Documents in the Life of Sri Aurobindo
THE HOOGHLY CONFERENCE
|BENGAL PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE||NATIONALIST DRAFT RESOLUTIONS.|
|I. That this Conference places on record its profound feelings of regret and sorrow at the death of Lord Ripon who has justly been called the father of local self-government in India and whose policy of justice and righteousness will for ever enshrine his memory in the hearts of the people of this country. This Conference also urges that immediate steps should be taken to perpetuate his memory.||I. That this Conference places on record its sorrow at the death of Lord Ripon who was an earnest and sincere sympathiser with Indian aspirations and did much for the cause of local self-government.|
|II. (a) That this Conference is of opinion that the system of Government obtaining in the self-governing British Colonies should be extended to India.|
(b) That while expressing its gratefulness to the Government for the concessions made in the recent Reform Scheme, this Conference records its firm conviction that no reform will ensure the happiness and contentment of the people unless it gives them a direct control over the finances of the country.
(c) That this Conference is further of opinion that any undue favour in the matter of representation in the Councils which may be shown to any particular community cannot fail to encourage sectarianism in the different communities and to create dissensions and political troubles amongst them.
(d) That this Conference also urges the Government to publish the rules framed in accordance with Lord Morleys Scheme before they are finally adopted.
|II. (a) As in the Committees draft.|
(b) That this Conference emphatically condemns the principle of separate electorates on sectarian lines and of special privileges for one community which it is intended to introduce into the Reform Scheme and is farther of the opinion that no reform will be acceptable to the country which does not concede to the people a direct and substantial control over finance and legislation.
The rest to be omitted.
|III. (a) That this Conference declines to accept the Partition of Bengal as a settled fact or question and resolves to continue the agitation against it with a view to its reversal or modification.|
(b) That in this connection this Conference appeals to the Government of India to act in the spirit of His Majestys assurance in his recent message that the rectification of errors has ever been one of the guiding principles of British Government in India.
|III. As in the Committees draft but clause (b) to be omitted.|
|IV. That this Conference urges the people to continue the Boycott of foreign goods which is, in its opinion, a perfectly legitimate movement and is calculated to promote the political as well as industrial and economic welfare of the country.||IV. That this Conference accords its fullest support to the Boycott movement and recommends its farther extension both as a political weapon and as a measure of economic protection.|
N.B. This is the Pabna resolution.
|V. That this Conference urges upon the country the necessity of using Swadeshi articles in preference to foreign, even at a sacrifice, and developing the resources of the country.||V. As in the Reception committees draft.|
|VI. That this Conference places on record its emphatic and unqualified condemnation of the detestable outrages and deeds of violence which have been recently committed and is of opinion that such acts will retard the progress of the country.||VI. That this Conference looks with strong disapproval on all methods of violence and holds that the furtherance of the national movement should be effected by peaceful and legitimate means, and it warns the authorities that the policy of repression stimulates terrorist activity and the best way to paralyse it is to restore normal conditions.|
|VII. (a) That this Conference records its emphatic protest against the repressive measures adopted by the Government and especially against the deportation of nine Bengali gentlemen without trial or charge and further protests against the persistent refusal of the Government to furnish any information regarding the charges against them and to give them an opportunity of exculpating themselves. This Conference considers the immediate release of the deportees as absolutely necessary in the interests of justice and fair-play.|
(b) That having regard to the grave risk of injustice involved in Government action based upon exparte and untested informations and to the penal laws of the country, this Conference urges upon the Government the repeal of the Bengal Regulation III of 1818.
|VII. That this Conference emphatically condemns the repressive measures adopted by the Government and especially the deportation of nine Bengali gentlemen without trial or charge and considers their immediate release and the repeal of the Bengal Regulation III of 1818 as the only way to assuage the profound discontent created by these measures.|
|VIII. That having regard to the prevalence of Cholera, Malaria and Smallpox in the province throughout the year and the abnormal death rate as disclosed in the last Sanitary Report of Bengal, this Conference urges the Government as well as the people to adopt amongest others the following measures:|
(1) The sinking of wells and the excavation and reservation of tanks in the villages for purely drinking purposes.
(2) The draining of the rural areas.
(3) The clearing of jungle in the inhabited areas of towns and villages.
(4) The prevention of noxious discharges from septic tanks into the River Hugli which form the principal cause of Cholera in the riparian towns and villages on both banks of the said river.
|VIII. That inasmuch as the Government has failed hitherto to redeem its pledges with regard to the application of the Road Cess for the purposes originally intended and has not fulfilled its duties with regard to the improvement of sanitation in rural areas, the Conference demands the fulfilment of this duty and the organisation of adequate measures for the provision of good drinking water, medical aid and proper drainage of the country.|
N.B. This is the Pabna resolution with some verbal modifications.
|IX. That this Conference recommends |
(a) That all local self-governing bodies and Panchayets should, without further delay, be vested with powers to elect their own Chairman.
(b) That the principle of representation should be extended to village Union Committees and Panchayets.
