Resisters will cross border: No Permits
Tomorrow (Sunday), fifteen Resisters will cross over the Transvaal border without permits in defiance of the immigration laws which restrict the free movement of Indians between the Provinces. The Prime Minister, the police in Durban and the Chief Magistrate and police at Volksrust have been informed of this step. Writing to the Prime Minister, the Joint Passive Resistance Council points out:
It is unthinkable that a nation of a country should be prevented from moving freely from one province into another within the territorial boundaries of that country."
Resisters enter Transvaal without Permits
On Sunday 25 January 1948, with the hands of the clock hovering on a mid-day, and a heavy drizzle of rain pouring down from a sky banked with grey clouds, a batch of 15 Natal-born Indians crossed over Transvaal border at Volksrust to open the second phase of passive Resistance Campaign and at the same time to test the oft-asserted claim of the Prime Minister that Indians are Union nationals. They carried no permits. Normally they would have been prosecuted, but up to the time of going to the press, the police have left them strictly alone.
The Resisters who had left Durban the previous day in heavy travelled all night with breaks at Maritzburg and Ladysmith had a few hours sleep in Newcastle, and on Sunday almost on twelve mid-day, they arrived at the border.
The police had the road clear for traffic. They did not even come near the group of Resisters. It was strange to see no members of the police taking notes, when both at Ladysmith and Newcastle the police were greatly interested in the proceedings.
It was a simple impressive ceremony and was over within five minutes. It seemed an anti-climax, particularly after the journey that had been put in to get to the border of the two Provinces, writes a Leader reporter who accompanied the volunteers right up to the historic bridge between Charlestown and Volksrust.
Continuous rain on Saturday interfered with the mass meeting which had been arranged for half-past-one in Durban. The meeting was finally held almost an hour late in one of the tents in which Resistors courting imprisonment, lived at the Resistance Plot.
Speaking at this send-off meeting, Mr. Manilal Gandhi decided it was better to suffer and die than to live like slaves. "If we live then let us live like worthy citizens."
Although there was a large number of Europeans at the there were no incidents. They were content to watch simply question. They said nothing at all but clustered around on the little bridge as Dr Naicker formally handed the volunteers over to Dr Dadoo. They followed the Resistors to the Transvaal cars and saw them go off to Johannesburg.
A few policemen, one of them apparently the Chief of police of Volksrust, were present but they were only interested in the peace.
Dr Naicker, the President of the Natal Indian Congress, declared that this was only the first batch. Others would follow leaders would also soon be in the thick of the fray.
Immediately after the meeting, the Resisters, to officials and members of the Passive Resistance Council' Indian Congress, got into the waiting cars and headed for Pietermaritzburg The journey was without any incidents.
From Maritzburg the cars set off for Ladysmith whit had been arranged after the bioscope show was over. When car pulled away at half-past-six, it was raining heavily the last car pulled into Ladysmith, it was still raining heavily
The company had supper in Ladysmith about ten o'clock night and a meeting was held in the Athlone Theatre at 11. 15 pm. It lasted exactly an hour and despite the awkward hour the attendance was better than both in Maritzburg and Durban.
It was at Ladysmith that the police first showed up.
Mr. A. Smith, President of the Ladysmith Branch of the APO, said that his organisation, though not an Indian body, supported the Passive Resistance Movement wholeheartedly.
"Those of you who are going to cross our borders have our full support. The coloured man had a vital interest in the struggle of the Indian people. Today it was the Indian people; tomorrow it would be the coloured people. The Government wanted to suppress every non-European, irrespective of the fact whether he was an Indian, coloured or African. The only thing that mattered was that the people were non-Europeans."
For as long as he remembered, Mr. Smith declared, the coloured people had been loyal supporters of the Government. They had served with distinction in two wars but they only got "sweet nothing" and the boot for their pains.
About one in the morning, the company moved out of Ladysmith and headed for Newcastle, where arrangements had been made for sleeping, but the Hindu god Indra was in a generous mood and the notorious Biggarsberg-Kalebas stretch on the Durban-Johannesburg road was in a hellish state. Hours and hours of soaking rain had made the surface treacherous and in the early hours of the morning, the drivers had to be extra-careful.
