation of money might get the better of them. But none of the jirga members touched the tea or the dainties, nor even looked at the money. They would rather have spat on it with contempt. They political agent wanted to shake hands with one Badshah Khan, but the Khan withdrew his hand and said: “I would not pollute myself by touching a hand that is red with the blood of my brethren.”
Badshah Khan, the tribal chief of the Salarzis, was a shining light among his people.
The Political Agent, who wanted to win over the tribal chiefs, said: “If you wil kindly allow me some time, I shall forward your demands to the Government of India.”
He really did go away later.
The kindness and the affection my tribal brothers showed me, and their love for the nation are still fresh in my memory and will remain fresh as long as I live. Neither the British Government, when it was in power, not the Pakistani Government after the partition, have cver allowed me to have any connection with my tribal brethren, or to visit them and stay with them and share their sorrows and happiness.
The British divided this untied family of the Pakhtuns, this untied country, into different administrative sections. Once of them was the Frontier Province where I lived and which used to be called “the Governor’s Province.” The second section was the Agencies that is to say those parts that were subordinate to a Political Agent. The third was those territories that were directly administered by a Political Agent. There were four independent tribal a political Agent. There were four independent tribal areas.
In fact, the Pathan country was divided into eight parts of which not one had any legal or administrative connection with Delhi.
The British (and later the Pakistani) motive behind this was the fear that we would establish a firmly untied brother hood. They through it was safer for them if we remainder a collection of small tribes and small territories, separated from each other. The worst tyrants in history could not have thought of a more devastating way of keeping our country and our nation under suppression. Event of Chenghis Khan, who killed thousands of people, it is said: “He came with evil in his mind, but he left welfare in the wake of his armies.” But, under the British, and later under the Pakistani Policy, hundreds and thousands of Pakhtuns, who, as a untied family might have become one of the strongest nations in Asia and done greatest service to mankind, were denied existence and a place in the history of the world.
My only struggle today is against that tyranny and that oppression. What crime had this nation committed? Why should it be creased from the pages of history? Why should a nation of noble, gentle, and respectable men and women be deliberately destroyed? For that is what it amounts to, if such unholy and improper methods are used to keep a nation under subjection.
I have one great dream, one great longing. I want to see all the Pathan tribes, from Baluchistan to Chitral united into one brotherhood.
I want to see them share each other’s sorrow and happiness; I want to see them work together as equal partners. I want to see them play their national role and take their rightful place among the nations of the world, for the service of God and humanity.
Outsiders have presented an entirely dales picture of us to the world, and it is with deep grief and sadness in my heart that I have to say this. For one thing, we are completely cut off from the world. All our doors have been closed to that nobody can come near us and see what we are like. Our enemies never stop making propaganda against us; they say that we are savages that we are uncivilized and goodness knows what else.
How can anybody with any human feelings bear all these false and disparaging remarks about out tribal brethren? Their love of freedom and liberty is described as disregard to law and order, their bravery and courage is called savagery. They do what they like, as and when they like, it is said. Their traditional hospitality and sociability are misrepresented and it is said that they don’t hesitate to borrow, or even steal from their guests. They take bribes, it is said, and they do not conform to any rules of good behavior. A Pathan, it is said, is like an “unbridled camel”.
This is a completely false image of the gentle, gallant Pathan tribesmen, presented to the world bu the cunning, hostile outsiders. And the selfish governments use it as an excuse to crush the Pathans, to blow them up with bombs, to mow them down with machine-guns, to destroy their hearths and homes.
The last few centuries have been years of darkness for us, year of suffering. From the Mohghul to the British period, and form British to Pakistani rule the tribal Pathans have never been treated with equality or dignity. They live in hard and rocky region, in the lap of the mountains, where the fields are barren and the soil is dry. This is their destiny. The barren soil can neither nourish nor support them. Trade is unprofitable because trade requires good communications and a proper transport system. They have never had an opportunity to learn any art or craft, for that requires long spells of peace and quiet which they have not known for the last few hundred years. They have had to fight wars, they have been subjected to bombing, they have been murdered. Imperialist powers have used their territory as a training ground for their armies, and turned a peaceful country into a battlefield.
