Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact No. – 09415777229, 094055338
The question of questions today is the Khilafat question, otherwise known as that of the Turkish peace terms. His Excellency the Viceroy deserves our thanks for receiving the joint deputation even at this late hour especially when he was busy preparing to receive the heads of the different provinces. His Excellency must be thanked for the unfailing courtesy with which he received the deputation and the courteous language in which his reply was couched. But mere courtesy, valuable as it is at all times, never so valuable as at this, is not enough at this critical moment. “Sweet words butter no parsnips” is a proverb more applicable today than ever before. Behind the courtesy there was the determination to punish Turkey. Punishment of Turkey is a thing which Muslim sentiment cannot tolerate for a moment. Muslim soldiers are as responsible for the result of the War as any others. It was to appease them that Mr. Asquith said, when Turkey decided to join the Central Powers, that the British Government had no designs on Turkey and that His Majesty’s Government would never think of punishing the Sultan for the misdeeds of the Turkish Committee. Examined by that standard the Viceregal reply is not only disappointing but it is a fall from truth and justice. What is this British Empire? It is as much Mohammedan and Hindu as it is Christian.
Its religious neutrality is not a virtue, or if it is, it is a virtue of necessity. Such a mighty Empire could not be held together on any other terms. British ministers are therefore bound to protect Mohammedan interests as any other. Indeed, as the Muslim rejoinder says, they are bound to make the cause their own. What is the use of His Excellency having presented the Muslim claim before the Conference? If the cause is lost, the Mohammedans will be entitled to think that Britain did not do her duty by them. And the Viceregal reply confirms the views When His Excellency says that Turkey must suffer for her having joined the Central Powers, he but expresses the opinion of the British ministers. We hope, therefore, with the framers of the Muslim rejoinder that His Majesty’s ministers will mend the mistakes if any have been committed and secure a settlement that would satisfy Mohammedan sentiment. What does the sentiment demand? The preservation of the Khilafat with such guarantees as may be necessary for the protection of the interests of the non-Muslim race living under Turkish rule and the Khalifa’s control over Arabia and the Holy Places with such arrangement as may be required for guaranteeing Arab self-rule, should the Arabs desire it. It is hardly possible to state the claim more fairly than has been done. It is a claim backed by justice, by the declarations of British ministers and by the unanimous Hindu and Muslim opinion. It would be midsummer madness to reject or whittle down a claim so backed.