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She died at thirty-three dreaming of India’s freedom

Monday, May 07, 2012

My Days in Prison by Urmila Shastri is a prison diary that documents an era when speaking publicly against British rule was sure to get you arrested and incarcerated for a minimum period of six months.

She would have been acquitted had she listened to the British magistrate’s offer to apologize in court, but inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s call for Civil Disobedience, the Dandi March and his plea to avoid British goods, Urmila stubbornly refused, and was lodged in Meerut Central Jail.

“It has nothing to do with bribing,” I was told. “What we mean is – the warden there bestows special favours on the girls she finds beautiful.”  The Indian police has the reputation of being the most corrupt in the world. (This was written in 1930!)

Originally written in Hindi, and translated by noted writer Dr. Sonal Parmar, this is a bilingual edition with its Introduction by Kasturba Gandhi and Foreword by Union Minister for Urban Development, Kamal Nath.

My Days in Prison
by Urmila Shastri
HarperCollins Publishers

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