THE PEO­PLE’S JINNAH HALL

FrontLine - - ESSAY - BY A.G. NOORANI

Both In­di­ans and Pak­ista­nis be­lieve that Jinnah was po­lit­i­cally born on March 23, 1940, the day the Mus­lim League adopted the Pak­istan res­o­lu­tion. Both ig­nore his glo­ri­ous role as a fighter for In­dia’s free­dom.

IT is one thing for In­dia to refuse to hand over to Pak­istan the Jinnah House, at Mount Pleas­ant Road in the Mal­abar Hill in Mum­bai. In­ex­cus­able, though that is, it is un­for­giv­able to wil­fully, ma­li­ciously ne­glect the Peo­ple’s Jinnah Hall in the com­pound of the Congress House, off Lam­ing­ton Road, in the same city. The house was Jinnah’s prop­erty, which the Cen­tral gov­ern­ment ac­quired as evac­uee prop­erty after Par­ti­tion. The Hall, as its very name in­di­cates, is the peo­ple’s prop­erty. It was built with pub­lic funds, as a trib­ute to one who was then the un­crowned King of Bom­bay, as the city was then called. One of the lead­ers of the Bom­bay Bar, Jinnah was Chair­man of the Board of Di­rec­tors of Bom­bay Chron­i­cle, es­tab­lished by his men­tor Sir Pheroze­shah Me­hta, as a na­tion­al­ist counter to the Bri­tish owned The Times of In­dia. He was pres­i­dent of the Home Rule League, a lead­ing mem­ber of the In­dian Na­tional Congress and pres­i­dent of the All In­dia Mus­lim League. He was also a mem­ber of the Im­pe­rial Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil (later the Cen­tral As­sem­bly) from 1910.

For long In­dia was com­mit­ted to hand­ing over Jinnah House to the Gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan. On Jan­uary 13, 1956, In­dia’s High Com­mis­sioner to Pak­istan, C.C. De­sai, wrote to Prime Min­is­ter Jawa­har­lal Nehru sug­gest­ing that “the house of M.A. Jinnah, on Mal­abar Hill in Mum­bai, should be sal­vaged from the auc­tion to which all evac­uee prop­erty was sub­jected, and be pre­served by the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia as a relic of Jinnah”. He thought that such a ges­ture would con­trib­ute to a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan.

Nehru sent a note on that let­ter to the Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, the For­eign Sec­re­tary, and the Com­mon­wealth Sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs on Jan­uary 19. The Cab­i­net dis­agreed. Bom­bay was rocked by riots over the for­ma­tion of the State of Ma­ha­rash­tra.

In his note to the Cab­i­net dated March 7, 1955, Nehru had sug­gested that Jinnah’s house must not be auc­tioned and “we should fur­ther be pre­pared to make a gift of it to the Pak­istan Gov­ern­ment, should they de­sire to use it as a me­mo­rial”. (Se­lected Works [sec­ond se­ries], Vol­ume 29, page 595.) Su­bi­mal Dutt, then For­eign Sec­re­tary, noted on Jan­uary 20 that it would not be ap­pro­pri­ate for the gov­ern­ment to set up the me­mo­rial since Jinnah “was re­spon­si­ble for the par­ti­tion of the Indo-pak­istan sub­con­ti­nent”, but if the Pak­istan gov­ern­ment it­self wanted to pur­chase the house and pre­serve it as a me­mo­rial to Jinnah, “we cer­tainly should raise no ob­jec­tion”.

Nehru’s opin­ion was “all I can sug­gest is that the house should not be sold for the present and we should await fur­ther de­vel­op­ment” (Se­lected Works of Jawa­har­lal Nehru, Vol­ume 31, pages 375-376). The min­utes of an In­dia-pak­istan meet­ing later record In­dia’s will­ing­ness to hand over the prop­erty to Pak­istan. So strong and fer­vent was Jinnah’s na­tion­al­ism that two Bri­tish Gov­er­nors of Bom­bay con­tem­plated his de­por­ta­tion out of In­dia. John Bryant Wells, an Aus­tralian scholar who delved into the archives, wrote: “A sec­ond con­tribut­ing fac­tor to Jinnah’s re­duced po­lit­i­cal sta­tus by 1920 was the at­ti­tude of the gov­ern­ments of In­dia and Bom­bay to­wards him. Their malev­o­lent re­sponse to Jinnah’s ‘dis-

