Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

The communa lists of various denominations mostly

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The communa- lists of various denominations, mostly political reactionaries, had been forced to lie low because of the overwhelming mass support for the nonco-operation and civil disobedience movement. They emerged now from their retirement. Many others, secret-service agents and people who sought to please the authorities by creating communal friction, also worked on the same theme. The Moplah rising and its extraordi narily cruel suppression what a horrible thing was the baking to death of the Moplah prisoners in the closed railway vans! had already given a handle to those who stirred the waters of communal discord. It is just possible that if civil resistance had not been stopped and the movement had been crushed by Government, there would have been less communal bitterness and less superfluous energy left for the sub sequent communal riots. Both my father and I had been sentenced to six months* imprison ment on different charges and by different courts. The trials were farcical, and, as was our custom, we took no part in them. It was easy enough, of course, to find enough material in our speeches or other activities for a conviction. But the actual choice was amusing. Father was tried as a member of an illegal organization, the Congress volun teers, and to prove this a form with his signature in Hindu was pro- 83
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duced. The signature was certainly his, but, as it happened, he had hardly ever signed in Hindu before, and very few persons could recognize his Hindu signature. A tattered gentleman was then pro duced who swore to the signature. The man was quite illiterate, and he held the signature upside down when he examined it. My daughter, aged four at the time, had her first experience of the dock during father's trial, as he held her in his arms throughout. My offense was distributing notices for a hartal. This was no offense under the law then, though I believe it is one now, for we are rapidly advancing toward Dominion status. However, I was sentenced. Three months later I was informed in the prison, where I was with my father and others, that some revising authority had come to the conclusion that I was wrongly sentenced and I was to be discharged. I was sur prised, as no one had taken any step on my behalf. The suspension of civil resistance had apparently galvanized the revising judges into activity. I was sorry to go out, leaving my father behind. I decided to go almost immediately to Gandhiji in Ahmedabad. Be fore I arrived there, he had been arrested, and my interview with him took place in Sabarmati Prison. I was present at his trial. It was a memorable occasion, and those of us who were present are not likely ever to forget it. The judge, an Englishman, behaved with dignity and feeling. Gandhi ji's statement to the court was a most moving one, and we came away, emotionally stirred, and with the impress of his vivid phrases and striking images in our mind.
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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