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Churchill Threatens Bloodbath
in ‘No Freedom for India’ Edict

(July 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 31, 31 July 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

One of the points of difference between the United States and Great Britain is the problem of India. The former prefers that the British adopt a more liberal policy toward India for two reasons: First, to arouse greater interest and participation by the Indian masses in the war by giving them, or more accurately, by promising to give them something to fight for. The second reason is more important and far-reaching. The United States would like to break England’s monopoly on India so that American business can enter and compete on equal terms with British business. Given the loss of British political control, American business could easily gain the upper hand.

On numerous occasions, however, when Roosevelt tried to discuss the Indian problem with Churchill, he got a cold shoulder, according to a statement by Drew Pearson, newspaper columnist. Pearson reports further that when U.S. Ambassador Phillips returned from India and talked with Churchill, the latter banged the table and declared:

“I have always been right about Europe. I’m also right about India. Any change in policy now will mean a blood bath.”

Now this statement of Churchill may be interpreted in several ways. Undoubtedly the apologists for British imperialism will state that what the Prime Minister had in mind was the threat of “civil war” inside India between Hindus and Moslems should the British withdraw. Actually, this is the old hypocritical contention of the British imperialists that England’s role in India is primarily an altruistic one. India is divided up into a number of religious groups and races, they maintain, and would be at each other’s throats were it not for the British armed forces which keep the peace in that country. England is preventing a “blood bath,” they claim.

Britain Fosters Division

This is one of the great frauds invented for the purpose of concealing the real motives for British retention of India. In the first places the differences between Hindus and Moslems are based on religious and not racial or national differences. These could easily be resolved on the basis of democratic government which guarantees to everyone freedom of worship. When clashes occur between the two groups in India, the cause is almost exclusively economic and not religious.

Secondly, it has been the deliberate policy of the British to magnify these differences and to encourage political divisions along religious lines. As far back as 1858, Lord Elphinstone, British Governor General, outlined the policy when he declared:

“Our endeavor should be to uphold in full force the fortunate separation which exists between the different religions and races; not to endeavor to amalgamate them.”

And thirdly, the overwhelming majority of both Hindus and Moslems see their common enemy in British imperialism and are ready to unite in a struggle for national independence. It is precisely for this reason that the British look with favor upon Mohammed Ali Jinnah and his Moslem League, who have been demanding the establishment of a Moslem Federation within India (”Pakistan”) and who threaten “civil war” should the British withdraw from India. Actually, the Moslem League represents only a small minority of Indian Moslems, the majority of whom are making common cause with the Hindu Indians for freedom from English domination.

Gandhi’s Proposals

Recently Gandhi released a set of proposals which he had made to the Moslem League for the settlement of the differences between the League and the Congress Party, which is opposed to any sort of division of India. These proposals constitute a compromise of the Congress Party principle of a united India. The proposals can be summed up as follows:

  1. The Moslem League must cooperate with the All-India Congress in the formation of a transitional government.
  2. At the end of the war, a plebiscite on the basis of adult franchise will be held in the areas where the Moslem population is in an absolute majority. If the verdict favors a sovereign Moslem state, border districts will obtain the right to choose whether they will join the new Moslem India or the new Hindu India.
  3. It must be open to all parties to advocate their points of view before the plebiscite is held.
  4. Any transfer of population must be on an absolutely voluntary basis.
  5. The terms shall be binding only in case of a transfer by Great Britain of full power and responsibility of government to India.

Jinnah’s only reply thus far has been that he will present these proposals to the Working Committee of the Moslem League if Gandhi makes them directly. The British, who are supposedly interested in getting the Hindu-Moslem problem settled, have refused to allow Gandhi and the other leaders of the Congress Party to confer with each other for the purposes of working out their plans.

Returning to Churchill’s reference to a blood-bath, we firmly believe that he was talking about something quite different than the outbreak of warfare between Hindu and Moslem in India. He has in mind a repetition of the events of August and September of 1942, when hundreds of Indian workers and students were mowed down by British machine guns.

The British Record

The British stake in India is too great for the imperialists to allow the Indian people their freedom without a blood-bath. Here are but a few of the facts:

Small wonder that Churchill refuses to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire!

Contrasted to the above, we present the following facts:

S.A. Dange, president of the All-India Trade Union Congress, revealed in a recent interview that:

In Bombay and Ahmedabad, centers of India’s large textile industry, twenty per cent of the workers sleep on the pavements, while the leading textile firms are making 100 percent gross profits.

Skilled textile workers in Bombay, the highest paid center, work fifty-four hours a week and average thirty-three rupees a month ($11.00). In the northern part of India, the average wage is about twelve rupees a month ($4.00).

Dange stated further, in an interview with Allied Labor News, that any trade union in India which becomes powerful is attacked by the employers and government. Paid union officials are the exception. Indian trade unions take a great interest in politics and almost every union platform puts forward a demand for national independence. Because of this, he added, there is hardly a trade union wherein some members of the executive board have not made a minimum of one trip to jail.

Here is the basis of the bloodbath with which Winston Churchill, coauthor of the Atlantic Charter, threatens the people of India should they dare to reopen their struggle for national independence and democratic rights.

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