Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

I came back to allahabad i felt unhappy and lonely

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I came back to Allahabad. I felt unhappy and lonely outside the prison when so many of my friends and colleagues were behind prison bars. I found that the Congress organization was not functioning well, and I tried to put it straight. In particular I interested myself in the boycott of foreign cloth. This item of our program still continued in spite of the withdrawal of civil resistance. Nearly all the cloth mer chants in Allahabad had pledged themselves not to import or purchase foreign cloth, and had formed an association for the purpose. The rules of this association laid down that any infringement would be punished by a fine. I found that several of the big dealers had broken their pledges and were importing foreign cloth. This was very unfair to those who stuck to their pledges. We remonstrated with little result, and the cloth dealers' association seemed to be powerless to take action. So we decided to picket the shops of the erring merchants. Even a hint of picketing was enough for our purpose. Fines were paid, pledges
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were taken afresh. The money from the fines went to the cloth mer chants' association. Two or three days later I was arrested, together with a number of colleagues who had taken part in the negotiations with the merchants. We were charged with criminal intimidation and extortion! I was further charged with some other offenses, including sedition. I did not defend myself, but I made a long statement in court. I was sentenced on at least three counts, including intimidation and extortion, but the sedition charge was not proceeded with, as it was probably considered that I had already got as much as I deserved. As far as I remember there were three sentences, two of which were for eighteen months and were concurrent. In all, I think, I was sentenced to a year and nine months. That was my second sentence. I went back to prison after about six weeks spent outside it. XV LUCKNOW DISTRICT JAIL IMPRISONMENT FOR POLITICAL offenses was not a new thing in the India of 1921. From the time of the Bengal partition agitation especially, there had always been a continuous stream of men going to prison, sentenced often to very long terms. There had been internments with out trial also. The greatest Indian leader of the day, Lokamanya Tilak, was sentenced in his declining years to six years' imprisonment. The Great War speeded up this process of internment and imprison ment, and conspiracy cases became frequent, usually resulting in death sentences or life terms. The Ali brothers and M. Abul Kalam Azad were among the wartime internees. Soon after the war, martial law in the Punjab took a heavy toll, and large numbers were sentenced in conspiracy cases or summary trials. So political imprisonment had be come a frequent enough occurrence in India, but so far it had not been deliberately courted.
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