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2 thoughts on “Jinnah’s letter to Nehru – Safeguarding rights and interests of Mussalmans with regard to their religion, culture, language (17/03/1938)


    September 22, 1944


    Your letter of yesterday (21st inst.) so disturbed me that I thought I would postpone my reply till after we had met at the usual time. Though I made no advance at our meeting, I think I see somewhat clearly what you are driving at. The more I think about the two nations theory the more alarming it appears to be. The book recommended by you gives me no help. It contains half- truths and its conclusions or inferences are unwar¬ranted. I am unable to accept the proposition that the Muslims of India are a nation distinct from the rest of the inhabitants of India. Mere assertion is no proof. The consequences of accepting such a proposition are danger¬ous in the extreme. Once the principle is admitted there would be no limit to claims for cutting up India into numerous divisions which would spell India’s ruin. I have therefore suggested a way out. Let it be a partition as between two brothers, if a division there must be.

    You seem to be averse to a plebiscite. In spite of the admitted importance of the League, there must be clear proof that the people affected desire partition. In my opinion, all the people inhabiting the area ought to express their opinion specifically on this single issue of division. Adult suffrage is the best method, but I would accept any other equivalent.

    You summarily reject the idea of common interest between the two arms. I can be no willing party to a division which does not provide for the simultaneous safe¬guarding of common interests such as defence, foreign affairs and the like. There will be no feeling of security by the people of India without a recognition of the natural and mutual obligations arising out of physical contiguity.

    Your letter shows a wide divergence of opinion and outlook between us. Thus you adhere to the opinion often expressed by you that the August 1942 resolution is “inimical to the ideals and demands of Muslim India”. There is no proof for this sweeping statement.

    We seem to be moving in a circle. I have made a suggestion. If we are bent on agreeing, as I hope we are, let us call in a third party or parties to guide or even arbitrate between us.

    Yours sincerely,
    M.K. Gandhi

    Gandhi-Jinnah Talks, p. 22


    February 3, 1938


    Pandit Nehru told me yesterday that you were complaining to Maulana Sahib about the absence of any reply from me to your letter of the 5th November in reply to mine of the 19th October. The letter was received by me when I was pronounced by the Doctors to be seriously ill at Calcutta.

    The letter was shown to me three days after its receipt. Had I thought it necessarily called for a reply even though I was ill I would have sent one. I read the letter and I still think there was nothing useful that I could have said in reply. But in a way I am glad you awaited a reply and here it is. Mr Kher told me definitely he had a private message from you. He delivered it to me when I was alone. I could have sent you a verbal message in reply but in order to give you a true picture of my mental state I sent you a short note. There was nothing to hide in it. But I did feel, as I still do, that the way in which you used it came upon me as a painful surprise.

    Your complain of my silence. The reason for my silence is literally and truly in my note. Believe me, the moment I can do something that can bring the two communities together nothing in the world can prevent me from so doing. You seem to deny that your speech was declaration of war, but your later pronouncements too confirmed my first impression. How can I prove what is a matter of feeling? In your speech I miss the old Nationalist when in 1915 I returned from my self- imposed exile in South Africa. Everybody spoke of you as one of the staunchest nationalists and the hope of both the Hindus and Mussalmans. Are you still the same Mr Jinnah?

    If you say you are, in spite of your speeches, I shall accept your word.

    Lastly, you want me to come forward with some proposal. What proposal can I make except to ask you on bended knees to be what I thought you were ? But the proposals to form the basis of unity between the two communities surely have got to come from you.

    This again is not for publication but for your eyes; it is the one of a friend, not of an opponent.

    Yours sincerely,
    M.K. Gandhi

    Famous Letters of Mahatma Gandhi, pp. 108-09

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