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Nehru and Prison

Did Nehru actually spent time in prison?

Nehru was officially classified as a “Class A Prisoner”. He had newspapers, books, servants & coolies. He was allowed to walk out & meet others. He was also allowed Switzerland trips “while technically imprisoned”. Compared to Nehru, Savarkar was locked up in Kalapani & beaten up for 10 years.

It was only once in his life that Nehru was treated just like any ordinary prisoner. This was in Nabha Jail for 12 days. Within 12 days, Nehru’s father begged the British viceroy. He wrote an apology & assured that his son Nehru will never enter Nabha. The 12-day imprisonment of Nehru in Nabha jail was harsh. When Motilal came to know that his Nehru was locked up in a real jail, he rushed to meet Nehru but was forbidden by the administrator of Nabha. Then, the British viceroy came to the rescue of Nehrus and overruled this order.

In his autobiography, Nehru describes his real 12-day jail term in Nabha. “I was handcuffed to another person for the whole night. We were kept in a small cell. We slept on the floor and a mouse passed over my face at night. This is not an experience I should like to repeat”. Nehru’s cellmate was an ordinary Sikh man. He did not have an influential father like Motilal Nehru and a friend like a viceroy. He was not discharged and “sank into the oblivion of state prison”. Nehrus seemed to have learned a lesson from this episode. To not get too carried away in political stunts & end up in real jail. Motilal forbade Nehru from involving himself in Nabha again. “Having burnt your fingers once, I do not wish you to take risks again”- Motilal said.

Here is a description of a typical Nehru Jail(Almora) by Nehru himself. Nehru writes- “I was given a lordly barrack to live in. …I lived in solitary grandeur…I used to have tea at 4.30… At 7 my door would be unlocked. I would sit outside warming myself in the sun”

12 Days for Nehru v/s 10 Years for Savarkar!

Nehru’s jail in Ahmedabad had a badminton court specially built for Nehru and other top Congress leaders. On his insistence, a library was made accessible to him during prison terms. That is how he could write books while “imprisoned”. A fitness instructor also attended to him. Nehru’s jail terms were essential political stunts in building up his image as a great freedom fighter. However, they seemed more like exotic getaways than real prisons.