They have had to do without schools for the education of their children, they have had no hospitals to nurse the sick. Like flowers in the desert they are born, bloom for a while with nobody to look after them, wither and return to the dust they came from.
They have neither bread nor water, they have neither land nor gardens. There are no marketplaces, there are no shops. They have none of the necessities of life and often life itself is denied-them. I cannot think what the callous, cold-hearted word wants from them!
Instead of looking up to those thousands of beautiful girls and handsome young men with love and admiration, mankind has tyrannized and outraged them. For is it not an outrage to insult and abuse others behind their back?
I have one great desire. I want to rescue these gentle, brave, patriotic people from the tyranny of the foreigners who have disgraced and dishonored them. I want to create for them a world of freedom, where they can live in peace, where they can laugh and be happy. I want to kiss the ground where their ruined homes once stood, before they were destroyed by savage strangers. I want to take a broom, and sweep the alleys and the lanes, and I want to clean their houses with my own hands, I want to wash away the stains of blood from their garments. I want to show the world how beautiful they are, these people from the hills and then I want to proclaim: “Show me, if you can, any gentler, more courteous, more cultured people than these.”
The Gandhi-Irwin Pact
After the Gandhi-Irwin Pact had been concluded all the political prisoners were released except myself. I remained all alone in the Gujrat prison.
I asked the Superintendent: “Why are you keeping me here?”
He told me that a delegation of Muslim leaders was coming to see me. Among them were Sir Faz’l Hussain and Sahibzada Sir Abdul Qayyum.
I told the Superintendent that I did not want to see them.
“When we were in trouble.” I said, “They didn’t lift a finger to help us. They had forgotten all about us. Now they have suddenly remembered me. Why? Please ask them not to come, for I don’t want to see them.”
Meanwhile a delegation of Pathans had gone to see Gandhiji. They told him that I was the only one of all the political prisoners who had not been released.
“This is gross injustice,” they said, “and it is only because Sir Stewart Pears, the chief Commissioner of the Province, is against his release. He has even gone so far as to write to the Viceroy, saying, “There is no room for both of us in the Frontier Province. Either Abdul Ghaffar Khan goes, or I go.”
Gandhiji went to see Lord Irwin and told him that I, too, should be released, because I was a member of the Congress.
Lord Irwin was a very nice man. He said to Gandhiji: “Do you mean to say that he, a Pathan, believes in non-violence? Impossible. No Pathan does. If they say they do, they are lying. You should go to the Frontier Province and see for yourself how nonviolent the Pathans are!”
But in spite of what he said, Lord Irwin saw to it that I was released.
When I returned to the Frontier Province my heart was deeply touched by the condition of the country and by the enthusiasm of the people. I immediately started working again not a minute was wasted. I wanted to inspire the people with courage and self confidence. In my lectures and speeches I told them:
“One horn of the British is broken already. Now, Pathans, It is up to you to break the other. Arise! Grid up your loins! This is your country; the country god has given to you and your children. But because of your selfishness, because of the disharmony amongst you, foreigners are occupying your country today. Although God has given them a country of their own, in their greed they have taken your country too. Your children have to go hungry, so that their children may have plenty. Arise, and break the other horn.”
The British disliked my lectures and especially my remarks about the broken horn. They said to my colleagues:
“Don’t you see? He doesn’t want peace or peaceful settlement; he only wants to sow discord. You mark our words; he will create trouble for you.”
“You are all compete men,” they said, “but he is not educated like you are. Don’t you see, you people do all the work and the credit goes to him.”
The British succeeded in influencing some of my colleagues, who went to Mardan and called a meeting at the house of Qazi Ataullah. They Asked me to postpone my lecture tour and to stop mentioning and the broken horn.
I said: “I see. And what would you like to tell the people?”
They said: “Tell them that now we have this truce, and we should offer the British the hand of friendship.”
