Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. June 20, 1907
The Bengal Government's Letter
The Statesman has recently become a confirmed sensation-monger and treats the public continually to its thick-coming opium visions. It has recently brought out a sensational statement about Government proceedings against the Nationalist Press in which a Bengal Government letter to three Calcutta journals received almost a fortnight ago, the recent Police raid on the Keshab Press, the Bande Mataram's posters and some luxuriant imaginings of the Statesman's own riotous fancy have been mingled together in wild confusion. We were one of the recipients of the Bengal Government's letter, and if we have not written on the subject, it is simply because the letter was marked confidential. Now, however, that the matter has got abroad, we may as well correct certain inaccuracies which have appeared not only in the Statesman's bit of romancing, but in the Amrita Bazar Patrika's correction. It is entirely untrue that on Monday afternoon or any other afternoon, evening or morning “a notice was served upon the proprietors, editor, manager and printer of this paper to the effect that proceedings would be adopted against them under section 124A and the other sections dealing with seditious publications, unless they moderated their tone”. On Saturday before last, if our memory serves us, we received a communication from the Bengal Government addressed to the Editor, Bande Mataram in which we were informed that the Lieutenant-Governor had had under consideration certain articles (not specified) recently published in our paper “the language of which was a direct incitement to violence and breach of the peace”. This sort of language the Bengal Government was determined to put a stop to, but before taking action they were gracious enough to give us a warning to mend our ways. That is all. It is not true either that a conference was held with the directors or that the managers1 interviewed the legal advisers of the Company in connection with the notice. No such conference or interview was held for the simple reason that none was necessary. The Editorial Department is solely responsible for the policy of the paper and they have no need to consult lawyers about their duty to the public. The Amrita Bazar Patrika is therefore wrongly informed when it says that legal opinion has been taken and given in the matter. It is true that legal opinion is being taken by the Company, but it is on a point of law which arose previous to the receipt of the Bengal Government's letter and is entirely unconnected with it. The Statesman has also absurdly distorted the “proceedings against the Yugantar and Nabasakti”. No proceedings have been instituted. The police while searching the Keshab Press for manuscripts in connection with the pamphlet Sonar Bangla – which has, by the way, no connection with Hare2 Street mare's nest – stumbled on the forms of the Yugantar then being printed. The Keshab Press is being proceeded against, but it is doubtful whether anything will be done to the Yugantar, as the printing of a paper in part or whole at another press in emergency is so common an occurrence that, even if it be a technical offence, which is not certain, to prosecute it would be purely vindictive. In any case the Yugantar business is not, as the Statesman represents, the first step in a campaign against the Nationalist Press. Our own position is very simple. The articles to which the Bengal Government refers are, we presume, those in which we called upon the Hindus to defend their temples and their women from insult and outrage. Every Hindu paper at the time did the same, even the Indian Mirror and the Indian Nation, and we do not think we did anything more than our plain duty to our countrymen. The Lieutenant-Governor, however, takes exception not to the purport of our articles but to their language – which was less violent than what English papers would have used if a similar campaign of outrage on European women had been in progress. Be that as it may, the occasion has passed and until it is repeated, the question of complying or not complying with the warning does not arise. We merely note it and pass on.
Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 6-7.- Bande Mataram: Political Writings and Speeches. 1890–1908 .- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2002.- 1182 p.
1 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: manager
2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: with the Hare