Bhagat Singh Execution Controversy

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This is in reference to reports/features/articles published in some English& Hindi dailies about Martyr Bhagat Singh, which implied or explicitly stated that martyrs were taken away from the gallows before being fully dead and shot dead by the orders of jail authorities at that time. Though this story put forward by an unknown author Kooner, had been rebutted by all those concerned and related to Bhagat Singh or his tradition like- Jagmohan Singh ,nephew of Bhagat Singh, Malwinderjit Singh Waraich,An Advocate and historian of revolutionary freedom movements, Kuldip Nayar,biographer of martyr and myself, as editor of martyr’s complete documents in Hindi, yet I was in search of an authentic document, so that this kind of sensationalism to hog media limelight is not repeated again. I have found this document in the book edited by Sh. Shiv Verma, close associate of Bhagat Singh and a life convict in the same Lahore Conspiracy Case in which Bhagat Singh was hanged. Shiv Verma was also co-prisoner of Bhagat Singh in jail and he has included in his book both the Execution warrant issued by the special tribunal on 7th October 1930,as well as the certificate issued by the Superintendent of the Jail on26th March 1931, which reads as followed by:

“ I hereby certify that the sentence of death passed on Bhagat Singh(name of the martyr is handwritten in otherwise typed certificate) has been duly executed, and that the said Bhagat Singh(again handwritten) was accordingly hanged by the neck till he was dead, at Lahore C. Jail(handwritten) on Monday(handwritten) the 23rd(handwritten) day of march(handwritten 1931 at 7.p.m.(inserted handwritten) that the body remained suspended for a full hour, and was not taken down until life was ascertained by a medical officer to be extinct, error or other misadventure occurred.

Signature

Superintendent of the Jail


Photographs of Bhagat Singh, his family members and Comrades and documents

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Bhagat Singh’s mother’s message to Youth

Orders of Bhagat Singh’s execution

Bhagat Singh’s letters in Hindi&Urdu

Bhagat Singh’s letter in Punjabi

Official Documents of Bhagat Singh trial

MJS Waraich with Bhagat Singh’s mother Ram Saran Das Talwar


Jaidev Kapur,Shiv Verma &Surende Pandey




Raja Ram Shastri




Watch&Shoes of Bhagat Singh,given to Jaidev Kapur before Assembly bombs



From left: Loken Sen Gupta- A revolutionary, Kiron Chander Dasbrother
of martyr Jatinder Nath Das and a revolutionary. Mrs. Parul
Mukerji- Suffered 5 years’ imprisonment in Titagarh Conspiracy
Case. Mrs Bina Das/ Bhhowmik- Suffered life imprisonment for
shooting at Bengal Governor in a convocation at Calcutta in 1932.
(Photograph taken at author’s residence in Ludhiana on 25-3-1970)
From left:

Bhagwaticharn VohraDurga Bhabhia and Shachi(3years&85 Years)


Harikishan’s Father Harikishan



Chandershekhar Azad and his mother Jagrani Devi


Sukhdev’s Mother Rajguru’s Mother


BBC Hindi Articles

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अँग्रेज़ी- दक्षिण एशिया
उर्दू
बंगाली
नेपाली
तमिल

मंगलवार, 25 सितंबर, 2007 को 12:41 GMT तक के समाचार
मित्र को भेजें कहानी छापें
‘भगत सिंह की फाँसी गांधी की नैतिक हार’

महात्मा गांधी
महात्मा गांधी हिंसक तरीके से आज़ादी की लड़ाई के पक्षधर नहीं थे

आज़ादी के आंदोलन में भगत सिंह के समय में दो प्रमुख धाराएं थीं. एक निश्चित रूप से महात्मा गांधी के नेतृत्व वाली कांग्रेस की धारा थी जो उस वक्त सबसे ज़्यादा प्रभावशाली और व्यापक पहुंच वाली थी.

दूसरी धारा क्रांतिकारियों की धारा थी जिसके एक प्रमुख नेता थे भगत सिंह. हालांकि इस धारा का आधार उतना व्यापक नहीं था जितना कि कांग्रेस का था लेकिन वैचारिक रूप से क्रांतिकारी बहुत ताकतवर थे.

इस दौरान कांग्रेस के गरमदल के नेता, बिपनचंद्र पॉल, लाला लाजपत राय और बालगंगाधर तिलक गुज़र चुके थे और नरमदल वालों का वर्चस्व था जिसकी पूरी लगाम गांधी के हाथ में थी. गांधी इस वक्त अपने दौर के चरम पर थे.

गांधी शांतिपूर्वक नैतिकता की लड़ाई लड़ रहे थे जो अंग्रेज़ों के लिए काफ़ी अच्छा था क्योंकि इससे उनकी व्यवस्था पर बहुत ज़्यादा असर नहीं पड़ता था पर मध्यमवर्गीय नेताओं की इस नैतिक लड़ाई का आम लोगों को भी बहुत लाभ नहीं मिलता था.

