Life story of Veer Savarkar

Epic Escape and Trials   

On 01/07/1910, the steamer S S Morea carrying S to India had some engine trouble and required report in the port of Marseilles in France. The British govt requested their French counterparts to keep an eye on the ship since S was travelling on it. S was inwardly thinking of the idea of escape. Had his message to the comrades on the Continent reached them through Aiyar? Would they come to his rescue? Mother India seemed to whisper to her son, Flee! Flee! This time is not gone! Since he was tied to a post how would he run away? He asked Parkar, a Scotland Yard Inspector, if he could use the cloak. After getting in he jumped up, squeezed himself out of the porthole at the top of the water closet and jumped into the Sea. He swam ashore amidst firing bullets.

The pursuers were in hot chase. S ran away from the harbor but with no money! Eventually they caught up with him and dragged him to the steamer. It was a breach of International Law since the British guards had arrested him on foreign land. It was destiny that S’s colleagues, Madame Cama and Aiyar who had planned his rescue, should be late by a few hours.

The news of S’s thrilling escape crossed the oceans. Hindu manhood glowed in resplendent glory and opened the eyes of foreigners who doubted the virility and valor of India. The entire European press praised S. Now he was huddled into a tiny cabin, only four feet was allowed to him to stand, move and walk! Sunlight became a luxury for him. Handcuffed and closely tied on each side, stiffiled by excessive heat S felt like giving up his life. But he overcame the feelings and survived.

S reached Mumbai on July 22, 1910 and was sent to Nasik jail. Amidst protest by honest Englishmen that the purpose of shifting S to India was to deny him a fair trial, the Secretary of State granted permission to open the trial and added that would restore S to France after judgement if the international situation demanded it. Three trials were to be heard by the Tribunal. Amidst tight security when S entered the Court there were claps not from empty galleries but from fellow prisoners. S’s thrilling escape from Marseilles had riveted world attention of the Nasik Conspiracy Trial. After the prosecution spoke S said that he did not recognize the jurisdiction of the Indian govt to try him as he was entitled to the Right of Asylum and thus to the protection of French Law. He would not take part in the trial. Majority of the accused complained to the Court that they had given their statements before the Magistrate under torture or duress.

The second charge was withdrawn before the case started. All through the trial he provided moral support to the broken hearted. After 68 days of trial on 23/12/1910 the judge pronounced judgement “Transportation for life and forfeiture of all property”. The Special Tribunal had passed judgement on a man whose case was sub judice in the International Court at Hague. So much for the great English tradition.

The judgement in S’s trial deals exclusively with various political and secret activities of the Abhinava Bharat, its inflaming pamphlets, books, plans and aims. It says there is evidence in the shape of certain documents found in the possession of the accused Kashikar, which indicates that the association aimed at creating an organization founded upon the model of Revolutionaries Societies of Russia. The suggested methods of preparation of war are the purchase and storage of weapons in neighboring countries to be used at the right time. This was a true assessment of Abhinava Bharata. The Society had storehouses of bombs at Bassein, bomb factories in Mumbai & in Maharashtra.

Not content with this the Indian govt charged S with the murder of the Collector of Nasik, Mr Jackson referred to above. Despite lacking evidence, on 30/01/1911, S was sentenced to transportation for life. Two transportation’s for one man!

The Indian govt prosecuted S hastily. As a matter of fact, the proceedings should have been stayed since the Brit govt Foreign Secretary had signed an agreement with the French Ambassador to refer the S case to the International Court at Hague.  A number of well known Frenchmen supported S’s return to France. Embassies all over the world were stirred. As the English tried to hush up the matter, S through his friends in Yeravada jail smuggled out a statement of the authentic account of his escape and re-arrest at Marseilles and gave the issue a new lease of life. Circulated throughout the world, it added to the British discomfort.

The S trial now opened at Hague on 6/2/1911. They gave a judgement in favor of the British govt, annulled S’s right of asylum. It was possible because the French PM, M Briand voluntarily betrayed the sovergeiniy of France. Most of the world press condemned the judgement. Such was the anger of the people that Briand had to reign three days later rather than face questions in the Chamber of Deputies.

Thus S’s was the greatest historical trial the world had ever seen. It brought India onto the front pages of the world press. It struck a blow to the prestige of the British Empire. Double transportation meant imprisonment for fifty years; he would be released in 1960. To cope with the epic of two transportations, he decided to pay the debt of the Motherland and render service to humanity by writing in the canvas of his mind. So S started in the right earnest to compose poems.

The first poem was on Guru Govind Singh. He composed another poem on the crucified Christ. An officer-taunted S that he would set free in 1960 to which S said “But is the British Rule itself going to last for fifty years more?

The days of S’s final departure for the Andamans soon dawned. On June 27, 1911 S was lodged in the steamer S S Maharajah. As he reached Andamans, on his way to the jail, the great patriot was engrossed in assessing the importance of Andamans. Given proper opportunities of development, he murmured to himself, that these islands could be the outposts of Free Hindustan replacing Singapore, which was so by accident. If a strong naval base were built there, he thought, no enemy could strike at the eastern coast of India. How prophetic!

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