One car immediately in front of us gyrated dangerously and with bated breath we saw it steady itself as its two wheels came back to earth. Our car with two others, got through that stretch of horrors, but two behind us, we learnt the next morning, got bogged and third which had been keeping close, towed them out, with the occupants pushing from the back. It was a weary, bedraggled assortment that got to Newcastle about four in the morning to find that the local officials had given up hope and gone to bed. Some snatched a few hours sleep in their cars and at 11 o'clock on Sunday they left to Charlestown after being shown the house in Newcastle which Gandhi had used as his office.
It was still raining and a thick mist enveloped the roads as the cars sped past Ingongo and Mount Prospect under the very shadows of the historic "Hill of Doves" - or Amajuba, where once the sturdy Boers fought for their freedom from the British and where Sir Geo Colley was sniped. As the cars sped past these historic places, one could not help reflecting that once more a people were fighting for freedom, but there were no arms and no weapons and no immediate prospect of death. But still another chapter was being added to history.
A little before midday, the Resistors arrived at the bridge, which spans the little spruit separating the two Provinces. There was a time when there were police guards on this bridge who asked the Indians for their permits to enter the Transvaal. The war somehow altered that procedure and the police were deployed elsewhere to more urgent work. They have not yet come back to keep watch on at bridge and so on the Sunday morning of 25 January 1948,there were no police there to ask for permits.
The cars stopped about two hundred yards away and led by Naicker, the Resisters marched to the middle of the bridge where Dr Dadoo received them. Although quite a number of European spectators had gathered, nothing untoward happened. For the long journey, the actual crossing of the border appeared to be an anti-climax.
Seaman Chetty fined for being without permit
An ex-Union Defence Force member, who rose from the ranks to the position of a second class warrant officer, and according to the claims of the Prime Minister and Mr. Lawrence, Minister of Justices, is a Union National, has been penalised for being in the Union. Seaman Chetty, the well-known Indian boxer who served with distinctions in the war, fell foul of the police during the week in Cape Town. His crime, and that of his two colleagues, was that they did not carry permits to enter the Cape. They had to pay a deposit of £10 and £1 for permits.
Seaman Chetty, Kid Sathamoney, and Young Hussain are full South African born Indians. They have lived all their lives in this country and last week they left their hometown, Durban, to participate in a boxing tournament in Cape Town.
They did not apply for permits to be in the Cape and the police fastened down immediately on them. They were allowed to remain in the Cape provided they paid £10 each in deposits and £1 each permits. Otherwise the alternative was prosecution and fine or imprisonment.
Yet it was the very Mr. Lawrence, under whose Ministry, that of Justice, the police acted, who claimed so freely at the United Nations that the Indians were Union Nationals. The claim was repeated to death. The previous year the Prime Minister himself had made the claim.
It is a peculiar brand of "nationality" , this which prevents Natal-born Indians from entering the other Provinces without a permit. Yet almost every day immigrants are pouring into the country and they can roam the whole country without let or hindrance. A large number of them belong to the German and Italian races, whose soldiers in the last war sent to oblivion many Springbok soldiers. They are now welcome with open arms and yet the Indians, whose kith and kin fought so gallantly from the heights of Keren and whose armies covered themselves with glory in Italy cannot go to Cape Town or Johannesburg without a permit.
Is that the brand of Union Nationality which the Prime Minister and his Minister of Justice have been claiming for the Indians?
If that is so then it would seen that even the highest in the land tells lies without batting an eyelid.
In a letter to the Cape Times, Mr. G. Munsook, Chairman of we Cape Indian League, says that sportsmen in Cape Town are indignant at the "shabby way" in which the Immigration Department treated the three men, all of whom were born in South Africa.
As they did not carry permits they were liable on conviction to imprisonment for six months without the option of a fine, the letter continues.
To avoid disruption of the tournament, the promoter, Mr. Shaikh, deposits and £1 permit fees.
Indians arrested for border crossing
The arrest and prosecution of the 25 Indians who recently entered the Transvaal without permits knocks the bottom out of assertions at the United Nations of the Prime Minister, General Smuts and his Minister of Justice that Indians were Union Nationals. That is consensus of comment on the prosecution despite what Mr. Lawrence had to say in the Assembly about Indians not being "enthusiastic over the second phase of the Resistance Campaign.
In an effort to decry the step, Mr. Lawrence went out of his way to tell the House on Monday that the "vast majority of the Indian community, both in Natal and in the Transvaal, have adopted much saner Councils and certainly did not give their support to attempts such as this, provocatively to break the law." Mr. Lawrence added:
"No particular enthusiasm was shown by the members of the Indian community." Prominent Indians have dissociated themselves Mr. Lawrence's claim for they feel that an important principle stake whatever one or two Indians might say.
