Jail Break and Raising Freedom Brigade of Jai Prakash Narayan

The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.

Jail Break and Raising Freedom Brigade of Jai Prakash Narayan

Jail Break

War leads us into more wars, and then into complete destruction. This alternative of nonviolence is the only answer to the situation the world is Facing today.

The prisoners in the cells received a daily food ration worth 62 paise. Jai Prakash Narayan together with a group of Satyagrahis, protested against the treatment meted out to the prisoners. On the inferior diet which was entitled, Jai Prakash’s health declined steadily, and his legs were afflicted with sciatica. Through all these difficulties, the plan of escape from prison kept turning over in his mind.

On Diwali morning, the inmates set about preparing for the festival. Sweets were prepared and the inmates sang bhajans. As evening approached, 42 diyas were lit to commemorate the events of that year, and the inmates toured the wards in procession singing and cheering with the festivals in full swing, JP and five other men stippwi under the cover of darkness and scaled the wall with the help of dhotis knotted together as a rope.

Their absence was not detected until the next morning. Those of the inmates who were in the know dropped the mosquito-nets over the beds of the six escapees and pretended as if they were unwell.

Early in the morning however the prison sirens began wailing and the prisoners awoke in a flurry to the news that the men had gone.

Jai Prakash Narayan left for Benares and landed at Nagraghat near the University. The Government announced a reward of ₹ 5000/- for his capture.

Jai Prakash Narayan quickly established contact with the men who were at the helm of affairs during the August movement in Northern India. Viswanath Misra, Sriram Sharma, Mohanlal Gautam; Benares was the storm centre of the movement in this part of the country.

A brief look around him to get acquainted with recent developments convinced him that Benares was not the place to be in. Wearing European clothes, and sporting a beard, Jai Prakash left for Bombay.

Here he found that his friends and associates were already working tirelessly to give the movement shape and coherence. Achyut Patvardhan, Jugal Kishore, Dr. Keskar, Diwakar, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kripalani, Yusuf Meherally and many others had filled in positions of leadership vacated by the imprisioned Congress leaders.

The British unleashed a brutal repression to quell the movement. Everything had to be organised in secrecy. Emissaries were despatched all over the country to coordinate the activities of Nationalist bodies. The Congress and CSP periodicals and bulletins, which were banned, continued to appear from hidden hand presses and were circulated widely.

Jai Prakash Narayan jumped into the fray. After studying the situation, he penned in January 1943 the first of his historic letters: ‘to all fighters for freedom’.

As Jai Prakash Narayan emerged at the forefront of the political struggle, the government intensified its efforts to recapture him.

To a political movement that had been shorn-of its most eminent leaders Jai Prakash Narayan’s escape was a tonic. Now once again, there was confidence that the energies of the people would not be expanded in spontaneous random acts, but would be guided towards a clear objective.

Six months after his jail-break, Jai Prakash wrote the second of his letters entitled To all fighters for freedom’, it appeared on the 1st September 1943:

“Every fighter for freedom is free to choose his own method. Those who believe in similar method should work together as a disciplined group…Where ‘Do or Die’ is the mantra of action, there is no room for recrimination whatever those who believe in non-violence may harbour the fear that those who practise violence may compromise the position of Gandhiji. That fear is unfounded. Gandhi’s adherence to non-violence is so complete, his position in respect to it so clear, that not a hundred thousand Churchills and Anerys will be able to compromise him.”

Jai Prakash Narayan’s political involvement had never before been so hectic. Ever so often he went out on hurricane tours of the country, heavily disguised, constantly on the move so that no single indiscretion could catch up with him. It was also a time of great responsibility, and Jai Prakash rose to the occasion with great strength of purpose. He wrote a spate of articles and pamphlets, carefully analysing himself the rapidly unfolding political situation, and addressing himself to every section of the people. His writings were simple, cogent and clearcut, his own experience allowed to identify with certain sections of people, and his relentless logic adopted their point of view.

With the six escapees remaining at large, the Government announced that it had doubled the reward for their capture. Jai Prakash now had a reward of ₹ 10,000/- on his head, yet his political work continued unabated.

Raising Freedom Brigade

Those people who still believe that power and party-politics will be able to do some good are only sucking dry bones. This kind of politics is disintegrating and will countinue to do so till one day the disintegration is complete.

Jai Prakash Narayan attended an important meeting of the Central Co-ordinating Council of the movement at Delhi. At that meeting the plan of raising a freedom brigade was mooted and approved. Sucheta Kripalani, on behalf of the Gandhians, expressed her dismay; but her dissent was brushed aside. Further, the basis was laid for recruiting volunteers from among workers, peasants and students. Special attention had to be paid to the working class. Better methods of communication by Radio and Press would have to be devised and operated in secret. Jai Prakash Narayan assumed the task of raising a guerilla brigade, of educating it and preparing it for the struggle. Soon after these aims were agreed upon, he made preparations to leave for Nepal.

