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How Subhas Chandra Bose ensured the end of fast for the prisoners

Updated: Jan 29

(adapted from the reminiscenses of Ananta Singh - a revolutionary from the Chattogram Liberation Movement and one of the close associates of Master da Surjyo Sen) Historians credit Gandhiji for the attempt to repatriate prisoners, mostly revolutionaries, who were languishing under abnormal conditions in the Cellular jail, to the mainland. The communal Bengal Government of Fajlul Haq in 1937 had made no attempt of helping the revolutionaries, as they were mostly Nationalist Hindus. Gandhiji promised to help the revolutionaries get freedom. The revolutionaries in the meanwhile had started fast unto death. Rabindranath Tagore was concerned for their health and issued appeal. Finally they were brought to the mainland. But the jail inmates, the revolutionaries, continued the fast as they demand their unconditional freedom. However Gandhiji could not secure their release. The inmates gave an ultimatum to the Government to start fast unto death. Gandhiji sent his emissaries, Deasi, Bidhan Chandra Roy and Surendra Mohan Ghosh, to dissuade the revolutionaries from carrying out their threat. He said that he would try to secure their release. However as they could not give any concrete proposal on whether the prisoners would be released, the revolutionaries could not accept Gandhiji's dictum. The emissaries returned, visibly upset by this lack of faith. The revolutionaries who included Ananta Singh, continued their fast for twenty more days. Gandhiji, gave a statement in the press criticizing the fast. At this juncture Subhas Chandra Bose stepped in. He was himself released from jail some time back, had a long and painful recovery from a broken health, and was proposed to become the next President of Congress in Haripura. Gandhiji could not fulfill his promise of securing a release in one year, just as he, the worshipper of "Truth" failed to remain true to his promise of securing Swaraj in one year. Sarat and Subhas met the revolutionaries in jail. Both the brothers had a very long relationship with the Chattogram revolutionaries. Subhas was their mentor and Sarat tried his best to defend them in the court. So they were keen to meet both Sarat and Subhas. Subhas's empathy was touching. He spoke with every inmate and took utmost notice and expressed concern about their health. He met the revolutionaries in the jail four or five times and even gave statement against Gandhi's statement, explaining and justifying the fast. He then assured the revolutionaries of all needed help and asked them to break their fast, lest there should be any damage to their health. The revolutionaries, who trusted Subhas with their life, decided to break their fast. This news was welcomed by all. The Government servants, jailers and other prepared a hearty meal and Subhas stayed back in jail till midnight and only went home after feeding the revolutionaries.

Would Gandhi have done that? or for that matter any other Congress leader?

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