Police raid PRC office: Dadoo and Naicker
Precisely at 11 o'clock on Saturday last, members of the raided the offices of the Passive Resistance Council, both in Durban and in Johannesburg. They also searched the surgeries and the residents of Dr G.M. Naicker and Dr Y.M. Dadoo. The raids, it is learnt carried out in connection with the alternative charge of incident which has been framed against Dr Dadoo, Dr Naicker and Mr. Gandhi. In view of the studied campaign of vituperation against the both by the Durban newspapers and by members of Parliament the House of Assembly, the officials of the Congress and the PRC feel that the police searched the wrong place.
Six months hard labour for Naicker and Dadoo
Dr Y.M. Dadoo, President of the Transvaal Indian Congress, and Dr G.M. Naicker, President of the Natal Indian Congress, were sentenced to six months' hard labour, without the option of fine in the Durban Magistrate's Court on Thursday morning for the bottom out of the Premier's claim before the world that Indian were Union Nationals. They have been charged with aiding and abetting" Indians to cross the Transvaal border without permits pleaded guilty and told the Court, "We were only putting into practical effect the assertion of the Union's Prime Minister before the 1946 session of the UN Assembly that we were Union Nationals."
South Africa an outcast among World's Nations
Speaking to the members of the Durban International Club Mr. A.I. Meer, who represented the Joint Passive Resistance Council at UN, said that the world at large was making special notes of the way in which the non-European people here were being treated in South Africa. He warned, "White South Africa must wake up before it this country an outcast among nations."
Mr. Meer said that immediately one left the boundaries of South Africa, one becomes increasingly conscious of the lack of vision on the part of South African politicians in their approach to day-to-day affairs of the country - a fact which played a major part in retarding egress of this country.
While the devastated countries of Europe were tackling with courage and determination the task of reconstruction, and while, in spite of the shortage of food, fuel and housing, the peoples of these countries were gallantly fighting to bring about a new world order of peace, progress and security, the South African politicians simply thrived problems of their own creation.
While in other countries the major problems being tackled 'reconnected with such vital matters as food production, wages social health and international relations, South Africa wasted most of its time devising ways and means to retard the progress of the vast majority of the population, and in the process retarded the progress of the country as a whole.
To the South African politician, the question of race and colour was Paramount importance. All other questions were to them matters of a secondary nature.
When the present session of Parliament was opened, several valuable days were wasted by the two major parties debating whether the indirect and ineffective method of representation granted to the Africans should not be done away with altogether. This was opposite to what was happening in other parts of the world.
In other countries, the issue is not one of taking away but of placing increasing measure of control in the hands of the people." In task of reconstruction and in the bringing about of this new order, youth is playing an important part. It is in the forefront of tackling the many problems that face it with confidence and enthusiasm."
"There is today an increasing measure of co-operation bet the young people everywhere, because it was youth, whether in Europe, Asia or America, that bore the brunt of the battle in the most devastating war known in history - a war fought to destroy the doctrine of Fascism and to uproot Hitler's theory of a master race."
"It is because of this and because of the cruel suffering they themselves had to endure that Hitler's belief of racial superiority that the racial policies of South Africa, appear to the people of Europe to be nauseating. Youth is making its influence felt in every sphere. It was the youth of Britain that presented a petition to His Majesty the King to proclaim publicly on the occasion of his visit to South Africa that racial discrimination as practised in this country was not in accordance with His Majesty's desire for equal rights for his subjects, white or black."
"It was the youth of 24 countries that only last week turn down South Africa's application to participate in the world table tennis championship match. Instances of this nature will keep on multiplying, and white South Africa must wake up before they find this country an outcast among nations. In the world assembly, that is the United Nations, one found a feeling of oneness. Nations' the world worked there in an atmosphere of complete equality, which is slowly but surely emerging from the chaos of six years of destructive war."
Mr. Meer said South Africa's voice there in defence of its racial policy was a voice in the wilderness.
"When one left the borders of South Africa, one felt for the first time a free human being. Nowhere in my travels in Africa, Europe or America did I experience any kind of discrimination as one finds in South Africa every hour of the day in almost all walks of life one happens to be non-European."
