Telegram to Mahatma Gandhi, on Behalf of the Joint Passive Resistance Council, on Arrest of the First Batch of Passive Resisters, June 1946(1)


Statement in Court

June 1946(2)

(Dr. Dadoo was sentenced in June 1946, at the beginning of the passive resistance campaign, to three months' imprisonment with hard labour. He had been charged under the Riotous Assemblies Act and pleaded guilty.)

Although I am pleading guilty against the charge I desire to make a statement to the Court in order to clarify the situation and explain my action.

I appear before the Court as a passive resister in response to the decision of the South African Indian Congress which totally opposes the Asiatic Land Tenure Act and resolved to carry out a Passive Resistance Struggle against the unjust Act.

It is in the carrying out of this decision for the removal of the difficulties of the Indian community and for the upholding of the honour of the Indians that we have launched upon this campaign by occupying a piece of land, land which was prohibited or restricted from Indian occupation by the new Asiatic Act.

In accordance with the code of the Passive Resistance we have committed a breach of the law in a passive and non-violent manner and are prepared to pay the penalty in full, but unfortunate incidents took place when there was organised hooliganism on the spot by mobs of Europeans. The Passive Resisters took no part in this at all but remained truthful to the rule of non-violence. We held to our duty without even raising a little finger in carrying out our struggle against this unjust, discriminatory and inhuman Act which we consider derogatory to the honour and dignity of the Indian community as a whole and to the Indian nation. This piece of legislation is against all the principles of justice, human decency and democracy. Even if, in the defiance of the Asiatic Act we are confronted with another law we shall carry on, for our purpose is not with this law.

Magistrate`s question

The Magistrate: "For what reasons are you not concerned with that other law?" (Riotous Assemblies Act).

Dr. Dadoo: "Because we are carrying out a campaign of Passive Resistance against the Ghetto Act and it is no fault of ours if the Government chooses to side-track the real issue and invoke the aid of the Riotous Assemblies Act.

"We shall continue carrying on the struggle against the Ghetto Act. Our struggle has the support and consent of the Indian people in South Africa, and is a struggle which has the widest support in India. We hope our action will show democratic-minded people all over the world that in discharging our duty as passive resisters, we are not only doing service to the Indian people, but that we are doing our duty to all true democrats and fighting for our rights in South Africa.

"To the Indian community I say that the struggle will be a hard one and a long one, but that should not daunt them; they should rally to the call and do nothing that will impair the self-respect and national honour of the Indian people. I hope they will continue their struggle with renewed vigour, but in a non-violent manner in keeping with their code of Passive Resistance and do what men and women have done in the war just concluded - a war that was fought for democracy and decency."

(Dr. Dadoo was then sentenced to three months` imprisonment with hard labour.)

Message to the People while Awaiting Sentence to Imprisonment in the Passive Resistance Campaign

June 1946(3)

To my Indian brothers and sisters I give this parting message before being sentenced for opposing the obnoxious Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act, 1946, which shall be known amongst our people as the "Ghetto Act."

I call upon you, every man and woman, to give whole-hearted support to the Passive Resistance Campaign which symbolises the struggle of the Indian people against the most vicious racial legislation in recent times.

This is but the beginning of the struggle. Dark and difficult days lie ahead and every Indian must place duty before self. History must record that in the greatest hour of trial, our people in this country were not found wanting in courage, duty, and devotion.

Statement on Release from Prison

September 26, 1946(4)

I am glad to be in your midst after a brief incarceration of three months.

I am proud of the Indian people. The discomforts of prison life mattered little before the knowledge that the response of the Indian people to the call of Passive Resistance against the Ghetto Act and for the elementary rights of citizenship has been total and united. In the short period of three months over 700 brave men and women have suffered imprisonment and have sacrificed for the cause of our people. I am now informed that hundreds more are prepared for the call to duty.

The Indian people in South Africa although only a quarter of a million are making history. They are once again proving their determination to fight for their inalienable right to live as free, equal and self-respecting citizens of South Africa and they are throwing themselves into the struggle regardless of the cost in sorrow and suffering.

We look forward to the future with confidence and courage. The sacrifices of the Indian people symbolizing their resistance are making their impressions already. Of the many positive features of the struggle the first is the total and united opposition of the community to the Asiatic Land and Indian Representation Act. The Government of South Africa miscalculated the determination of the Indian people. The Government has been confounded. Secondly the active participation of the Indian women, our brave sisters, indicates the depth of the political consciousness and readiness of the people to struggle rather than submit to Fascist practices. Thirdly the support from other sections of the non-European peoples and also from the genuine liberal section of the European population is an indication of the emergence of a new force in the political field of South Africa, fighting for democracy for all, for a great united and happy South Africa.

Our first objective is the United Nations Assembly. Our struggle has condemned as nothing else has done before, the fascist practices and colour oppression of the Union Government. The South African Government must answer for its criminal misdeeds at the bar of world opinion.

We are most gratified by the united support of the four hundred million of the people of India. Gandhiji, the Indian National Congress, Mr. Mohamed Ali Jinnah of the All India Muslim League, the great industrial and commercial organizations, the trade union and working class movement, all of them, without reserve or qualification have thrown in their wholehearted ...???? as possible and has solicited a strong delegation to represent India at the United Nations Assembly.

The South African Government is already feeling the pinch. The acute shortage of gunny bags has already created a serious situation. Our united efforts are proving effective. THE UNITED NATIONS ASSEMBLY MUST HEAR OUR CASE. We must continue without faltering and without flinching in our non-violent struggle of Passive Resistance.


