From the book: Passive Resistance 1946 - A Selection of Documents compiled by E.S. Reddy & Fatima Meer


Speech by Gandhi at Prayer Meeting, New Delhi, 28 January 1948

You know in South Africa our people are fighting for their rights ... They cannot even move from one province to another without a permit.

South Africa is like a continent. It is a very large country. Indians wishing to go to the Transvaal from Natal can do so only if they have a permit. They say it is as much their country as anyone else's and ask why there should be such restrictions imposed on their movements.

Many have succeeded in moving to the Transvaal and the government this time has been decent. They have not been arrested so far. They first went to Volksrust which is the first city after crossing the border. There were policemen present in strength but they only looked on and did not arrest them. There they found a motor vehicle and proceeded in it further on. Then a meeting was held there, at which they were given a warm welcome. I thought I should give you this information. Those Indians have performed an act of great courage. Indians in South Africa are few in number but, if they all become true Satyagrahis, their victory is certain and no obstacle can stop them. But this has yet to be achieved.

There are, as here, many kinds of people. There are Hindus and there are Muslims. They all work together. They know they cannot fight their battle separately. They have reached Johannesburg but they cannot stop there. They must go on and on till they are arrested. The government has a right to arrest them, for Satyagraha implies the acceptance of punishment for the violation of a law.

They deserve congratulations. I shall ask the government of South Africa not to be too severe with people who carry on their struggle with such decency. They should understand their grievances and come to a settlement with them. Why should it be that one with a white skin couldn't have a dialogue with one with a black skin? Why should Indians have to fight for their legitimate rights? ... I shall the government of South Africa through this meeting that it should mend its ways. I have myself lived in South Africa for twenty years and I can therefore say that it is my country.

South African Indians Ill-Treated - Gandhi

New Delhi, Thursday: Mr. Gandhi, in a prayer meeting address, referred to reports of ill-treatment of Indians in South Africa and suggested that Viscount Mountbatten, as Governor-General of the new Indian Dominion, should ask General Smuts to stop South African taking the law into their own hands.

Viscount Mountbatten should remind General Smuts that South Africa and India were both dominions and therefore equal in status. Mr. Gandhi suggested that Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Nehru should send a similar message to General Smuts, either jointly or in whatever way they thought proper.

Mr. Gandhi also said: "If General Smuts, who professes to be my friend, is unable to control South African Europeans, he should resign."

He advised South African Indians to behave well.

General Smuts' Tribute: "Prince among Men"

When he received news of the death of Mr. Gandhi, the Prime Minister of South Africa, General Smuts, said:

"I have heard of the assassination of Mr. Gandhi with the deepest grief, which, I am sure, will be shared all over the world."

"Mr. Gandhi was one of the great men of my time, and my acquaintance with him over a period of 30 years has only deepened my high respect for him, however much we differed in our views and methods."

"A prince among men has passed away, and we grieve with India in her irreparable loss."

Ashes to be immersed in Ten Holy Rivers

New Delhi, Wednesday: Portions of Gandhi's ashes will be immersed in about ten holy rivers and three sacred places at sea, in addition to the main ceremony at Allahabad, where the Jumna and the Ganges Rivers meet, on Thursday, 12 February.

The provincial governors, now in New Delhi, will carry the ashes back with them and arrange the details of the ceremonies with the provincial premiers.

All the ceremonies will be held simultaneously. A special train till carry the ashes, priests and passengers from Delhi to Allahabad, were the immersion rites will be performed by Ram Das, Gandhi's third son.