Ganesh Man Singh’s conviction, and days spent in Bhadragol Jail

Ganesh Man is Convicted

One day, while Ganesh Man was in custody, Narashumsher entered his room in a fit of rage. Hurling all sorts of abuses, Narashumsher said, “You denied your allegiance to the party, did you not?”

Ganesh Man learned the Ranas had found his pledge – in it his signature was stamped.  There was no denying after that – he confessed his allegiance to the Praja Parishad.

A specialty of the Rana regime was that they would not force any decision without evidence – for Gangalal, proof was the leaflet bearing Ganesh Man’s signature, and for Ganesh Man, it was his pledge.

Thus continued a series of interrogations – one time when Narashumsher asked Ganesh Man his dissatisfaction with the state, he shared his personal observations:

“We have no respect and honour, the Ranas can take away anybody’s daughter any day, whereas if a Newar boy runs away with the girl of a Chettri family, he is paraded and sentenced to jail. I see much injustice around me, therefore needed to oppose the regime,” Ganesh Man said.

“But I guess you joined the Praja Parishad for other political reasons, did you not?” another interrogator further probed him.

A little taken aback, Ganesh Man admitted being a bit ashamed to have let personal reasons come before his political ideology. Answering the second interrogator’s question, he replied that his intention to join the party was to usher in democracy.

Later in his life, when speaking to Mathbar Singh, Ganesh Man admits that his knowledge about democracy was very limited at the time – a subject whose understanding was to be expounded over his lifetime.

Thus continued the interrogation for months – Ganesh Man was also heard sharing an admiration towards Tanka Prasad Acharya, the co-founder of Praja Parishad. Ganesh Man was particularly impressed by his resolute answers when being questioned by the Ranas – Acharya simply refused to bow down to any Rana pressure.

One day, Ganesh Man asked Acharya the secret behind his courage:

“You see Ganesh Man Ji, after my arrest I was taken to Bahadur Shamsher’s office. During the course of my interrogation, I warned Bahadur Shamsher to not provoke the common people – this enraged Bahadur Shamsher. Trembling with rage, he told me that the only reason I would be spared the death sentence was because I was a ‘Bahun’ (Brahmin).

After realizing that I was going to be spared under any circumstance, I decided to adopt a braver stance,” Acharya shared his secret.

Judgment Day:

Eventually judgment day arrives – a big meeting of the royal council of nobles was held at Singha Durbar.

Addressing the council, Shree Teen Juddha Shamsher Junga Bahadur Rana introduces the members of the Praja Parishad as traitors,

“Do you know who they are? They are traitors. Their objective is to overthrow our government by collaborating with the socialists of Hindustan”, he says.

There is pin-drop silence in the hall.

“Do you know who has sown the seed of all this trouble? That jyapu Shukraraj! He has done it upon the instigation of the so called Gandhi of India”, he adds.

Before Juddha Shamsher could complete his sentence – Shukraj Shastri cuts him short. “What mockery is this Maharaja? You accuse us of being traitors without listening to our concerns?” Shastri speaks up.

“What did you say, Jyapu? Repeat yourself. Are you so audacious? Should I ask my men to trample you to death?” an enraged Juddha Shamsher says.

Shukraraj also retorted with vehemence,

“I am asking for justice, not compassion Maharaja!”

The meeting is closed, and they learn their fates later – Shukraj Shastri (born: Shukraraj Joshi), Dashrath Chand, Gangalal Shrestha and Dharma Bhakta Mathema are to be hanged to death and other members of the party are sentenced to jail. In addition, Tanka Prasad Acharya and Ram Hari Sharma are declared damal (outcasts), and officially stripped of their bahun caste.

Days in Bhadragol:

The sentenced members of the Praja Parishad are transferred to Bhadragol Jail. Ganesh Man shares a few instances of his experience with caste system within the walls of Bhadragol – since Tanka Prasad Acharya and Ram Hari Sharma were declared untouchables, other inmates would not share their kitchen with them. Ganesh Man was in turmoil – he did not mind eating with Acharya and Sharma, however since other inmates started treating him as an outcast too – he decided to eat alone (neither with the outcasts, nor with other inmates).

In another instance, Acharya and Sharma were seen observing a  purification ritual in their rooms – apparently the duo had had enough of the caste discrimination, and were petitioning the Shree Teen Maharaja to regain their lost cast through expiation. Their appeal was heard by the Shree Teen Maharaja:

“Admit them to any ‘matawali’ caste which is not recognized as untouchable”, the Maharaja ordered.

Whilst all this was ongoing, Ganesh Man Singh was starting to get bored with his life in jail – he therefore started planning his escape.

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