Mahatma Gandhi was to fast for 21 days in despair of the recent riots between Muslims and Hindus. It was an expression of his 'unbearable hopelessnes'. "Nothing I say or write," he said, "can bring the two communities together." Even as he spoke there were reports of further riots at Kohat, in which 20 Hindus and 11 Muslims were killed. Reservations, Gandhi speaking in Allahabad said, reserved the right to drink water with or without salt. "It is both a penance and a prayer. As it is penance I need not have taken the public into my confidence but I publish it as, let me hope, an effective prayer to Hindus and Muslims, not to commit suicide".