loyal’ Home Rule League ac­tiv­i­ties left him with a rep­u­ta­tion as a trou­ble maker. The Gov­er­nor of Bom­bay, Lord Willing­don, la­belled him ‘ir­rec­on­cil­able’ and a leader of ‘bad’ char­ac­ter. His later agi­ta­tion against Willing­don fur­ther raised the ire of the ad­min­is­tra­tion. Although the re­ac­tion of the In­dian press was to re­port his ‘mag­nif­i­cent lead­er­ship’, the Bri­tish were not sim­i­larly im­pressed. Willing­don rec­om­mended Jinnah’s de­por­ta­tion, but his suc­ces­sor, Ge­orge Lloyd, ‘was not dis­posed to be­gin his ca­reer by con­fer­ring un­nec­es­sary mar­tyr­dom’. (Later he changed his view on the pos­si­bil­ity of Jinnah’s de­por­ta­tion.) In 1918 Jinnah was la­belled an ‘ex­trem­ist’ and even a ‘Bol­she­vist’” (Am­bas­sador of Hindu-mus­lim

Jinnah’s Early Pol­i­tics, Per­ma­nent Black, page Unity:

1077).

Jinnah re­signed from the Im­pe­rial Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil over the mas­sacre at the Jal­lian­wal­lah Bagh. Walls records that, used as he was to the style of de­bat­ing in the House of Com­mons, Jinnah used the same ag­gres­sive style in re­proach­ing Bri­tish of­fi­cials. His speech on Bha­gat Singh is a mas­ter­piece.

JINNAH & TI­LAK

The Peo­ple’s Jinnah Hall, as it is aptly called, is in the com­pound of the Congress House. It is not very far from Shan­taram’s Chawl, venue of the bat­tles he fought in Bal Gan­gad­har Ti­lak’s com­pany. It was an ex­pres­sion of the pub­lic’s ad­mi­ra­tion for Jinnah’s strong and suc­cess­ful lead­er­ship of a cam­paign against the Gov­er­nor, Lord Willing­don. The cam­paign was pro­voked by Willing­don’s in­sult to his com­rade Ti­lak. In a real sense the Peo­ple’s Jinnah Hall is a me­mo­rial to their com­rade­ship and a re­minder of a phase in na­tional pol­i­tics which holds many a les­son for our times.

On June 10, 1918, the Gov­er­nor con­vened a war con­fer­ence at the Town Hall in Bom­bay to en­list pop­u­lar sup­port for the war ef­fort. It was part of a se­ries that be­gan with the war con­fer­ence con­vened by the Viceroy on April 16.

Willing­don in­vited Ti­lak to his con­fer­ence in Bom­bay. Also in­vited were Jinnah, B.G. Horn­i­man, N.C. Kelkar, Jam­nadas Dwarkadas, and S.R. Bo­manji. Though the Gov­er­nor’s open­ing speech was crit­i­cal of the Home Rule League, he pre­vented Ti­lak from re­ply­ing to the crit­i­cism. Ti­lak re­it­er­ated his stand that “home de­fence was ul­ti­mately con­nected with home rule”. The Gov­er­nor in­ter­rupted him to say that “he could not per­mit a po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sion” on a res­o­lu­tion pledg­ing loy­alty to the King-em­peror. Nor would he per­mit amend­ments to the res­o­lu­tion. Ti­lak left the dais and re­turned to his place in the hall. N.C. Kelkar fol­lowed much the same line and was given the same treat­ment. There­upon, Ti­lak and his col­leagues walked out. Jinnah stayed be­hind and spoke for them and for the Home Rule League. L. Robert­son, Chief Sec­re­tary to the Gov­ern­ment, sent a full re­port of the pro­ceed­ings to the Sec­re­tary to the Home Sec­re­tary of the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia. “I am, how­ever, to in­vite at­ten­tion to the ob­jec­tion­able re­marks which the Honourable Mr. Jinnah thought it fit to make while speak­ing on res­o­lu­tion II” on the war ef­fort.

