“I STAND BY THE SIDE OF MY COUNTRYMEN”
The enormity of the measure taken by the Government of Punjab for quelling some local disturbances has with a rude shock, revealed to our minds the helplessness of our position as Britain subject in India. The disproportionate severity of the punishments inflicted upon the unfortunate people and the methods of carrying them out, we are convinced, are without parallel in history of civilized government, barring some conspicuous exceptions recent and remote. Considering that such treatment has been meted out to a population, disarmed and resource-less, by a power which has the most terribly efficient organization for destruction of human lives, we must strongly assert that it can claim no political expediency, far less moral justification. The accounts of insults and sufferings undergone by our brothers in the Punjab have trickled thought the gagged silence, reaching every corner of India, and the universal agony of indignation roused in the hears of our people has been ignored by our rulers possibly congratulating themselves for imparting what they imagine as salutary lessons. This callousness has been praised by most of the Anglo-Indian papers, which have in some cases gone to the brutal length of making fun of our sufferings, without receiving the least check from thee same authority, relentlessly careful in smothering every cry of pain and expression from judgement of organs representing the sufferers. Knowing that our appeals have been in vain and that the passion of vengeance is blinding the noble vision of statesmanship in our government, which could so easily afford magnanimous as befitting its physical strength and moral tradition, the very least that I can do for my country is to take all the consequences upon myself in giving voice to the protest of the millions of my countrymen, surprised into a dumb anguish of terror. The time has come when the badges of honour make our shame glaring in their incongruous context of humiliation, and I for my part wish to stand, shorn of all special distinctions, by the side of those of my countrymen who, for their so called insignificance, are liable to suffer a degradation not fit for human beigns. And these are the reasons which have painfully compelled me to ask Your Excellency, with due reference and regret, to relieve me of my title of knighthood, which I had the honour to accept from His Majesty the King at the hands of your predecessor, for whose nobleness of heart I still entertain great admiration.
TAGORE’S LETTER TO THE BRITISH VICEROY, MAY 30, 1919
IN homage to those who gave thier lives in the cause of India’s freedom