Nehru's Speech at Ajmer: Muslims should be able to live with Honour

By Jawaharlal Nehru, 3 January 1948

I have come to Ajmer several times with happy feelings but during the present visit my heart is full of sorrow. Ajmer is famous throughout the world for its Durgah, but it is most regrettable that a number of Muslims have left Ajmer. We are duty-bound to give full protection to Muslims. Although we fully sympathise with the refugees from Pakistan and shall help them, we must, at the same time, see that every Muslim lives here in safety and with honour. The aims of Pakistan are not worth emulating. We not only want every Muslim to stay here but also desire that those who have left should return to their homes.

We had condemned and opposed the Muslim League for propagating factionalism and the two-nation theory. But we now see these evils finding a place even among the Hindus and the Sikhs. They not only retard the progress of society but also lead to its fall. As Minister in charge of foreign affairs, I can say authoritatively that India’s prestige has suffered a great setback in the eyes of the world during the last five months due to our mutual quarrels and display of narrow tendencies. We must unite to gain strength. But that strength must be channellised for constructive purposes and not for killing and looting. That kind of strength will destroy our independence. It is, therefore, up to the people of India to choose their path. As it is, it is the people who make a government or choose their prime minister. Big changes in the history of a country are followed by big revolutions but we should not allow ourselves to be swayed by false notions.

India has sent military aid to Kashmir to help our Muslim brothers in their fight for freedom against the aggressors. Kashmir is strategically very important. Such distressing events as took place in Ajmer last month can naturally give rise to doubts in the minds of the people of Kashmir as to the treatment they might get from other people in India.

The Congress has placed certain ideals before the country; and if the people do not like them, they should change them. The All India Congress Committee, at its last meeting, unambiguously declared its resolve on communalism and on the question of minorities. That is the ideal for the present Government, and although I admit some failure in its implementation, we shall not flinch from it and shall do everything to carry it out. No state based on religion can exist in the present-day world.

In the fight for freedom the Congress was alone, but now a number of parties have come into the arena solely to destroy that freedom. The Congress is still powerful and is not afraid of the disruptive forces which can only delay our progress but shall never be able to destroy our freedom. Anyone who is communal-minded is the greatest enemy of this country.

I have personally come to the Durgah to express my great sorrow at the events of the last few days. This is a problem not of Ajmer alone but of the whole country. It has to be solved if we do not desire our independence to perish. The Government of India wants everyone to enjoy equal freedom in pursuing any religion or faith. Fear is the greatest enemy of man and I ask you to get rid of it.

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