Jinnah re­but­ted the charge against the League: “I must say that I was pained, very much pained, that Your Ex­cel­lency should have thought fit to cast doubts on the sin­cer­ity and loy­alty of the Home Rule party. I am very sorry, my Lord, but with the ut­most re­spect I must en­ter my em­phatic protest against that view. The Home Rule party is as sin­cere and as anx­ious to help the de­fence of our moth­er­land and the Em­pire as any­one else....

“If you wish to en­able us to help you, to fa­cil­i­tate and stim­u­late the re­cruit­ing, you must make the peo­ple feel that they are the cit­i­zens of the Em­pire and the king’s

equal sub­jects. But you do not do so. You say that we shall be trusted and made real part­ners in the Em­pire. When? We don’t want words; we want ac­tion and deeds, im­me­di­ate deeds. I will only give one in­stance. At the Delhi Con­fer­ence we unan­i­mously passed a res­o­lu­tion rec­om­mend­ing that a sub­stan­tial num­ber of King’s Com­mis­sions should be granted to the peo­ple of In­dia; but noth­ing has been done yet.”

The Gov­er­nor: “I re­ally must sug­gest to the Honourable Mr Jinnah that he had bet­ter go to the Gov­ern­ment at Delhi or Simla and say these things there. I have no power in this par­tic­u­lar mat­ter.”

Jinnah: “I am sim­ply say­ing this, that I un­der­stand that this Gov­ern­ment is di­rected to carry out the pro­pos­als ap­proved by the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia, and I say that if the Gov­ern­ment wants us to co­op­er­ate with them and carry out their wishes in this prov­ince, then let them trust us.”

The Gov­er­nor: “But the Honourable Gen­tle­man might send any sug­ges­tions he wants to be adopted.”

Jinnah: “My Lord, the pro­ce­dure has al­ready been laid down and I do not wish to chal­lenge any­thing but I only wish to say that I do not ap­prove of the per­son­nel of the boards. My next point is that I do not ap­prove the me­moran­dum an­nexed to the res­o­lu­tion. I have had no op­por­tu­nity given to me of ex­er­cis­ing my judge­ment upon it and how can I ap­prove of it? I refuse to be a party to the adop­tion of this me­moran­dum which I have had no op­por­tu­nity to con­sider. I hope this Con­fer­ence would agree and Your Ex­cel­lency would be­lieve me that to doubt our sin­cer­ity, that to doubt our loy­alty is an in­sult to our party and we will not have it.”

To­wards the end of this con­fer­ence the Gov­er­nor took ex­cep­tion to the re­marks of Jinnah who again spoke: “I would only re­quest Your Ex­cel­lency to re­fer to Your Ex­cel­lency’s speech where Your Ex­cel­lency has doubted the sin­cer­ity of the Home Rule League to help the Gov­ern­ment, and if I am wrong I would with­draw my protest.”

Six days later a huge pub­lic meet­ing was held at the hal­lowed Shan­taram’s Chawl in Gir­gaum un­der Gandhi’s chair­man­ship at which Jinnah moved a res­o­lu­tion em­body­ing the na­tional de­mands on the war. It was fol­lowed by an­other at China Bagh on Home Rule Day.

By now Jinnah was a scourge of the gov­ern­ment. K.M. Mun­shi said that the likes of him he had never seen be­fore. He was then 42 and had 30 years of a hec­tic life ahead of him. Suc­cess came to him fairly early in life, and his pol­i­tics, even in the early days, was in­volved mass pol­i­tics. Men like him were not to be tri­fled with, as Willing­don and, later, oth­ers dis­cov­ered.

As the Gov­er­nor’s term of of­fice ex­pired, Sir Stan­ley Reed, ed­i­tor of The Times of In­dia, and some oth­ers formed a com­mit­tee to hold a meet­ing and vote a me­mo­rial on be­half of the city in hon­our of the de­part­ing dig­ni­tary. Jinnah and 29 oth­ers wrote to him on Novem­ber 8, warn­ing him that “should any such meet­ing be called we shall at­tend the same for the pur­pose of op­pos­ing” the pro­posal. On re­tire­ment, Sir Stan­ley be­came a Con­ser­va­tive mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and con­trib­uted a weekly let­ter from Lon­don to The Times of In­dia for a good few years after In­de­pen­dence. Let­ters were also writ­ten to the Sher­iff of Bom­bay. B.G. Horn­i­man waged a cam­paign against the Gov­er­nor. A fiery cam­paign en­sued in the press.

