Khilafat Movement

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Hindu Muslim Unity!

The Khilafat Committee died a natural death after the abolition of the Caliphate by Kemal Pasha in 1924. The Hindu-Muslim unity brought about by Gandhi in 1920-21 was artificial in character and did not produce any real change of heart. It was based on common hatred for the Brits, for different reasons though, by the Muslims on account of the treatment meted out to the Caliphate, by the Hindus for Swaraj. The so-called Nationalists Muslims who had joined Gandhi in 1921 were really Pan-Islamists who merely exploited Gandhi for securing redress of the Khilafat wrong. As soon as the Khilafat agitation came to an end, they showed their true colors.

M Ali in another vein, after explaining why the Muslim loyalty to the Brit Govt is incompatible with their loyalty to Islam, said Muhammad Ali in his Presidential Address to the Congress in 1923 “And if we may not co-operate with Great Britian, is it expedient, to put it on the lowest plane, to cease to co-operate with our non-Muslim brethren. What is that happened since that staunch Hindu, Gandhi, went to gaol for advocating the cause of Islam, that we must cease to co-operate with his co-religionists”.

The Khilafat Movement patronized by Gandhi and the Congress, massacre of the Hindus by the Moplahs, connived at by the Congress and to a certain extent by the Indian Press which blindly followed the Congress left the Hindu Mahasabha as the only organized body to protect the purely Hindu interest.

Early in 1923, there were serious communal clashes in Multan and Amritsar. Later in the year the Muslims started a definite communal movement called Tanzeem and Tabligh in order to organize the Muslims as a virile community.

Said Dr Saifuddin K, a well known Muslim leader to the Hindus of Lahore, “Listen my dear Hindu brothers, listen very attentively. If you put obstacles in the path of our Tanzim movement, and do not give us our rights, we shall make common cause with Afghanistan or some other Muslim country and establish rule over India”.

The Moplah atrocities were followed by terrible incidents in Multan where Muslims massacred and plundered Hindus and outraged the honor of woman with impunity. A still greater tragedy was enacted at Kohat in North West Frontier Province. One of the worst riots broke out in Calcutta in May 1923, when an Arya Samaj procession played music while passing before a mosque. The Aryas claimed that it was a regular practice that was never objected to earlier, the Muslims claimed that it disturbed their prayer. In July 1924, riots took place in Delhi on Bakri-id day. Generally riots were confined to British territory and the Indian states were free from them.

Hindu leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai and Pandit M M Malaviya realized that the only way the Hindus could save themselves was by organizing themselves. This was accompanied by the Shuddhi Movement referred to above. Not only did this irritate the Muslims but also the Hindu leaders of the Congress looked at these movements as impediments of Hindu Muslim unity. The Banaras session of the Hindu Mahasabha, in Aug 1923, was attended by 1500 delegates and visitors belonging to Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Samantists and Arya Samaji sects.

Subsequent to the aggressive Shuddhi Movement by the Arya Samajis, the Muslims were highly agitated. The Samajis were infringing on their 1200 years monopoly so they decided to murder a great proponent of the Shuddhi movement Swami Shraddhananda in his sick bed in 1926.

Pattabhi Sitaramayya wrote, “At the Gauhati Congress Session of 1926, Gandhi expounded what true religion was and explained the causes that led to the murder. Now you will perhaps recall why I have called Abdul Rashid (the murderer) my brother and I repeat it. I do not hold him guilty but Guilty are those who excited feelings of hatred against one another”.

This happened a few years after the phasad of Hindu Muslim camaraderie during the Khilafat movement. This agitated the Arya Samajis no end but those who thought unilateral concessions to Muslims was the only way to promote Hindu Muslim unity found fault with aggressive activities of the Samaj. In protest, the International Aryan League convened an Indian Aryan Congress in November 1927. It was presided over by eminent leader Lala Hans Raj and attended by Lala Lajpat Rai and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya.

It is very significant that during this period of great communal tension Gandhi kept himself aloof. He probably gave up any attempt at communal harmony by negotiation after his failure in Lahore in 1924. These events only increased the suspicion, mistrust and hatred between two communities who have different values, cultures.

Muhammad Ali, who was Gandhi’s trusted during the first Satyagraha campaign refused to join him in the second campaign in 1930. At a meeting of the All India Muslim Conference at Bombay held in April 1930, attended by over 20,000 Muslims he said “We refuse to join Mr Gandhi, because his movement is not a movement for the complete independence of India but for making the seventy million of Indian Musalmans dependants of the Hindu Mahasabha”.

He told members of the Round Table Conference “Islam is not confined to India. I belong to two circles of equal size but which are not concentric. One is India and the other is Muslim world. We are not nationalists but super-nationalists. In his address as Congress President in 1923 he reminded the audience that “extra-territorial sympathies are part of the quintessence of Islam”.

It was the Congress which had, in 1916, recognized the Muslims as a separate political entity. It was Gandhi who, by his actions in the Khilafat movement, endorsed the view of Muslim leaders that they were Muslims first and Indians afterwards - that their interests were more bound up with the fate of the Muslim world outside India than that of India herself.

What else but Pakistan could anyone expect then?

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