Dhruwadeepti: Autobiography //
The Fire under Police Custody
Fr. George Pallivathukal
The police as a matter of routine made the "Panchnama" and made a list of all the valuables including my watch and kept them under their custody. They said that I would get them back when I am released. I did not hand over my Rosary although the police were insisting that I should hand over that too. I had faith in the power of the Rosary and the Rosary was the source of my strength and courage. Although the people had arranged for a "Katia" for me, for my night rest I could not sleep even a miniute. I sat the whole night in the chair which was given to me and prayed all the mysteries of the Rosary several times. Meanwhile the sisters and the boarders in Dullopur were on their knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament praying for me the whole night. No wonder I felt very courageous and happy that I could sit with the arrested mission staff and save them from getting beaten up at night. We had the support of the entire dioces who were praying for us.
I was arrested at about 10 o'clock at night. A little after the Panchanama was over one of the constables tried to act a little funny with me. He was sitting a Katia infront of me and asked me rudely "What is your name?" I did not answer him. He repeated the question more loudly. I told him that I was under the police custody but that does not mean that he should lose his sense of decency and politness. " You did not come and arrest me. I came on my own becausse I am not frightened of you. I came here because of these my companions to see that you did not touch them". Meanwhile he took out a Beedy from his pocket and started smoking. One of the teachers asked him "Sir give me also a Beedi". Hearing this request from the teacher the policeman started abusing him calling him all sorts of names. I took the Police man's packets of Beedies and match box which were kept on a cot, removed one Beedi from the packet and gave it to the teacher.
I asked the others also whether they wanted to smoke. At the end I gave one Beedi to the constable also and told him to smoke one more Beedi and cool down and relax. After that he never uttered a single word again. This boldness surprised everybody present and after this incident the police became extremely polite towards us. The police knew that we had the support of the Village.
|A Village House in Mandala|
While in police custody the people were supposed to feed us, but they did not give us anything, even a cup of tea. Fr. Paymans sent breakfast for me and the teachers from Junwani. Two religious sisters of our convent brought Breakfast for us. Along with the breakfast Fr. Paymans had sent me a copy of the New Testament and the Imitation of Christ which I was fonf of reading daily. I was not in a mood to eat anything. I had only the coffee which Father had sent for me. The police were watching and observing us like hungry dogs. I offered my breakfast to one of them. The man grabbed it from my hand and swallowed it in one breath.
At about 9.00 AM the service bus from Bichhia had arrived on its way to Dindori. I had expected that the police would take me by that bus to Dindori and prent me before a first class Magistrate there because he was supposed to present me before a first class Magistrate with in 24 hrs. after the arrest.Some people of Junwani had gone to Dindori with their land records to bail me out if I had been to Dindori. The police did not take me either to Dindori or to the district Headquarters at Mandala.
|People in Mandala District.|
At about ten O'clock in the morning I heard shouting of slogans and some commotion outside the rest house. A crowed of about 100 people from the villages arround had come togehter under the leadership of Mr. Joseph Tigga of Mohania village asking the police to release their Swamiji. The police shouted back at the people and threatened to beat them. The police showed the people their sticks but the people were not frightened and they shouted all the more louder. Seeing the situation getting more and more tensed I went out myself, pacified the people and asked them to go home. I told them I came here on my own for the sake of the masters and villagers and once they were released, I would come home.
With these words I pacified the slogan shouters, Many of them cried when they saw the handcuff on my hand. They all came and said Jai Jesu and went back home. The police remarked that the missionaries had great influence over these villagers." They were not frightened of us, but when he came out and said a word the people all dispresed". I Told the police " that is the defference between you and me". You show them your stics and we give them our love. Why they don't you also join us.
The rest of the day passed off without any event. Sisters brought lunch for us. The police, instead of arranging for our meals, were waiting like vultures to see what was brought for us. Just like in the morning I did not eat much at noon also. I had only some soup and fruits. The rest of the food I gave to the police men and they enjoyed the meal.
Question raised in the parlement.
When I was arrested along with the teachers Fr. Antony Thundiyil sent one more telegram to Prof. Retnaswamy member of Palement narrating the developments here. Prof. Ratnaswamy brought up the matter of my arrest in the parlement during the zero hour. Pandit Javaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister at that time. Prof. Tatnaswamy told Panditji that " We say that we are secular state, but at the same time at this very moment one of our Catholic Priest in Mandala District of Madhya Pradesh is in Jail along with three of his catechists just because they are Christians". The M. P. demanded an enquiry into the matter and asked for punishment for the guilty.
Pandit Nehru with in a week sent a senior officer of the Central Goverment to junwani to make an on the spot enquiry. On the basis of his report the Prime Minister sent orders to all the collectors of Madhya Pradesh through the Chief Secretary, Bhopal, that they should see that the christians were not harassed in any part of the State and that he should never hear of any more such complaints. After that our christians in Mandala had a more peaceful time. Prof. Ratnaswamy had instructed two catholics lawyers of Jabalpur Advocate Jackie D' Silva and Advocate Policarp Lobo to help me with the case.//-