845.00/1423: Telegram

The Officer in Charge at New Delhi (Merrell) to the Secretary of State

585. Situation in India is very confused since hasty arrest of Congress leaders and it will probably be several days before future trends can be anticipated with any degree of accuracy. Most likely possibility seems to be that Government’s repressive measures will prove relatively successful temporarily and that movement will be driven underground and assume a considerably more violent complexion than would have been the case were Gandhi and other important leaders available to keep it within reasonably non-violent channels.

Government has taken measure to muzzle press by requiring that all matters relating to political situation be submitted for censorship prior to publication. In this connection, the Consulate Bombay makes the following pertinent remarks with which I agree: “Severe censorship now imposed will create a flood of rumors which official pronouncements will not counteract successfully while people will listen to Axis broadcasts to obtain news of India.” All India Editors Conference will meet in Delhi on August 17 to consider position of press resulting from Government orders.

Following arrest of Gandhi yesterday morning demonstrations were held in Bombay which led to firing, lathi charges, and the use of tear gas by police. Five persons were killed and many others, including police, were injured. Similar demonstrations were held in other cities which also resulted in some deaths and many injuries.