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>>

Freedom is at Hand, Berlin

Friends, when I took the unusual step of defying the British Government and departed from India, my principal objectives were twofold. Firstly, to find out for myself the truth as to what is happening in the world, and, secondly, to see if India has any allies in her fight for freedom. During the time that I have been away from home I have seen things with my own eyes and heard with my own ears. I have followed closely the propaganda war conducted by both sides in this world war. I am, therefore, about to form an impartial and objective opinion as to what is really happening now and what is going to happen in the future. After this long, laborious and critical study of world affairs, there is not the slightest possibility of my being misled or misguided in my judgment. I should also like to add that whatever I have done since leaving home or whatever I may do in future, has been and will be done with the sole purpose of bringing about the speedy emancipation of my country and I shall never do anything which will not meet with the approval of nationalist circles in India, Further, I may say that if the cunning, unscrupulous and resourceful British Government has failed to allure or to corrupt me, no power on earth will ever be able to do so. Whatever may happen to me, my one and only duty will be to India and to India alone.

Since coming to Europe I have seen much with my own eyes and I can, therefore, compare the actual conditions here with the lies that are propagated from day to day by the BBC, that is the Bluff and Bluster Corporation, of London. Believe me when I say that Britain is going to lose the war and as a sequel to her crushing defeat the British Empire will be completely dismembered. Whether we actively assist Britain or whether we remain strictly neutral, nothing can alter by a hair's breadth the ultimate issue of this titanic struggle. In such a situation it is not only wise and prudent but imperatively necessary for India to play a dynamic role. India must, by her own efforts and her sacrifices, contribute materially to the break-up of the British Empire so that out of the ashes of that empire may emerge a triumphant India which will be the creation of the Indian people.

Friends, it will be an act of political suicide to remain inactive or neutral in this crisis. If we do so we shall either continue to be enslaved in spite of the dismemberment of the British Empire or we shall receive freedom as a gift from the victorious Tripartite Powers. We want neither. The Indian people must, therefore, fight for and win their liberty but in this fight some help from abroad will be necessary. I have studied very carefully the struggle for liberty that has gone on all over the world during the last 200 years, but I have not as yet discovered one single instance where freedom was won without outside help of some sort. Where the enemy is a powerful world-empire, the need for outside help is even greater; and where that powerful world-empire, namely Britain, is buttressed by a combination of several other Powers it would be the height of folly not to accept any assistance that may be offered to us. When Britain has been pouring into India war material and soldiers from America, China, Africa and the rest of the British Empire, it does not lie in the mouth of a Britisher to complain if we take help from any other quarter. It will, of course, be for India to decide what help she needs, and the less she needs, the better it will be for her. We can expect help or assistance only from those who are our friends and allies. In the present case those who are trying to overthrow the British Empire are helping our liberation and are, therefore, our friends and allies, while all those who are trying to save that empire are only attempting to perpetuate our slavery. But apart from this theoretical proposition, my personal experience as well as my interviews with Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini have convinced me that in this struggle against British Imperialism, the Tripartite Powers are our best friends and allies outside India.

I know that my friends like Swami Sahajanand Saraswati may hesitate to believe in the sincerity of the Tripartite Powers But I would like to remind them that these Powers have in their own interest resolved to fight British Imperialism to a finish and they will undoubtedly do so. And the destruction of British power will inevitably help India in throwing off the British yoke. Moreover the whole world, including the Tripartite Powers, would stand to gain if India could liberate herself and the only country to regret India's emancipation would be Britain. In this fateful hour in India's history, it would be a grievous mistake to be carried away by ideological considerations alone. The internal politics of Germany or Italy or Japan do not concern us. They are the concern of the people of those countries. But even a child should understand that whatever the internal politics of the Tripartite Powers may be, their aim in the international sphere is the destruction of the British Empire which is India's one and only enemy. Do we not see with our own eyes how, regardless of ideological considerations, the British Empire is now cooperating with Soviet Russia? It is high time that my friends and colleagues at home learnt to differentiate between the internal and the external policy of free India The internal policy of free India is and should be the concern of the Indian people themselves, while the external policy should be one of collaboration with the enemies of Britain. While standing for full collaboration with the Tripartite Powers in the external sphere, I stand for absolute self-determination for India where her own national affairs are concerned and I shall never tolerate any interference in the internal affairs of free India. So far as our social and economic problems are concerned, my views are exactly what they were when I was at home, and no one should make the mistake of concluding that external collaboration with the Tripartite Powers means acceptance of their domination or even of their ideology in our internal affairs.

Friends, my task today is to lead the final struggle for India's emancipation. But when that task is fulfilled and India is liberated, it will then be my duty to report to my countrymen and leave it to them to decide what form of government they would like to have. And, as I told Mahatma Gandhi in my farewell talk with him in June 1940 before I was taken to prison, I shall again call on him when I have succeeded in my mission to achieve India's liberation from the British yoke. It is a matter of profound joy and pride for all of us that, backed by the full diplomatic support of the Tripartite Powers, our countrymen in the Far East are now assembling in a conference at Bangkok in order to devise ways and means for effecting the speedy emancipation of our motherland. As I have so often said, the last phase of our national struggle began with the departure of Sir Stafford Cripps from India. We shall soon reach a stage when we shall have to take up arms if the Anglo-American forces do not voluntarily vacate India. Friends, prepare for that auspicious day and organise simultaneously to fight the final battle and to resist the scorched-earth policy by which the British want to ruin our country before they fly from India.

