845.01/272: Telegram

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

357. May I now in accordance with the Department’s 505, September 12, 4 p.m., 1942, request the Department’s instructions regarding the disposition of the President’s letter to Gandhi?8

I feel sure that Gandhi understands why he did not receive a reply to his letter of July 1, 1942,9 and he probably would not expect one at this late date. If a reply is made it might encourage him to correspond further with the President. It is probable too that the receipt of the reply would become known to the Government of India whose suspicions would be (my 674, Sept 3, 3 p.m., 1942)10 aroused as to how Gandhi’s letter evaded censorship in India; the mission however is in position to assure the Government of India that it had nothing to do with the transmittal of Gandhi’s letter.

In view of the changes in the world situation as well as the present political situation in India, I doubt that the implied emphasis in the President’s letter on military considerations is any longer time [timely]; and I anticipate that paragraph 5 page 5 of the Secretary’s radio broadcast of July 22 [23] 1942,11 would awaken only skepticism now as Gandhi in common with most Indian Nationalists probably doubts that the U.S. has used the full measure of its influence [Page 235] during the past two years to support the attainment of freedom by India.

I accordingly feel that no reply should be sent unless it is one which takes cognizance of the circumstances existing at present and is intended to serve a constructive purpose vis-à-vis the Indian political situation. Such a purpose might be served by the inclusion in a new letter of the following:

“I am hopeful that you will experience a speedy recovery from your illness and am pleased to note that, according to reports reaching me, you intend upon your return to health to discuss Hindu-Muslim understanding with Mr. Jinnah;12 I feel sure that the reaching of such an understanding would enlist maximum world sympathy.”

With reference to the above suggested paragraph, Gandhi on May 14 telegraphed to the leader of the Khaksars13 in response to latter’s suggestion that Gandhi and Jinnah should meet to explore the possibilities of an agreement and said that as soon as he was well enough he would be ready to discuss the question with Jinnah.

  1. Telegram No. 505 not printed; for President Roosevelt’s letter of August 1 to Gandhi, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. i, p. 703.
  2. Ibid., p. 677.
  3. Ibid., p. 728.
  4. Text in Department of State Bulletin, July 25, 1942, p. 639; President Roosevelt had enclosed a copy of the text of this radio broadcast in his letter of August 1 to Gandhi.
  5. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Moslem League president.
  6. The Khaksars were a minor Indian political group; Allama Mashriqi, the Khaksar leader, had in 1942 written a booklet, Which Way to Pakistan, which was a condemnation of both the Moslem League and Hindu political organizations regarding the Pakistan question.