महात्मा गांधी गुजरात के थे. अहमदाबाद उस वक्त एक बड़ा मज़दूर केंद्र था. एक सवाल पैदा होता है कि वहाँ के हज़ारों-लाखों लोगों के लिए गांधी या पटेल ने कोई आंदोलन क्यों नहीं खड़ा किया. बल्कि कुछ अर्थों में गांधी ने वहाँ पैदा होते मज़दूर आंदोलन के लिए यही चाहा कि वो और प्रभावी न हो. मज़दूर आंदोलन में सक्रिय इंदुलाल याज्ञनिक जैसे कांग्रेसी नेता भी उपेक्षित ही रहे.

नेहरू थोड़ा-सा हटकर सोचते थे और ऐसे मॉडल पर काम करना चाहते थे जो व्यवस्था में बदलाव लाए पर इस मामले में वो कांग्रेस में अकेले ही पड़े रहे.

कांग्रेस और भगत सिंह

भगत सिंह की सबसे ख़ास बात यह थी कि वो कांग्रेस और गांधी के इस आंदोलन को पैने तरीके से समझते थे और इसीलिए उन्होंने कहा था कि कांग्रेस का आंदोलन आख़िर में एक समझौते में तब्दील हो जाएगा.

कई इतिहासकारों के मुताबिक गांधी कभी नहीं चाहते थे कि हिंसक क्रांतिकारी आंदोलन की ताकत बढ़े और भगत सिंह को इतनी लोकप्रियता मिले क्योंकि गांधी इस आंदोलन को रोक नहीं सकते थे, यह उनके वश में नहीं था. इस मामले में गांधी और ब्रिटिश हुकूमत के हित एक जैसे था

उन्होंने कहा था कि कांग्रेस 16 आने में एक आने के लिए संघर्ष कर रही है और उन्हें वो भी हासिल नहीं होगा.

गांधी का रास्ता पूँजीवादी रास्ता था. कई पूँजीवादी, पूँजीपति और ज़मींदार गांधी के आंदोलन में उनके साथ थे. भगत सिंह का रास्ता इससे बिल्कुल अलग क्रांतिकारी समाजवादी आंदोलन का रास्ता था.

इतनी छोटी उम्र में भी भगत सिंह ने एक परिपक्व राजनीतिक समझ को सामने रखते हुए एक ज़मीन तैयार की जिससे और क्रांतिकारी पैदा हो सकें. भगत सिंह के दौर में क़रीब 2000 किशोर क्रांतिकारियों के ख़िलाफ़ मामले दर्ज हुए थे.

गांधी ने भगत सिंह के असेंबली पर बम फ़ेंकने के क़दम को ‘पागल युवकों का कृत्य’ करार दिया था. उधर भगत सिंह को लगता था कि गांधी जिस तरीक़े से आज़ादी हासिल करना चाहते हैं वो सफल नहीं होगा.

एक ही बात के लिए भगत सिंह गांधी के सामर्थ्य को मानते थे और उनका आदर करते थे और वो बात थी गांधी की देश के अंतिम व्यक्ति तक पहुँच और प्रभाव.

गांधी बनाम भगत सिंह

जब 23 वर्ष के भगत सिंह शहीद हुए, उस वक्त गांधी जी की उम्र 62 वर्ष थी पर लोकप्रियता के मामले में भगत सिंह कहीं से कम नहीं थे. पट्टाभि सीतारमैया जैसे कांग्रेस के इतिहासकारों ने कहा है कि एक समय भगत सिंह की लोकप्रियता किसी भी तरह से गांधी से कम नहीं थी.

भगत सिंह
भगत सिंह नहीं चाहते थे कि उनकी फाँसी रोकने का श्रेय गांधी को मिले

भगत सिंह युवाओं के बीच देशभर में ख़ासे लोकप्रिय हो रहे थे. ब्रिटेन में भी उनके समर्थन में प्रदर्शन हुए थे. भगत सिंह की यह बढ़ती हुई लोकप्रियता कांग्रेस को एक ख़तरे की तरह दिखाई देती थी.

कई इतिहासकारों के मुताबिक गांधी कभी नहीं चाहते थे कि हिंसक क्रांतिकारी आंदोलन की ताकत बढ़े और भगत सिंह को इतनी लोकप्रियता मिले क्योंकि गांधी इस आंदोलन को रोक नहीं सकते थे, यह उनके वश में नहीं था. इस मामले में गांधी और ब्रिटिश हुकूमत के हित एक जैसे था. दोनों इस आंदोलन को प्रभावी नहीं होने देना चाहते थे.

इस मामले में गांधी और इरविन के संवाद पर ध्यान देना होगा जो कि इतना नाटकीय है कि दोनों लगभग मिलजुलकर तय कर रहे हैं कि कौन कितना विरोध करेगा.

दोनों इस बात पर सहमत थे कि इस प्रवृत्ति को बल नहीं मिलना चाहिए. भेद इस बात पर था कि इरविन के मुताबिक फाँसी न देने से इस प्रवृत्ति को बल मिलता और गांधी कह रहे थे कि फाँसी दी तो इस प्रवृत्ति को बल मिलेगा.

