“I am a Sindhi” – Gandhi; Gandhi’s Relationship with Sindh & Sindhis

By – Dr. Dur Muhammad Pathan

EVERYTHING IN INDIA attracts me. But when I first visited Sindh in 1916, it attracted me in a special way and a bond was established between the Sindhis and me that has proved capable of bearing severe strains. I have been able to deliver to the Sindhis bitter truths without being misunderstood” — wrote Gandhiji way back in 1929.

Actually Gandhiji delivered to Sindh more sweet truths than bitter truths. And, in any case, all these truths indeed established a very warm relationship between Gandhiji and the Sindhis. He visited Sindh seven times — in 1916, 1917, 1920, 1921, 1929, 1931, and 1934.

It was “a Sindhi friend” who had helped Gandhi shift from an expensive hotel to economical lodgings when he arrived in London for his law studies. In 1893, C.L. Lachiram, a Sindhi merchant, helped him organize the Natal Indian Congress. In 1899, Barrister Gandhi successfully fought for seven Sindhi traders who were being denied entry into South Africa. He supported the case of K. Hundamal, a silk merchant of Durban, in his articles in the Indian Opinion.

During his visit to Sindh in 1916, Gandhiji was presented with a welcome address artistically framed in Sindhi style. Gandhiji liked it so much that he kept it for years and showed it to visitors as an excellent example of Indian art. And it was Jairamdas who, in 1930, persuaded him to put everything else on one side and finish his autobiography, “My Experiments With Truth.”

Acharya Kriplani :

However, the most important Sindhi leader in Gandhiji’s life and work was Acharya Jivatram Bhagavandas Kripalani. Their first encounter in Shantiniketan in 1915 was none too successful. Wrote Kripalani decades later: “Everything about him appeared queer and even quixotic…. I had never seen a middle-class educated man making a heavy meal of nuts, specially of such oily nuts as badams and pistas.” Added the Acharya: “He was trying to gauge me and measure me. I too on my side was doing the same.”

A few months later Gandhiji set up an ashram in Ahmedabad and sent Kripalani a copy of its rules. Kripalani found the rules “very strange” — including the rule that husband and wife should live as brother and sister. He threw them away as “impractical” .

And then one late evening in 1917, Kripalani got a telegram in Muzaffarpur from Gandhiji saying that he was arriving that night. He was on his way to Champaran to lead the indigo- growers’ movement against their exploitation. Kripalani did not know what to do. As a bachelor-professor, superintending the G.B.B. College hostel, he did not have a house of his own. He, therefore, decided to put him up with his friend and fellow- professor, N. R. Malkani. But how was Gandhi, the “great man” of the South African struggle, to be received? The hostel students decided on a welcome with arati. But where to get a coconut for a proper arati, at night? While the students hesitated, Kripalani climbed a coconut tree in the hostel compound and plucked some coconuts. Gandhiji was properly received -and brought to the college campus in a horse-carriage lent on the spot by a local zamindar-friend of Kripalani — and pulled by the students, against Gandhiji’s wishes.

Noted Gandhiji in his autobiography: “Acharya Kripalani, when I first met him in 1915, was already a seasoned warrior. He was then earning Rs. 400 per month but was a Brahmachari, taking only Rs. 40 for himself and sending the balance to Dr. Choithram who was conducting a Brahmacharya Ashram at Hyderabad (Sindh).” Years later, Gandhiji wrote of that Muzaffarpur meet that “since Kripalani had no rooms of his own, Prof. Malkani virtually became my host. It was an extraordinary thing in those days for Government Professors to harbour a man like me.” He added that Kripalani, “though a Sindhi, was more Bihari than a born-Bihari. He was my gate-keeper- in-chief. For the time being he made it the goal and aim of his life to save me from darshan-seekers. He warded off people, calling to his aid sometime his unfailing humour, sometime his non-violent threats. At nightfall, he would take up his occupation of a teacher and regale his companions with his historical studies and observations.”

Even after this friendly encounter, the Gandhi-Kripalani relationship took some time to settle down. For example, Kripalani did not see how Independence could be achieved non-violently. For Gandhiji, the course of Indian history had been non-violence; Kripalani thought otherwise. After some time Kripalani stopped putting questions to Gandhiji; he began to answer them himself. He now saw that India, in fact, was less violent than other countries; here, traditionally, only the professional warriors took part in fighting; in this country, children did not climb trees to destroy birds’ nests; more people were vegetarian by conviction in India than anywhere else in the world. Kripalani the revolutionary had been converted to the cult of Ahimsa!

Even when the Himsa-Ahimsa issue was sorted out, Kripalani did not accept Gandhiji as “Mahatma”. He said: “There were better and greater Brahmacharis than Gandhi. I never had any spiritual discussions with him. I also did not consider him a Mahatma. He used to call me Professor and I used to call him Mr. Gandhi. After year. I called him either Bapu or Gandhiji. I rarely used the word Mahatma. As a matter of fact he resented people calling him Mahatma. Also Kripalani did not fancy Gandhiji’s multi-religious public prayers; he thought prayer was a private affair between man and his Maker.

Kripalani supported Gandhiji’s ` Khilafat” movement to the extent that the British had promised to retain the Khalifa. But he did not agree with Gandhiji that if the Muslim anger was not channelized into the non-cooperation movement, it would have led to much violence. Kripalani viewed it only as an “expediency” to get Muslim support for the freedom movement. Kripalani was sorry that Gandhiji’s meeting with Jinnah in 1944 sent up the Muslim League stock. He felt that Muslims in India were more orthodox than Muslims anywhere else in the world because the Hindus were also very orthodox. And he once told me that Muslim cruelty and fanaticism could be traced to their neglect of the fine arts of music, dancing, painting and sculpture as “un-Islamic”.