TRIAL OF STRENGTH

At long last, the day for the de­ci­sive trial of strength ar­rived on De­cem­ber 11, 1918. It was seven o’clock in the morn­ing when the lead­ers of the anti-req­ui­si­tion­ists ar­rived at the Town Hall and were re­ceived with loud cheers by a band of two or three hun­dred of their sup­port­ers, who had ar­rived ear­lier and were wait­ing on the road­side in front of the El­phin­stone Gar­dens, now Horn­i­man Cir­cle. Overnight it had been as­cer­tained that no one would be al­lowed on the Town Hall steps un­til the doors were opened. The whole place was in charge of a large force of the po­lice, and a let­ter ad­dressed to the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice had failed to elicit a re­ply to the ques­tions that were ad­dressed to him in re­gard to the ar­range­ments. A few hours passed in tense ex­pec­ta­tion. At 10 o’clock, the doors were opened, the in­ten­tion to do so be­ing com­mu­ni­cated only a few min­utes be­fore­hand to the lead­ers of the op­po­si­tion, who im­me­di­ately took places in the queue which had been kept for them by their sup­port­ers. Thus the first per­sons to en­ter the Town Hall were Jinnah, Jam­nadas, Horn­i­man, Umar Sob­hani, K.M. Mun­shi, Tairsee, S.G. Banker, P.K. Te­lang, Mowji Govin­dji Sheth, Syed Hus­sain, other lead­ers, and a large fol­low­ing of sup­port­ers. In the mean­while, Sule­man Cas­sim Mitha had ar­rived on the steps and as­sumed com­mand of the op­er­a­tions for pack­ing the meet­ing with loy­al­ists, which had ap­par­ently been en­trusted to him.

The first vic­tory was gained after the anti-req­ui­si­tion­ists se­cured the front place in the queue, and the sec­ond when they suc­ceeded in re­sist­ing an au­da­cious at­tempt to thrust them into the back seats. Headed by Jinnah, they in­sisted on their right as the first-com­ers to take which­ever seats they chose and after some ar­gu­ment their claim to oc­cupy the seats in the cen­tral part of the Town Hall was con­ceded. Mrs Rut­tie Jinnah was on the steps to the Hall con­trol­ling the vol­un­teers.

By five o’clock, the Hall was un­com­fort­ably packed. The ar­rival of the Sher­iff at this time pro­voked an ex­tra­or­di­nary scene. Those seated on the plat­form, and stand­ing on it in front, raised vo­cif­er­ous cheers which were im­me­di­ately drowned by long-con­tin­ued shouts of “Shame, Shame”. Other

lead­ers of the req­ui­si­tion­ist party re­ceived the same demon­stra­tion and counter-demon­stra­tion from the two par­ties.

At about 5:30 in the evening, quiet was re­stored. Im­me­di­ately after the read­ing of the no­tice con­ven­ing the meet­ing, by the Sher­iff, Horn­i­man rose and ad­dressed the Sher­iff to make a protest; the lat­ter, how­ever, re­fused him a hear­ing and his voice was drowned in the shouts of those on and near the plat­form sup­port­ing the req­ui­si­tion­ists. While Horn­i­man was still stand­ing and en­deav­our­ing to be heard, Sir Din­shaw Wacha rose and moved that Sir Jam­set­jee Jee­jeeb­hoy should take the chair. This was ap­par­ently sec­onded by Sir Fazalb­hoy Cur­rimb­hoy. With­out any at­tempt to put the mo­tion to the vote, and ig­nor­ing Horn­i­man’s shouted protest that this party wished to pro­pose an amend­ment that P.K. Te­lang be elected chair­man, Sir Jam­set­jee walked to the chair.

