Torture didn’t break him, this did

Naresh Raj

MY father was a teacher and a freedom fighter who took part in ‘Praja Mandal’, a political outfit launched by Babu Brish Bhan and Giani Zail Singh, former President of India, in the early thirties. He was a young boy then.

In the year 1942, activists of the Praja Mandal were supporting the Quit India Movement. They were few in number. The Station House Officer (SHO) of Sunam — our village — arrested them and took them to a jail in Sangrur since there was no such facility in Sunam. It was a cold month of February. The activists were told to strip and made to lie down on ice slabs. A constable then gave them a beating with a stick. Such was the fervour of patriotism that they did not cry out in pain, but continued raising the slogans of Bharat Mata ki Jai and Vande Mataram. Even the SHO and the jail employees were in a state of shock on seeing their determination and passion for azadi.

We did get our freedom, but at a great price.

My father took to teaching at a college. He could have been a minister, but such persons are above these desires. He produced stalwarts: some of his students became Secretaries, Chief Secretaries, judges of the High Court, IAS and IPS officers and rose to great heights. Even the Chairman of Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal, was my father’s student.

Incidents of rampant loot, corruption, scams, unemployment, crime, communal riots, etc., happening across our country, used to depress my father.

One day, he was reading a newspaper and became very sad. I asked him the reason. He read out the news of a minister found guilty in a scam and sentenced to a jail term by the court. In the same paper, there was a news of the rape of an 18-year-old girl in Delhi, the country’s capital. He said in a voice choked with emotions: ‘Yeh to woh Hindustan nahin hai jiske liye humne itni kurbaniyaan di thi (This is not the Hindustan we sacrificed so much for).’

I could see tears flowing from his eyes. A man who could not be made to cry by third degree torture was made to weep by his own countrymen. There was a sense of betrayal.

I wonder if all their sacrifices were, indeed, in vain.

Source Link: https://www.tribuneindia.com

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