After a few years, as Acharya of Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Kripalani went full-time into politics and became General Secretary of the Congress for more than a decade. He was of the definite opinion that there would have been no partition if we had followed Gandhiji. Gandhiji wanted to lead another struggle to wrest freedom for united India. But many leaders were too old and tired to wait that long for office. Gandhiji then “suggested that the British Government would be more anxious to back the Congress than the Muslim League. Therefore we had better try in that direction to checkmate Jinnah.” But here again other leaders did not agree to join hands with the British and put Jinnah in his place.

Pandit Nehru even thought that the partition process would take “at least ten years” — since the separation of Burma from India had taken that much time! Kripalani’s plea for a “voluntary exchange of population” was also brushed aside.

When violence erupted in the Punjab in March 1947, the Congress asked for “administrative division” of the province. Kripalani saw in this clear seeds of partition — and he rang up Gandhiji in Bihar to oppose the move. But, regrets Kripalani: “He was unfortunately surrounded by non-violent sadhus who did not understand politics at all. The phone was picked up by one such sadhu who insisted on my speaking to him only. What could I talk to that dunce?”

The fate of Indian unity was sealed.

Gandhiji’s relations with Kripalani were not confined to public affairs. Right from the start, Gandhiji extended his interest to the whole Kripalani family. He wrote to Kripalani’s father, Kaka Bhagavandas, assuring him that his grandson Girdhari was doing well in the ashram. He was always worried about the health of Kiki Behn, Acharya’s only sister.

Kripalani was approaching fifty when he decided to marry Sucheta. “We had no intention but to live as companions. That is all we have been doing.” But living together without formal wedlock would have only caused loose tongues to wag. However, Gandhiji would not bless the marriage. He was afraid he would lose a tried and trusted colleague like Kripalani. It was only when Sucheta assured him that, in their marriage, he would be gaining a new hand (Sucheta’s) that he gave his blessings.

Nor did he hesitate to make fun of his dear friend, the Acharya. “Kripalani was morose formerly because I thought he was not married. But even when he is married and has a very good partner in life, his mood haunts him,” he wrote early in 1942.

When Gandhiji suggested Kripalani’s name for Congress President in 1946, Syed Mahmud and Yunus — who were staying with Nehru — opposed. Nehru himself opposed on the ground that Kripalani had a temper. Gandhiji countered: “But how about your temper?”

That clinched the issue. Kripalani presided over the Meerut session of the Congress. It was the period of transfer of power and Gandhiji said that Kripalani was “going not only to wear a crown of thorns but also lie on a bed of thorns.” But within months Kripalani resigned because the Congress ministers, Nehru and Patel, would not consult the Congress President even on major issues.

Gandhiji told Sucheta on that occasion that Kripalani was going to play a bigger role in national affairs. He was right. From 1947 to 1977, Kripalani became the conscience of the country.

Acharya Gidwani :

Gandhiji’s relations with Acharya Gidwani were equally dear, except that the latter died too soon, in 1935. Gidwani resigned as principal of Ramjas College in Delhi, to head the Gujarat Vidyapeeth. Gandhiji said of him that he was “not only a scholar but, on the touch-stone of character, gold.”

The Sikhs were agitating in 1923 against the deposition of the patriotic prince of Nabha. Nehru, Acharya Gidwani and K. Santhanam went to observe the scene and were arrested, sentenced, and then sent out. When the atrocities continued, Motilal wired Gidwani to go and see what was happening on the Nabha border. On one occasion not only was a satyagrahi shot dead, his child, who was being breast-fed, was also shot dead. Gidwani thereupon rushed to the scene of firing just inside the Nabha state border. He was immediately pounced upon and kept in jail for almost a year. Writes Nehru in his Autobiography: “I felt inclined to go to Nabha myself and allow the (British) Administrator to treat me as he had treated Gidwani. Loyalty to a colleague seemed to demand it. But many friends thought otherwise and dissuaded me. I took shelter behind the advice of friends and made of it a pretext to cover my own weakness.”

Gandhiji noted: “He did not even wilfully cross the Nabha border. His humanity pushed him in.” And when Gandhiji heard from Shrimati Gidwani after an interview that Gidwani was locked, his clothes were dirty, he looked much reduced as he had fasted for seven days,” he wrote: “The whole of the civil resister rose in me and I felt like giving battle. But I realized my powerlessness and hung my head in shame. With an India cut up into warring parties and torn with Hindu-Muslim squabbles, civil resistance seems to be an impossibility. One’s only comfort is that Acharya Gidwani is a brave man and well able to undergo all the suffering he may be subjected to. May God give him the strength to go through the fire!”

When Gidwani died prematurely, Gandhiji wrote: “Such servants of humanity never die. They live through their service.” He collected a Gidwani Memorial Fund and built Harijan Hostel in his honour at Kheda in Gujarat.

Nor did he forget the Gidwani family. He greeted Ganga Behn as “the brave wife of a brave husband” and gave her a letter of introduction that helped her set up an insurance business and bring up her young children.

Years earlier, Gidwani had told Gandhiji not to worry about petty personal things. But Gandhiji had told him: “The personal things you call petty are of as much interest to me as Bardoli, for I have to know all about co-workers.” And he had added- “Tell Ganga Behn not to forget her Gujarati!”