I said: “But that won’t make the Pathans the ardent patriots I want them to be. Besides, a truce is a temporary arrangement. It won’t last. God has now given and they were afraid dthat they would also be taken prisoners then. And that was a sacrifee they were no t prepared to make.
The All India Congress Committee meeting was being held at Karachi and we had been invited to attend. This was the first time we attended a Congress meeting. About a hundred Khudai Khidmatgars, as well as their band, all beautifully dressed in their attractive red uniforms came with me.
On the way we were able to make propaganda too, for at every halt the Khudai Khidmatgars ant the band got down the train and attracted great attention. We arrived at Karachi in style.
The Congress had arranged a special and separate camp for us. Our Khudai Khidmatgars were very enthusiastic and brave. They had a strong sense of discipline, and therefore they were given the most difficult duties at the Congress session. They acquitted themselves of their tasks so well with such dignity that soon they became extremely popular, and everyone looked upon the with respect.
At this Congress session we had the opportunity to get to know Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru and other Congress leaders, and to discuss problems of national interest with them.
Jawaharlal and I
Once I attended a meeting of the working committee, of which I was a member, at the house of Dr. Ansari in Delhi. At that time I had not yet made Jawaharlalji’s acquaintance and he did not know me either. Later, of course, we became friends, and we came to know each other’s character and temperament.
Well. At that committee meeting Jawaharlalji took me on one side and said:
“We are giving the Peshawar Congress Committee a monthly allowance of Rs.500 for their expenses. And we intend to give your jirga Rs.1, 000 a month, from now on.”
I said: “Panditji, we don’t need money, so please don’t send us any. You don’t think this country belongs only to you people, do you? It belongs to us too, you know. This country belongs to all of us. Therefore, we can each carry our own burden. If you really want to help us, then build a school for our girls. And a small hospital.”
This somehow made Jawaharlalji angry and he did not reply. But he went and complained to Dr. Ansari that I was very proud and arrogant. Later Dr.Ansari asked me why I had upset Jawaharlalji. I replied that I had no intention of upsetting him. I added:
“I am a Khudai Khidmatgar and an arrogant Khudai Khidmatgar is a contradiction in terms.”
I told Dr. Ansari exactly what had passed between Jawaharlalji and me.
Later, when Jawaharlalji and I came to know each other better and began to understand each other’s temperament, we began to like each other and indeed love each other more than if we had been brothers.
Actually I hate to talk about money and I have never in all my life been able to beg for money. The members of the Working Committee used to get their railway fare. Jawaharlalji quarreled with me about that too, but I always paid my own fare.
When I returned from Karachi I started on another tour. I first went to Kohat and from there I began a tour of the district. The British recruiting officers complained about me to the Victory.
They said: “Kohat is one of our recruiting centers. Therefore we cannot allow Abdul Ghaffar Khan to tour this district. If he insists, we shall arrest him.”
Lord Irwin had left and Lord Willingdon had been appointed viceroy in his place. He had told Gandhiji that they wanted to arrest me. But Gandhiji had said that they could not to that, as it would be against the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. Gandhiji also told the Viceroy that Lord Irwin had asked him to visit the Frontier Province and he asked the Viceroy’s permission to go. But Lord Wiilingodm refused. Then Gandhiji said:
“All right, if you don’t want me to go, let Jawaharlalji go in my place.”
But the Viceroy refused that too. Then Gandhiji asked whether Devdasm his son, coud go, and finally the Viceroy reluctantly agreed.
We met Devdas in Peshawar, from where we were to take him to Utmanzai by lorry. AS we were passing Shahi Bagh, a friend of ours drove up it his motorcar. We stopped the lorry and got into the car. Two Khudai Khidmatgar were in the front seat; one of the drove the car. They were dressed in their attractive red uniforms and the car was flying the national flag. Devdas, Khurshedbehn and I sat on the back seats.
When we arrived at Charsadda we learnt that a dacoit, called Qazi, was lying in wait for us in the woods near the Sardaryab bridge, with the intention of attacking the lorry we were supposed to be travelling in. And indeed, when we were near enough the dacoit began to fire at the lorry. When the lorry stopped he came over and searched it. He must have been very disappointed not to find any of us in the lorry. However, one of the men had been wounded and we took him to Charsadda hospital for treatment.