भगत सिंह की फाँसी

गांधी ने अपने पत्र में इतना ही लिखा कि इनको फाँसी न दी जाए तो अच्छा है. इससे ज़्यादा ज़ोर उनकी फाँसी टलवाने के लिए गांधी ने नहीं दिया. भावनात्मक या वैचारिक रुप से गांधी यह तर्क नहीं करते हैं कि फाँसी पूरी तरह से ग़लत है.

गांधी ने इरविन के साथ 5 मार्च, 1931 को हुए समझौते में भी इस फाँसी को टालने की शर्त शामिल नहीं की. जबकि फाँसी टालने को समझौते का हिस्सा बनाने के लिए उनपर कांग्रेस के अंदर और देशभर से दबाव था.

मेरे विचार में भगत सिंह की फाँसी जहाँ एक ओर गांधी और ब्रिटिश हुकूमत की नैतिक हार में तब्दील हुई वहीं यह भगत सिंह और क्रांतिकारी आंदोलन की नैतिक जीत भी बनी

अगर यह समझौता राष्ट्रीय आंदोलन के हित में हो रहा था तो क्या गांधी भगत सिंह के संघर्ष को राष्ट्रीय आंदोलन का हिस्सा नहीं मानते थे.

गांधी की बजाय सुभाषचंद्र बोस इस फाँसी के सख़्त ख़िलाफ़ थे और कांग्रेस में रहते हुए उन्होंने गांधी से परे जाकर इस फाँसी के विरोध में दिल्ली में 20 मार्च, 1931 को एक बड़ी जनसभा भी की.

इस सभा को रुकवाने के लिए इरविन ने गांधी को एक पत्र भी लिखा था कि इस सभा को रुकवाया जाए पर सुभाष चंद्र बोस गांधी के कहने से कहाँ रुकने वाले थे.

गांधी ने इस बातचीत के दौरान इरविन से यह भी कहा था कि अगर इन युवकों की फाँसी माफ़ कर दी जाएगी तो इन्होंने मुझसे वादा किया है कि ये भविष्य में कभी हिंसा का रास्ता नहीं अपनाएंगे. गांधी के इस कथन का भगत सिंह ने पूरी तरह से खंडन किया था.

असलियत तो यह है कि भगत सिंह हर हाल में फाँसी चढ़ना चाहते थे ताकि इससे प्रेरित होकर कई और क्रांतिकारी पैदा हों. वो कतई नहीं चाहते थे कि उनकी फाँसी रुकवाने का श्रेय गांधी को मिले क्योंकि उनका मानना था कि इससे क्रांतिकारी आंदोलन को नुकसान पहुँचता.

उन्होंने देश के लिए प्राण तो दिए पर किसी तथाकथित अंधे राष्ट्रवादी के रूप में नहीं बल्कि इसी भावना से कि उनके फाँसी पर चढ़ने से आज़ादी की लड़ाई को लाभ मिलता. इस मामले में मैं भगत सिंह को क्यूबा के क्रांतिकारी चे ग्वेरा के समकक्ष रखकर देखता हूँ. दोनों ही दुनिया के लिए अलग तरह के उदाहरण थे.

मेरे विचार में भगत सिंह की फाँसी जहाँ एक ओर गांधी और ब्रिटिश हुकूमत की नैतिक हार में तब्दील हुई वहीं यह भगत सिंह और क्रांतिकारी आंदोलन की नैतिक जीत भी बनी.

(बीबीसी संवाददाता पाणिनी आनंद से बातचीत पर आधारित)

अजय देवगन पर्दे पर भगत सिंह
भगत सिंह पर कई फ़िल्में बनीं पर कितना न्याय हुआ भगत सिंह के व्यक्तित्व से…
भगत सिंह भगत सिंह पर राय…
क्या प्रासंगिक हैं भगत सिंह और क्या आज भी उनकी ज़रूरत है भारत को…
भगत सिंह भगत सिंहः जीवनी
भारतीय स्वतंत्रता संग्राम के एक प्रमुख नायक भगत सिंह का संक्षिप्त परिचय.
भगत सिंह पाकिस्तान में भगत सिंह
कितना याद करता है पाकिस्तान भगत सिंह को, लाहौर से सलीमा हाश्मी…
खट्करकलाँ चिराग तले अंधेरा…
भगत सिंह के गाँव में आज सबकुछ है पर भगत सिंह को खोजने निकलो तो…
भगत सिंह …सामने
डॉ. देवेंद्र स्वरूप कहते हैं कि वामपंथियों की भगत सिंह पर दावेदारी खोखली है.
भगत सिंह ‘मैं नास्तिक क्यों हूँ’
भगत सिंह ने एक लेख लिखकर बताया था कि वो ईश्वर को कैसे देखते हैं…
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BBC Hindi Articles

Standard

अँग्रेज़ी- दक्षिण एशिया
उर्दू
बंगाली
नेपाली
तमिल

गुरुवार, 27 सितंबर, 2007 को 08:35 GMT तक के समाचार
मित्र को भेजें कहानी छापें
साम्यवाद से प्रभावित थे भगत सिंह

गदर पार्टी की पत्रिका- कृति
चमनलाल बताते हैं कि भगत सिंह साम्यवादी विचारधारा से प्रभावित थे

भगत सिंह ने अपने पूरे संघर्ष में एक बात का ख़ास ख्याल रखा कि वो अपनी बातों को दर्ज करते जाएं ताकि उनके बाद उनके नाम पर ग़लत लोग फ़ायदा न उठाएं.