(c) That the Union Committees should be vested with powers to initiate and carry on measures for the sanitary improvement of the areas within their jurisdiction and that grants of money should be made to them for that purpose.
|IX. That this Conference is of opinion that local self-governing bodies including Panchayets and Village Union Committees should be entirely elected on the principle of popular representation and freed from official control and that Village Union committees should be vested with powers and provided with the necessary funds to carry on sanitary improvements.|
|X. (a) That this Conference urges the Government to take immediate action on their circular on free primary education issued about three years ago and invites their attention to the fact that the grant in aid of technical and scientific education are not at all commensurate with the needs of the country.|
(b) That in view of the recent educational policy of the Government which has practically closed the doors of the University against many students of the province and the necessity of organising a system of literary, scientific, technical and industrial education suited to the requirements of the country, this Conference urges the people to take steps to establish educational institutions throughout the country on national lines and under national control.
|X. That in the opinion of this Conference steps should be taken for promoting a system of education literary, technical and scientific suited to the requirements of the country on national lines and under national control and maintaining national schools throughout the country. Clause (a) is omitted.|
|XI. (a) That, while recording its satisfaction at the recognition by the Government of India of the principle of separation of Judicial from Executive functions, this Conference regrets that effect has not yet been given to it.|
(b) That this Conference is of opinion that the only effective method of reforming the Police is to separate the Judicial from the Executive functions and that no scheme for such separation will be successful unless all the Judicial Officers are placed under the direct control and supervision of the High Court.
(c) That this Conference is further of opinion that for the better administration of Civil and Criminal justice in the country, the District and Sessions Judges should be recruited from among the ranks of the legal profession.
|XI. That this Conference is of opinion that the separation of judicial from executive functions, which has been recognised in principle, should be forthwith put into effect and all judicial officers placed under the direct control and supervision of the High Court and that provision should be made in the scheme for the District and Sessions Judges being appointed in future from the ranks of the legal profession in this country.|
|XII. That this Conference enters a strong protest against the Calcutta Police Bill which is an uncalled for measure of an absolutely retrograde character and which will restrict the freedom of action of the people in Calcutta and will subject them to unscrupulous harassments.||XII. As in the Committees draft except that in place of enters a strong protest against should be put strongly condemns.|
|XIII. (a) That in view of the large surplus under the head of Stamp Revenue and the growing poverty of the people, this Conference urges upon the Government the necessity of reducing the Court fees levied for the institution of suits and complaints.|
(b) That having regard to the ruinous expenses of litigation in Courts of law, this Conference is of opinion that arbitration Courts should be established throughout the country.
|XIII. Omit clause (a), otherwise as in the Committees draft.|
|XIV. That with a view to mitigate the hardship arising from chronic high prices of food stuffs, this Conference urges on the District Associations the necessity of establishing Co-operative Banks and Stores with Dharamagolas throughout the country.||XIV. As in the Committees draft.|
|XV. That in view of the ravages of wild animals and the frequent dacoities in the towns and villages, this Conference appeals to the Government to repeal the Arms Act.||XV. That in view of the ravages of wild animals and frequent dacoities in the towns and villages against which there is no adequate protection, this Conference is of opinion that the Arms Act should be repealed or radically modified.|
|XVI. That this Conference views with apprehension the decrease in the normal growth of the Bengali Hindu population and hereby appoints a Committee consisting of the following gentlemen to ascertain the causes which have led to this state of things and to suggest what steps should be taken to prevent it.||XVI. As in the Committees draft.|
|XVII. That this Conference, while sympathising with the Indian residents of South Africa in their struggle for equal rights and privileges with the White population and admiring their firm attitude, places on record its deep sense of indignation at the gross wrongs inflicted on them and suggest[s] the adoption of Boycott of Colonial and British goods by other Provinces of India by way of protest and retaliation.||XVII. As in the Committees draft, except that after firm attitude should be inserted and heroic sufferings.|
|XVIII. That having regard to the gradual diminution of commons or pasture land for cattle, this Conference urges the Government and the people specially the land-holding classes to adopt measures for the protection and preservation of cows and oxen.||XVIII. As in the Committees draft, except that the words the Government and should be omitted.|
|XIX. That this Conference is of opinion that the Government grants of money for drainage and irrigation purposes in Bengal which is essentially an agricultural Province are lamentably inadequate for its needs and urges the Government to take the following steps at an early date:|
1. The dredging of the Bhagirathi.
2. The immediate adoption of the measures recommended by Mr. Horn and other expert engineers for the prevention of the annual floods in the Arambagh Sub-division by the overflow water of the Begua Breach.
3. The draining of the Kadua Math in the Amta basin in the District of Howrah.
|XX. That in the present situation of the country united action being highly desirable, this Conference earnestly appeals to the leaders to bring about a compromise between the two wings of the Indian Nationalist party and to arrange for holding a United Congress.||XX. That this Conference considers an United Congress imperatively necessary in the interests of the country and believes that the best way to bring about union is to hold a session elected as in all Congresses up to 1906, to which any future arrangements for the procedure of the Congress shall be submitted.|
(b) That in this view it appoints the following Committee to confer on behalf of the province with the organisers of the meeting at Lahore and with other provincial leaders for the holding of such a sessions [sic] and it farther empowers the Committee in case of necessity to propose and arrange for this session being held in Calcutta in co-operation with all who are desirous of union.
|XXI. That with a view to inaugurate a vigorous system of self-help and voluntary work for the redress of their grievances, this Conference urges the people to organise village Committees, Sub-Divisional Associations and District Associations.||XXI. As in the Committees draft, omitting only the words and voluntary work for the redress of their grievances.|
1. That this Conference is of opinion that two of the most necessary and important classes of enterprise from the point of view of our commercial development are (1) Swadeshi Banks and (2) Steam Navigation Companies to control the waterways of Bengal, and urges on the country the necessity of initiating and supporting such enterprises, and it expresses its appreciation of the efforts of those who have already undertaken work of this kind.
2. That the Conference is of opinion that physical training be encouraged by all means to infuse greater manliness in the younger generation and make them capable of self-protection and self-defence.
Karmayogin, Vol. I, No. 11 (4 September 1909), pp. 5-8.
L [code letter of the writer] Calcutta, 8-9-09.
Bengal Provincial Conference,
The Bengal Provincial Conference that met on the 5th and 6th instant has been fruitful of greater and far-reaching results than any of its predecessors. The inner workings of this organization are to be told first, then the outward manifestations, which are, however, exhaustively described in the columns of the daily newspapers.
Babu Arabindo Ghosh, as I told you in one of my previous reports, was organising an opposition to the moderate party. He succeeded in making his opposition party so compact and so well organized that the moderate leaders got frightened at the probable prospect of their being defeated and placed in the minority at the deliberations of the Conference. On Friday the 3rd September last a secret meeting of the moderate leaders was held at the Bengali Office in the room of the editor, Babu Surendra Nath Banerji. There were present at this secret conclave, Babus Bhupendra Nath Bose, Prithvis Chandra Rai, Satya Nanda Bose, Pramathanath Banerji, Ramanand Chaterji, Pandit Gispati Kabyatirtha, Moulvi Dedar Bux and a few others. Babu Surendranath Banerji was the presiding genius and the deliberations were carried on with closed doors. I was allowed admittance and I managed to stay on till the last. It was decided that if Arabindo gets the majority at the Subjects Committee, all the moderates under the leadership of Surendranath would leave the Conference premises and wash their hands clean of the affair. Both Babus Bhupendranath and Surendranath were against such drastic measures. They wanted to temporise and enter into a concordat with Arabindo and his party. They were given by those present a free hand in the matter. Then came the question of the boycott. Babu Surendranath Banerji distinctly said that it was the only effective weapon that we have against the Government. He said: Put any other name if you please, but the boycott, pure and simple, should be pushed on so long as the Partition endures; and, if necessary, it should be kept on for any length of time. At this Babu Bhupendranath suggested that the word Swadeshi would very well serve our purpose; it would denote industrial developments and connote boycott per se. This was agreed to and the meeting dissolved after arranging to send as many moderate delegates as possible to Chinsurah.
Babu Arabindo is a greater organiser, because, as I told you in one of my previous reports, that the English educated community of the two Bengals are at heart extremists yea anarchists potentially and substantively, and those who have a stake in the country and have something to lose, if they go counter to the wishes of Government, do very cleverly hide their extremism under a thin veneer of moderate ideas. This fact is known to all the people in Bengal and this helped Arabindo in getting up his party so quickly. The fact is Babu Surendranath is quickly going down in the estimation of his countrymen. He is like the five headed God Janus always looking to the victorious side. Besides, truth has a greater hold on the imagination of the common people than the polished lies of a silver-tongued orator. Arabindo speaks out the truth and Surendranath hides it and calls it diplomacy paying the devil (Government) its dues. However both met at Hooghly and Arabindo gave his mind out that the Surat affair would be re-enacted if the moderates get the upper hand. At the meeting of the Subjects Committee held at Chinsurah on Sunday the 5th September night it became very apparent to the moderates that the extremists, though not in actual majority, were pushing up rapidly and some of the extremist speakers were adepts at obstruction. All through the fateful night of Sunday the moderates talked and quarrelled and there were defections from the party. At last Kumar Rajendranath Mukherji came to the relief of the moderates. He became the go-between of the parties and managed to bring Arabindo and Surendranath together. Babu Surendranath confessed that he was an extremist at heart and all persons who know what is what are all extremists. But extremism is not a paying concern now. He exhorted Arabindo to come over to his party or subscribe to the creed and demand Swaraj within Colonial limits. He said these Shibboleths are being used only to hide their common purpose and that the game of the bomb and revolver is now a played out game. Let the moderates and the extremists work under the standard of the so-called Constitutionalism and let each party work in its own way quietly and in a covert way and we will steer clear of all shoals and sand banks.
After this Kumar Rajendranath said that unless and until the extremist party gets into a make-believe concordat with the moderates, persons like him would not be able to substantially help the extremist cause. Babus Bhupendranath Bose and Ambica Charan Mazumdar also supported the plea of the Kumar and promised substantial help to the extremist party. Babu Arabindo Ghosh saw through the whole game and gave his assent to the false commingling of the two parties. On the morrow, Monday morning, another meeting of the Subjects Committee was held, Babu Surendranath Banerji delivered an impassioned speech. People smiled at his histrionicisms and young and old, Babus Baikunta Nath Sen and Benode Behari Mitter, all assented to the fusion of the parties and the business smoothly passed off without any let or hindrance. Babu Baikunta Nath went so far as to allow Arabindo to explain his theory of boycott and passive resistance, at the general meeting of the conference.
As a matter of fact, as I reiterated in many of my previous reports, in Bengal there are no moderates; we are all extremists, but moderates by necessity. If the truth is to be told, Babu Surendranath is a political mountebank, a Bengali Kossuth rolled up in the varogueries [sic] of a Talleyrand. He always bids for popularity and sails before the wind. He believes that if Arabindo Ghosh be allowed to remain too long out of the jail enclosures, he (Arabindo) would take the shine out of him (Surendranath). Besides he has correctly gauged public opinion in Bengal and sees it drifting on to Arabindos side. Hence the concordat, hence the mingling of the two parties. I forgot to tell you, when in England Surendranath saw Babu Bipin Chandra Pal times without number, dined with him, lived with him and knew all Bipins secrets. And on coming back from England he was closeted with Arabindo for hours together on three occasions.
As for Arabindo he has won all along the line. He will now be able quietly to gather as much money as he wants, will he able to control the deliberations of the Congress and Conferences and be safe beyond the clutches of the law. I was explaining to Kabiraj Upendranath Sen who interrupted me by saying What can Surendra do? He must bow down to the inevitable. Before the Calcutta Congress over which Dadabhai Naoroji presided, there were no extremists and no moderates. And after the Hooghly Conference, so far as Bengal is concerned there will be no more extremists and moderates, and perhaps a new force will get up to disturb the public peace.
I am glad that at last the Police have been able to put their hands on the actual plague spots in Calcutta. Ahiritola, Bechu Chatterjee Street, Nimtola Ghat, Baugbazar, Shyambazar and Harrison Road East are the places where the anarchists congregate most. I happened to meet some of the boys arrested for the Faridpur dacoity, when they were being carried through Coolootola Street. Two of them I recognised as belonging to the Sanatan party or the worshippers of Kali, vowed to commit dacoities and under the leadership of Babu Krishna Kumar Mitters son. Saroda Charan Sen is again in Calcutta, and looks very busy. Perhaps he is after some new mischief.
Kumar Rajendranath Mukherji has been nominated President of the extremist party in place of Babu Subodh Chandra Mullick. He paid Rs. 800 towards the Hooghly Conference expenses. He has promised to double his monthly donations to the extremist fund now that the moderates and extremists belong to the same party. The Raja of Narajole has already paid Rs. 1,200 to Arabindo Ghosh, perhaps sometime yesterday.
The 9th Oct. 1909.
My dear Daly,
I enclose a secret report recd. from the Govt. of India, Home Deptt., regarding the recent Bengal Provincial Conference at Hooghly, and should like to know whether the information possessed by the Special Branch in this connection corroborates the report, and generally what information you have on the inner workings of the Conference.
Please let me have an early reply and also return the report.
No. 8710 S.B.
7 Kyd Street,
Calcutta, the 26th Nov. 1909.
My dear Mr. Duke,
With reference to your strictly confidential letter dated the 9th October, in which you enclosed the report submitted to the Director of Criminal Intelligence by L Calcutta 8-9-1909, which I return, herewith, I write to say that I have been trying hard during the last month to get some really authentic and credible information of what took place at the Subjects Committee of the Bengal Provincial Conference at Hooghly.
The officers whom I sent out to the Conference at the time did not find out much. It is of course perfectly true that Babu Arabindo Ghosh was organising opposition to the Moderate party. His first intention was to openly oppose them; and I believe at one time he, or at least the more daring of his followers contemplated breaking up the Conference if it refused to adopt the amended resolutions which the Extremist party published before the Conference in Arabindos paper Karmayogin.1 I do not think, however, that it can possibly be said that Arabindo came off victorious at the Hooghly Conference. Whatever may have happened in the secrecy of the Subjects Committee, he kept his mouth shut in the public Conference most of the time; and when he did speak, it was only a very few words, practically admitting that he was unable to carry his resolutions against those proposed by the Moderates, though, as he said himself, he and his followers had not been won over to the Moderate policy, but refrained from pressing their own views in order that there might be a united Congress.
The proposal to adopt the word Swadeshi instead of boycott was openly made in the Conference and rejected. L, Calcutta, whoever he is, states that the English educated community of the two Bengals are at heart Extremists. Here I thoroughly agree with him as regards the majority.
Nirode Babu, the pleader who is employed in the Nangla dacoity case, tells me that he is practically boycotted by the Khulna Bar when he goes out there to conduct the case. This would hardly happen if the Bar, which is the most important part of the educated community in Bengal were not in sympathy with the revolutionary party whatever crimes it may commit in the name of patriotism.
It is certainly true that at the Hooghly Provincial Conference the vast majority of those in the Pandal were in favor of Arabindo Ghosh, but this majority was largely made up of young men from Eastern Bengal. If we are to take the voice of the young men as expressing the opinion of the people generally, there can be little doubt that Surendra Nath Banerjea is not in it with Arabindo Ghosh. This is not, I think, the case with the older men, though Arabindo most certainly has strong adherents of all ages.
I had heard that Rajendra Nath Mukerji tried to settle the differences between Arabindo and Surendra Nath. I have never heard that Surendra Nath stated before the Subjects Committee that he was an Extremist at heart, though, personally, it does not at all surprise me to hear that he did say so. My information is that in the Subjects Committee there was a very hot discussion on the Swaraj resolution. The Extremists demanded a resolution of absolute swaraj free from all foreign control. Surendra Nath Banerji is said to have told the Extremists that he would prefer disagreement and disruption in the Conference to seeing a resolution of absolute Swaraj passed. The Extremists then drew aside and held a private conference among themselves, being rather surprised at the strong attitude of the Moderate leaders under Surendra Nath. They eventually agreed to the Moderate resolution being passed on condition that Arabindo was allowed to speak, and to state that their agreement to the Moderates resolution was not to be constructed into an abandonment of their own individual ideas of absolute self-government.
I do not think that, considering the fact that Arabindo failed to alter any of the resolutions as he had previously proposed in Karmayogin, it can be said that he routed Surendra Nath at the Hooghly Conference. As I said before, there is no question as to Arabindo being now the more popular man of the two, among the hot-headed young men, but I do not think that he has yet succeeded in winning the absolute confidence and admiration of the older generation. His eccentricities and extraordinarily imaginative talk, such as that in which he described his meeting with Basudev in the Alipore jail, sometimes bring him into ridicule.
L Calcutta, whoever he may be, however, seems to be in a position to obtain and furnish very useful information, and if he could tell us anything absolutely definite regarding the connection of Kristo Kumar Mitters son with the dacoity band, or of the doings of Saroda Charan Sen, who is well-known to us and against whom we would be glad to hear of something definite, he would be doing us a good turn.
That Kumar Rajendra Nath Mukerji is one of the financial supporters of the Extremist party, we know perfectly well, and there is not the slightest doubt of this. I have not, however, heard of Narajole paying any large sums to Arabindo Ghosh, and I should like to know exactly how the money was paid, and any further particulars the informant may be in possession of.
F.W. Duke Esq., C.S.,
Chief Secretary to Government.
Government of Bengal Confidential File 13 of 1909.
HOOGHLY PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE.
Telegram from the Government of Bengal, no. 1764-P.D., dated the 10th September 1909.
For information. Await promised report. Meanwhile Director, Criminal Intelligence, may see.
P.W. Monie, 11-9-09.
Director, Criminal Intelligence.
Seen and returned with thanks.
C.J. Stevenson-Moore, 16-9-09.
Letter from the Government of Bengal, no. 1889-P.D., dated the 20th September 1909.
Submitted. His Excellency and Director, Criminal Intelligence, may see.
Ls report* (which Secretary has seen) is interesting in this connection, particularly with reference to paragraph 4 of Bengals letter.
H.C. Woodman, 25-9-09.
* Poll. Dep., Novr. 1909, no. 21.2
There is every indication that if the boycott movement survives at all, it will be in the extreme form advocated by Arabinda Ghosh. Just as Mr. Parnell drove out Mr. Butt, so will Arabinda supersede Surendra Nath Banerji. In both cases the extremists programme is the more logical and more attractive of enthusiasm.
2 With His Excellencys permission this report may be circulated.
H.A. Stuart, 26-9-09.
H.H. R[isley], 28-9-09.
J.O. M[iller], 4-10-09.
W.L. H[arvey], 4-10-09.
I think it right to put down in writing that I believe Ls report* to be a tissue of lies. Constant repetition of statements like these produces an attitude of distrust in our officials and creates a frame of mind which I deeply deplore.
S.P. S[inha], 5-10-09.
* Poll. Dep., Novr. 1909, no. 21.
OM. C[reagh], 5-10-09.
H.H. R[isley], 6-10-09.
His Excellency has seen.
J.R. Dunlop-Smith, 7-10-09.
Now 1st Director, Criminal Intelligence, see.
H.A. Stuart, 7-10-09.
Director, Criminal Intelligence.
The remarks of the Honourable Legal Member compel me to submit with all due respect the following observations.
Reports such as that of L, to which exception has been taken, are not primarily designed for circulation. The Director, Criminal Intelligence, is acquainted with the correspondents name and profession, his literary idiosyncracies and with some of his private enmities, and this information which enables him to read a report critically is necessarily concealed from others. It would be an advantage, therefore, if reports destined for circulation were first subjected to revision.
At the same time I must confess that, had the opportunity been available, there is little in the report of L under consideration which I should have thought it necessary to touch. I shall now refer to the salient points of the report and attempt to show that far from it being a tissue of lies, the main fabric of his story is true enough and that the flaws which exist in the texture are easily discoverable and do very little to impair its strength and soundness.
Poll. Dep., Novr. 1909, no. 21.
Ls first point is that Arabinda Ghosh was organising an opposition to the moderate party. This is true as is evident from the Karmayogin of 4th September, in which Arabinda Ghosh published his opposition programme.
L then describes the secret meeting in the Bengalee office. There is, of course, no evidence that this meeting was held, but it is obvious that in view of the opposition programme which appeared in the Karmayogin of the following day that Surendra Nath Banerji must have held a discussion with his adherents about that time as to the attitude to be adopted, and what is more likely than that Surendra Nath Banerji and Bhupendra Nath Bose were in favour of compromise and of coming to a working arrangement with Arabinda Ghosh as stated by L? It is obvious from the printed proceedings of the Conference that a working arrangement was arrived at. The more violent section of Arabinda Ghoshs adherents mustered in force at the Conference, and there can be no doubt that had he given the word the Conference would have been wrecked, but the word was not given in spite of Arabinda Ghoshs disapproval of the moderates boycott resolution. Surendra Nath Banerji and Bhupendra Nath Bose are leaders of the so-called moderate party, and it can safely be assumed that they took a prominent part in making this hollow compact so much in accord with their notorious reputation for hedging. Surendra Nath Banerjis advocacy of the boycott as being their only effective weapon against Government, to which L here refers, has appeared in published speeches on many occasions and there is nothing improbable in his having repeated his views at this meeting.
L next passes on to an expression of his opinion on the reasons for the weakness shown by the moderates in their attitude towards Arabinda Ghosh. This weakness he attributes to the sympathy which Bengalis generally feel for Arabinda Ghoshs views, and to the lack of character and straight-forwardness which mark the inferiority of his rivals. It is an obvious exaggeration of Ls when he says that all educated Bengalis are at heart extremists yea anarchists potentially and substantively, but this form of expression serves to emphasise an undeniable fact that sympathy with extremism is exceedingly widespread amongst the educated community in Bengal, and those who do not sympathise are, with a few honourable exceptions, amongst whom Surendra Nath Banerji and Bhupendra Nath Bose will not be found, too weak-kneed to co-operate with Government in checking its growth. Contrast the attitude of these so-called moderate leaders of Bengal with that of Mr. Gokhale or Sir Pherozeshah Mehta. The latter would not have sacrificed their honesty of purpose and self-respect by entering into an unholy compact with an Arabinda Ghosh a compact which, if effective, could have only the one result of converting the Congress into an extremist institution and so strengthening the hands of the forces of disorder and violence. Fortunately the moderate leaders in the Punjab and Bombay, unlike those in Bengal, have not been found ready to prostitute their political creed, and in the Karmayogin of 25th September it is said in reference to the Lahore Congress Bengal as a province will not attend though some individuals may overcome their feelings or scruples, Surendra Nath Banerji, Bhupendra Nath Bose and the Chaudhuri brothers being unlikely to stay away. If ever there was any hope that the Lahore session of the Convention might be utilised for bringing about a united Congress, that has now disappeared. Thus Arabinda Ghose admits defeat in spite of the dishonest support which he received from those in Bengal who pose as disapproving of his views. It is true, of course, that it was the extremists who agreed to a modification of their own programme so as to arrive at a modus vivendi for the Hooghly Conference, but Arabinda Ghosh explained clearly in his speeches on the boycott that they meant in practice to adhere to their original programme, and this device had been adopted merely with a view to secure a united Congress. Arabindo Ghosh saw clearly enough that this meant an Extremist Congress.
L next describes what occurred at the meeting of the Subjects Committee on the night of 5th September. Here again there is no corroboration, but the description is quite in accord with the published results of this Conference, and the discussion as reported is just what one would have expected. To my mind there is nothing surprising in Surendra Nath Banerji who is all things unto all men posing as an extremist to Arabinda Ghosh and so attempting to weaken his opposition. As for Kumar Rajendra Nath alias Misri Babu, the assistance previously given by him to the party of violence came prominently under police notice, and it is natural for him to wish to act surreptitiously in future. There have been no indications that he has changed his political creed except in the direction of acting with greater caution.
Again in Ls description of the 2nd Subjects Committee meeting, which occurred in the following day, there is nothing inherently improbable.
In Ls summary which occurs on pages 8 and 9 he says nothing, I think, which can be rejected as baseless falsehoods. In classing all Bengalis as extremists and moderates only by necessity he no doubt exaggerates, but so long as Bengalis continue to show apathy in combating the extremist propaganda, they have only themselves to thank when this accusation is levelled against them. Ls opinion of Surendra Nath Banerjis character and political views, whether correct or not, is an opinion very widely held and Surendra Nath has certainly done much to lend colour to it, notably on the recent occasion when he was preaching imperialism in England while his paper was advocating a pernicious and mischievous boycott in India. L.s statement that he is jealous as well as afraid of Arabinda Ghosh cannot, I think, be challenged in view of what occurred at the Hooghly Conference.
Regarding Surendra Naths association with B.C. Pal in England we do not altogether lack corroboration, for B.C. Pal attended the dinner given to Surendra Nath at the Westminster Palace Hotel on June 25th and both of them travelled to Manchester on 16th July and spoke at the same meeting. After the meeting they had tea together with four other Indians and two ladies at the Clarion Café in that city, and later in the evening attended a dinner and reception at the Grand Hotel, Aytoun Street. These two no doubt met on other occasions and Surendra Nath must have been aware that B.C. Pal was in close touch with the anarchist group in London.
In support of what L says regarding the fusion of the moderate and extremist parties in Bengal, representative members of both parties are now found appearing on the same platform. Thus at a meeting in Beadon Square on October 2nd Surendra Nath Banerji and Ambica Charan Mazumdar appeared side by side with Gispati Rai Kabyatirtha and Ramananda Chatterji. It was apparently due to illness that Arabindo Ghosh was not there also. Other instances since the Hooghly Conference could be cited.