Professor Malkani :

Gandhiji had known Prof. Malkani since his stay with him in Muzaffarpur. Malkani was teaching at Gujerat Vidyapeeth when, in 1927, under pressure from his wife and persuasion from N.V. Thadhani — then Principal, D.G. National College, Hyderabad Sindh — he left Ahmedabad without consulting Gandhiji.

Gandhiji was shocked into penning some of the more moving letters of his life. He wrote to Malkani on 26 June: “I do not mind what happens to the Mahavidyalaya, but I do mind hat happens to a man. May God help you and me.”

Gandhiji wrote to Kripalani, then principal of the Vidyapeeth on 10 July: “It (the news) nearly broke me to pieces. For I regarded Malkani to be one of my unbreakables.”

And in a long letter to Principal Thadhani on 19 July he wrote: “Malkani standing at the helm of his sinking ship in Gujarat, himself starving, his wife and mother-in-law looking daggers at him, and his friends howling at him in indignation for his madness, would have been an ideal professor for your boys and a noble lesson for India.”

He went on: ”My life has been a witness of many such institutions (like the Vidyapeeth) rising and falling, with some of which I have myself been intimately concerned. For me, their worth has consisted in their having thrown up heroes and thus finished their task.” He concluded: “I may inform you that I have not yet got over the shock. Bardoli never disturbed me; but Malkani does.”

Gandhiji admired Sindh for giving so many excellent professors to the country. Referring to the Sindhi professors at the Gujarat Vidyapeeth as “the treaty made between Gujarat and Sindh”, he asked the Gujarat students to go as flood relief workers to Sindh and repay “the debt to Sindh”.

Jairamdas :

However, perhaps his sweetest relations were with Jairamdas. At the Amritsar session of the Congress, 1919, acute differences had arisen on the reforms resolution between Gandhiji on the one hand and Tilak, C.R. Das and Mohammed Ali on the other. Recalled Gandhiji years later: “Jairamdas, that cool- headed Sindhi, came to the rescue. He passed me a slip containing a suggestion and pleading for a compromise. I hardly knew him. Something in his eyes and face captivated me. l read the suggestion. It was good. I passed it on to Deshbandhu. ‘Yes, if my party Will accept it’ was his response. Lokmanya said, `I don’t want to see it. If Das has approved, it is good enough for me.’ Malaviyaji (who was presiding anxiously) overheard it, snatched the paper from my hands and, amid deafening cheers, announced that a compromise had been arrived at.”

When Gandhiji was launching the “Salt Satyagraha” in 1930, he wrote to Jairamdas, who was then member of the Bombay Legislative Council: “I have taken charge of the Committee for Boycott of Foreign Cloth. I must have a whole-time secretary, if that thing is to work. And I can think of nobody so suitable like you.” Jairamdas immediately resigned his seat, took up the new charge, and made a tremendous success of the boycott of foreign cloth.

When some Muslims alleged that Jairamdas was communal, Gandhiji told them: “I swear by Jairamdas. Truer men I have not had the honour of meeting. He is not anti-Muslim. I decline to think of him — or of Dr. Choithram — as anything but promoter of Hindu-Muslim unity.”

In 1941, when Dr. Choithram, President Sindh PCC, consulted Gandhiji on a particular issue, the latter told him: “Do as Jairamdas advises. My faith in his wisdom is a constant factor.”

SINDHIS AND SINDH

Nor did Gandhiji confine his interest to leaders. He never forgot that he had disappointed the people of Padidan in 1919 by falling asleep at the time. He made it a point to visit that place when he visited Sindh ten years later! And he wrote a number of letters to and about Anand Hingorani and his wife Vidya, concerning their health, work, welfare. When Vidya died and Anand started worshipping her, Gandhiji wrote to him: “Vidya was good but cannot take the place of God. I am an iconoclast. If you can forget her easily, do so. Then Vidya will rise and also you.”

Gandhiji’s humour infected even the Congress women. He jokingly asked Ganga Behn Gidwani, who was doing insurance business, in 1936, to “insure” his life. She joked back: “No, I will not insure an old man like you.” After a meal with Malkani, he asked Shrimati Malkani for dakshina. And the tatter returned: “I have given Malkani to you. What more dakshina do you want?”

All this interest in individuals was not only intensely human; it was calculated to promote the causes dearest to him. And these apart from Swaraj, were Khadi and Hindi. He was delighted when Acharya Gidvani draped Guru Granth Sahib, not in the customary silk or satin, but in Khadi. This, he said, was a great example to those who draped even the Puri idols in foreign cloth.

However, Gandhiji noted in 1924 that the Sindhis did not take Khadi seriously. He found Sindh yarn “a sorry affair”, with “little trace of practised spinning”. Even years later he noted that “with a few honourable exceptions, they are not interested in Khadi. Want of faith is the father of an innumerable brood of doubts.” He found that Kotri had only 20 Congress members, whose number would be reduced to two, if Khadi-wearing was insisted on. What surprised him most about Sindh’s neglect of Khadi was that it had an abundance of cotton — and lot of poverty. As proof of Sindh’s poverty, he quoted the large number of pies he got in his collection. “Apart from Orissa, I have never found so many pies in my collection as in Sindh. In one place I found even cowries among the collection. (The old rupee had 64 paise; one paise was equal to three pies; and five cowries made one pie). This could not be attributed to miserliness. Stinginess I have never experienced in Sindh. A people who gave over Rs. 70,000 in 12 days (for the Rs. 5-lakh Lala Lajpatrai Memorial Fund) could not be considered unwilling.”