40 बरसों तक, जबतक उनकी कही बातें सामने नहीं आईं, लोग उनका अपनी-अपनी तरह से लाभ उठाते रहे पर अब यह स्पष्ट हो चुका है कि भगत सिंह मार्क्सवाद और सोवियत रूस से प्रभावित थे और उसी तरह का व्यवस्था परिवर्तन देश में भी चाहते थे.

स्वाधीनता आंदोलन में एक धारा को (कांग्रेस) अधिक महत्व मिला क्योंकि उनका सत्ता हस्तांतरण में बड़ा योगदान था और यह हमेशा से होता आया है कि जो प्रभावशाली हैं, उन्हीं का इतिहास ज़्यादा लिखा-गाया जाता है.

ऐसा भगत सिंह के आंदोलन के साथ ही नहीं बल्कि वर्ष 1757 के प्लासी के युद्ध के बाद से आज़ादी मिलने तक की बाक़ी की धाराएं, जो कांग्रेस से अलग थीं, उनके साथ होता रहा. इन धाराओं में आदिवासी, दलित, बुद्धिजीवी, युवा, किसान, मजदूर और मध्यवर्ग के लोग भी देश के कोने-कोने से शामिल थे.

भगत सिंह को एक स्तर पर तो उपेक्षा नहीं मिली पर जिस तरह से उन्हें दिखाया गया उसमें इतना भर था कि वो एक बहादुर व्यक्ति थे जो देश के लिए प्राण न्यौछावर कर गए. इसपर राष्ट्रवादी धाराओं ने लगभग चार दशकों तक ध्यान नहीं दिया कि वो क्या कहना चाहते थे और क्या उनकी सोच थी.

भगत सिंह क्रांतिकारी धारा के सबसे बड़े नायकों में हैं क्योंकि उनका चिंतन बहुत विकसित था. भगत सिंह पहले ऐसे भारतीय क्रांतिकारी थे जिन्होंने तर्क दिया था कि साम्राज्यवाद, उपनिवेशवाद एक पूरी व्यवस्था है.

इस सोच के बनने में रूस की क्रांति और समाजवादी विचारधारा का बड़ा योगदान था और भगत सिंह उन प्रारंभिक लोगों में हैं जिन्होंने उस साहित्य को पढ़ रहे थे और समझ रहे थे. विडंबना यह है कि भगत सिंह के इस रेखांकन को बताने में भारतीय इतिहासकारों को 40 बरस से ज़्यादा समय लग गया.

दक्षिणपंथियों का खोखला दावा

भगत सिंह पर आजकल दक्षिणपंथी विचारधारा के लोग भी अपनी दावेदारी करने लग गए हैं और उन्हें केसरिया रंग में रंगने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं. भगत सिंह की जन्मशताब्दी पर उनकी ओर से हो रहे आयोजन इस बात का एक प्रमाण है.

भगत सिंह वामपंथी विचारधारा से प्रभावित थे, उनके लेखन और विचारों से इस बात में कोई संदेह शेष नहीं रह जाता है. वो लेनिन से और रूस की क्रांति से कितने प्रभावित थे, इसका इसी से अंदाज़ा लगाया जा सकता है कि ज़िंदगी के कुछ दिन बचने पर उन्होंने लेनिन को ही पढ़ने-जानने का काम किया

आज अगर भगत सिंह होते तो सबसे पहले इन सांप्रदायिक और जातिवादी व्यवस्था को बढ़ावा देने वाले लोगों का विरोध करते. भगत सिंह का इनसे कोई संबंध हो सकता है, इस बात का कोई सिर-पैर नहीं है.

अगर दक्षिणपंथी कहते हैं कि वे भगत सिंह को मानते हैं तो उनकी कही बातों को अपनाना शुरू करें.

भगत सिंह ने कहा था कि वो नास्तिक हैं. उन्होंने इंकलाब ज़िंदाबाद का नारा दिया था. उन्होंने साम्राज्यवाद और उपनिवेशवाद को ख़त्म करने की बात कही थी. मार्क्सवाद पर आधारित लेख- लेटर टू यंग पॉलिटिकल वर्कर्स में उन्होंने युवाओं को संबोधित किया था. उन्होंने आधुनिक-वैज्ञानिक समाजवाद की बात की थी.

