Amritsar sedition case : The Tribune India

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Lahore, Thursday, May 15, 1924

Amritsar sedition case

SWAMI Onkarananda, a Hindu sanyasi working in Amritsar in connection with the Sikh struggle, has been convicted of sedition and sentenced to two years’ rigorous imprisonment. The accused, being a non-cooperator, did not defend himself and the Magistrate obviously had to rely mostly on the prosecution evidence. There were two charges — one for making a speech in Amritsar in February last and the other for writing a pamphlet on the Akali struggle. We have not seen the text of the Magistrate’s judgment, but it is said in the Associated Press account that he remarked that he found that the accused “had tried in his pamphlet to submit to the public various incidents in a most exaggerated style, magnifying them in a mischievous spirit, in order to incite feelings of hatred and contempt towards the Government and he had strongly exhorted the public to rally round the Akali banner in the Akali agitation.” We cannot make any satisfactory comment on this case before the full text of the judgment is published. But we may say something about two points. One is that the accused is a sanyasi and the Magistrate could well have realised the fact that the accused did not deserve the severe sentence passed on him. Regard for his education and status in society entitled him to a light punishment. The Swami, who is a Bengali, must have agreed to come and work in Amritsar merely as a labour of love. Religious cause and service of humanity were probably attractions to him — neither political excitement nor personal fame. The second is that he is convicted more or less on one-sided evidence. This, of course, is the fate of all non-cooperating accused.


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