Friday, 29 April 2016

Asoke Nandi

Asoke Nandi
Asoke Nandi

The Muzaffarpore outrage made the British Government lose its head and it carried on with its spirit of vindictiveness to the death's door of its prey. It was apparent to the authorities that teenage boys had got infected with the spirit of patriotism and they had joined the struggle with a high degree of enthusiasm and courage. There were cases where young boys were found to be in charge of duty. Asoke Nandi was a lad of nineteen or just twenty when he earned the distinction of being involved simultaneously in two cases of serious nature against the state.

Asoke was arrested on 02 May 1908 from 134 Harrison Road, a house which formed one of the branches of a grand conspiracy having its centre at Muraripukur Garden, Manicktala. Firstly he was charged under the Explosive Substances Act as bombs, allegedly manufactured in Manicktala, were found in his custody. Secondly he was charged for conspiracy to wage war against the King along with Barindra Kumar Ghosh and others in the Alipore Conspiracy Case.

Asoke Nandi
Asoke Nandi

In the first case that started on 28 July 1908, he was acquitted by the High Court Sessions on 07 August 1908 and everyone expected him to be restored to liberty. The Government adopted a different procedure. He was detained in the prison with the hope that he would get convicted in the second case. While in prison, Asoke developed tuberculosis of the hip-joint and his health deteriorated at an alarming rate. All bail petitions that were moved got summarily rejected by the Courts at the intervention of the police.

He was convicted in the Alipore Conspiracy Case by the Sessions Judge and was sentenced to transportation for seven years. An appeal was preferred to the High Court which dragged on its weary length in the usual fashion. In the meantime, the physical condition of the appellant became really serious. He lost eleven pounds in weight from his frail structure. Bail petition was moved again on 11 May 1909 in the High Court on the ground that as the appeal would not be heard before two months, it was apprehended that the accused would be a dead man by then. The Hon'ble Judge of the High Court stuck to the letter of the law and held that the usual practice was that long term prisoners were not admitted to bail pending hearing of the appeals.

The lawyers for the Crown opposed the application on the ground that at the time the accused was in the phthisis ward of the jail hospital which was airy and a very comfortable abode. There was no dearth of respectable supporters of even the most perverted views of the Government. The Magistrate, 24 Parganas, wrote that it was an airy two-storied ward with a double-verandah and was much more suited to open air treatment to phthisical patients. In his benevolence he did not forget to say that it was much better than ordinary Calcutta houses, presumably better than where the patient could be removed.

The Civil Surgeon reported that there were still some signs of vitality in him as he was not in a dying condition. Chitta Ranjan Das who had been defending the accused said "This open air treatment which is so necessary for a patient did not strike them at all till Your Lordship's Rule was served upon them. Moreover, there was every chance of the accused being acquitted as nothing definite had been proved by the prosecution. On the day the Rule was served the patient was removed to the hospital."

One responsible doctor, a Government servant reported that he was very ill. The Judge remarked that the patient's disease had been the sole cause of his solitary imprisonment and now that the arrangements made were suitable and all that could be reasonably expected had been done for the petitioner, the Rule was discharged.

By then the patient was in a desperate condition of health. C. R. Das advised the distracted father to move the Lieutenant Governor whose heart might be softer than that of the Judge whose duty of dispensing justice might not harbour any weak sentiment. The father prayed for the release of his son or in the alternative to suspend the execution of sentence and restore his ailing son to his home pending the judgement in appeal as it was apprehended that he might not live to enjoy if it was to come from a judgement of the High Court.

On 02 July 1909, by an order of the Government of Bengal, Asoke Nandi was released on bail.

At the proceedings before the High Court on 17 August 1909, C. R. Das mentioned before His Lordship that Asoke Nandi had escaped the vendetta of the Government and its myrmidons because on the previous night he had gone to a place which the long arms of the law would be too short to reach.

Asoke Nandi was successful in having the judgement of the appeal delivered on 26 November 1909, in his favour but it was too late for him to enjoy the liberty secured after months of uncertainty in investigation, trial and appeal. It was poor consolation for the parents because their dear son had been spared a prison life in the Andaman's for seven years. God had been merciful and released him from mortal coil and relieved him of all troubles that dogged his path since the sinister eye of the police had descended upon him.

1 comment:

  1. An informative and well written account indeed. But the reference of the source should be maid. What was the actual date of his death?