Criminals or catalysts: Some who chased truth despite all odds


By Sreyashi Mazumdar

Exile and imprisonment are the two close friends of rebellion. The dissident, despite her stance’s validity or otherwise, is painted criminal by the status-quo. In the clash between the big cheese and those from the bare minimum bread and butter chunk of society truth, justice, rights etc are curtly shown the door.

However, the rebel marches forward. Be it Bhagat Singh’s voice echoing ‘Basanti Chola’ through the corridors of Lahore jail or Leon Trotsky’s conception of the Russian Revolution during exile in Serbia, the minds ignited by the revolutionary fire seldom find imprisonment a distant probability.

Like the unruffled iron sheet getting stronger with each hammer blow, the rebel remains unfazed in the face of opposition and becomes stronger, with flashes of his seditious deeds emboldening him.

Toeing the essence exuded above, one would get reminded of snippets of people sent behind bars owing to their attempt at challenging authority. People who despite being penalized for their seditious attempts didn’t lay off their vision to change the system. Although, History has many such ‘outlaws’ to boast of, here is the account of a handful of them.


“I went for a long holiday for 27 years’Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was one of those renegades who kicked off a furor across the world for his relentless attempts at putting an end to the racial procrastination. His imprisonment gave a kick to the anti-apartheid movement. 27 years of solitary confinement failed to stop the revolutionary’s vision of blackballing the pervading racial prejudice against the black people of South Africa. His persistent struggle to cease the injustice gave way to the nation’s liberation on the 27th day of April 1994.
 “Sheriff John Brown always hate I,
  For whatever I never know,
  Every time I plant a seed, he said, kill it before it grow.
  He said, kill them before they grow,”
Bob Marley
Imbued with a similar rebellious streak, the reggae singer Bob Marley’s penchant for nature ended up drawing severe chastisement. Marley’s fetish for the maligned herb, hemp or marijuana, and his relentless attempts at defending the same blew off a lot of sane minds. The eccentric’s faith in the herb got him into a lot of troubles, which included imprisonment for a considerable stint. He equated condemnation of the herb with blasphemy. Being jittered by the ostracization of the herb, he often ruminated, “How could a plant created by God made illegal by humans?…You mean they can tell God it’s not legal?”  Despite being charged with sedition, Marley never gave in to the norms.
“First they ignore you, then laugh at you,11844117_125552814454260_2006862258_n
 then they fight you, then you win”
– Mahatma Gandhi
The dhoti-clad Gandhi envisioned an Independent India even when the nation wouldn’t have dreamed of something similar. His quote despite wielding a somber note sends a shiver down the spine. It twitches one’s soul to protest injustice, to rebel, to question the surging degeneration. Despite being indicted of sedition a number of times, the maverick continued  protesting the Britishers.The dingy, dark prison failed to batter his mettle, his aim of freeing India from the clutches of the colonizers.
india-arundathi-roy “I said what millions of people say every day. I spoke about justice for the people of  Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world”
 – Arundhati Roy
 Arundhati Roy who has been brazen enough to sound out her views on the contentious  issue of Kashmir was lampooned for her support for an independent of Kashmir. She was sent behind the bars for her alleged anti-Indian speech. Despite being censured for her support, she continues rebelling and expounding her take on Kashmir and how it should be rendered freedom.
Tuning into the fervency, Binayak Sen‘s imprisonment takes us a step ahead into the 11868772_125553884454153_1710211735_nannals of seditious episodes. The 61-year-old has been given life imprisonment owing to his alleged involvement with the Maoists. A pediatrician by training, he was accused of carrying letters and messages to the Maoists insurgents in an apparent attempt at establishing its networks in the Urban areas. Despite being lambasted for his alleged deeds, Sen rebuffs his tainted image.
A blurred imagery of vicious political leaders nibbling on the sanctity of Indian  constitution and the national emblem sporting the quote, Brashtmev Jayate,  reminisces one of the much talked of cartoons made by the Kanpur based cartoonist Aseem Trivedi. The artist was put inside the jail owing to his contentious take on the Indian constitution. Even though he was sent behind the bars for a stint of two  weeks, he was released after a couple of days owing to the rebellion it unleashed  across the nation.
Scrolling through the aforementioned episodes of revolt, one might give a thought to the inculcation of the headiness reflected by these mavericks. Each and every individual on this planet must have pondered upon the possibility of being a rebel, taking to a life which might fetch banishment and ostracization, but must have taken a step back owing to fears pervading our minds.
Crooning away to what Michael Jackson had said, “All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us,” once in a while we should be the rebel laying off our skepticism and fears, in an attempt at giving a shape to what we think is right.