Need for All to Work Together

Statement to the press. New Delhi, 19 April 1949. 

On the eve of my departure [1] undertaking a long journey and going out of the country, I should like to say a few words to the refugees or the displaced persons in India. Their lot has been a hard one and no problem has given us more anxiety than the problem of rehabilitating them. The problem was colossal and unique and if we failed to solve it with rapidity, it was not due to any lack of effort, though it may have been due to our inexperience and the lack of resources at our command. 

In any event that is a vital and urgent problem for all of us. So far as the Government is concerned, it is anxious and eager to do everything possible to rehabilitate these brothers and sisters of ours. But it must be realized that, in the nature of things, this vast problem cannot be settled completely in a short space of time. It cannot be settled at all satisfactorily unless there is every effort and every cooperation between the Government, the various other agencies and the displaced persons themselves. Indeed, it is the attitude and the cooperation of these displaced persons that will make all the difference. I trust therefore, that there will be this cooperation and an understanding by all of us of each other’s difficulties. It does little good for us to blame each other instead of applying ourselves to the big task before us.

Daily I have met many of these displaced persons who have come to me for relief or solace. Sometimes I have been able to help them a little, sometimes not. I shall be away now for some weeks and I shall not see them, but I wish to assure them that I shall be thinking of them and this great problem. I know that my colleagues here are applying themselves with all their energy to the solution of this problem.

The biggest handicap for us has been the delay in coming to an agreement about evacuee property. Indeed, I would say that this is the biggest problem between India and Pakistan and if this was removed, other problems would gradually find their places. I think we can truthfully say that we have tried our best to get an agreement in regard to evacuee property and the delay is none of our making. It is true that it is not an easy problem to tackle. Nevertheless, we have to do it. We have made some progress and I hope that in future more satisfactory results will follow. In any event we shall continue to try out utmost to find an agreement on this vital issue affecting so many people. We have already taken some steps towards helping those who have come here and those who have property in Pakistan.

I am going away to face big issues, which may well affect the future of our country and Asia. But while I may be far away, I shall be constantly thinking of our problems at home and among them, very specially, about this refugee problem.


[1] Nehru was leaving for London to attend the Dominion Prime Ministers' Conference which began on 21 April 1949.

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