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Wednesday, 28th January 1948

''Freedom struggle not really non-violent''

On the 27th of January, Mahatma Gandhi had given an important interview to the visiting British journalist, Mr. Kingsley Martin. To the visitor, he repeated his growing conviction that India''s struggle for freedom from foreign rule had not really been non-violent at heart, and that fatal difference between word and deed had been the root cause of all the violence seen in the country soon after partition. He saw India''s passive resistance to have been on expedient only, undertaken because the freedom fighters had had no military strength with which to battle the British Empire in all its might. True non-violence, in his view, had to be an attitude of the strong who commanded power but would not use it as a matter of dharma, and not because they were powerless.

Bapu recalled for Mr. Martin an incident in South Africa many years ago in which a businessman, Mr. William Hosken, had introduced him at a meeting saying, Mr. Gandhi is a leader of Transvaal Indians who take recourse to passive resistance, having no franchise, and having no arms. They have taken to passive resistance which is a weapon of the weak. Bapu said that he had even then resisted that description; he said, Real passive resistance has been miscalled a weapon of the weak. After all, Jesus Christ is the Prince of all Passive Resisters. Can he, in any sense of the term, be called weak? Soul Force, the weapon of the truly non-violent, is actually a weapon of the strong.

The Western-bred Mr. Martin wanted to know how non-violence could be employed, say, as a positive weapon against the raiders in Kashmir, or how it could have been effective against a man like Adolf Hitler who just stamped out all opposition with brute force. Gandhiji laughed. He quoted the moral of Tolstoy''s Ivan the Fool. Hindu scriptures had scores of such stories, but he said he was quoting Tolstoy as Mr. Martin might have read it. Ivan became a king, and commanded wealth and power, but even then he remained non-violent. The non-violent man derived his power from the people whom he served. For such a man, or such a government, a non-violent army would be perfectly possible. A non-violent army would, Bapu said, fight against all injustice, but carry out its campaign with the clean weapon of soul-force.

At his prayer meeting on Tuesday, Bapu referred to raiders in Kashmir having abducted a number of women and children from Mirpur to hold them in inhuman cruelty. He appealed,I must ask the raiders and the Government of Pakistan, for the sake of humanity, and for the sake of God, to return all the abducted with due respect. It is their duty to do so. I have enough knowledge of Islam, about which I have read a good deal. Nowhere does Islam bid people to carry away women and keep them in such disreputable conditions. This is worship of Satan, not of God.

Today he continued an interview to Vincent Sheean, an author of repute and admirer of the Mahatma from the United States. And, of course, there was the volume of correspondence Bapu had to attend to, in order to make a clean desk for himself!

Explaining his objection to the use of force, Bapu told Mr. Sheean I do not go by results. It is enough if I take care of the means. Sheean, another Westerner, came up with acute questions and difficult examples. If Gandhiji suffered from typhoid, would he not take sulpha drugs? he asked, implying in the question that the use of force could not be avoided to overcome strong evil. Gandhiji said,I do not know if it is good for me, or for humanity, to be cured by using sulpha drugs. So I refuse to use them. If evil does seem sometimes to result from the use of good means, the inference would be that the means employed were probably wrong.