Gandhiji was particularly upset when Jamshed Mehta, the mayor of Karachi and a great Congress sympathiser, moved a resolution in 1928, to rescind the earlier 1924 resolution of Karachi Corporation, prescribing Khadi uniforms for Corporation peons and scavengers. Jamshed’s argument was that during the preceding three years, the Corporation had spent one lakh rupees on Khadi, 85 per cent of which was a waste. Khadi, he said, soiled sooner and wore out faster — and the poor chaps were entitled to only two dresses a year. Said Jamshed: “I tell you it is really a cruelty. The stuff we are now giving our peons is enough to bring tears in one’s eyes.”

Gandhiji wrote: “Jamshed Mehta is rightly accepted as the – truest man of Karachi. Almost every good public movement there claims him as its own…. His honesty and independence areas unquestioned as his patriotism.” But Jamshed’s judgement on Khadi “is very like that of a delicate lady, judging the appetite of her weather-beaten guests by her own.”

Of course poor Jamshed had already withdrawn that resolution on the objection of the Congress corporators. But a few years later, Gandhiji himself adopted the argument of Jamshed — on the subject of Harijan housing in Karachi. Replying to the Address of Welcome, he told the Karachi Corporation in 1934: “The city fathers should see to it that not a single Harijan was housed in quarters in which they themselves would not consent to live.” Later he told a public meeting in Karachi: “It does not redound to Karachi’s credit that a single Harijan within its limits should be compelled to live in a house which the tallest .of its citizens would not gladly occupy.”

Jamshed had not been seeking anything different — for their clothing!

During this same visit in 1934, Gandhiji met the Karachi press. When K. Punniah, the editor of the Sind Observer asked him about -the separation of Sindh from Bombay, Gandhiji excused himself and said: “Now you are taking me out of my depths.”

When asked about his impressions of Sindh, he said: “My impressions of Sindh have been very happy. I should have been happier if I could get more money.” Thereupon the pressmen happily collected 30 rupees on the spot. Gandhiji said: “I do not want to rob you of what little you get. At least give me your pencils.” And so Gandhiji took both 30 rupees and the pencils, amidst general laughter.

Again and again Gandhiji was asking the leaders and their wives and their children — and whoever else would listen — to learn and use Hindi. He even wrote to Sucheta in 1945 to ask Kripalani to “write to me in Hindi or Urdu or Sindhi. Why does he write in English? Is it because he is a `professor’?”

And he was quite-horrified by the Sindhi custom of “Deti-Leti” (Dowry) particularly among the Amils. He told the D.J. Sind College students in 1934: “Here they try to imitate the sahibs and the Parsis. When I saw the girls during my first visit to Sindh, I wondered how there were so many Parsi girls around. Later on I came to know that they belonged to the Amil class. I was familiar with the name “Bhai-band” (the business community). But I was rather scared by the name “Amil”. I wondered what kind of people they would be. When I saw the Amils I found them exactly like the Sahibs.”

Gandhiji added: “The Amils of Sindh are probably the most advanced community in that province. But in spite of all their advance, there are some serious abuses of which they seem to have monopoly. Of these the custom of Deti-Leti is not the least serious…. The parents should so educate their daughters that they should refuse to marry a young man who wanted a price for marrying and would rather remain spinsters than be party to the degrading custom.”

When Malkani informed him that he had spent only 2000 rupees on the wedding of his daughter Mithi, Gandhiji wrote back on 4 October, 1928:

“If it was not tragic, I should have a hearty laugh over your considering the expenses of Rs. 2,000 a little thing. Ramdas’ marriage cost me probably one rupee, that is one or two coconuts and two taklis for the bride and the bridegroom, two copies of the Gita and two copies of the Bhajanavali. Rs. 2,000 in Gujarat will be considered a fairly large sum even outside the Ashram limits. I do not think that even Jamnalalji spent Rs. 20,000 over Kamala’s wedding two years ago. But I know that if I measured Sindh by Gujarat footrule, it would be a hopelessly false measurement. I suppose for you it is progress from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 2,000. You will perhaps have to renounce your mother-in-law and to have a divorce from your wife. Considered from that point of view, Rs. 2,000 is perhaps not a bad bargain.”

It was left to Hassanad Jadugar (magician) to set an example in dowry-less marriage. He gave his daughters only five Ch’s: charkha (spinning wheel), chaadi (milk-churner), chakki (grinding-stone), chulha (native stove) and chaunri (metal bucket).

Way back in the Nineteen-Twenties, Gandhiji reported: “I have just received from Dr. Choithram the alleged facts of an attempted forcible conversion of a Hindu in Sindh. The man is said to have been done to death by his Muslim companions because he will not accept Islam. The facts are ghastly if they are true.” Gandhiji referred the matter to Sir Abdullah Haroon, a Muslim leader of Sindh, who alleged suicide, promised to inquire, and then sat silent over the matter.

When violence gripped Sindh from 1939 onwards, Gandhiji raised his voice against it. He warned that “what happens in India, whether good or bad, in one part, must ultimately affect the whole of India.”

His “real remedy” for the Hur menance was that the Congress MLAs should resign their seats and the Allah Bux ministry should resign and all of them should “form a Peace Brigade and fearlessly settle down among the Hurs”. The Sindhis did not think it quite practicable, one MLA, Seth Sital Das, having already been shot dead. One press correspondent even wrote to Gandhiji: “Instead of asking the Sindh MLAs to resign and go to the Hurs, why should you not send a ‘company’ of your trained satyagrahis and try the luck of your doctrine?…. Or is it your case that your satyagrahis will meet the danger only when it reaches the Ashram?”

