Kannada actor, brother tortured for info on George

Kannada actor, brother tortured for info on George

George Fernandes, who went underground during the Emergency, was a nightmare for the Indira Gandhi government.

The government desperately wanted him behind the bars and turned to his two comrades-in-arms – his brother Lawrence and Kannada actress-friend Snehalata Reddy – for his whereabouts. However, they did not betray him despite being subjected to third-degree torture.

The lead actress in the award-winning Kannada film 'Samskara' and the brother were tortured for months but did not utter a word about George's possible hideouts. George, the fiery socialist, was the hero of the 1974 railway strikes and the government knew he could organise people against the Emergency.

A Prison Diary by on Scribd

The treatment in custody was so inhuman that Reddy breathed her last five days after she was released on parole in January 1977 following the worsening of asthmatic conditions while Lawrence was like a corpse when released from prisons.

Veteran BJP leader L K Advani recalls both Lawrence and Reddy in his autobiography 'My Life, My Country'. "Many political prisoners during the Emergency were victims of physical torture. The case of Lawrence Fernandes, brother of George Fernandes, was heart-rending. An even more tragic case was that of Snehalata Reddy..." he remembers.

Reddy was in jail and interrogated for eight months, where she fell seriously ill. She died five days after she was released on parole in January 1977

Late socialist Madhu Dantavade wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister Gandhi about the condition of Lawrence where he said Fernandes' brother was in a "completely shattered condition" and limping when he got down from the police jeep.

"During his confinement in the police lock-up for twenty days, he was brutally tortured with the sole purpose of extracting information regarding the whereabouts of his brother George Fernandes. Not to leave any visible mark of torture on his body, Lawrence was taken to three doctors on three different occasions," Dantawade wrote.

"The physical torture was so severe that at one stage, the police as well as Lawrence, feared that he might die," he added.

While they were in custody, Fernandes was caught. He was charged with smuggling dynamite to blow up government establishments and railway tracks in what later came to be known as Baroda dynamite case and the government wanted to catch him. This made Fernandes a hero of the anti-Emergency battle.

When elections were declared, he fought from Muzzafarpur Lok Sabha seat and won with a huge margin. His supporters had then campaigned with his iconic photo in handcuffs.

The Morarji Desai government, which assumed power after the Emergency, withdrew the case against him and others. 

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox