Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

Homage to Mother of the Indian People

Statement issued by Netaji on the death of Shrimati Kasturba Gandhi

Shrimati Kasturba Gandhi is dead. She has died in British custody in Poona at the age of 74. With 388,000,000 of my countrymen at home and with my compatriots abroad I share the deepest bereavement over the death of Kasturba. She died under tragic circumstances, but for a member of an enslaved nation no death could have been more honourable or more glorious. India has suffered a personal loss. Kasturba Gandhi is the second fellow prisoner of Mahatma Gandhi to die under his very eyes in custody since he was imprisoned in Poona a year and a half ago. The first was his life-long fellow worker and private secretary, Mahadev Desai. This is the second personal bereavement that Mahatma Gandhi has suffered during his present imprisonment.

I pay my humble tribute to the memory of that great lady who was a mother to the Indian people, and I wish to express my deepest sympathy for Gandhiji in his bereavement. I had the privilege of coming into frequent personal contact with Shrimati Kasturba, and I would sum up my tribute to her in a few words. She was the ideal of Indian womanhood, strong, patient, silent, self-sufficient. Kasturba was a source of inspiration to the millions of India's daughters among whom she moved and whom she met in the struggle for the freedom of her motherland. From the days of the South-African Satyagraha she has shared with her great husband the trials and sufferings which have been their lot for nearly 30 years now. Her many imprisonments seriously impaired her health, but jails held no terrors for her even in her 74th year. Any time Mahatma Gandhi launched a civil disobedience movement, Kasturba was at his side in the forefront of the struggle, an outstanding example to India's daughters and a challenge to the sons of India not to lag behind their sisters in the fight for India's independence.

Kasturba has died a martyr's death. She had been suffering from heart disease for over four months. But the callous British Government turned a deaf ear to the humanitarian pleadings of the Indian nation to release Kasturba on medical grounds. The British probably hoped that by subjecting Mahatma Gandhi to such mental anguish they could crush him body and soul and beat him into surrender. I can only express my contempt for those brutes who profess to fight for freedom, justice and morality and yet perpetuate such cold-blooded murder. They have not understood Mahatma Gandhi. They have not understood the Indian people. No amount of mental torture and physical suffering that the British can and may inflict on Mahatma Gandhi or the Indian nation will make him budge an inch from the stand he has taken. Mahatma Gandhi called upon the British to quit India and save India from the horrors of modern war. The insolent reply of the British was to throw him into prison like an ordinary criminal. He and his noble consort would rather die in prison than come out free in an enslaved India. The British were determined to see that Kasturba died of heart disease in custody under the very eyes of her husband. They have had their criminal desire fulfilled, and it is nothing short of murder. But to us Indians at home and abroad, Shrimati Kasturba's sad death in prison is a grim reminder that the British are bent on disposing of our leaders one after another in the most heartless manner. As long as the British remain in India these atrocities against our nation will continue unchecked. There is only one way in which the sons and daughters of India can avenge the death of Shrimati Kasturba Gandhi, and that is by the complete destruction of the British Empire in India. A special responsibility lies on the shoulders of Indians in East Asia who have launched an armed struggle against the British rulers in India. This responsibility is shared in particular by all our sisters here. In this hour of sorrow we will renew our solemn pledge to continue the armed light until the last Britisher is driven out of India.