When the Hindus complained of continued systematic violence against them in 1939, he told them to “learn the art of defending themselves”. And “if they do not feel safe, and are too weak to defend themselves, they should leave the place which has proved too inhospitable to live in.” He returned to the subject in January 1940 and wrote: “I have suggested hijrat. I repeat the suggestion. It is not unpractical. People do not know its value. High and mighty have been known to have resorted to it before now. The Second Book of the Old Testament is known as Exodus. It is an account of the planned flight of the Israelites. In exile they prepared for a military career. There is, therefore, nothing wrong, dishonourable or cowardly in self- imposed exile. India is a vast country. Though poor, it is well able to admit of inter-migration, specially of those who are capable, hard-working and honest.”

And when in 1947 the Sindhi Hindus did begin to leave, Gandhiji wrote: “If even a single Sindhi leaves Sindh, it will be a matter of shame to Mr. Jinnah as Governor-General.” He added: “The Sindh Hindus are first-class businessmen. Why are they running away to Bombay, Madras and other places? It will not be they who will be the losers, but Sindh. For they will make money for themselves, wherever they go. One finds Sindhis in South America. There is hardly any place in the world where Sindhis are not found. In South Africa they were making big money and gave of it liberally to the poor.”

Although the Sindhi leaders had the sweetest of relations with Gandhiji, be it said to their credit that they did not hesitate to speak up when they thought him wrong. Jethmal Parasram described the Khilafat as “aafat” (catastrophe). And when Gandhiji asked Choithram in 1930 what Jethmal thought of the proposed “Salt Satyagraha”, he told him: “Jethmal says that in 1920 you wanted freedom with balls of yarn; now you want it out of ladoos of salt.” Choithram reported that Gandhiji visibly slumped at the remark.

Gopinath had shot an Englishman, Mr. De. The AICC draft resolution condemned Gopinath’s action. An amendment praised Gopinath’s heroism. When Gandhiji opposed the amendment, Motilal Nehru and C.R. Das walked out. Gandhiji won the point, but in view of the walk-out, he said the amendment might be taken as passed. Thereupon, Choithram stood up on a “point of order” and asked: “How can a rejected amendment be taken as passed?” Gandhiji was shaken. With tears in his eyes, he said: `Choithram, who is like a child to me, is now raising points of order with me. Today I stand alone.” The point of order was drowned in the tears of Gandhiji, Choithram and Mohammed Ali, who now placed his cap at Gandhiji’s feet.

When there was an attempt on the life of Lord Irwin, Gandhiji wanted the AICC to condemn it. Swami Govindanand opposed. In the vote that followed, Gandhiji won by only 38 votes in a house of about 700. Gandhiji graciously conceded: “the moral victory was with Swami Govindanand.”

In the AICC meeting in October 1934, Gandhiji moved an amendment to the Congress constitution, renaming the United Provinces as “Hind”, and the Central Provinces as “Mahakoshal”. Dr. Choithram opposed the amendment and said that UP could not be called “Hind”, which was the name of the whole country.

Shri C. Rajagopalachari supported Choithram.

Gandhiji said that he had agreed to the change only because people complained that they had no Indian name for UP. Now that there was an objection he was withdrawing his amendment. However, the members pointed out that they had no objection to CP being renamed Mahakoshal. Gandhiji accepted the new amendment and said amidst general laughter: “You seem to grudge poor Jawaharlal, who is inside the Naini Jail. It was he who had suggested that UP should be called Hind.”

During his last days, Gandhiji had P.B. Chandwani, former deputy general manager of North-Western Railway, staying with him in the Birla House. On 20 January 1948, a bomb exploded during prayer-time, and tore away a section of the compound wall of Birla House. At the end of the prayer meeting, Gandhiji said he thought it was only some military firing practice in the distance. Thereupon, Chandwani said: “Bapu, that is neither truth nor non-violence.” Perhaps only a Sindhi ashram-mate could be that blunt.

When Partition came in spite of Gandhiji, he persuaded the Government of India to do everything for the refugees. He spoke to the Maharao of Kutch and got Kandla land for the Sindhu Resettlement Corporation. He told a Sindhi delegation, led by Dr. Choithram, on 30 January, 1948: “If there can be war for Kashmir, there can also be war for the rights of Sindhi Hindus in Pakistan.”

Professor Malkani met him only an hour before Gandhiji was shot. Malkani had just been appointed Additional Deputy High Commissioner to organise the migration from Sindh. Gandhiji gave him a resounding blessing-pat on the back with the words: “Take out everybody. See that you are the last to come out. And tell Khuhro I want to visit Sindh to re-establish peace. Let him consult Jinnah and inform me telegraphically.” When Malkani told him how the Hindus in Sindh had to wear “Jinnah Cap” and carry about an Urdu paper or Dawn to pass off as Muslims, for security reasons, he said he would mention it in his prayer meeting that evening. Alas, he died before he could visit Sindh — or expose `the excesses there

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​Political Background behind Migration of Sindhi Community and their Participation in Independence of India: an Exclusive Insight

Political Background behind Migration of Sindhi Community and their Participation in Independence of India: an Exclusive Insight-Dr. Manju Lalwani Pathak,Department of Economics, Smt. C.H.M. College, Ulhasnagar, University of Mumbai, Maharashtra.

