845.00/3–146: Telegram

The Commissioner in India (Merrell) to the Secretary of State


272. Reference Department’s telegram 192, February 2619 and Mission’s 266, February 28. Consensus among British Civil and Military Intelligence officials here is that evidence gathered to date indicates Communists were noticeably active [apparent omission] disorders in Bombay but did not initiate them and did not organize street fighting or looting. Officials in question state Communists have been endeavoring form cells in armed forces but it is not clear at present whether they were directly responsible for RIN mutiny. In opinion of best informed Military Intelligence officer here inflammatory speeches by Congress leaders during recent months probably had more to do with causing mutiny than any other factor. (On other hand an officer of Mission is informed by a US Government official recently arrived from Bombay [apparent omission] him main cause was failure of Naval HQ Delhi over period of many months to take action of fully justified complaints of ratings.) Intelligence officer under reference is somewhat puzzled by report that Red Flag Union ordered workers back to work in mill while disorders were at height. Whether this was experiment to test organizational discipline is not clear.

Intelligence officials here state they have been unable discover any direct contact between Moscow and Indian Communists although, as Department is aware, it is assumed direct control may be initiated at such time as positions on various other USSR frontiers may be consolidated. In this connection continuation of anti-imperialist broadcasts in Hindustani from Moscow indicates clearly a desire to spread disruptive influences without becoming directly involved in [Page 85]Indian politics (reference Department’s telegram 142, February 8;20 report going forward by mail21).

Intelligence officer under reference states there has been no Moscow directed activity in India for 10 years, a contention which does not seem to jibe with a remark made to our Military Attaché at Kabul some months ago by USSR Military Attaché who said in a suspiciously frank manner his government had “only about 30 agents” operating in India but they were so closely watched that their work was ineffectual.

Sent Department repeated to London, Moscow; Chungking; Calcutta. Paraphrase sent to Bombay.

  1. Not printed; it stated that expressions of regret tendered by the Government of India for the desecration of an American flag at Bombay were acceptable and suggested that further action by the Government of India might consist of formal presentation of a new flag to the Consulate General at Bombay in a private ceremony (811.015345/2–2146).
  2. This telegram stated that the Department would appreciate any available information on a report from British sources that radio transmission had been inaugurated from Moscow to India with special emphasis on Bengal (845.7461/2–846).
  3. Not printed.