Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

So we passed our time and the days lengthened

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So we passed our time, and the days lengthened themselves into weeks, and the weeks became months. We grew accustomed to our routine existence. But in the world outside the real burden fell on our womenfolk, our mothers and wives and sisters. They wearied with the long waiting, and their very freedom seemed a reproach to them when their loved ones were behind prison bars. Soon after our first arrest in December 1921 the police started paying frequent visits to Anand Bhawan, our house in Allahabad. They came to realize the fines which had been imposed on father and me. It was the Congress policy not to pay fines. So the police came day after day and attached and carried away bits of furniture. Indira, my four-year- old daughter, was greatly annoyed at this continuous process of de spoliation and protested to the police and expressed her strong dis pleasure. I am afraid those early impressions are likely to color her future views about the police force generally. In the jail every effort was made to keep us apart from the ordinary nonpolitical convicts, special jails being as a rule reserved for politicals. But complete segregation was impossible, and we often came into touch with those prisoners and learned from them, as well as directly, the realities of prison life in those days. It was a story of violence and widespread graft and corruption. The food was quite amazingly bad; I tried it repeatedly and found it quite uneatable. The staff was usually wholly incompetent and was paid very low salaries, but it had every opportunity to add to its income by extorting money on every con ceivable occasion from the prisoners or their relatives. The duties and responsibilities of the jailer, and his assistants, and the warders, as laid down by the Jail Manual, were so many and so various that it was quite impossible for any person to discharge them conscientiously or competently. The general policy of the prison administration in the United Provinces (and probably in other provinces) had absolutely nothing to do with the reform of the prisoner or of teaching him good habits and useful trades. The object of prison labor was to harass the convict. He was to be frightened and broken into blind submis sion; the idea was that he should carry away from prison a fear and a horror of it, so that he might avoid crime and a return to prison in the future. 9 1
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There have been some changes in recent years for the better. Food has improved a little, so also clothing and other matters. This was largely due to the agitation carried on outside by political prisoners after their discharge. Nonco-operation also resulted in a substantial increase in the warders' salaries to give them an additional inducement to remain loyal to the sartor.
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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