From that mo­ment the fate of the meet­ing was sealed. For about 20 min­utes the anti-req­ui­si­tion­ists con­tin­ued their shouts of “no, no” in protest against this ar­bi­trary pro­ce­dure and Sir Jam­set­jee’s tak­ing of the chair while the stew­ards, vol­un­teers, and other sup­port­ers of the plat­form shrieked and yelled in de­ri­sion, hurl­ing chal­lenges and ep­i­thets at the anti-req­ui­si­tion­ists. What was go­ing on on the plat­form, no­body could see or hear. It is said that Sir Jam­set­jee pre­sented the res­o­lu­tion of ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Lord Willing­don from the chair and de­clared it car­ried. The farce came to an end when the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice ap­peared on the plat­form, and backed by a posse of po­lice, or­dered the hall to be cleared. The anti-req­ui­si­tion­ists headed by their lead­ers pro­ceeded to leave the hall.

Un­nec­es­sary vi­o­lence was used by the po­lice in clear­ing the hall and sev­eral of the anti-req­ui­si­tion­ists were as­saulted, in­clud­ing Jinnah and Sube­dar.

When the lead­ers of the op­po­si­tion ap­peared on the steps, after leav­ing the meet­ing, they were re­ceived with a long con­tin­ued roar of cheers from a huge crowd. Horn­i­man, while com­ing down, was seized and car­ried shoul­der-high round the cir­cle amidst a scene of ex­tra­or­di­nary en­thu­si­asm, the oc­cu­pants of the crowded ve­ran­dahs and bal­conies also cheer­ing and wav­ing hand­ker­chiefs. The demon­stra­tion reached its cul­mi­na­tion in Apollo Street where Jinnah, Jam­nadas, and Horn­i­man de­liv­ered brief speeches from the win­dows of an in­sur­ance com­pany’s of­fice. They em­pha­sised the sig­nif­i­cance of the great vic­tory that had been won for self-de­ter­mi­na­tion and de­clared that never again would flat­ter­ers and syco­phants dare to flout pub­lic opin­ion. No such pop­u­lar demon­stra­tion had ever been wit­nessed in Bom­bay be­fore.

‘CIT­I­ZENS OF BOM­BAY’

Horn­i­man said that a full ac­count of what hap­pened dur­ing the whole day at the Town Hall would be re­lated to them at the meet­ing that night at Shan­taram’s Chawl. Amid ring­ing ap­plause the speaker made way for Jinnah, who, in an­swer to re­peated calls from au­di­ence, said: “Gen­tle­men, you are the cit­i­zens of Bom­bay. You have to­day scored a great tri­umph for democ­racy. Your tri­umph to­day has made it clear that even the com­bined forces of bu­reau­cracy and au­toc­racy could not over­awe you. De­cem­ber the 11th (1918) is a Red-let­ter Day in the his­tory of Bom­bay. Gen­tle­men, go and re­joice over the day that has se­cured us the tri­umph of democ­racy.”

A huge demon­stra­tion was then staged at Shan­taram’s Chawl that night. The three lead­ers who were in­stru­men­tal in smash­ing the farewell meet­ing of the day gave an ac­count of the pro­ceed­ings of the meet­ing in the Town Hall. Horn­i­man then moved the fol­low­ing res­o­lu­tions.“i. That this meet­ing of the cit­i­zens of Bom­bay en­ters its em­phatic protest against the con­duct of the Sher­iff of Bom­bay and the con­ven­ers of the pro­posed Willing­don Me­mo­rial meet­ing for the ar­bi­trary and dis­grace­ful meth­ods em­ployed by them in re­fus­ing to af­ford proper fa­cil­i­ties to the op­po­nents of the meet­ing and con­triv­ing by mean and de­spi­ca­ble meth­ods to pack the meet­ing.

“II. That this meet­ing of the cit­i­zens of Bom­bay con­demns and protests against the cruel and par­tial con­duct of the po­lice in car­ry­ing out their work in re­gard to the ar­range­ments of that meet­ing.

“III. That this meet­ing of the cit­i­zens of Bom­bay con­demns the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Lord Willing­don and protests against the pro­posal to raise any sort of me­mo­rial to Lord Willing­don for his ser­vices.”

Syed Hu­sain sec­onded the res­o­lu­tion in a brief speech in Urdu, in the course of which he re­marked that Jinnah had by his share in the events of the day set an ex­am­ple of mag­nif­i­cent lead­er­ship of which not only Bom­bay but In­dia might well be proud. The res­o­lu­tions were then put to the meet­ing and car­ried unan­i­mously.