L concludes his report by informing us that Misri Babu has succeeded Subodh Chunder Mullick as president of the extremist party, and that both he and the Raja of Narajole have contributed to its funds. I have already referred to Misri Babu, and there has been ample information during the last year which points to his active participation in the extremist movement. As for the Raja of Narajole, there is considerable information that from the time of his close association with Brahmabandhab Upadhyaya onwards he has given financial support to the extremist cause, and it is quite probable that he is continuing to do so.
Ls report is an attempt to describe the latest political move in Bengal and to analyse the causes that led up to it. It is an interesting attempt and I can see nothing which points to it being other than an honest one. On the contrary, that the political move was made is self-evident and there is a great deal to support Ls view of the causes which led up to it. A few somewhat extravagantly worded expressions do not, I submit, detract from its general value.
C.J. Stevenson-Moore, 15-10-09.
Honourable Member has seen, and does not think the note should be circulated or sent to the Honourable Mr. Sinha. It is not necessary, therefore, to seek the Viceroys permission.
H.A. Stuart, 10-11-09.
Director, Criminal Intelligence.
Seen and returned with thanks. The copies of the Karmayogin of 4th and 25th September 1909 have been removed.
A.B. Barnard, 16-11-09.
HOOGHLY PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE.
Telegram no. 1764-P.D., dated the 10th September 1909.
From The Chief Secretary to the Government of Bengal,
To The Secretary to the Government of India, Home Department.
Provincial Conference was held at Hooghly on fifth and sixth September. Proceedings were orderly. About 1,500 people from both Bengals, mostly young men, were present. Babu Baikuntha Nath Sen of Murshidabad, was elected President. One point in his speech received with noisy protest was proposal to drop the word boycott in reference to swadeshi movement. There was warm discussion regarding the number of delegates to be elected for Subjects Committee which sat on night of fifth. Proceedings of this Committee are said to have been stormy. Surendra Nath Banerji and Arabinda Ghosh were both present and latter received warmest reception on sixth. Time was occupied in passing five resolutions. No violent speeches were made. Arabinda Ghosh only spoke briefly in reference to boycott resolution repeating his doctrine of no control, no co-operation and passive resistance with the law. He also called upon the trustees for account of the national fund opened on partition day, 1905. A slight disturbance occurred between some Europeans and delegates in train at Chandernagore on return journey. Full report with copies of resolutions and speeches will follow by post.
No. 1889-P.D., dated the 20th September 1909.
From Sir Charles Allen, Kt., Offg. Chief Secretary to the Government of Bengal,
To The Secretary to the Government of India, Home Department.
In continuation of my telegram no. 1764-P.D., dated the 10th September 1909, I am directed to submit, for the information of the Government of India, the following report regarding the proceedings of the Bengal Provincial Conference which was held at Hooghly on the 5th and 6th idem.
2. The Conference was opened at Chinsurah on the 5th September and was attended by about 1,500 people from both Bengals, mostly young men. Arabinda Ghosh attended as the elected delegate for Uttarpara and Diamond Harbour and for the students of Hooghly and Chinsurah and the senior students of Calcutta. Babu Surendra Nath Banarji was also present at the Conference, and among other well-known Calcutta men were Babu Bhupendra Nath Bose, Mr. J. Chaudhuri, and Lieutenant-Colonel Mukharji. Babu Surendra Nath Banerji and Arabinda Ghosh were each presented on arrival with a printed address by the students of Hooghly and Chinsurah, Arabinda Ghosh receiving the warmer welcome. The latter was escorted to Chinsurah by a body-guard of about 100 youths, and he entered the pandal garlanded and escorted by his guard.
3. The proceedings commenced with the singing of Bande Mataram, after which Babu Bepin Bihari Mitra, Chairman of the Reception Committee, read his speech which was moderate in tone and contained a condemnation of anarchists and law-breakers. One part of his speech in which he deprecated students taking part in politics was received with hooting and with demands that he should sit down. The deportations and the partition of Bengal were made the subjects of attack upon the Government. A copy of his speech is enclosed.
Babu Baikantha Nath Sen, of Murshidabad, was then elected President of the Conference. He delivered a moderate address, a copy of which is also forwarded. His speech included the usual attack upon the police, whose action in connection with the Bighati case was especially criticised. His proposal to drop the word boycott in reference to the swadeshi movement was received with yells of opposition, and he was unable to proceed until Babu Surendra Nath Banerji intervened to restore order.
4. In the afternoon the question of the election of delegates to sit on the Subjects Committee was considered, and provoked a heated discussion. It was at first proposed that of 15 delegates selected to represent Calcutta, 10 should be moderates. The nationalist party, under the command of Arabinda Ghosh, demanded that they should be adequately represented; they adopted a threatening attitude and refused to leave the pandal when the Chairman declared the discussion closed. Arabinda Ghosh eventually suggested, as a compromise, the appointment of six nationalists and nine moderates, and this was agreed to. The Subjects Committee assembled at 6 p.m.; the public were excluded, but it is understood that the meeting was stormy. The nationalists had prepared a set of amendments to the draft resolutions; and these were only overruled because the moderate leaders threatened to withdraw from the Conference, unless the nationalists desisted from pressing for an expression of their extreme views.
