'Civil Martial Law'
When Gandhi returned to Bombay, empty-handed, on 28 December 1931, he found Nehru back in gaol and the country once more in political turmoil. Nehru had been arrested two days earlier, while on his way to meet Gandhi, for disobeying an order confining him to Allahabad. With him was the UP provincial Congress president, Tasadduq Sherwani. In that morning's newspapers, which they received as they boarded the train, they had read of the arrest of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, his brother Dr Khan Sahib, and other Congress leaders in the North-West Frontier Province. The government had clearly decided the Gandhi‐ Irwin truce was over and it was time to clamp down again.
The situation was tense all over India, but especially so in the UP, NWFP and BengaL In the UP, Nehru had been leading a no-tax, no-rent campaign for the peasants and tenant farmers, who were suffering severe hardship as the great depression destroyed the market for their produce. In the NWFP, Gaffar Khan's Red Shirts were threatening rebellion and had already restarted civil disobedience. In Bengal, the terrorists were active again: two girl students assassinated a British magistrate, and a Muslim police inspector was shot dead in Chittagong, provoking massive Hindu-Muslim communal rioting. There had also been violent riots in several gaols and detention camps in the province. In all three provinces a series of far-reaching government ordinances had banned virtually all political or public activity.
Gandhi sent off a telegram to the viceroy:
I was unprepared on landing yesterday to find Frontier and United Provinces Ordinances, shootings in Frontier and arrests of my valued comrades in both, on the top the Bengal Ordinance awaiting me. I do not know whether I am to regard these as an indication that friendly relations between us are closed, or whether you expect me still to see you and receive