Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

All of us must have been to some extent guilty of

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All of us must have been to some extent guilty of this, but some of the minor Khilafat leaders probably led the rest. It is not easy to behave naturally on a platform before a large audience, and few of us had previous
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experience of such publicity. So we tried to look as we imagined leaders should look, thoughtful and serious, with no trace of levity or frivolity. When we walked or talked or smiled, we were conscious of thousands of eyes staring at us and we reacted accordingly. Our speeches were often very eloquent but, equally often, singularly point less. It is difficult to see oneself as others see one. And so, unable to criticize myself, I took to watching carefully the ways of others, and I found considerable amusement in this occupation. And then the ter rible thought would strike me that I might perhaps appear equally ludicrous to others. Right through the year 1921 individual Congress workers were being arrested and sentenced, but there were no mass arrests. The All brothers had received long sentences for inciting the Indian Army to disaffection. Their words, for which they had been sentenced, were repeated at hundreds of platforms by thousands of persons. I was threatened in the summer with proceedings for sedition because of some speeches I had delivered. No such step, however, was taken then. The end of the year brought matters to a head. The Prince of Wales was coming to India, and the Congress had proclaimed a boycott of all the functions in connection with his visit. Toward the end of Novem ber the Congress volunteers in Bengal' were declared illegal, and this was followed by a similar declaration for the United Provinces. Desh- bandhu Das gave a stirring message to Bengal: "I feel the handcuffs on my wrists and the weight of iron chains on my body. It is the agony of bondage. The whole of India is a vast prison. The work of the Con gress must be carried on. What matters it whether I am taken or left? What matters it whether I am dead or alive?" In the United Provinces we took up the challenge and not only announced that our volunteer organization would continue to function, but published lists of names of volunteers in the daily newspapers. The first list was headed by my father's name. He was not a volunteer but, simply for the purpose of defying the Government order, he joined and gave his name. Early in December, a few days before the Prince came to our province, mass arrests began. We knew that matters had at last come to a head; the inevitable conflict between the Congress and the Government was about to break out. Prison was still an unknown place, the idea of going there still a novelty. I was sitting rather late one day in the Congress office at Alla habad trying to clear up arrears of work.
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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