25 SEPTEMBER 1942, Page 12

THE INDIAN SITUATION - Sm,—Mr. Bardsley misunderstands me. He refers

to the times when Mr. Gandhi declared and later called off campaigns of civil dis- obedience. I spoke only of the present one. We have been told that Mr. Gandhi said beforehand that he would " fast unto death" if those who supported him were guilty of violence. Some have been guilty and Mr. Gandhi has not fasted. This has been used against him by people who do not know that he is not allowed to hold any communi- cation with the outside world and has no knowledge of what is hap- pening beyond the walls of the place in which he is detained.

When, therefore, it is claimed that our Government cannot negotiate with the leader of a mass movement of civil disobedience until the movement has been called off, we are bound to ask how it can be called

off so long as its leader is denied all knowledge of it and all contact with his colleagues, or with others—such as Sir Tej Sapru, Rajagopala- chari, Mr. Joshi, Mr. jayakar and Mr. Mookerjee—who are willing and anxious to act as mediators?

Since this correspondence began, those who care for our good name in the world and who feel that to make any approach to Mr. Gandhi at this time would mean a loss of prestige to us, must surely have realised from the reaction in other countries of the United Nations to the speeches in Parliament of Mr. Winston Churchill and Mr. Amery that criticism and condemnation have been almost universal.

I do not offer this as a reason for a change of policy on our part, for I do not think we should be moved by consideratiotis of prestige; but I know there are many who feel differently about this, and I entreat them to realise that the present policy of our Government in India is not maintaining but lowering the respect for us which our Allies wish to feel and to be justified in feeling. I urge them to unite in pressing for a more magnanimous policy which would, more than any other single cause at this moment, restore the prestige we have lost.

It would not lower but raise us in the world's esteem to ask one or several representatives of our Allies to act as mediators.—Yours, &c.,