A po­lice of­fi­cer re­ported: “I was asked to clear the Hall. I ac­cord­ingly en­tered the Hall with a posse of po­lice and cleared it. Jinnah, Horn­i­man, and one or two oth­ers of the anti-req­ui­si­tion­ist party were rather roughly han­dled by some of the stew­ards while the crowd were be­ing cleared from the Town Hall. Mrs Jinnah made her­self con­spic­u­ous in the af­ter­noon by ap­pear­ing in the gallery of the Town Hall and wav­ing greet­ings to the crowd out­side. She later took up a po­si­tion in­side the Town Hall com­pound and ad­dressed her hus­band’s sup­port­ers ad­vis­ing them to stand by their rights and to re­sist the po­lice. Through­out the day it was very no­tice­able that the ed­u­cated Home Rulers adopted a con­tu­ma­cious at­ti­tude, re­fus­ing to obey the orders of the po­lice, thereby com­pelling them to ex­e­cute those orders by force. The ‘po­lice’ were ev­ery­where greeted by cries of ‘shame’ and a sim­i­lar re­cep­tion was ac­corded to the mem­bers of His Ex­cel­lency’s Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil, High Court Judges and other high of­fi­cials who at­tended the meet­ing.

“After the Town Hall meet­ing was over, the an­tireq­ui­si­tion­ists led by Horn­i­man, Jinnah, and Jam­nadas pro­ceeded to Mr V.A. De­sai’s of­fice at Apollo Street and held an in­for­mal meet­ing. On the same night at 9.30 p.m. a pub­lic meet­ing was held at Shataram’s Chawl to protest

against the man­age­ment of the meet­ing at the Town Hall and the con­duct of the po­lice. Jinnah was in the chair. Jam­nadas, Horn­i­man, Nars­ingh Prasad, Bhag­wan­das Vib­hakar, L.G. Khare, M.K. Azad, Mowji Govin­dji, Dr. Erulker, and Mrs. Ramibai Kam­dar ad­dressed the meet­ing.

“Con­tin­u­ing, Jam­nadas said by their deeds that day they had abun­dantly proved that they would never care for self-in­ter­est, nor would aim only at the com­mon­weal. [Hear, hear]. They all know what glo­ri­ous past In­dia had had, but judg­ing from their deeds, he was con­fi­dent that if they con­tin­ued to re­main firm in their de­ter­mi­na­tion and in assert­ing their rights, they had a still brighter fu­ture for In­dia. [Loud and pro­longed cheer­ing].

“Mr K.M. Mun­shi then rose and re­lated in de­tail all the prin­ci­pal events of the day. They had proved by their deeds that what­ever may be the per­sonal qual­i­ties of a Gov­er­nor he would not re­ceive a pub­lic me­mo­rial if he was not pop­u­lar. [Hear, hear]. He then eu­lo­gised the firm­ness and sac­ri­fice of the lead­ers of the counter-req­ui­si­tion­ists, par­tic­u­larly Jinnah, the likes of whom, the speaker said, he had never seen be­fore.”

This was the ge­n­e­sis of the Jinnah Hall. A Bom­bay So­lic­i­tor, B.D. Lam, wrote a let­ter which the Bom­bay Chron­i­cle pub­lished on De­cem­ber 14. It read: “Sir, I have read with great pride and deep emo­tion the re­ports of yes­ter­day’s meet­ing and I can­not with­hold my high ad­mi­ra­tion for the bold and the fear­less lead­er­ship of Mr Jinnah in in­au­gu­rat­ing a new era in the pub­lic life of Bom­bay.

“The real is­sues of this fight have been clouded by the ex­cite­ment caused by the con­duct of the po­lice and the sup­port­ers of the Sher­iff’s meet­ing. We have, there­fore, to look at the re­sult in its proper light, and the true test of the suc­cess of Mr Jinnah and his no­ble band of sup­port­ers lies in two great facts. The first is that the sup­posed pub­lic meet­ing lasted only a few min­utes and no speeches could be made by the sup­port­ers of Lord Willing­don. To call this a meet­ing of the cit­i­zens of Bom­bay to vote a me­mo­rial is a shame and hypocrisy. The sec­ond great truth is that no Sher­iff will hence­forth make bold to flout pub­lic opin­ion and call a meet­ing in the name of the cit­i­zens of Bom­bay. That is an achieve­ment of which Mr Jinnah and his fol­low­ers have rea­sons to be proud.

