Gandhi's key letter goes under hammer Feb 14

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 07, 2013 17:30 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 7 (IANS) An important letter of Mahatma Gandhi to an additional secretary of the then British regime in 1943 seeking he be moved from house arrest to some prison will be auctioned by British auction house Mullock's Feb 14.

In a statement, the auction house said the letter dated Oct 26, 1943, with two textual corrections and autographed in the end, is one of the most important letters written by Gandhi.

The letter is estimated at 10,000-15,000 pounds ($15,697-$23,543).

" is unthinkable that when India's millions are suffering from preventable starvation and thousands are dying of it, thousands of men and women should be kept in detention of mere suspicion when their energy and the expense incurred in keeping them under duress could at this critical time be usefully employed in relieving distress...the huge place in which I am being detained with a large guard around me I hold to be a waste of public funds. I should be quite content to pass my days in any prison...," the letter says.

The letter refers to the resolution of the Congress on Aug 8, 1942, where Gandhi called for "Do or Die" for Indian independence and asked the British rulers to "Quit India".

" the Government is aware I offered to meet the member of the Working Committee in order to discuss the situation and to know their mind. But my offer was rejected. I had thought and still think that my talk with them might have some value from the Government stand-point. Hence I repeat my offer. But it may have not such value so long as the Government doubts my bona fides".

Gandhi knew that there were two factions in the Congress - the first believed in non-violence as was Gandhi's philosophy, while the second believed in armed struggle.

This second group had already gone underground splitting into two splinter groups - the 'Indian National Army' of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose which had allied itself to Hitler's Germany and was supported by Imperial Japan, and the 'Azad Dastas' of Jai Prakash Narayan which was bent on an armed campaign within India.

This letter couched in coded diplomatic terms therefore signifies Gandhi's desire to achieve a diplomatic strategical struggle for independence and eventual successful establishment of the state of India, the auction house said.

The letter comes with research notes and a letter of provenance prepared by the present vendor.

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