क्या संघ या अन्य दक्षिणपंथी भगत सिंह की इन बातों को अपना सकते हैं. अगर नहीं, तो फिर दावेदारी क्यों करते हैं. ख़ुद को भगत सिंह से क्यों जोड़ते हैं. क्यों उन्हें नेकर पहनाने या भगवा रंग देने की कोशिश की जा रही है.

भगत सिंह वामपंथी विचारधारा से प्रभावित थे, उनके लेखन और विचारों से इस बात में कोई संदेह शेष नहीं रह जाता है. वो लेनिन से और रूस की क्रांति से कितने प्रभावित थे, इसका इसी से अंदाज़ा लगाया जा सकता है कि ज़िंदगी के कुछ दिन बचने पर उन्होंने लेनिन को ही पढ़ने-जानने का काम किया.

कांग्रेस और भगत सिंह

भगत सिंह क्रांतिकारियों की उस धारा का नेतृत्व करते थे जो कांग्रेस की विचारधारा से बिल्कुल भिन्न थी.

बैनर
वाम विचारधारा के कई संगठन भगत सिंह को अपना नायक मानते रहे हैं

भगत सिंह की तरह कुछ दूसरे इतिहास कार भी यह मानते रहे हैं कि कांग्रेस का आंदोलन ब्रितानी उपनिवेशवाद से समझौते के तहत आज़ादी पाने का था.

भगत सिंह भारत के लिए भी सोवियत रूस जैसा व्यवस्था परिवर्तन चाहते थे पर कांग्रेस में कई ज़मीदार और पूँजीपति शामिल थे. ऐसे में व्यवस्था परिवर्तन की बात को कांग्रेसी विचारधारा सामने लाने से बचती रही.

इसमें कांग्रेस के सामने एक ख़तरा यह भी था कि सोवियत रूस के प्रयोग को विदेश मॉडल कहकर तो खारिज किया जा सकता था पर गांधी के बराबर आ चुके भगत सिंह की ओर से अगर यह बात लोगों तक पहुँचती तो देश में कांग्रेसी मॉडल के बजाय एक जनतांत्रिक समाजवादी क्रांति के लिए लोग खड़े हो सकते थे. इसीलिए कांग्रेस ने उन्हें खारिज तो नहीं किया पर उन्हें सीमित दायरे में रखा.

कांग्रेस की दूसरी दिक्कत यह रही कि कांग्रेस के अधिकतर नेता ब्रिटेन से पढ़कर आए थे और उनके लिए ब्रितानी लोकतंत्र का मॉडल ही एक आदर्श मॉडल था और वे भारत में भी उसी प्रकार की व्यवस्था चाहते थे. हालांकि नेहरू लेबर पार्टी के प्रभाव के चलते भगत सिंह के विचार से कुछ सहमत तो थे पर अकेले पड़ गए थे.

बात इतनी भर है कि भगत सिंह का लेखन, उनकी कही बातें ही तय कर सकते हैं कि वो कांग्रेसी थे, हेडगेवारवादी थे, खालिस्तानी थे, क्रांतिकारी थे तो कैसे क्रांतिकारी थे वगैरह वगैरह…

इन तथ्यों के आधार पूरे विश्वास के साथ कहा जा सकता है कि भगत सिंह समाजवादी और साम्यवादी विचारधारा में विश्वास करने वाले क्रांतिकारी व्यक्ति थे और व्यवस्थापरिवर्तन और समतामूलक समाज बनाने में विश्वास रखते थे.

(भारत और पाकिस्तान में इन दिनों भगत सिंह की जन्मशताब्दी पर उन्हें याद किया जा रहा है. यह लेख बीबीसी संवाददाता पाणिनी आनंद से बातचीत पर आधारित है)

भगत सिंह …सामने
डॉ. देवेंद्र स्वरूप कहते हैं कि वामपंथियों की भगत सिंह पर दावेदारी खोखली है.
अजय देवगन पर्दे पर भगत सिंह
भगत सिंह पर कई फ़िल्में बनीं पर कितना न्याय हुआ भगत सिंह के व्यक्तित्व से…
भगत सिंह पाकिस्तान में भगत सिंह
कितना याद करता है पाकिस्तान भगत सिंह को, लाहौर से सलीमा हाश्मी…
खट्करकलाँ चिराग तले अंधेरा…
भगत सिंह के गाँव में आज सबकुछ है पर भगत सिंह को खोजने निकलो तो…
महात्मा गांधी गांधी बनाम भगत सिंह
महात्मा गांधी और भगत सिंह एक दूसरे से कितने अलग थे? प्रो. चमनलाल…
भगत सिंह ‘मैं नास्तिक क्यों हूँ’
भगत सिंह ने एक लेख लिखकर बताया था कि वो ईश्वर को कैसे देखते हैं…
भगत सिंह भगत सिंहः जीवनी
भारतीय स्वतंत्रता संग्राम के एक प्रमुख नायक भगत सिंह का संक्षिप्त परिचय.
मित्र को भेजें कहानी छापें


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Salima Hashmi on Bhagat Singh