ABSTRACT:

Sindhis are the linguistic minority of Indo-Aryan group in free India. Every minority study has dominant by political resonance. Sindhis too have this kind of concern; hence this research article is grounded on the past political aspects of Sindhi community. Sindhis are known as migrant community and labeled refugee after partition of India while this community belong to the oldest civilization of the world. One should ask why Sindhis left their motherland; settled in new places of free India and were called refugees? 

Present research paper unfolds the exclusive and resilience insights behind the platform constructed by political fundamentalists for Sindhis migration. 

This article also provides the new paradigm regarding active part taken by Sindhis in the struggle for independence of India and substantiated through several incidents. 

Finally, paper discusses some an answered question and other possible options behind the migration of Sindhis. 

INTRODUCTION:

Every minority study has dominant by political resonance, almost all study have affected by the political affairs of the surroundings. Sindhis too have this kind of concern. Sindh was the origin state of Sindhi community. In Sindh Muslim were in majority and Hindu (all Hindus were Sindhis) were in minority. Power politics forced them to migrate from Sindh to other parts of free India because entire Sindh was given to Muslim Community to form their new country due to Muslim majority. This research explains the series of incidence which became responsible for migration of Sindhis during independence struggle.

History is a grim reminder that till 1906 there was no animosity between Hindus and Muslims. 

Both were united at social ground for their economic need. Sindhis were landlords. On one hand Muslims used to cultivate and Sindhi Hindus used to supervise and sell their grains. On other hand the artisan Muslims used to produce the artifacts and Sindhis used to trade these products in the markets. This symbiotic economy had made the cordial relation among them. 

The British strategy was very clear. They had no inclination to transfer the power to Indians. For Hindus, independence was the first priority at any cost. So they created enmity between Hindhu and Muslims so that they would be busy solving their problems and may forget about the independence. So they adopted divide and rule policy to break the unity between Hindu and Muslim. The detail about the participation and migration of Sindhis is provided in this paper

INFORMATION OF SINDHIS PARTICIPATION AND THEIR MIGRATION IN A SERIES

In 1906, Lord Minto encouraged Muslims for communal representation. In this year Muslim Representive Committee met Lord Minto in Shimla, they asked for separate representation for Muslims in politics. In the same year a „Muslim Sammelan‟ was held in Dhaka with the help of British Govt. All India „Muslim League‟ was also founded in 1906. From that day to 1947 the history of Muslims of India became the history of Muslim League. During the same period, in 1906 Dr. Choithram, P. Gidwaani, Acharya Kriplani and Jairam, from Sindhi Community represented Sindh for Quit India Movement and Swadeshi movement in Sindh. 

In 1908, Virumal Begraj as active Sindhi leader set up a Swedeshi store in Sukker, a town of Sindh. For this audacity he was sent to the imprisonment for five years in 1909 mentioned in reported Malkani‟s book. It shows the interest of Sindhis in the independence of their motherland. 

In 1909, British Govt. gave a proposal for the rights of representatives of Muslims in politics on the basis of ratio of their population but when the proposal was passed as “1909 Act”, the ratio for Muslims was more than their population by the efforts of Muslim League. Hindus were surprised. Dr. D.N. Sen stated that with the foundation of Muslim League the cleavage between the Hindu and Muslims deepened.”

In 1910, Acharya J.B. Kriplani and prof. N.R.Malkani, Sindhi writers, set up the Bramhchary Ashram in Hyderabad (Sindh). This Ashram became the centre of patriotic activities during independence struggle.

In 1912, Dr. Choithram arranged money for Rashbehari (a revolutionary of freedom movement) and sent him to Amritsar on way to Japan via Afganistan as mentioned by Dr. Eugene D‟sauza in his writing. It signifies in Sindh Sindhis had supported congress in independence struggle. 

In 1913, Jinnah joined in the Muslim League and subsequently there was great change in direction of Muslim League. During this year, Lord Minto and Mr. Beck, Principal of M.A.O. College, Aligarh, incited the Muslims by their communal speech about their rights regarding transfer of political power by Congress leader to Hindus not Muslims. 

In 1914, in line of British politics, publications of Mr. Beck aggravated the situation. Aligarh Institute Gazette, Central National Mohammedan Association and Mohammedan Foundation of encouraged Muslims for separation from Hindus. 


In 1916
, compromise made under Luna Act between Hindu and Muslims was the result of diplomacy of the British. Perhaps many Muslims and even Gandhiji could not understand this British policy.


In 1917
, N.R. Malkani was professor in G.B.B. college of Muzaffarpur when Gandhi stayed with him in his home for a few days on way to Champaran. That day was the turning point in Malkani‟s life. He resigned from his job, till independence he worked for Congress. The way of Malkani can be considered as the evidence that Sindhis used to believe in Gandhism way to get independence.


1918
, Pandit Malviya visited Hyderabad (Sindh), K.R. Malkani and his group welcomed him in Sanskrit. Prof. Kripalani also resigned from G.B.B. college of Muzaffarpur in Bihar and he left a sum of Rs. 2000 with Prof. N.R. Malkani for assistance to revolutionaries. This gesture shows keen interest to support in independence of own country.

In 1919, Sindh started publishing the daily newspaper “Hindu”, to mobilize patriotic public opinion.


In 1920
, when Tilak visited Sindh, young Sindhis men pulleld his carriage; women for the first time came out of their seclusion and offered aarti to him. Tilak observed the enthusiasm among Sindhis; he wrote in his paper „Kesary‟ about Sindhis, “If every province had Sindhi men like Dr. Choithram, we could break the chains of bondage in no times.” The words of Tilak highlight the spirit among Sindhis for independence and their faith on Hindu leaders.

