Gandhi Arrives in Bombay After His Visit to Europe
While Gandhi was on the high seas, the arrests of Jawaharlal Nehru and Abdul Ghaffar Khan, two of his ablest lieutenants, had created a crisis.
Most of the British officers in India had really been unhappy at the rapprochement which Irwin had attempted with Gandhi; they won over his successor Lord Willingdon to a tougher policy towards the Mahatma. Gandhi sought an interview with the Viceroy to smooth away difficulties but was rebuffed. The Government of India was not in a conciliatory mood. Indeed it struck with lightning speed to deprive the Indian National Congress of its leaders, organization and resources. Despite the suddenness and severity of the repression, 61,551 persons came forward and were convicted for civil disobedience in the first nine months of the movement in 1932; this figure was a little higher than that of the earlier campaign in 1930-31.
Whether or not it was associated with the economic situation, as viceroy of all India, Freeman-Thomas found himself dealing with the consequences of the nationalistic movements that Gandhi had earlier started when Freeman-Thomas was governor of Bombay and then Madras. Against the Indian agitators, the Governor-General adopted much stricter measures, as opposed to his predecessors, who had favoured reconciliatory tactics. The Governor-in-Council in 1931 ordered the arrest of Gandhi – who was lodged in jail until 1933 – and the civil disobedience movement was suppressed, with thousands of congressmen arrested, all of which led to threats on Freeman-Thomas' life. He therefore relied on his military secretary, Hastings Ismay, for his safety, and took precautions after he was threatened by assassins.