Kamalnayan Bajaj - page 81

KamalnayanBajaj –Architect of theBajajGroup
witnesseswho gave false evidence againstRadhakrishna.
In the bigger picture of the freedommovement, the
Chimur-Ashti-Wardha episode is a small footnote.
TheBritish government tried tohush it upbut truth
eventually trickled out.What started as an enthusiastic
non-violent response toGandhi’sQuit India call rapidly
spiralled into amayhem of lynching andhangings. The
Indians lynchedpolicemen. TheBritish retaliatedwith
rapes, torture andhangings. InBihar hundredswere
killedwhen aircraft strafedprotestors.
In theCentral Provinces, theworst atrocities occurred
inChimur andAshti. The first shot was fired at
Wardha todisperse a disorderlyCongressmeeting. As
themovement gainingmomentum, firing became an
integral, frequent feature of government repression.
One constable inNagpurwas speared todeathby
protestors. AtChimur, a subdivisionalmagistrate, a
circle inspector, anaib-tehsildar and one constable
were stoned andburnt alive. At Ashti, a sub-inspector
of police and four constableswere brutallymurdered.
In retaliationpolice openedfire 40 times, 43protestors
died, 156were injured, 335werewhipped, 8,260were
arrested, and 5,422were jailed according topolice
records, whichmake nomention of adhoc hangings on
village trees. And these numbers are only for the period
betweenAugust andDecember 14, 1942. Radhakrishna
is just one statistic in the carnage.
In June 1943, prominentCongressmen and advocates
atNagpur formed legal aid committees toprovide legal
aid, funds anddefence todetainees of Congress
disturbances. LeadingBombay lawyers such as
BhulabhaiDesai pitched in.NarayanBhaskarKhare,
amember of the newly formedCentral Provinces
andBerar LegislativeAssembly, formed theCapital
PunishmentRelief SocietywithAnasuyaKale as its
vice-president.Kaleworked closelywithGandhi.
The defence discovered a lacuna in the order and the
executionswere stayed.
The stay enabled an appeal formercy onbehalf of
theAshti-Chimur prisoners but the appeal’s rejection
hardenedGandhi’s attitude.He beganworking
his network, guidingDesai and influencers such as
ManchershaAvari andbadgering theViceroyLord
Wavell andhis personal assistant EvanM Jenkins. The
Viceroy commuted the sentences to life imprisonment
onAugust 16, 1945.Kamalnayandid the rest of the
work required to set freeRadhakrishna.
(a)KamalnayanandGandhi deliberate; (b)BhulabhaiDesai, Bombay-
based lawyerwhousedhis legal skills to save freedom fighters, but did
not live longenough to see free India
Trouble in theCentral Provinces, 1945
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