Mahatma Gandhi’s evening prayer at Sabarmati Ashram had just ended. Then the police came. Gandhiji presented himself for arrest. He was accused of writing three articles in the newspaper ‘Young India’ dated 29 September 1921, 15 December 1921 and 23 February 1922. British India It was intended to incite people to discontent, incitement and rebellion against the government established by law. The titles of these articles were “Timping on Integrity”, “Riddles and Its Solutions” and “Shaking the Ghosts”. Along with Gandhi, the publisher of the newspaper, Shankar Bhai Dhela Bhai Banker, was also made an accused under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.
Told Gandhi responsible for the riots
Gandhi was arrested on 10 March and on 18 March 1922, Ahmedabad District Sessions Judge C.N. The trial began in Brumsfield’s court. Bombay Advocate General JT Strongman led the prosecution. Strongman said that the three articles on which the case is being pursued cannot be considered separately, because these articles are only part of the propaganda that has been being done to overthrow the government for the last two years. Strongman narrated excerpts from some other articles of Gandhiji. He mentioned Gandhiji’s strengths but added, “Such articles can cause terrible upheaval. The brutal incidents of Bombay and Chauri-Chaura are the result of similar attempts to spread hatred and excitement. Making a direct charge on Gandhiji, Strongman said that Gandhi definitely preaches non-violence but at the same time he also instigates dissatisfaction in the minds of the people. They are responsible for the disturbances that have happened.
Gandhi took responsibility for the brutality of Chauri Chaura
Gandhiji sought permission from the judge to say something. His statement on this occasion is a testament to his frankness and indomitable courage. There is a gap of a century in between. Yet it is repeated from time to time. Gandhiji said, “I agree with the Advocate General. Yes, I am responsible for everything. I have been propagating discontent among the public for much longer than what is said in the indictment. The tragedy of Madras or the brutal brutality of Chauri-Chaura or the violence of Bombay, I take the blame on myself. The Advocate General has rightly said that well-educated, responsible and knowledgeable in many countries, I should have known in advance what could be the result of my every action?
I know I’m playing with fire!
I know I am playing with fire, yet I have taken this risk and will do the same thing again if I am let go. If I do not say what I am saying now, I will do injustice to myself. This morning the same thing was rising in my mind. I wanted to avoid violence, I want to avoid it even today. Non-violence is the last condition of my belief and policy. But I had to choose someone or the other. The system which has done irreparable damage to my country, I believe that either I bow my head and accept it, otherwise I should be ready to take the responsibility of the frantic people. When people understand the truth of my words, they will be frantic. I know that sometimes my countrymen have gone mad. I am sad for that and that is why I have come here today. Not for a minor punishment. To hand himself over to the harshest punishment. I don’t want mercy. It does not even pray that I be given a mild punishment. It is a deliberate crime in the eyes of law, but in my view there is no greater duty of any citizen than this. That is why today I have come here laughingly to get the harshest punishment for him. So sir, what you can do is either you resign or give me the harshest punishment.”
Judge’s conflict between feelings and duty
Gandhi’s statement and the dialogue between Judge Brumsfield and Gandhiji during the trial are a heritage of the country’s court history. This case became an example of the judge’s respect for an accused who has confessed to that accused and then the judge’s conflict between feelings and sense of duty. The judge said, “Mr Gandhi, you have made my job easier by admitting your guilt, but it is always the most difficult task for the judge to decide which punishment will be appropriate. It is not possible to turn a blind eye to the fact that you are a great leader and a great patriot in the eyes of millions. Even those who do not agree with you in politics, they consider you a high level idealist. Your life is glorified. He is as pure as a monk. But it is my duty to consider you as a subject under the law. You are doing such a work, from which it is not possible for any government to allow you to remain independent and perhaps there will be very few people in India who will not feel sad on getting this information. But when this is true then what else can be done. What punishment should be given to you and how much punishment will not work in the national interest, I am trying to see by comparing these two.
The judge asked Gandhi how much punishment should I give?
This was an interesting scene of the court proceedings. The judge respectfully asked the convicted Gandhiji for his suggestion on the quantum of punishment. The judge then proposed, “Twelve years ago, in a similar case, Tilak was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. Do you find this punishment unfair? If it can be reduced later, then no one will be more happy than me. Unconcerned with punishment, Gandhi was as humble as ever. His reply was, “You have associated my name with Tilak, it makes me feel proud. No judge could have given a lesser punishment. I am grateful for the respect I was treated with at each and every moment of the trial.”
Gandhi laughing Go to jail and Ba was reminding him of his lessons
Judge Brumsfield sentenced Gandhiji with only one year’s fine. When he was being taken to jail to undergo punishment, there was a large crowd of people behind Gandhi. Everyone was emotional and sad. Laughing Gandhiji entered the Sabarmati Jail. Ba standing outside was requesting the people to calmly proceed on the path shown by Gandhiji.
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