Standard

अँग्रेज़ी- दक्षिण एशिया
उर्दू
बंगाली
नेपाली
तमिल

मंगलवार, 25 सितंबर, 2007 को 18:04 GMT तक के समाचार
मित्र को भेजें कहानी छापें
‘पाकिस्तान आज भगत सिंह को खोज रहा है’

शादवान चौक, पाकिस्तान
इतिहासकार मानते हैं कि यहीं पर भगत सिंह और उनके दो साथियों को फाँसी दी गई थी (चित्र सौजन्य- प्रोफ़ेसर चमनलाल)

पहले तो 1947 और उसके लंबे अरसे बाद तक सियासी हालातों की वजह से पाकिस्तान में भगत सिंह का नाम इतना ज़्यादा सुनने को नहीं मिलता था. बँटवारे के वक्त जैसे हालात रहे, उनमें जिन लोगों को रोलमॉडल बनाया गया वो बहुत बाद के लोग थे.

भगत सिंह के ज़माने पर तो नज़र ही नहीं गई लोगों की. यहाँ तक कि हमने अपनी पढ़ाई-लिखाई के दौरान भी उनका ज़िक्र किसी किताब में नहीं देखा.

यह बात और थी कि हमारे घर सहित कई ऐसे घर थे जिनमें सियासी मामलों की समझ थी और पंजाब के नाते भी भगत सिंह को याद किया जाता था.

बकौल फ़ैज़ साहेब (मेरे पिताजी), वो उन दिनों गवर्नमेंट कॉलेज के हॉस्टल में थे और एक दिन सुबह जब वो छत पर थे, उन्होंने गोली चलने की आवाज़ सुनी और फिर तीन नौजवानों को तेज़ी से जाते हुए देखा.

बाद में उन्हें पता चला कि ये तीन लोग भगत सिंह और उनके साथी थे जिन्होंने एक अंग्रेज़ अधिकारी की हत्या कर दी थी. बाद में अपने जन्म के बाद मैंने अब्बू को अक्सर यह कहते सुना कि हमारा जो जवानी के दिनों का हीरो था, वो भगत सिंह था.

कितने रहे याद…

पाकिस्तान की जो सियासी और सामाजिक ज़िंदगी रही है, उसमें इस तरह के लोगों को बहुत अहमियत नहीं दी गई लेकिन अब पिछले 10-15 बरसों में इनके बारे में लिखा-कहा जाने लगा है और लोगों की रुचि, जिज्ञासा भी इनकी तरफ़ बढ़ रही है.

जितना कुछ होना चाहिए और मिलजुलकर जो होना चाहिए उसके आसार अभी भी कम ही नज़र आते हैं. फिर भी यह बहुत अच्छा मौका है कि हाथ बढ़ाकर और मिलकर भगत सिंह को याद किया जाए

आज भगत सिंह के जन्म स्थल (लायलपुर, पाकिस्तान के चक नंबर-105) पर लोग जाने लगे हैं, वहाँ और उसके रास्ते में भगत सिंह की तस्वीरें लगी हैं. हालांकि जिस जगह पर उन्हें फाँसी दी गई थी, उस फाँसीघाट को अंग्रेज़ी हुकूमत के समय में ही मिटा दिया गया था और अब वहाँ एक हाउज़िंग सोसाइटी बन गई है.

अंग्रेज़ नहीं चाहते थे कि इतने लोकप्रिय व्यक्ति की शहादत का कोई निशान बचे और लोग उसे यादगार बना सकें. आज उस जगह पर एक चौक है जिसे शादवान चौक बुलाया जाता है.

आज पाकिस्तान के कई बुद्धिजीवियों के अलावा आम लोग भी चाहते हैं कि इस चौराहे पर भगत सिंह की याद में कोई स्मारक जैसी चीज़ होनी चाहिए. ऐसा इसलिए भी ज़रूरी है क्योंकि पाकिस्तान की आज की नौजवान नस्ल को तो मालूम ही नहीं कि उस जगह पर कोई जेल और फाँसीघाट था जिसके साथ एक बड़ा इतिहास जुड़ा हुआ है.

सियासी कोशिशें

दोनों ओर की सियासतों ने लंबे अरसे तक भगत सिंह के बारे में लोगों को कुछ नहीं बताया. 80 के दशक में कुछ काम हुआ और फिर उनकी लिखी-कही बातें सामने आना शुरू हुईं.

इसकी वजह यह है कि सियासत शायद कभी भी एक सीधा मोर्चा लेने वाले इंसान के बारे में लोगों को नहीं बताना चाहेगी.

लाहौर का एसएसपी कार्यालय
यहीं पर भगत सिंह और उनके साथियों ने अंग्रेज़ अधिकारी सांडर्स को गोली मारी थी(चित्र सौजन्य- प्रोफ़ेसर चमनलाल)

मेरी समझ में अंग्रेज़ ये देश छोड़कर गए ही नहीं. वो ख़ुद तो गद्दी से हटे पर अपने लोगों को बैठा गए. सियासी तौर-तरीके और व्यवस्था का ढाँचा आज भी वैसा ही है. भगत सिंह जैसे लोगों को आज भी वैसे ही देखा जाता है जैसे तब देखा जाता था.