Later we found out what was at the bottom of this incident. It appeared that one Kuli khan had sent for Qazi, and, at the Government’s suggestion, had asked him to hide in the wood and wait for instructions to attack and kill us. When we left Peshawar, word had been sent to Qazi, through the Nali police that we were travelling in the lorry. It was by the grace of God that our friend happened to meet us and that we travelled in his car instead. And thus the Government’s carefully laid plan came to a naught.
Afterwards I learnt that Qazi, the dacoit, had been killed by the Afridis, who said that what he had done was wicked and against Pakhtunwali, the moral law of the Pakhtuns.
“And,” they told him, “Why didn’t you think what a terrible blow to our reputation in India it would have given if you had killed Gandhiji’s son.”
We reached our destination without any further incidents. Later Devdas toured the whole district and we showed him everything. Then he understood that the British were angry and annoyed with us only because of the nationalist and patriotic work we were doing.
In those days the Muslim League did not exist in our Province. The British felt they needed some organization in opposition to our movement and therefore they founded the Khaksar Party, with the help of Inayatullah Khan Mashriqui, the headmaster of the Government High School at Peshawar.
The Khudai Khidmatgar movement was extremely popular and therefore the Khaksar Party did not make much headway in the Frontier Province, thought it did spread to other parts of India. Later Inayatullah Khan gave in and he wrote to the Government in Lucknow, asking for pardon. That was the end of the Khaksar party.
Some other parties like that were started in the province, but none of them could complete with the Khudai Khidmatgars and they were all short-lived.
We really did work very hard in the province and the Khudai Khidmagar movement spread like wild fire. In Kohat district alone there were 100,000 Khudai Khidmatgars. The British could not tolerate the idea of our popularitv and they would have loved to arrest me. I was well aware of this and therefore I did as much work as I could. The British even tried to get Gandhiji to agree to my being arrested, but he did not agree.
There was some altercation between Gandhiji and the Viceroy over this and in the end Gandhiji was obliged to send for me. Gandhiji was at Bardoli and he wanted me to go there. On the way, at Bhopal station, I happened to meet shoaib Qureshi, the son-in-law of Mohammed Ali, with whom I had worked in the Khilafat movement. He was now with the Nawab of Bhopaf. He insisted that I spend the night at Bhopal as the guest of the Nawab. Shaukat Ali was staying there, too. I had a long private talk with the Nawab Saheb. He said to me: “if you like we can both go and see the Viceroy. I have every hope that he will listen to you and grant whatever you want for the Pakhtuns.”
But I refused and I told the Nawab Saheb:
“I am afraid I cannot share your confidence in the Viceroy. Besides, I am going to Bardoli now to see Gandhiji.”
At Bardoli I had a long talk with Mahatmaji.
I told him:
“All these accusations against me are only excuses to have me arrested. The Government to not want me to continue my work. Could you not ask the Viceroy can judge whether there is any truth in them. If you both find there is, I will accept any punishment you decide to give me.”
Gandhiji did write to the Viceroy and not only told him about my proposal, but also asked for permission to visit the Frontier province and see for himself what was happening there. He added that if the Viceroy agreed we would both go and see him at hi summer residence at Simla and discuss the whole matter.
Gandhiji asked me to stay for a few days to await the Viceroy’s reply. When the answer came it said that there was no need for us to go to Simla, neither was it advisable for Gandhiji to visit the Frontier Province just then.
This reply made Gandhiji realize that I was right and he told me to go ahead with my work.
I ATTENDED a meeting of the Congress Working Committee at Simla. To Khudai Khidmatgars accompanied me. At the meeting there was some discussion in connection with Gandhiji’s forthcoming visit to London for the Round Table Conference.
After Gandhiji left we stayed on at Simla. A student Islamia College, whose father was one of the top officers in the Intelligence Department, invited me for dinner at the Cecil Hotel. He had also invited Feroz Khan Noon and some other Punjabi friends.
