845.00/1788: Telegram

Mr. William Phillips, Personal Representative of President Roosevelt in India, to the Secretary of State

133. It is reported that many Indian shops and markets in Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi and other smaller centers are closed as a mark of sympathy for Gandhi (reference my 130, February 11, 6 p.m.). The textile mills in Ahmedabad have again closed as well as two large textile mills in Delhi. An explosion occurred in Delhi railway station yesterday, but it is not yet clear whether it was accidental or result of sabotage. Students have gone on strike in many places and are organizing processions and other demonstrations.

Bhansali17 is again fasting out of sympathy for Gandhi (reference my 22 of January 13, 3 p.m.18).

It is becoming more and more evident through press, leading articles and personal appeals that good offices of some sort by the United [Page 192] States are looked for and that my silence is being unfavorably commented upon. An editorial in a Hindu vernacular paper entitled “An American Test” says that on the ground of humanity Americans should help to bring the Congress and the Government to an agreement, that this can only be done by me, that I should not waste time on secondary matters, and that long ago I should have seen the jailed Congress leaders. It adds that this is now the time for the Americans to show their sympathy, et cetera, et cetera.

Another editorial in the English language Bombay Chronicle entitled “Wanted Needs” takes the President and me to task for “not raising even a finger of protest” against violations of his (the President) pledges so long as such violations affect only non-white peoples. Continuing the editorial asks how the Indian people can put any faith in the sincerity of the United States spokesman.

Such comment is not pleasant to read and illustrates a rising trend of criticism against United States by Congress sympathizers. Naturally I feel deeply the hopes and expectations that appear to be centering more and more upon me. The Department will realize the difficulty of my position. Without instructions, I must not do anything to jeopardize my position with the Viceroy and therefore must stay and do nothing which might be interpreted as critical of the Government’s actions or inactions. Therefore, I can only listen to appeals. On the other hand, it is equally important, in my opinion, to avoid giving any impression to the Indians that, through silence and inaction as well as through the presence of United States Forces and myself, strength is being added to the British position.

The feeling is being freely expressed that Gandhi should be freed and not merely granted a release for the duration of his fast, and that someone should be authorized to see him and convey his views to the Viceroy.

Any guidance which you can give me will be appreciated.

  1. J. B. Bhansali, life-long disciple of Gandhi.
  2. Not printed.