Lahore, Wednesday, January 14, 1920

Why Not Release Them All?

SINCE we last wrote on the subject, more Martial Law prisoners have been released, and if our information is correct, these include a number of persons with sentences varying from three to four years. It is, therefore, all the more difficult to make out why the several remaining prisoners convicted in the Leaders’ cases have not been released yet. These, as already stated, are Dr. Bashir of Amritsar, and Lalas Mohan Lal, Behari Lal, Haveli Ram and Chuni Lal of Gujranwala. Along with them are also a number of educated persons, some of them living in the same special ward in the Lahore Central Jail where the last four live, and whose cases are in many ways identical with the Leaders’ cases. The fact that all or most of these prisoners are under a sentence of more than three years is clearly no argument for their continued detention, not only because the question of sentence is immaterial in exercising the royal prerogative of clemency, but because, as just stated, certain persons with a sentence of four years have been released already. It may be that these cases, along with a good many others, are still under the consideration of His Honour, but we venture to repeat what we have said more than once, and what is indeed but a truism, that nothing is more calculated to defeat the object of a general amnesty than delay. If there is any disposition in any quarter to regard these cases as falling under the exception contemplated in the reservation “in the fullest measure compatible with the public safety” all we can say is that nothing could be further from the truth. His Honour has only to have a look at the persons to whom we have referred to be convinced that they are divided by a whole ocean’s breadth from those desperate criminals whose release could alone jeopardise the public safety. 

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