"Though there are varying degrees of discrimination IN the different States of America, New York with its population of 5,470,000 has a law against racial discrimination and segregation. Five percent of Coloured American men have occupations of a professional, in managerial or clerical nature. One percent of the Negro women earn their incomes from office or sales work. There are outstanding Negro singers actors and actresses and musicians such as Paul Robeson, Lena Horne, and Marian Anderson, all of who have received national recognition. There are actually two Negroes in the House of Representatives and there are twelve Negroes in the State Department's foreign service. Has South Africa anything to compare with this with regard to its own Bantu population?"
A Nationalist Victory will put clock back - But United Party Policy is also Racist
Referring to the General Elections, the Joint Secretaries of the Transvaal Indian Congress, in their report to the Provincial Conference on Sunday observed: "As far as the non-Europeans are concerned, the Nationalists reject all ideas of equality and promise what amounts to a slave state. A victory for this party at the poll wills definitely l the clock back. What Germany experienced under Hitler, South Africa would experience if Malan came into power, but it is further clear that the United Party's policy is also based on race superiority and contains the seeds of fascism."
NIC Blunders - Goes into Zenana to avoid public censure
Having committed a colossal political blunder by sending a telegram of congratulation to Dr Malan, the NIC militants attempted to justify their action, behind the purdah, when the matter was raised it the Provincial Conference on Sunday. They were not prepared to admit that the message was a major blunder in policy, but at the same time were not courageous enough to defend them in open debate when a vote of censure was moved against them at the Conference. Immediately the motion came up for discussion, the House resolved into Committee, the Press was asked to leave, the public galleries lines were cleared unceremoniously and delegates were charged to maintain the strictest secrecy on the debate. Then for two hours followed a Zenana session during which Congress officials advanced reasons to save their faces rather than admit their blunder. The telegram to Dr. Malan on Friday morning left the Indian community stunned, especially with the indecent haste with which it was done. Not one individual could be met who supported the action of the Congress and it became apparent that the issue would be raised as a matter grave importance immediately after Conference started its business by Sunday morning.
NIC congratulates Dr Malan
The following message of congratulation was sent to Dr D. F. Malan on Friday, 28 May, by the Natal Indian Congress:
"Natal Indian Congress, on behalf Natal Indians, congratulates you as leader of National Party which emerged largest party in elections and which will form new Government of Union. Indians confident that you and your victorious party will make every effort to alleviate grievances of Indian minority in Union amicably and in consonance with their position as Union nationals in a democratic state. Congress not unmindful that your party under leadership late General Hertzog was responsible for first definite and concrete steps to overcome disabilities of Union Indians by holding first round table conference with India. Hope future policy of new Government and your party will be guided in the best interest of the whole of South African its inhabitants including its Indian minority population. -Dr Chetty Chairman; A.I. Meer, General Secretary."
Led up the garden path
If ever a body of delegates to a major conference were led up the garden path and sidestepped neatly, it was the body of the delegates at the Second Annual Provincial Conference of the Natal Indian Congress on Sunday and on Monday, writes The Leader Political Correspondent.
When Conference got underway on Saturday, a number of the were thirsty for the blood of the officials who had sent a telegram of congratulations to Dr Malan on his victory in the General Election They were sore, very sore indeed, that their leaders had exposed their lack of political acumen by an indecently hasty message to the man who is an avowed fascist. They were determined to castigate the officials in public but party organisation and control beat them. The demotion of censure was debated in secret and the officials promised them a declaration of policy in relation to the Nationalist Government the next day at resolution time, provided they withdrew their vote of censure. The delegates withdrew their vote of censure feeling that the officials will be hoisted on their own petard if they declared their policy. The officials, the delegates believed, certainly would lot, in the face of the opposition aroused by the telegram, stand by congratulations to Dr Malan. But the delegates were amateur politicians. Resolution time came and the officials neatly shifted the onus of the declaration of the policy to the Joint Passive Resistance Council. They were piously told what, in effect, implied that the Joint Council was the policy-making body of the Natal Indian Congress. Probably after three days of debate the delegates were too tired to realise that they assembled in Conference, were the supreme authority in Congress, vide their constitution and not the Joint Council which, at its best, was a special committee set up for the prosecution of the Passive resistance struggle. They were sidestepped without realising it. The Congress officials have no vote of censure recorded against them and the inference is that the telegram is the nucleus of the policy of the NIC in relation to the Nationalist Government. The resolution, shifting the responsibility for a declaration of policy to the Joint Council, reads: "This Conference notes the report of the Joint Passive distance Council and reiterates its full confidence in the Joint Passive Resistance in the manner in which it has conducted the Passive Resistance Campaign against the Asiatic Land Tenure and the Indian Representation Act. This Conference takes note of the changed situation as the result of a new Government coming into power and feels that any expression of a view on the changed situation is a matter of national importance. The Conference empowers the Joint Passive Resistance Council of the Natal and Transvaal Indian Congresses to issue, at its next meeting, a statement reflecting the views of the Indian people of Natal and the Transvaal on the new situation for the guidance of the Indian community".
