Lahore, Saturday, November 26, 1921

After Delhi—Lahore and Amritsar

IT would be no matter for surprise if within the next few days action similar to that taken in Bengal, in Delhi and in the United Provinces were taken in every other province. Little did we dream that at the very time we were writing our leaderette, our own Government was forging similar fetters for the central districts of the Punjab. We are not surprised to find that the communique issued by the Punjab Government, which will be found elsewhere in this issue, does not cite any specific cases of abuse of freedom in justification of the action. Is it wrong to infer that the Punjab Government has taken the action because that action is part of a general campaign all over the country? Within the last few weeks, both at Lahore and at Amritsar, some of the biggest public meetings ever held in any part of the country have been held and in not a single case that we know of has any untoward incident taken place at any of them. We are quite prepared to believe that some of the speeches have been couched in strong language, and although we do not know of any such case ourselves we are also prepared to assume that in a few cases the legitimate limits of fair criticism have been overstepped. But as we have said, this is not a sufficient reason for restricting the liberty of a whole population. The government has in some cases prosecuted individuals. If it considered it either necessary or expedient, there was nothing to prevent it from prosecuting others. What it was not entitled to do, in our opinion, was to punish the whole population of three districts for excesses perpetrated by a handful of persons. As regards volunteer organisations, they have in other cases been suppressed on the specific ground, no matter whether supposed or real, that they have indulged in unlawful activities. In this province we have heard of no general complaint of this kind.

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