In 1923, “Hindu Mahsabha” was formed by pro-congress members in Sindh. Muslims were disturbed. They started believing that their religion, language and culture could not be safe in a united India where the Hindus were bound to possess a predominant position because of their large number written by R.N. Aggrawaal. 


In 1924
, Dr. Choithram, Sindhi Freedom Fighter, (1889-1957) was a life-long public worker who started serving the country. He sacrificed everything for the cause of the country. During this year, many Sindhi women leaders such as Ganga Behn (wife of Acharya Gidwani) Kiki (Behn, sister of Kripalani), Ambi Khilnani (daughter-in-law of Kauromal), Ambi Khilnani, Ganga Gidwaani and Kumari Jethi Sipahimalani played a significant role in the public life of Sindh socially to spread freedom spirit among women. Apart from this, Virumal Bejraj, Jairamdas, Hemu Kalani, A.T.Gidvani, Ghanshyam Sivdasani, Jamshedmal helped in making ground for the freedom movement.


In 1927
, the Muslim League was fist headed by Sir Syed Ali Emam and then by Aga Khan, later joined by Jinnah which one cannot ignore in Indian politics. The Muslim League was divided into two groups after Jinnah took charge. Aga Khan Group and Congress wanted National 

Independence with National Unity whereas Jinnah group wasted the National independence on the condition of separate country for Muslims. The two nourished diverse views.

In 1928, the policies framed by Motilal Nehru were the example of liberal attitude of Congress towards Muslim League. He gave a „Neharu Report‟ to secure the communal representation on the basis of minorities. Jinnah did not accept the proposal given by Hindu leaders.

In the same year, Jinnah built his „Fourteen Points‟ and cleared two points in his report: first 2/3 reservation of Muslims in all Mantri Madals and second Sindh should be separated from Bombay. Including these two points, there were many other point which did not match with the Congress principles. Only to save the country from communal problems, congress accepted his report. But many other congress leaders criticized the acceptance of Jinnah‟s report. 

Sindhis were pro-congress; 

they were also surprised as to why congress leaders accepted to separate Sindh from Bombay. They were worried about their safety because if Sindh is to be separated from Bomaby Presidency, Sindhi identity would not be safe adidst Muslim majorities as Sindhis were religious minority with only 25 per cent of the total population in Sindh.

From 1930-1932, Satyagrah movement was made a huge success in Sindh by Sindhis. Also for first time women came out of the four walls of their homes to join processions. To see the independence spirit among Sindhis, Gandhiji stated in his prayer meeting, “I have not been to Sindh for many years… but at one time I used to call myself a Sindhi.”


In 1937
, the effects of the elections gave a significant tern to Muslim League when congress achieved great success in these elections and congress refused to make Mantri Mandal with Muslim League. 


In 1938
, Jinnah became head of Muslim League and he created pro-Muslim fervor among young Muslims in India for separate country for Muslims.

In 1939, in the next step, Jinnah announced to celebrate Day of Deliverance on 22nd December 1939. The statements and activities of Muslim League brought the air of partition in united India and showed Jinnah‟s wish.

One side Hindu political leaders were fighting with British leader for freedom and other side they were facing the problem of Jinnah‟s repeated demand for a „separate state‟. At the same time they had to take care of Gandhiji‟s wish to obtain Swarj by non-violence with Hindu-Muslim unity. But there was differences of opinion between Hindu leaders too as Subhash 

Chandra Bose had opined that Swaraj cannot only be obtained by non-violence. 

In 1940, Jinnah successfully passed the proposal of demand of new country on March 23, 1940 during a session held at Lahore headed by Jinnah, he stated that According to geographical distribution, Muslim Majority states should be formed Pakistan mentioned by Dr. K.L. Muglani in his publication. Neharuji went to attend that meeting and gave his vote for partition of the country because he wanted to be free from British dependency at any cost. 

Here it is necessary to note that congress supported of unity of all the communities with its liberalism. But Hindu extremists gave the place to Muslims for the demand of Pakistan. And statement given Indian political leader also encouraged Muslims for separation like Nehru said about Muslims that if they are forced to stay in India, no progress and planning will be possible mentioned by Dr. K.L. Muglani, 


In 1942
, and by the end of 1943, Muslim League formed their government in Assam, Sindh and Bengal. Muslim League members increased from 1330 in 1927 to more than 1,00000 in 1940.


In 1944 December
, Shree Rajgopalachari prepared a plan as „C.R. Formula‟ which stated that Pakistan would be given to Muslims after independence on the basis of Muslims majority but before that Muslims would cooperate with congress for Quit India Movement. This plan had an idea of „population exchange‟ on the basis of wishes of both the communities. Either Hindus can stay with Muslim majority or Muslims and stay with Hindu majority in free India. 

Muglani stated that Gandhiji accepted this plan in state of helplessness but after 14 discussions between Gandhji and Jinnah, even finally Jinnah could not be convinced and he refused it.


In 1945
, in general elections, it was clear that no one could prevent the division of the country because congress won all seats except Muslim majority seats whereas the Muslim League won the entire constituencies they represented. It is important to mention here that Sindh seat was won by Muslim League as Muslims were in majority. The result of election was shaken to the Sindhis.