Johannesburg, Thursday: The Joint Passive Resistance Council of Natal and Transvaal Indian Congresses at its meeting held in Johannesburg last night decided to suspend, temporarily, the two-year-old passive resistance struggle to seek an interview with the Prime Minister, Dr Malan, and get his Government's declaration of policy on the Indian question. The full text of the statement issued by the Joint Council reads:
"The Joint Passive Resistance Council of the Natal and Transvaal Indian Congresses assembled in Johannesburg, has given careful consideration to the Passive Resistance struggle of the Indian people in relation to the changed political situation. The Joint Council recognises the political situation has been profoundly affected by the result of the General Election from which the country has just emerged. A new Government has returned to power. This new Government not yet defined its policy on the Indian question. The new Government that has been returned in the election is the Government of the National Party. The Joint Council is aware that the National Party is a Party advocating the policy of apartheid, a policy repugnant to the Indian people. Under the leadership of the Joint Council, the South Africa Indian people have for the past two years carried on the resistance struggle."
"The struggle launched in opposition to the enactment of the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act of 1946, which was the culmination of a series of anti-Indian laws enacted by" Smuts' Government aimed at further segregation of the Indian people. The Joint Council is determined to continue its opposition against injustice and oppression and repeats its desire to cooperate with other freedom-loving sections of the South African population."
"The Joint Council clearly rejected the policy of racial segregation and political disenfranchisement of the Indian people and has consistently demanded from the Smuts' Government the inalienable right of Indian people to enjoy full and free citizenship in the land of their birth and adoption. To this policy the Indian community is firmly pledged. Believing in the code of Passive Resistance - Satyagraha the Joint Council feels that it is its solemn duty to give clear lead and guidance to the Indian people in the present changed political situation. It is of the opinion that the Indian people should receive a clear pronouncement from the new Government, headed by Dr D.F. Malan, on its policy towards Indian people and in order to do so, it considers it necessary that a delegation from Natal and the Transvaal Indian Congresses should have an interview with the new Government forthwith for the purpose of discussing ways and means to solve the existing deadlock."
"The Joint Council, following the tenets of Satyagraha as enunciated by the late Mahatma Gandhi, considers it necessary that discussions with the new Government should be held in an atmosphere removed from any strained conditions and without any prejudice, and to achieve this, the Joint Council, after giving the matter its most weighty and solemn consideration, has decided to suspend the passive resistance campaign pending the interview with Dr Malan."
Passive Resistance suspended while Indian leaders plan to meet Dr Malan
A deputation of the militants - the Natal Indian Congress and the Transvaal Indian Congress - and the moderates - the Natal Indian Organisation and the Transvaal Indian Organisation - are hoping to call soon on Dr Malan, the new Prime Minister. It is expected that to the TIC and the NIC will go as a combined deputation. The NIO and the TIO will do the same. The Congress decision was taken at the Provincial Conference and substantiated by a decision of the Joint Passive Resistance Council. The Organisation decision was taken at a meeting of the provincial committee of the NIO in Durban on Sunday. The TIC and the NIC have already written to the Prime Minister informing him that they would like to have a declaration of a policy from him and that they were anxious to raise the question of the Asiatic Land Tenure Act and the Round Table Conference.
In a public statement the Joint Passive Resistance Council states that the Resistance Campaign has been suspended temporarily in order to have discussions with the Prime Minister on the Indian question in a calm and unstrained atmosphere.
The Natal Indian Organisation I understand has not yet written Dr. Malan, writes The Leader Political Correspondent. They want to proceed very carefully, for the situation is very delicate. It is just possible that it will wait for a while before making any approaches.
