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How Subhas Chandra Bose won in his demand for Durga Puja allowance in Mandalay jail

In Mandalay jail Subhas had for his company Biplobi Trailokya Maharaj, Satyendra Mitra, Bipin Behari Ganguli, Surendra Mohan Ghosh and other dreaded revolutionaries and political prisoners. In October 1925 Subhas planned for performing Durga Puja in Mandalay prison. Subhas wrote a letter to Basanti Devi, giving a description of this Puja and expressing his hope that "the divine mother will come and visit the prisoners in jail year and after year and this relieve their pain and suffering." The prisoners spent around 800 rupees. They had raised a contribution of Rs 140 from among themselves. They demanded another Rs 660 from the Government as a grant. Mandalay jail authorities under Major Findlay, who was sympathetic, agreed to pay in advance provided the British Government approved of the grant. Subhas Chandra's argument was clear. The Government provided a grant to the Christians (to the tune of Rs 1200) for performing their religious festivals. They had no ground to refuse a similar grant to the Hindu prisoners. But the British Government refused to pay that amount and issued a directive that the Rs 660 should be deducted from the allowances of the prisoners.

Subhas Chandra Bose did not accept this injustice. The revolutionaries and the prisoners sent a memorandum to the Chief Secretary of the Government in Burma. But British Government refused this. Then the political prisoners started a fast for the right of performing their religious rituals. They also demanded an additional Rs 60 for performing Saraswati Puja in jail. The news of the fast spread like wildfire and the country erupted. The Government ultimately had to come down from its stand and granted Rs 30 per prisoner as allowance to perform their religious festivals. Even though the amount was meagre, it was a great tactical and moral victory as the Government had to bend before the will power and determination of Subhas Chandra Bose.

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