In 1946
, Muslim League won only 73 seats out of 296 seats in the election of cabinet mission plan for constitution committee. Jinnah was very disappointed. On 16th August 1946 he declared that by „Direct Action‟ they would create Pakistan. There after communal riots erupted in many places especially in Karachi. In these riots about 7000 citizens were killed including 250 Muslims leaving the country in turmoil.

Since India and Pakistan were being divided on the basis of Hindu and Muslim religion and Sindh had majority of Muslims why then the Hindu leaders did not feel it necessary to involved Hindus of Sindh in taking their opinion whether they wanted to remain in Sindh or they like to come in free India because they actively participating in independence struggle at great extent.

Sindhi freedom fighters found themselves helpless. After C.R. Formula, Kriplani suggested to Nehru for a voluntary exchange of population of Hindus from Pakistan because he wanted to bring all Sindhis to free India as Sindh was decided to give to form Pakistan on the basis of Muslim majority and they were in minority. 

Kripalani‟s plea for a voluntary exchange of population was brushed aside saying by Hindu political leaders that it will take long time. Atley declared that before June 1948, England will transfer the political power to Hindu and Muslims. Sindhis were shocked with this indifference of Hindu leaders‟ behavior towards them as they could not ever think after independence they could become outsiders and refugees within a night in their own country for which day night they are contributing. 


In 1947
, the then Governor General Mountbaten observed that there is no option but to resolve the problem of the country by partition. Very tactfully he convinced the leaders of both the religions. 

On 3rd June 1947 under the „Mountbatten Plan‟ it was stated that the country would be divided into two states Bharat and Pakistan and Hindus and Muslims majority will decide whether to be a part of India or Pakistan. In Sindh, government policy of political discrimination came with the judicial decision against the Hindus. The post of city Magistrate in Karachi was abolished just because a Muslim could not be appointed published in Free Press Journal (14thJuly, 1947). Social discrimination also created tension among Sindhis.


India became free on 15th August, 1947

Sindhis were totally confused because many Sindhi never wanted to leave their birth land Sindh but riots, insecurity and discrimination policy forced them to migrate in one hand, on other had they accounted only 25 per cent of population of Sindh but 40 per cent of movable and non-movable property was possessed by Sindhis in Sindh mentioned by Dr. Subhadra Anand. But Pakistan was formed on the basis of Muslim majority, they were Hindus, on that basis they thought they should leave the place and long processes of migration started from both the borders of Pakistan and free India. 


CONCLUSION:

Evidences provided in the paper the facts that from 1906 to 1947 Sindhis were contributing to independence struggle of India being a Hindu but their participation was ignored. 

It would be not wrong to say that Lord Minto was a person who founded the plinth of Pakistan to accept the Muslim representation in politics and Mr. Beck constructed the walls of Pakistan by his contribution in Muslim League. 

Construction of the roof was not tough job for the Muslims shaped a separate country with the support of sagacious Jinnah. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Census of India, 1961, Vol. V. 1931-40, The Province of Sinde, 1833, secondary data 

collected from International, Institute of Population Studies, Govandi, Mumbai.

Dr. Eugene D‟souza, Ancient India, upto 1000 A.D., Manan Prakashan, Mumbai, 2003.

K.R. Malkani, The Sindh Story, Allied Publishers Pvt. Ltd. Sindhi Academy, Delhi, 1987

Census repots Bombay, vol. Ix A (1901); vol. VIII, 1931; Sind, 1941.

Dr. Subhadra Anand, “National Integration of Sindhis”, Vikas Publication House Pvt. 

Ltd, New Delhi, 1996. 

K.R. Malkani, “The Sindh Story”, Delhi: Allied Publishers Pvt. Ltd, Sindhi Academy, 

1987 

U.T. Thakur, :Sindhi Cultrue” Delhi, Sindhi Academi, 1997. 

Dr. S.N. Sen, History of Modern India, Free India Publications, Shabad, New Delhi, 1986

R.N. Aggrawal, Indian National Movement, Metropolitan Book, 1971.

Bhagat Lavi S/O Kamal Bhagat, Ajmer

A Great Example of Preserving & Promotion of Sindhi Sindhi Culturee.

“Late Bhagat Kamal” Ajmer was known around the world for his “Sindhi Bhagat” Bhagat Kamal expired 1.5 yrs back because of food poisoning. 

Lavi Bhagat who used to accompany his father Kamal Bhagat during his programs at the age of 13 (Now 17 Yrs Old ) decided to continue “Bhagat” to Promote his father’s name &  followed his father’s foot step to contribute to the Growth & Prosperity of Sindhi Culturee.

“#Bhagat is a part of Sindhi Culture, a combination of Sindhi Folk Dance,Singing, Story & Drama” which was started long back in Sindh by Sindhi Saints “Bhagat Khotaram, Bhagat Sant Santram Das Saheb and carried by Bhagat Sant Kanwar Ram Saheb”

Sindh Jo Sirmor

            Bhagat Sant Kanwar Ram Saheb

Bhagat is the most important and integral part of Sindhi folk-art, a rich cultural heritage of the Sindhi community and widely acclaimed. There were once scores of these versatile artists in the countryside as well as in the urban pockets of Sind. However, after partition of the country this folk art is on the decline due to a variety of reasons, including the influence of electronic mass media and socio-economic compulsion. However, there are still a few prominent Bhagats who are dedicated and perform occasionally.

Today there are very few “Bhagats” left in India & Sindh.

I on behalf of Sindhi Community would like to Promote this Young “#Lavi #Bhagat” for contributing his life in preserving the Sindhi Culture & Old Art.