THE EMPIRE ABDICATES
The swift, sudden, secret, dramatic arrest of Mahatma Gandhi in the dead of night is the frankest confession of the impotence of the British Raj. The setting aside of the right of habeas corpus, sacred in English tradition; the denial of trial to the accused; the arrest and imprisonment of the greatest man of our times under an irrelevant hundred-year old ordinance--such lawlessness on the part of a government is the surest sign of its abdication.
Let us remind ourselves of two verses from the Gospel according to St. Matthew:
But when they sought to lay hold on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet. (XXI, 46).
Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. (XXVI, 55).
Let me reproduce the dramatic scene of Gandhi's arrest in the early hours of the 5th of May, 1930, while he and his companions of the famous Salt Party were quietly sleeping at Camp Karadi.
(Exit the moon on the far horizon. Languorous Indian sky with drifting clouds. The air is warm and stuffy. Near the cottage of reeds is a plain cot out in the open, under the blue canopy of the Indian sky. Not far from the cot on one side there is a young man sleeping on the ground; on the other side of the cot is a young Indian lady (stopping over for the day) sleeping on the ground.