Speech at Mass Welcome Meeting in Johannesburg on Release from Prison

September 29, 1946(5)

(The following is the speech by Dr. Dadoo at a huge meeting held to welcome recently released passive resisters, including Dr. Yusuf M. Dadoo, Miss Zainab Asvat and the Reverend Michael Scott.)

Our struggle against racial discrimination is winning widespread support among all communities in this country.

Great South African European patriots like Rev. Scott and Miss Mary Barr are showing by their participation in the struggle and by suffering the rigours of imprisonment that not all Europeans in South Africa are a party to the oppressive and colour bar policy of the Union Government. Great Non-European patriots among the Coloured and African people are also enlisting to serve in the cause of freedom. This shows the growing support the Passive Resistance Campaign against the Ghetto Act is gaining from all sections of the South African population.

Gathering momentum

Although our movement is still young and just gathering momentum our determined resistance is showing positive results in many directions.

In the first place the indictment of South Africa's crime in treating its Indian minority and the vast mass of the Non-European people in an unashamed and unabashed manner. Secondly, support from all over the world shows that the Union Government stands condemned in the eyes of world opinion, for even the Paris Peace Conference was not immune from its vibrations.

Relations with India

Since the passing of the Ghetto Act the relations between South Africa and India have deteriorated completely. The High Commissioner for India in South Africa has been recalled and trade sanctions are in full force. Gandhiji, who left us the heritage of a struggle in the form of passive resistance, is keenly interested in the progress of our campaign and has constantly sent messages of support and encouragement.

Mohamed Ali Jinnah, President of the All India Muslim League, has reaffirmed his and Muslim India's fullest support to the Passive Resistance struggle of the Indian community.

We are most gratified by and welcome the steps taken by the Interim Government in tightening up measures to make economic sanctions as complete and watertight as possible. We welcome Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's declaration of policy in relation to South Africa. The Union Government is already feeling the full impact of this policy. The shortage of gunny bags, oil seeds and textiles is becoming acutely felt by consumers and farmers alike. The naive attempt by the press to minimise the effects of sanctions cannot help to reassure the farmers who want gunny bags and consumers who want food commodities that these will be delivered to them.

United Nations Assembly

(Speaking of the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Dr. Dadoo said:)

The day of the United Nations Assembly meeting is approaching nearer. We are awaiting with calm confidence the decision of the United Nations. We have, in spite of the Union Government's press propaganda to the contrary, a simple and straightforward case. We only require to place it concisely, concretely and truthfully before the Assembly to commend it to their sense of equity and democracy. We are fortified in our confidence by the knowledge that the Indian delegation will not allow any attempt by the South African Government to divert the attention of the Assembly from the main issue, that by denying elementary rights of citizenship to the Indian and Non-European peoples, by condemning them to live as helots in Ghettos and by driving the vast masses of them to the slaughter pole of the cheap labour policy, South Africa is guilty of flagrant contravention of the basic principles of the United Nations Charter and is in fact practising fascism.

During the last three months since the beginning of the Passive Resistance struggle, a new awakening is perceptible among the Non-European masses. Recent events on the Rand leading to the strike of the African Mine-workers, the most ruthlessly oppressed section of the South African masses, are of great historic significance. The point is not that the African mineworkers were forced by Police violence and brutalities to give up the strike; the significant point is that they ever came out on strike.

A new dawn

We are now witnessing the first glow of a new dawn for South Africa and a decisive turning point in her history. Our country is entering a period of struggle for democracy for all, for a great united and happy South Africa. We are at long last catching up with the march of history. We are now not far behind the masses of the peoples of Europe fighting for democratic peoples' governments and the colonial and semi-colonial peoples fighting for freedom and independence.

Non-European unity

The struggle of the Indian and African people is welding unity and cooperation in action and we are forging the forces of democracy which alone can destroy fascist practices in our country.

Circular Letter to Organisations Concerning the Arrest of Mr. J. N. Singh

November 9, 1946(6)

Since Tuesday 5th November 1946, Mr. J. N. Singh, the Secretary of the Transvaal Passive Resistance Council and a member of the Executive Committee of the Transvaal Indian Congress, has been detained at Marshall Square under the Immigrants Regulations Act of 1913. He appeared before the Johannesburg Magistrate`s Court this morning and his case has now been adjourned to Tuesday, 12th November 1946.

The only crime which Mr. Singh has committed is that HE IS AN INDIAN. Under the Immigration Law of 1913 South African Indians are denied the right of free movement within the Union. Mr. Singh was born in Natal. He is a South African born Indian, whose parents are South African born, but under this racist law he is treated as a foreigner and is not allowed to remain in the Transvaal.

This action against Mr. Singh is reminiscent of the actions taken under the Nazi regime in Germany where on racial grounds the freedom of movement was denied to some of the inhabitants of Germany. It is the task of all the people of South Africa who love democracy to protest against this action, for if democratic South Africans do not protest against racial measures, tomorrow similar laws will be extended to other sections of the South African population.

We, therefore, urge upon your organisation to send immediately a telegram to the Minister of the Interior, Pretoria, protesting at the arrest of Mr. Singh and demanding the repeal of that section of the Immigration Law which makes South African Indians foreigners in the land of their birth. We shall be much obliged if you will send us a copy of the telegram your organisation sends to the Minister.

Yours faithfully,

(sd.) Y. M. Dadoo
Transvaal Indian Congress

Source: Press release of the Transvaal Indian Congress


1. page 499

2. page 499

3. Natal Indian Congress (Flash collection), June 27, 1946.

4. Council of the Transvaal Indian Congress, Johannesburg

5. 1946

6. From: Press release of the Transvaal Indian Congress


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