Lahore, 3.12.21, 7 a.m.
I am writing this to you so early as in all probability I will be arrested by this evening. I am sorry I may look to have disregarded your wishes but the circumstances are such as leave me no alternative. We have called a meeting of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee for today at 2 p.m. The Deputy Commissioner calls it a public meeting. Yesterday we received a notice from him asking us for the agenda and an assurance that no business not in the agenda will be transacted. We have refused to comply, maintaining that the meeting is not public and that it does not come within the Act. Most probably he will prohibit the meeting. He has also served us with a notice calling ward meetings of Ward Congress Committees also public. This means an entire stoppage of work. His orders are illegal, and if we had the option of fighting we might have won. But this is not to be.
Under the circumstances it is impossible for me to keep away from the meeting. It will be sheer cowardice. Please pardon me if my action does not meet with your approval. I am quite happy and cheerful and will not whine for favours. I am going to insist on being treated as an ordinary prisoner even if they are so magnanimous as to offer me some privilege, which don't believe they will. Rest assured I will not bring disgrace on your movement. Pardon me if I have ever seemed to be critical and distrustful. In all my actions only one motive has been uppermost in my thoughts, viz. that of loyality to my country and my people. If I have erred, I have erred in good faith. Even in my criticisms of my moderate friends I have had no other motive. I believed in what I said and I believe in it still. But if I was wrong they can pardon a mistaken comrade. I believe we are on the right path and that only non-violent non-cooperation can help us in achieving our goal.
The Sikh non-cooperation have set a noble example. Of course all of them are not Congressmen and the motive force behind their present behaviour is religion. But that makes no difference so long as the spirit of suffering for a principle is there. The Sikh community has so far kept its temper admirably well in spite of the provocations given. Most of the arrests have been made in the presence of hundreds and thousands. Please read the accounts in The Tribune and make your own comments. Our Sikh friends deserve all the praise one can bestow on brave, noble sufferers in the cause of truth.
We have selected Agha Safdar’ as my successor in the office of the President, Provincial Congress Committee, and I have in consultation drawn up a programme for immediate action.
Mr. Stokes was this morning arrested at one of the roadside stations, for what offence and under what law I don' know. If I am still free by this evening I shall write to you again. If not, goodbye and farewell.
Your devoted comrade.
This letter was published in Young India with the following note by Mahatma Gandhi: “The reader will appreciate my sharing the foregoing with him. It is remarkable how every leader had made complete arrangements in anticipation of going to jail. Of course Lalaji could not have acted otherwise than he did. I was anxious for him, if it was naturally possible, not to seek arrest till after the Congress. But in the circumstances that faced him, he could not avoid attending the meeting without hurting the cause. A general ceases to be general when he shirks battle that is offered to him. In every action of Lalaji I see nothing but thoughtfulness and calm courage. I fully endorse Lalaji’s tribute to the Sikhs. Their resolute behavior, their religious fervor, their calmness and their suffering commend ray highest admiration. One sees in everything that is happening in our country the throes of a new birth. May God grant that no hasty action, no outbreak of violence impedes our unmistakable progress towards our destined goal.”