Second Resistance Anniversary celebrated
The Second Anniversary of Passive Resistance - the Resistance Councils of the NIC and the TIC celebrated both in Durban and Johannesburg last Sunday by large mass meetings organised 13June. Summing up the achievements of the Passive Resistance. Campaign over the last two years Mr. A.I. Meer, an Executive Member of the NIC, speaking at the Red Square said:
1. It had awakened the consciousness of the Indian oppression;
2. The courage of Resisters in the face of violence had won respect of friend and foe;
3. It had knit closer the various non-European groups of South Africa;
4. It had aroused the interest of the rest of the world in the disabilities of the Indian people of South Africa.
The NIC and TIC write to Dr Malan
The following is the full text of the letter addressed to the Prime Minister by the Natal and the Transvaal Indian Congress' on 2 August:
"We are directed to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 2 July 1948. It is the desire of the Transvaal and Natal Congresses to make the following urgent observations for the earnest consideration of the Honourable Prime Minister :
• The history of the Indian in South Africa is one long record of his steadily deteriorating status and fast dwindling rights. He was deprived of the Parliamentary franchise in Natal in 1896.
In 1924, the Municipal franchise was taken away from him. Earlier his trading and property rights in the Transvaal were restricted. The years have witnessed the growth of a huge body of anti-Indian legislation culminating in the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act of 1946.
• This unjust law aroused the deep indignation of Indians throughout South Africa, Dispossessed of the franchise; all constitutional means of obtaining redress were soon exhausted without avail. The unyielding altitude of the Government left the Indian people with no alternative but to launch a campaign of Passive Resistance in protest against a racially oppressive law.
c. With the return of the present Government to office as a result of the recent General Elections, in which the Indian people of South Africa have had no part, our Congresses suspended their Passive Resistance struggle and sought an interview with the Honourable Prime Minister to discuss the many disabilities confronting them, more particularly in relation to the above-mentioned Act and to secure from him a statement of the Government's policy in regard to the Indian community.
d. We recall that in reply to our communication dated 25 June 1948, the Honourable Prime Minister said he was unable to meet us, as he had to proceed to Cape Town on urgent business. He referred the matter to the Honourable Minister of Interior. To our further requests, the Honourable Prime Minister stated that his heavy tasks and commitments precluded an interview with him and that we should approach the Honourable Minister of Interior.
e. In the circumstances, our Congresses are concerned at the inaccessibility of the Honourable Prime Minister at a juncture when vital questions affecting the Indian community call for pressing solution.
f. Our Congresses have noted the suggestion of the Honourable Prime Minister in your last communication that the Honourable Minister of Interior should be approached with a view to an interview.
However, before we could attend to this matter, the Honourable of Minister of Interior had already, by letter dated 12, 1948, expressed his unwillingness to meet our Congress. He has raised objections which are to be greatly deplored for they run counter to all constitutional and democratic practices. We view such an attitude with grave apprehensions more particularly when it is taken against the accredited national representatives of a community who deprived of a Parliamentary franchise, has no other channel placing its views before the Government.
• The objections of the Honourable Minister of constitute so serious a departure from ordinary democratic principles and procedure, that our Congresses but draw the Honourable Prime Minister's attend its wider implications and significance.
h. We cannot understand the Honourable Minister himself with the internal composition of the membership of our Congresses. It is not for the Honourable but for the Indian people themselves to determine composition of their organisations. The Honourable should be satisfied with the fact that we are largest Indian political organisation in the country, whose membership is open to all Indians. The Natal Indian Congress 35 000 registered members. The present of the Transvaal Indian Congress were elected by 12 000 without any opposition.
• Indians in South Africa have always maintained their unfettered right to seek the goodwill of India and the support of world opinion in their struggle for full democratic rights in this their land of birth and adoption. The solution here lies with the Government of South Africa. So long as the Indian is the victim of unjust racial discrimination, so long as franchise, the basic pillar of fundamental human rights, is denied him, for so long will this position remain?
The Honourable Minister refers to organised flouting of the law. We assume that this reference is to the Passive Resistance Movement. There is no question that the Asiatic Act of 1946 is directed against the interests of the Indian community of the Transvaal and Natal and their ultimate economic destruction, social degradation and national humiliation. In such circumstances, Indians have traditionally chosen to defy such an unjust law and accept the penalties imposed. Here, too, the solution lies with the Government.