भगत सिंह को हर पार्टी, हर तरह की सोच अलग तरीके से परखती है और अपनी सुविधा के हिसाब से उनकी बातों को स्वीकार करते चलते हैं.

भगत सिंह होते तो क्या देश बँटता…

भगत सिंह ने विभाजन नहीं देखा. वो 1931 में ही चले गए. पर वो सही वक्त था जब वो चले गए. उनकी एक युवा क्रांतिकारी के रूप में फाँसी ने ही उनको इतना चर्चित बनाया और उनका मकसद भी यही था कि उनकी कुर्बानी से प्रेरित होकर और भगत सिंह पैदा हों.

मेरी समझ में अंग्रेज़ ये देश छोड़कर गए ही नहीं. वो ख़ुद तो गद्दी से हटे पर अपने लोगों को बैठा गए. सियासी तौर-तरीके और व्यवस्था का ढाँचा आज भी वैसा ही है. भगत सिंह जैसे लोगों को आज भी वैसे ही देखा जाता है जैसे तब देखा जाता था

भगत सिंह ही नहीं, उनके दौर में किसी नेता के मन में विभाजन जैसी कोई बात थी ही नहीं. वो तो बस देश को आज़ाद कराना चाहते थे.

यह कह पाना मुश्किल है कि भगत सिंह इस बारे में क्या सोचते पर भगत सिंह की जो सोच थी, उससे इतना कहा जा सकता है कि वो विभाजन को स्वीकार नहीं करते.

केवल भगत सिंह ही नहीं, कोई भी नेता अगर विभाजन के बाद की स्थितियों का अनुमान लगा पाता तो शायद विभाजन न होने देता. इतने ख़ून-ख़राबे का तो किसी को भी अंदाज़ा नहीं था.

याद करो कुर्ब़ानी

सलीमा हाश्मी अपने पिता फ़ैज़ अहमद फ़ैज़ के साथ
सलीमा हाश्मी ने भगत सिंह को अपने पिता से ही जानना-समझना शुरू किया

पाकिस्तान के लिए आज का दौर भगत सिंह को खोजने-जानने का है. हम उनकी डिस्कवरी कर रहे हैं और पाकिस्तान की युवा पीढ़ी के लिए तो यह एक बहुत बड़ी डिस्कवरी होगी.

भारत इस मामले में कुछ आगे चल रहा है क्योंकि भारत में भगत सिंह पर बनी हिंदी फ़िल्मों ने एक बड़ी भूमिका निभाई है. हालांकि उनपर बहुत अच्छी फ़िल्में नहीं बनी हैं पर जो भी बनीं, उनसे भगत सिंह के बारे में लोगों को जानने का मौका तो मिला ही.

जितना कुछ होना चाहिए और मिलजुलकर जो होना चाहिए उसके आसार अभी भी कम ही नज़र आते हैं. फिर भी यह बहुत अच्छा मौक़ा है कि हाथ बढ़ाकर और मिलकर भगत सिंह को याद किया जाए.

हम लोगों की ओर से जो कुछ भी आयोजन हो रहे हैं, सरहद के उस पार से (भारत से) सहयोग लेकर किए जा रहे हैं.

(प्रोफ़ेसर सलीमा हाश्मी पाकिस्तान के मशहूर उर्दू शायर फ़ैज़ अहमद फ़ैज़ की बेटी हैं. यह लेख बीबीसी संवाददाता पाणिनी आनंद से उनकी बातचीत पर आधारित है)

भगत सिंह आमने…
प्रोफ़ेसर चमनलाल बताते हैं कि भगत सिंह साम्यवादी विचारधारा से प्रभावित थे.
अजय देवगन पर्दे पर भगत सिंह
भगत सिंह पर कई फ़िल्में बनीं पर कितना न्याय हुआ भगत सिंह के व्यक्तित्व से…
भगत सिंह भगत सिंहः जीवनी
भारतीय स्वतंत्रता संग्राम के एक प्रमुख नायक भगत सिंह का संक्षिप्त परिचय.
गाँधी जी सुखदेव की खुली चिट्ठी
मार्च, 1931 में फाँसी से पहले सुखदेव ने गाँधी जी को खुली चिट्ठी लिखी थी.
खट्करकलाँ चिराग तले अंधेरा…
भगत सिंह के गाँव में आज सबकुछ है पर भगत सिंह को खोजने निकलो तो…
भगत सिंह …सामने
डॉ. देवेंद्र स्वरूप कहते हैं कि वामपंथियों की भगत सिंह पर दावेदारी खोखली है.
भगत सिंह ‘मैं नास्तिक क्यों हूँ’
भगत सिंह ने एक लेख लिखकर बताया था कि वो ईश्वर को कैसे देखते हैं…
मित्र को भेजें कहानी छापें


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Revolutionary Legacy of Bhagat Singh

Standard

 

Revolutionary Legacy of
Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh’s life (September 28, 1907 – March 23, 1931), work
and thought were marked by an uncompromising struggle against
colonialism and imperialism, together with radical opposition to
capitalism, communalism and the caste system. This article is a
spirited account of his life, his revolutionary activity, his ideals, his
opinions and his legacy. It was on April 8, 1929 that Bhagat Singh
and B K Dutt threw non-lethal bombs in the central assembly with
a view “to make the deaf hear”, and raised the slogans “Inquilab
Zindabad” and “Down with Imperialism”, which caught the
imagination of the Indian people. Perhaps at no other point in the
life of India since 1947 has the reference to these two slogans
become more important than today, as the country marks the
hundredth birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh.

