Bharat Ek Khoj


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And Gandhi came Part-2
(Episode 50)

Nehru notes that against the all-pervading fear amongst Indian people of the British Raj, Gandhi's quiet and determined voice was raised, 'Be not afraid'. Suddenly, the black pall of fear was lifted from the people's shoulders. To the ordinary village folks, it made all the difference.

The song picks up refrain that the Congress would hereafter rule in the rural front and initiate Rama Raj by obolishing Ravana Raj of the aliens. While Murthy declines to appoint an advocate to pleas for him, Rangamma's visit to town to look for a defence lawyer is in vain. She returns with the news that Murthy has been sentenced toa three-month imprisonment. Rangamma and Ratna now pick up the cudgel and begin organizing the female front of volunteers after the model of Sarojini Naidu, Annie Basant and Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. They resolve not to fight back, even if beaten. There are mild protestations from the ilk of Narayan not to allow their female folk go in for public demonstrations.

News comes that Murthy is released, but the nightmare is not over. The tidings of the Dundee March and Salt Satyagraha trickle in to enthuse the villagers no end. People decide to observe Manu (silence) to strengthen the Congress. There is tumultuous singing of another favourite Bhajan of Gandhi, by Narsinh Metha: Vaishnava Janato Tene Kohiye...

Further news trickless in that the police has lathi-charged the corops of volunteers at Mahatma's prayer meeting. This only steels the people's resolve not to pay tax and offer passive resistance. A new phenomenon is women taking out processions and picketing in front of liquor-shop to stop their men folk from alcoholism. The tax-evasion campaign takes an ugly turn, with the police auctioning off the landed property of the defaulters in Kanthapura. Women, under the guidance of the hiding men, put up resistance, but the police open indiscriminate fire killing many and injuring several. There is chaos now from a failed resistance, with people leaving Kanthapura en masse for Kashipura mear Mysore and leaders like Murthy, Rangamma and Ratna imprisoned for six months. There is also news tricking in that at the apex, Nehru and Gandhi do no quite agree on non-violence.

Nehru observrs that, by 1930 Gandhi seemed, to his countrymen, able to link the past with the future and to make the present appear as a stepping-stone to the future of life and hope. This he affected a vast psychological revolution not only among those who followed his lead, but also among his opponents and those neutrals who were stili ambivalent.