"Our Congresses, Sir, record with great regret the fact that the Honourable Prime Minister has been unable to grant us an interview. He has referred us to the Honourable Minister of Interior, who has refused to meet our organisations. The primary purpose envisaged by our Congresses to seek the interview was to discover the policy of the new Government in respect of the following disabilities under which Indians suffer:
1. Unjust discrimination in terms of the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act (1946).
2. The continued denial of the franchise.
3. The restriction of movement from one Province of South Africa to another.
4. Other unjust discrimination against Indians in laws and their operation.
In addition, there is a question of a Round Table Conference between the Government of India and the Union of South Africa arising from the resolution adopted at the 1946 Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations" .
"What we require is an unequivocal statement of policy from the new Government in regards to the above matters especially regarding our status as part of the South Africa nation. Such a declaration we can seek only from Honourable Prime Minister, the head of the Government."
"We hope. Sir, we have made our position clear. Should the Honourable Prime Minister find it possible to grant us an interview, we shall readily await on him at his earliest convenience. Should he not be able to do so, we anticipate an early statement on the above-mentioned matters that would apprise us of Government policy thereon."
Y.A. Cachalia [Joint Secretary, Transvaal Indian Congress] Debi Singh [General Secretary, Natal Indian Congress]"
In reply to their request for an interview with the Prime Minister the Transvaal and Natal Indian Congresses received the following reply from the Minister of the Interior: -
"Your letter of the 4th ultimo addressed to the province Secretary to the Honourable Prime Minister has been referred to me by the Prime Minister."
"I note the request of your two Executive Committees to the Prime Minister to meet a joint deputation to discuss certain difficulties in regard to the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act, 1946.As I am the responsible Minister, I shall regard the request for an interview as directed to me" .
" I am, at all times, prepared to discuss with Indians South Africa, in a friendly and co-operative spirit any matter affecting the interests of Indians here. But I am not prepared to extent this facility to any organisations of Indians which sponsor or associates itself with any organised flouting of the laws of the country. I also organisations which are Communistic in their orientation or leadership or which, while claiming to composed of Union citizens, invoke the political aid of another country. At the moment the Natal and Transvaal Indian Congresses do not fall within the ambit of organisations with which I am prepared to discuss, indeed with which I could usefully discuss matters affecting the Indian population in the proper spirit. I note that your organisations have temporarily suspended organised law-breaking. While not prepared to judge the motives or reasons for this step, I only hope that it will be followed within the near future by the permanent abrogation of organised law breaking and the repudiation of foreign ideological conceptions which are inimical to racial peace in South Africa. If my hopes are realised, the way will be paved for the desired interview on a mutually convenient date. Until then, other Indian organisations which satisfy the tests I have enunciated above, will have to serve as a channel through which the Indian population in South Africa may approach the Government for a discussion of any matter affecting its interests.
Minister of the Interior"
M. P. Naicker imprisoned for four months
For helping test a Prime Minister's claim that the Indian people were Union nationals, Mr. M.P. Naicker, an official of the Natal Indian Congress, was sent to goal for four months during the week. He found to his cost that the claim was not true.
Mr. Naicker, together with Mr. S.V. Reddy and Mr. D. Naidoo (Green), was formally charged with aiding and abetting Indians to cross into the Transvaal from Natal in contravention of the Immigrants Regulations Act of 1913. Mr. Ashwin Choudree, who appeared for Naicker, told the Court that law under which the accused was charged, denied 200 000 people their status as Union Nationals. Sentencing the accused to four months' imprisonment with hard labour, the Magistrates that the Court could not take into consideration moral and political considerations.
Mr. S.V. Reddy, recruiting officer of the Passive Resistance Council, was found not guilty on Thursday; the Magistrate stating that there was insufficient evidence against him.
Mr. M.P. Naicker, the Provincial Organiser of the Natal Indian Congress and the Secretary of the Natal Passive Resistance Council was sentenced on Monday last to four months' imprisonment hard labour by Mr. R. Bax in the Durban Magistrates' Court for aiding and abetting Passive Resisters to cross into the Transvaal in contravention of the Immigrant Regulation Act of 1913.
Mr. Naicker pleaded guilty. The trial was watched by large gathering of Indians.
Witnesses for the Crown gave evidence to prove that 12 Passive Resisters led by Dr Goonam had crossed from Natal into the Transvaal and that Mr. M.P. Naicker had assisted these Resisters in defying in the Immigration Law.