The two Khudai Khidmatgars went with me; they were handsome young men and they looked very smart in their red uniforms. The dining rooms was full of Englishmen and their wives and when our party entered they all looked at us with great curiosity.
Feroz Khan Noon complained that our joining the Congress had done great harm to the Muslims.
I said: “That is not our fault. We came to you first of all, but you gave us a very clear No! So we joined the Congress. We are tired of being the slaves of the British, we want to be free. If you too want freedom, we are with you.”
Feroz Khan Noon said: “Very well, I shall discuss it with my colleagues and let you know.”
But I heard no more from him and the next time I saw him was in 1946, in Patna, during the Bihar riots.
While I was at Simla, Mr. Howell, Foreign Secretary in the Government of India, wrote to me, saying:
“I would appreciate it very much if you could come and see me.”
I replied: “I am afraid I will not be able to come and see you.”
Then Mr. Howell wrote to Gandhiji and Gandhiji asked me why I had refused to see Mr. Howell.
I told Gandhiji: “I am only a weak humana being and liable to slip. I’d rather avoid that.”
This made Gandhiji laugh.
He said: “I meet the British and have discussions with them, don’t I?”
“But you are a Mahatma.” I said
Well, in the end I agreed I see Mr. Howell, just to please Gandhiji.
Actually, Mr. Howell was a very pleasant man. He had served in the Frontier Province, and so had Mr. Wylie, who was Deputy Foreign Secretary, and whom I knew quite well.
In the course of our conversation Mr. Howell complained:
“We used to have very good relations with the Pakhtuns, but since some of them have started to make fiery speeches, all that has been spoilt.”
I said: “Fiery speeches do not necessarily spoil relations. Our relation has been spoilt by the way the British have treated the Pathans. Mr. Wylie can tell you about that.”
“Young man, “I added, turning to Mr. Wylie, “why aren’t you saying anything? You were Deputy Commissioner in Peshawar, you know what I am talking about. It was because of you people that we joined the Congress.”
While we were talking the telephone rang and Mr. Howell answered it. It was a call from mr. Emerson, the Home Secretary, who wanted me to go and see him .
I said: “How can I go and see him? I have no appointed with him.”
But when Mr. Howell conveyed this message to the Home Secretary, he said: “Please ask Abdul Ghaffar Khan to come and see me, just for a few minutes.”
“It is on your way,” Mr. Howell added.
So I agreed and, taking leave of Mr. Howell and Mr. Wylie, I want to see Mr. Emerson.
As soon as I entered the room, Mr. Emerson said pompously:
“Look here, in your speech at Meerut you said that thought the British have white faces, their hearts are black. If I publish that speech in London, I don’t think there would be much hope for the reforms you want.”
I told him: “But that was not all I said. I said much more than that. You have my permission to publish the speech. But the full speech. I said that we had excellent relations with the British and that we loved them. I said that we gave them the best of our food, instead of eating it ourselves, or giving it to our children, I said that we did what we could to make them happy, but it was all in vain. They introduced no reforms, not even those refuse by India. These are the reasons why I said that though the British have white faces, it appears that their hearts are black.”
Mr. Emerson’s manner was very different dorm Mr. Howell’s who had been pleasant and courteous, whereas Mr. Emerson was not, possibly because he had spent most of his time in Punjab.
While I was at Simla a friend of one of the correspondents of the Civil and Military Gazette use to come and visit me. From him I learned that this correspondent had created a lot of misunderstanding about my meeting with the Viceroy. He had published a completely false piece of information that the Congress Working Committee would not accept my views on the enquiries into the Frontier incidents and that therefore I had sent in my resignation.
This news had created great excitement in Punjab and the Frontier Province.
When I arrived in Lahore, Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum sent a man to me who had especially come from the Frontier Province with the message: “For God’s sake, don’t leave the Congress, for if you do the British will not do anything for the benefit of the Province.”