The British Empire today is in such a tottering condition that I feel convinced that with the right leadership and the necessary assistance, it is possible for the Indian people to achieve their own salvation. This salvation will not be long in coming. In the course of the present war India will win her freedom and I repeat once again that when the hour strikes I shall be at your side, ready to participate in the final struggle. The power that could not prevent my getting out of India will not be able to prevent my getting in. Meanwhile, friends, please send a word of cheer to our comrades in prison. Let them patiently bide their time, for when they learn of the fighting they will be the first to hail it, and we shall then bring them the arras and equipment which will enable them to be soldiers in India's last war of independence.

Countrymen and friends! Before I proceed any further, I want to greet you once again on my behalf and on behalf of all those who are working with me. We would like to tell you first of all that India's brave and courageous fight for liberty has produced a profound impression all over the world. In fact, people did not at first believe the report of British terror and brutality in India, and leaders in England were compelled to make speeches in order to justify large-scale shootings on unarmed men and women in our country. From these speeches the outside world was convinced that India was in a state of rebellion and that the reports emanating from India were quite correct and by no means exaggerated. Friends, I now want to assure you that the news of the internal happenings in India are regularly travelling to all quarters of the globe. The British cannot any longer isolate India from the rest of the world. I have noticed that every day that passes brings to the Indian people more and more sympathy from even the most unexpected quarters. All over the world India is today on the front page of the daily Press; and from the enemies of British Imperialism India can expect not only sympathy but any help that she may need in her struggle for liberty. It is for the Indian people to decide if they need any help from abroad and if so to what extent. Friends, I must also tell you that your countrymen in Europe, America and the Far East fully realise that India has a golden opportunity for overthrowing the British yoke. On the occasion of Independence Day, Indians in Germany expressed their complete solidarity with the struggle now going on at home, and they are doing their very best to help and support that struggle. What is more important, many of them have already decided to participate in the last phase of our national struggle.

So far as India is concerned, the next turning point will come soon, and when that hour arrives and the last phase of the national struggle begins, India will have to strike her final blow. This last blow, which India will then have to deliver, will be the death blow to the British Empire and it will, therefore, be India's privilege to end that satanic empire. Friends, from what I have myself seen and experienced during my stay abroad, I am convinced more than ever before that the British Empire will be overthrown and broken up, and out of the ashes of that empire will emerge a free India. I, therefore, call upon all my countrymen to give up fear, doubt and hesitation and come forward to help the national struggle to the best of their ability. Disaster will befall those who still fight with the British Government. It is absolutely clear that time is now working against Britain and her Allies and is working for India. We must, therefore, continue the fight at any cost and by all means. We must definitely make up our minds to continue the fight for at least two years and to sacrifice at least 100,000 lives in the course of the struggle. Long before this period of two years comes to an end India will certainly be free. Our slogan should therefore be: 'we shall fight for two years and we shall sacrifice 100,000 lives for the freedom of our country.’ If you can do that and I can do that, I guarantee you success and liberty.

Let me remind you once again that the two-fold object of the non-violent guerrilla warfare that you are now carrying on should be; firstly, to paralyse the civil administration in India; and, secondly, to destroy war production in India. I should also like to tell you that the time has come to intensify our propaganda within the Indian Army. This could be done best by sending our party-men in large numbers into the ranks of the Indian Army. In the last phase of the national struggle the Indian Army will have to play an important role.

Friends, you must have realised by now that in future Bengal will have to play a most important role in this fight for freedom. Let all my sisters and brothers in Bengal prepare for this contingency. I must again call upon my sisters and brothers in Ceylon to come forward and march shoulder to shoulder with us for winning our common liberty. This is a golden opportunity not only for India but for Ceylon as well. When India has been waging a gigantic fight for overthrowing the British Imperialism the task of Ceylon has become very much easier than it would otherwise have been. As for India, so also for Ceylon, the watch-word should be ‘Now or Never.' Ceylon can hope to be free only when she stands and fights with India.

Friends, do not be carried away for one moment by the pretensions and propaganda carried on by Anglo-American agencies. Look at the map of the world yourselves and you will understand the position today. Except in Africa, the Allies have not made any success anywhere in the world worth the name; and even in Africa, the Allies have not achieved what they promised to the whole world. General Eisenhower is still marking time and sometimes retreating in North Africa. To hide the shame of defeat, they have been saying that the most important theatre of war is Russia and not Africa. In Europe, British power and influence simply does not exist. In Russia, the real position will be apparent to anybody who looks at the respective positions of the two armies. In the Far East, the Anglo-Americans have received a shattering defeat and Japanese forces now stand on the eastern frontiers of India. The repeated declarations of the Japanese Prime Minister, General Tojo, have informed the world and the Indian people as to what the Japanese policy in Asia is, and what Japanese policy towards India really is. The final decision of this war will be not in Africa but in Europe and in Asia; and one can see for himself where the Anglo-American forces stand today in Europe and in Asia. They are in a desperate position and any amount of loud and boastful propaganda cannot save them.

Friends, in conclusion, I call upon you to exert yourself to the utmost in this most critical hour in our history. Victory is assured. Time is working for us. Our Allies abroad are all ready to help us. What more can we desire? We have only to continue the struggle, come what may, and no matter what the sacrifice may be. Be confident that India is going to be free and that before long.

Down with British Imperialism! Long Live free India! Long Live Revolution!