Mr. W.A. Fleming, Detective Sergeant, Criminal Investigations Department, stationed at Newcastle said that he had attended a meeting the Indian community at Newcastle where 12 Resisters were introduced to the audience.
Cross-examined by Mr. Choudree, Mr. Fleming said that about 400 people were present at the meeting. He got the impression that the meeting fully approved of the decision of the Resisters who the Immigration Laws.
"I got the impression that the Indian people were claiming inter-provincial movement as a right which they were going to exercise. The Resisters were going to act in the interest of the cause in which those present at the meeting believed," said Mr. Fleming.
In summing up before sentence was passed, Mr. Choudree told the Court that Mr. Naicker's action should not be viewed in the same light as that of a foreigner who was being assisted to enter the Union secretly and in defiance of the Immigration Law.
"The accused acted with a motive. He is a Union national. His status is acknowledged to be that of a Union national, and yet by the terms of the 1913 Immigration Act, he is not allowed freedom of movement within the Union as a Union national. The Indian community has done everything possible constitutionally to bring to the notice of the Legislature, this unjust law and has asked for its repeal."
Finding Mr. Naicker guilty, the magistrate said that the Court could not take into consideration moral and political issues. It was there only to administer the laws, as they existed.
Deportation of Indian: NIC: "Is it repatriation?"
The Natal Indian Congress has taken up the case of Said Mahomed Saib (also known as Ramsamy) against whom the Minister of Interior has issued a deportation order. The Congress is interested to find out whether it is the intention of the Nationalist Government to deport "many India-born Indians as part of the policy repatriation.
Travel ban on Naicker, Dadoo
On Friday last, Dr Y.M. Dadoo, President of the Transvaal Indian Congress, was taken off the aeroplane when on the point of leaving for Paris as one of the Joint Passive Resistance Council Delegates to the UN. His passport was confiscated. On the next day Dr G.M. Naicker, President of the Natal Indian Congress, the other delegate to UN, was told that he would not be allowed to leave the Union.
Dr Y. M. Dadoo was prevented at the last minute from leaving London on Friday night, reports Sapa.
After having passed through the Customs and Immigration department, Dr Dadoo was seated in the aircraft which was scheduled to take off at 11.59 pm.
A Customs officer boarded the aircraft and asked Dr Dadoo to go with him to the Customs office. Here, the officer asked for Dr Dadoo's passport. He then told Dr Dadoo that he was confiscating the passport on instructions he had just received from the Minister of Interior, Dr Donges.
When Dr Dadoo tried to board the aircraft to make the trip without a passport, he was refused permission by the officer in of the airport. His luggage was removed from the plane and it took off without him at 35 minutes past midnight (Saturday).
Subsequently, the Minister of Interior announced that the passport of these two men had been confiscated because they were "Communist agitators" and that they would indulge in "anti-South African activities abroad" . The action of the Minister has aroused protest in responsible quarters. After a meeting on Saturday in Durban, the Executive of the Natal Indian Congress issued the following statement:
"The Natal Indian Congress strongly condemns the undemocratic and unwarranted action of the Union Government in refusing passport' to and preventing Doctors Y.M. Dadoo and G.M. Naicker, the Presidents of the Transvaal and Natal Indian Congress from attending the forthcoming session of the United Nations in Paris. This unjust act in itself will nullify the representations of the Union Delegation and no amount of special pleading by Messrs Walter and Eric Louw can camouflage the true conditions of the oppressed non-European people in South Africa." On Wednesday, the General-Secretary of the NIC issued the following statement:
"Dr G.M. Naicker, President of the Natal Indian Congress, was visited yesterday by two Immigration Officers with a letter addressed to him by the Secretary of the Interior requesting Dr Naicker return to the Department of Interior on or before the 15th instant his passport together with any other travelling document in his possession
Dadoo sues Minister for return of passport
Dr T.E. Donges, in his capacity as Minister of Interior." ' the respondent in an application in the Supreme Court, Johannesburg today by Dr Yusuf Mahomed Dadoo, Chairman of the Transvaal Indian Congress. Dr Dadoo asked for an order directing Dr Donges to return his passport; restraining the Minister, or any persons acting through him, from preventing him from leaving the Union or interterfering with his luggage should he depart from the Union; and declaring that Dr. Dadoo is entitled to leave for Paris without interference.