“If, as a re­sult of the meet­ing, any­body de­serves a me­mo­rial it is Mr Jinnah whose fine lead­er­ship and fear­less courage have marked a great epoch in the pub­lic life of Bom­bay. He has shown the spirit of our late lamented lead­ers like Dad­ab­hai Naoroji and Gopal Kr­ishna Gokhale.

“We should mark our great ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Mr Jinnah’s ser­vice by rais­ing a fund in which each of his sup­port­ers should con­trib­ute one ru­pee. That ru­pee will come not from a man’s pocket but from his heart. If we had our own way we would raise a statue of Mr Jinnah to be placed in the Town Hall of Bom­bay, for Mr Jinnah has for­ever laid low the tyranny of Town Hall meet­ings held in the name of the pub­lic. His name will be cher­ished for­ever as the great In­dian who is a sym­bol of their true pub­lic spirit. That spirit never ex­isted in Bom­bay, but Mr Jinnah has es­tab­lished it on firm ba­sis in yes­ter­day’s pro­ceed­ings. We ought not to al­low this oc­ca­sion to pass with­out a fit­ting trib­ute to Mr Jinnah. A sou­venir ought to be pre­sented to him to mark the ev­er­last­ing ser­vices he has ren­dered not only to Bom­bay but to the whole of In­dia.”

113 Es­planade Road. B.D. Lam Each donor con­trib­uted a ru­pee. Within a month, 65,000 cit­i­zens had raised a fund of Rs.65,000. An­nie Be­sant came down from Lon­don spe­cially to in­au­gu­rate the Peo­ple’s Jinnah Me­mo­rial Hall.

It was in the fit­ness of things that when, in 1975 dur­ing “the emer­gency” in In­dia, the Bom­bay Com­mit­tee of Lawyers for Civil Lib­er­ties de­cided to hold a meet­ing of the city’s lawyers to protest against the vi­o­la­tion of civil lib­er­ties and the rule of law, it was this Hall—the Peo­ple’s Jinnah Hall—that they chose as the venue for the meet­ing. It was to be a pri­vate meet­ing re­stricted to in­vited lawyers since pub­lic meet­ings were banned. It was to be ad­dressed, among oth­ers, by M.C. Chagla, for­mer Chief Jus­tice of the High Court, J.C. Shah, for­mer Chief Jus­tice of In­dia and N.P. Nath­wani, a for­mer Judge of the High Court. The Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice re­fused per­mis­sion to hold the meet­ing. In a land­mark judg­ment de­liv­ered on De­cem­ber 16, 1975, Chief Jus­tice R.M. Kantawala and Jus­tice V.D. Tulza­purkar al­lowed a writ pe­ti­tion quash­ing the Com­mis­sioner’s or­der.

Jinnah was 42 then. This did not pre­vent Nehru from tu­tor­ing Mount­bat­ten that suc­cess had come to Jinnah late in life. Both In­di­ans and Pak­ista­nis be­lieve that Jinnah was po­lit­i­cally born on March 23, 1940, the day the Mus­lim League adopted the Pak­istan res­o­lu­tion. Both ig­nore his glo­ri­ous role as a fighter for In­dia’s free­dom.

PEO­PLE’S JINNAH HALLon Grant Road in Mum­bai.

RE­PRO­DUCED FROM AN IS­SUE of the “Il­lus­trated Weekly of In­dia”, the il­lus­tra­tion fea­tures a young Jinnah (in 1919) and a pho­to­graph of the plaque out­side the Peo­ple’s Jinnah Hall in Mum­bai, which still ex­isted in 1985. It has since been re­moved, a sad and cheap at­tempt at oblivi­at­ing Jinnah’s name. It is sheer van­dal­ism and con­sti­tutes an of­fence in law.

BAL GAN­GAD­HAR TI­LAK.

BABU RA­JEN­DRA PRASAD ad­dress­ing a pro­hi­bi­tion meet­ing at Jinnah Hall on June 24, 1939.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.