While so-called Gandhian freedom fighters of Congress were treated with velvet gloves in British-Indian Jails, non-Congress prisoners and revolutionaries were treated like cattle in slaughter houses, forced to wear same clothes for several days even in torrid summer, their kitchen infested with rats and roaches, denial of reading and writing material, whipped to hard manual labour etc. Whenever they protested, went on long spells of hunger-strike demanding equality with European prisoners and Gandhians, they were mercilessly tortured and flogged. Revolutionary Jatin Das martyred on Sept. 13, 1929 in Lahore Jail after 63-day hunger strike protesting against inhuman treatment. For senior Gandhians Jails were comfortable guest-houses, used to be provided all comforts and necessities in ‘British-Indian Jails’. In words of Rajmohan Gandhi, when senior Gandhians were arrested and lodged in Ahmednagar Jail during 1942-45, “On the day of their arrival, Kripalani recalls Azad showing ‘towering rage’: he threw out the Jailor who had brought ready-to-drink tea for them in an aluminium kettle along with loaves of bread on an aluminium plate and glasses for the tea. The Congress President ‘ordered’ the jailor to bring tea in a pot, milk in a jug and sugar in a bowl, plus cups, saucers and spoons. The jailor, an Indian, complied.” Maulana Azad wrote in his autobiography: “Dinner was served to us soon after on iron platters. We did not like them and I told the jailer that we were accustomed to eat from China plates. The jailer apologised and said that he could not supply us with a dinner set then but it would be obtained the next day. A convict from Poona had been brought to serve us as our cook. He could not prepare food according to our taste. He was soon changed and a better cook appointed.” Daily routine of those Gandhian satraps in Ahmadnagar Jail makes a fascinating reading – ‘Breakfast at 7 am, lunch at 1 pm, bridge from 1 pm to 3 pm, rest from 3 pm to 5 pm followed by tea (or reading/writing between lunch and tea), games from 6 pm to 7 pm, dinner from 7 pm to 8.30 pm followed by coffee, finally retiring for the night.’
MK Gandhi was ‘jailed’ in the grand Aga Khan Palace at Pune from 1942 to 1944. Nehru was provided newspapers, magazines, writing material and books in all Jails. ‘Glimpses of World History’ he authored in Naini Jail during 1930-35, ‘An Autobiography’ in Bareilly and Dehra Dun Jails, finally ‘Discovery of India’ in Ahmednagar Jail during 1942-45. During those spells of ‘imprisonment’, Gandhian ‘freedom-fighters’ were for all practical purposes, royal guests of the Royal British Crown. So described a non-Gandhian freedom-fighter Asaf Ali, “Nehru almost had a bungalow to himself in his so-called jail with curtains of his choicest colour—blue. He could do gardening at leisure and write his books. When his wife was sick, his sentence was suspended even without his asking for it !” The then UP Governor ‘Sir’ Harcourt Butler used to even send quality food and a champagne bottle to Motilal Nehru in his prison out of consideration for their association, so confessed by Motilal Nehru to The Statesman editor Arthur Moore and mentioned by MJ Akbar too in his book. Nehru himself mentioned it in his autobiography, “Personally, I have been very fortunate, and almost invariably, I have received courtesy from my own countrymen and English. Even my gaolers and the policemen, who have arrested me or escorted me as a prisoner from place to place, have been kind to me, and much of the bitterness of conflict and the sting of gaol life has been toned down because of this human touch…Even for Englishmen I was an individual and not merely one of the mass, and, I imagine, the fact that I had received my education in England, and especially my having been to an English public school, brought me nearer to them. Because of this, they could not help considering me as more or less civilized after their own pattern…”.
Quite ironically and so tragically, none of those Gandhian leaders did anything to ensure revolutionaries were treated humanely in British-Indian Jails. While they were enjoying champagne, delicious meals, tea / coffee in China crockeries during their imprisonment in British-Indian Jails, CS Azad / Bhagat Singh / Rajguru / Sukhdeva / Ram Prasad Bismil used to be lashed and whipped by the British-Indian Police with leather batons to bloodied wounds and starve for days together though they too had actively supported Non-Cooperation Agitation of 1922. It was only Lokmanya Tilak who did whatever he could for them to ameliorate their agony. Vinayak Savarkar and others were brutalised in Andamana Jail yet Gandhian ‘freedom-fighters’ could not spare even a single drop of their precious tears for them. They were shackled, fed on gruel infested with worms, hauled to run oil mills for hours together and flogged. Had those Gandhian ‘freedom-fighters’ been subjected to the same treatment even for day, they would have boot-licked British-thugs and begged for unconditional apology though it is yet another matter that today, their poodles and chihuahuas deride Vinayak Savarkar for apologising to British-occupiers !! They acted very smartly, rewards of which in the form of power and pelf not only they themselves thoroughly enjoyed for the rest of their lives but also their subsequent generations, shockingly till date.