When I returned fr5om Simla I found that the British had managed to sow fear and resentment in the minds of some of my colleagues, and that they were now secretly working against me. Some other colleagues thought that this was not m the interest of the movement. They wanted my advice and therefore they called a meeting at Main Jafar Shah’s home. My opponents, who were also present, said that they did not trust the Hindus and that they were afraid we would be deprived of our rights at the Round Table Conference. They thought we should pass a resolution to that effect.
But I Said that as the Hindus had never been disloyal or dishonest yet, there was no point in passing a resolution of that kind. Nobody had yet been arrested or imprisoned because of them.
“And,” I said, “I promise you that if ever they are disloyal, we Khudai Khidmatgars will be behind you.”
Thus we were able to smooth out our differences. When Sir Ralph Griffith was Chief Commissioner of the Frontier Province, he wanted to hold a durbar (Levee) to which he had invited me, too. I declined the invitation, whereupon he sent word that I was to go and see him, I did not go. He then sent a police man and I had no choice but to go with him.
In the course of our conversation he mentioned the dangers which, according to him, the country was facing.
“We are faced with three possible dangers,” he said, “The tribes, Afghanistan and Russia.”
“If you really think that the tribes are a potential dangers,” I said, “the best way to avert it is to bring about social reform s among the tribes. We are prepared to help and assist you in every possible way. But we would expect you to give up your present tribal policy and look upon the tribesmen not as enemies, but as friends. And we would also expect you to sit down with us and with our help draw up, and carry out, a programme of real improvement for the tribes.”
Sir Ralph took out a pencil and paper and began to take notes of everything I said.
I continued: “If you spend half the amount of money you are now wasting or running and killing the tribal people, on setting up cottage industries for them, they would be able to earn an honest and independent living, and they would get acquainted with arts and crafts, industry and trade. If you build schools for them, you would be helping their children to get a new start in life. And if you build hospitals for them, they would be able get proper treatment for their illnesses. All this would help to make these gentle, brave Pathans into useful members of the Pakhtun society, and the whole country would benefit.
As for the danger from Afghanistan, I told the Chief Commissioner that it did not exist, except in his imagination. “The Afghanistan Government is always friendly to the British,” I told him, “for the simple reason that Afghanistan cannot have a Government you disapprove of. Besides, the Afghans are our brothers and if you make friends with the Pathans, naturally the Afghans will be your friends too.”
“That leaves the danger from Russia,” I continued. “Well, the best way to deal with that is to grant us our rights, and give us our independence. Ours is a large country, stretching from the river Amu to halfway down Punjab. Who can attack us? If anyone had any idea of waging war against us, we shall defined our country with our lives.”
Sir Ralph took down everything I said and then he told me that he was going to Delhi to discuss all this with the Viceroy: Judging by the expression on his face I concluded that he was inclined to agree with me.
“You will come again, won’t you?” he said.
I laughed and replied: “If I do it will be in the same way as I came today!” What I meant was that he would have to send the police for me.
He said: “Look! Do you see all those people there, waiting to see me? Some have been waiting for days. There are some Khans and Khan Bahadurs among them too. But I haven’t given them any interviews, nor made any appointments with them but you, whom I request to come and see me, are not interested.”
I laughed again.
“Griffth Saheb,” I said, “these people are making the pilgrimage to your residence for their personal benefit. I have no personal axe to grind and I want no personal favours. So why should I waste my energy in flattery?”
Griffth Saheb banged his fist on the table and said:
“It is an ill-fated Government indeed that keeps the honest people at a distance and surrounds itself with dishonest people. God help the British Government.”
I took leave of Sir Ralph, Soon after my visit he went to Delhi to see the Viceroy.
I was full of hope that, God willing, something would at last be done for my country and my people.
But the first thing Sir Ralph did when, having seen the Viceroy, he returned from Delhi, was to rob me of my freedom. ON 24th December 1931 I was arrested. I was the first man in India to be arrested at that time. Though Gandhiji had not had not yet returned from the Round Table Conference in London, the outrages began. After I had been detained, thousand of Pathans were also arrested.