5. On the 6th the Conference re-assembled at 2 oclock, and five resolutions were passed. A copy of the resolutions that were passed by the Conference is attached. Arabinda Ghosh spoke with reference to the resolution regarding the boycott. He reiterated his doctrine of no control, no co-operation. He declared that there could be no co-operation with the Government until the people had an effective share in the administration of the country, and until they were given some constitutional means by which they could bring the voice of the people and the weight of public opinion to bear upon the rulers. Referring to the boycott, he said that he was in favour of its continuance; but he did not think that it should be confined to a commercial boycott, but that other kinds of boycott should be adopted, as far as was rational and in the interests of the country. He concluded by expressing his adherence and that of his followers to their policy of boycott as a boycott movement without any qualification, as a measure of policy for the country, as a political weapon and as a measure of economical protection. A copy of his speech is enclosed.
6. Towards the end of the proceedings Arabinda Ghosh put forward a demand for an account from the trustees of the National Fund which was started on the 15th October 1905. Babu Surendra Nath Banerji in reply moved that, in the opinion of the Conference, the money should be devoted to the erection of a Federation Hall. Arabinda Ghosh replied that, although the Conference had no power over the money, they had the power to bring the force of public opinion to bear on the question. He suggested that a Committee should be appointed to approach the trustees of the fund and to ascertain whether unity of feeling existed in the matter. Babu Surendra Nath Banerji eventually proposed that the President should be asked to approach the trustees and this was seconded by Arabinda Ghosh and carried. After some further discussions the resolutions were adopted and the Conference closed with a vote of thanks to the Chair.
7. Adequate police arrangements were made to maintain order and the proceedings passed off without any breach of the peace. All reports agree that Arabinda Ghosh had a strong numerical majority in the gathering inside the pandal; but he kept his forces in order and refrained from pressing his amendments to the resolutions for the sake of securing a united Congress.
8. An unfortunate incident occurred on the return journey, when some young Europeans, said to be assistants in merchantile firms, attempted under the influence of liquor to enter a reserved carriage occupied by the Maharaja Tagore. The Europeans appear to have been entirely in the wrong; but it is stated that apologies have been offered and accepted, and it is improbable that the matter will be carried further. His Honour has expressed his regret to the Maharaja for the inconvenience to which he was subjected.
Mr. Daly says in his demi-official no. 6187-S.B., dated the 7th September 1909. A FULL ACCOUNT OF THE * * * * * * RESOLUTION is given in to-days Bengalee.
[Here is printed the SPEECH BY ARABINDA GHOSE reproduced on pages 100-101 of this issue]
The resolution was then carried, the President remarking: The boycott declaration is of a qualified and restrictive nature and not absolute. As to the boycott spoken of and mentioned by the last speaker, with regard to that I have simply to say Impatient idealists wait and have patience (laughter and cries of Oh).
The declaration from the chair that the resolution was carried unanimously met with cries of No, counter-cries of order being raised from the platform, and tumult following.
The Chairman: Now what is the point?
R.N. Roy (turning to those making cries of dissent): It has not passed the Subjects Committee.
The President: We must reaffirm the solemn pledge to use swadeshi articles.
S.N. Banerji then called on the audience to repeat the vow which was done. The other resolutions were then proceeded with.
Later, some one raised a question as to what had become of the National Fund.
Arabinda Ghosh rose and said: I have been allowed by the Chairman to put a question and I wish to put it without making any imputation at all against any one, and I believe we are all anxious to know what is being done, what has happened to this money. I am told it may be used for the building of the Federation Hall. (Cheers and shouts of Bande Mataram.) I should like to know what the people want and if this is what they want.
A. Chaudhuri said the money was intended to be devoted to the purpose of improving the weaving industry. Rupees 90,000 were raised in one day (a voice: more than that). Although they might be charged with hysterics in a matter of that sort, yet it was a great historic movement. After a hot discussion lasting for several days, the money was placed in the Bank of Bengal and there it remained.
S.N. Banerji: It is invested.
A voice: It is rotting.
A. Chaudhuri objected to any aspersion being cast on the auditor. There was a Committee which never met because there was nothing to meet for. He suggested a notice should be put in the papers of Bengal inviting an expression of opinion as to how the fund should be disposed of. He hoped they would help to get the money out and utilize it for national federation.
S.N. Banerji said he was prepared to use his influence to have the money devoted to the purpose of a Federation Hall (cheers). He moved that in the opinion of this Conference the National Fund which was raised on October 15th, 1905, and afterwards be devoted to the purposes of the Federation Hall.
Arabinda Ghose: I should like to make one suggestion. Of course, as far as this local Conference goes, we have no power over this money. But we have the power to bring the force of public opinion to bear on the question. Therefore, if we pass this resolution, I would suggest we appoint two or three people as a committee to go to the Trustees and ascertain whether there is a unity of feeling on this matter.
S.N. Banerji suggested that the President be asked to approach the Trustees in this matter.
Arabinda Ghosh seconded that.
A. Chaudhuri objected to threats of legal remedies.
S.N. Banerji said they ought not to hold out any threat. At the same time they wanted to get the money. But whether they did so or not, October 16th was approaching and they ought to raise some further money for a Federation Hall (cheers).
After further discussion the resolutions and suggestions were understood to be adopted, and the Conference closed.
Government of India. Home Department. Political-B. November 1909. Nos. 103 and 104.