In the first flush of the August 1942 uprising small pockets ‘ of land had been liberated from the British and Panchayati Raj had been proclaimed. For a very short period these areas remained outside government control but nothing was done to consolidate these victories. A few police stations were looted, arms were seized, but as it became clear that the uprising in the rest of the country would not take place, Panchayati Raj came to an end.

It was clear to Jai Prakash Narayan that spontaneous armed uprising was not enough. His task in Nepal was to raise and train a freedom brigade of single-minded disciplined force. Initially it would be a small band of men, supplementing their resources through guerilla raids and surprise forays into India. Gradually, however as they grew in experience and support, the force would grow until it came to represent the militant nationalism of the Indian people. The resistance groups operating behind German lines in France and Poland furnished an operational blueprint of how the freedom ^ brigade would work.

The guerilla squads were thus given a clear mission of destruction which would paralyse the machinery of the British Government. These systems were singled out for destruction :

  1. Disruption of Communication lines including Telegraph, Telephone, Mail and Wireless lines, Railways, Roads, Bridges and Motor Vehicles of the enemy.
  2. Disruption of Industrial Plants, Factories, Mills and Airports.
  3. Incendiary activity, which covered destruction of Government documents, Buildings, Petrol Pumps, Arms and Ammunition by fire.

Guerilla units would suffice for most of these tasks, but Industrial sabotage would require special people ‘planted’ among the permanent work force who could undertake their tasks without attracting attention.

The Freedom Brigade, as envisaged, was to be more effective than individual terrorist action. In the first hand book, a special appeal was made to students and young revolutionaries to join the Brigade. Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia congratulated this revolution in the newspaper.

On the low-lying land near the river Kosi in Nepal, Jai Prakash lived in a thatched hut at a place called Bakro-Ka- Tapu. The blue print of the brigade had been widely circulated and it elicited a good response. Youths from Bihar, Bengal and the Eastern regions who had hitherto led an underground existence as terrorists began to arrive at this spot. More huts were constructed for them to live in. The organisation started off with two horses and a bullock-cart for its transport. Two dak runners were engaged to carry messages. The camp was situated at the base of a hill, which was selected as the site of a Radio Transmitter, and the first broadcasts carrying news of the revolution went on the air.

The first task force to be organised was the Bihar Freedom Brigade. Suraj Narayan assumed the responsibility as coordinator of the project. The whole province was scoured to find volunteers, and immediately afterwards, training camps were started. The first camp aimed at grooming an officer cadre for the Brigade, men who would eventually be able to lead independent columns of guerillas. Among this first group was Nityanand, who was killed by police at Sonebarsa in Bhagalpur some time later.

Jai Prakash Narayan had been at the camp for two months. The trailing of a revolutionary cadre and the propaganda work by the radio were regressing smoothly. But about this time, the British Government found out that Jai Prakash and Dr. Lohia were in Nepal. It soon became known that the Government was pressurising the Nepalese Government to arrest all the people involved in the venture. The camp began teeming with British spies and intelligence agents. Any moment an armed attack was expected.

Jai Prakash Narayan and the others began to make frenzied preparations to abandon the site and move up into the mountains. Jai Prakash went ahead to help raise some funds. The same day Shyam Nandan was arrested by a Nepalese armed unit. Jai Prakash, Dr. Lohia and two others were arrested a shortwhile later, and they were taken across the Kosi towards Hanuman Nagar for interrogation.

This was in May 1944, in Hanuman Nagar, they were interrogated by a Nepalese Magistrate. It was clear that his orders had come from the Government at Kathmandu, for repeatedly, he left the room to talk rapidly in Nepali on the Telephone. The British intelligence had supplied him with photographs of the ring leaders, and every now and again he peered anxiously into the prisoners faces.

Jai Prakash Narayan and the others stuck doggedly to their story that they were Bihari peasants fleeing from the injustice of British courts in India. Miraculously, the Magistrate did not recognise the men from the photographs, and he was convinced that Jai Prakash was not among them.

At midnight, two men stole into the vicinity of the court house and tried to find out where the men were kept captive. A sentry was overpowered, but his cry had alerted other guards, and very soon the rescue force was fighting its way to the guard room through a vicious cross-fire. It was a dark night and the whole building had been plunged in utter darkness when the lights were hit by gun fire. Taken by surprise and thrown into utter confusion, the Nepalese sentries preferred to leave the area and alert the authorities. Meanwhile the prisoners were set free from the guard room.

In rushing out Lohia and Jai Prakash had run into a bramble bush and hurt their feet. Their escape was thus slow,  but by evening of the next day, they had re-crossed the Kosi and took shelter in an Ahir’s house in the evening.

The next day they moved on again, skirting police outposts, sticking to the woods, then at Radhopur they hired a bullock- cart and headed in the direction of Bengal. The following day, the men broke up, and boarded separate trains for Calcutta.

The countrywide search by the Government for Jai Prakash Narayan was not relaxed, whenever it was suspected that he might be hiding, the police raided shops, houses and hotels.