CHAMAN LAL

T
T
he threat of US neo-imperialism is
looming large, not only over India,
but over the whole world, particularly
the nations of Asia, Africa, the Arab
countries and Latin America. In Iraq,
Lebanon and Palestine, this threat has taken
the form of direct military intervention (by
the US and Israel). Iran and North Korea
face all sorts of bullying, whereas Cuba
and Venezuela have to fight conspiracies
all the time. India and some other countries
are faced with pressures that threaten
their independence in the conduct of
foreign policy as well as framing their own
domestic policies according to the needs
of their own people. In these difficult times
we are reminded of Bhagat Singh and Che
Guevara, both of whom fought against all
forms of imperialism and colonialism.
While the story of Che Guevara is known
the world over, the story of Bhagat Singh’s
fight against British imperialism needs to
be retold; it has the potential of inspiring
struggling people everywhere, just as Che’s
saga does.

It was on April 8, 1929 that Bhagat
Singh and B K Dutt threw harmless bombs
with a view “to make the deaf hear” in
the central assembly, called Parliament
today. It was on this occasion that two

slogans caught the imagination of the
Indian people – “Inquilab Zindabad” and
“Down with Imperialism”. In fact these
two slogans arose out of a qualitative
change in the perception of the Indian
revolutionary movement at that point of
time. These two slogans replaced the earlier
popular slogan of revolutionaries – “Bande
Mataram”. It was not just a change at the
linguistic level, from Sanskrit to a blend
of Hindustani and English, but a sign of
the growth of consciousness to a higher
level in revolutionary movement of the
country. And the catalyst of this change
was none other than Bhagat Singh, who
by now, through his experience of the
revolutionary movement and from a systematic
study of the revolutionary movement
the world over, particularly from his
study of the Soviet experience, had reached
the conclusion that it is not just enough
to “free the mother India from the chains
of foreign slavery”, it was much more
important to understand the whole system
of enslaving and exploiting other nations,
i e, the system of imperialism and then to
understand the mechanism of smashing it.
It is quite interesting to know that Bhagat
Singh had embarked on this study from
as early an age as 14 or 15. At no other
point in the life of India since 1947 has
the reference to these two slogans of

Bhagat Singh been more important than
today in the wake of a more vicious and
dangerous form of imperialism than in
the past.

Early Influences
Early InfluencesEarly InfluencesEarly InfluencesEarly InfluencesEarly Influences

Bhagat Singh was born on September 28,
1907 at Lyallpur Banga, now in Pakistan,
on a day that brought the good news of
the release of his father Kishan Singh and
two uncles, the revolutionary Ajit Singh
and young Swarn Singh, from British
prisons. Swarn Singh who contracted
tuberculosis while in jail died, shortly after
his release, at the young age of around
24 years. And his revolutionary uncle
Ajit Singh, the founder of Bharat Mata
Society, along with Lala Lajpat Rai, was
forced to leave the country in 1909, when
Bhagat Singh was just two years old, to
return only when India was at the verge
of independence and die on the very day
of independence (August 15, 1947) at
Dalhousie.

At the age of 12 Bhagat Singh visited
Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in April 1919,
after the massacre, and brought home
“blood soaked sand”. At the age of 14,
while reading in school in Lahore, he
informed his grandfather about the preparations
being made by railway workers to
go on strike in 1921. Bhagat Singh had
joined the National College, Lahore at an
age of 15. Prior to that he had welcomed
the protesting Akali workers in his
village, following the incident of February
4, 1921, when Mahant Narain Dass,
in collaboration with the British authorities,
killed 140 devout Sikhs at Gurdwara
Nankana Sahib.

Worried at the revolutionary traits of
Bhagat Singh’s growing personality, the
family, particularly his father, thought of
“controlling him through marriage”! There
were already two young women in the
house – the widow of Bhagat Singh’s
younger uncle Swarn Singh and Bibi
Harnam Kaur, wife of his exiled revolutionary
uncle, Ajit Singh. If marriage could
not “control” Ajit Singh, how could it
“control” Bhagat Singh? He was sensitive
to the sufferings of both his aunts, and was
particularly attached to his aunt Harnam
Kaur, wife of Ajit Singh. According to an
account of one of his close schoolmates,

Economic and Political Weekly July 28, 2007

Jaidev Gupta, Bhagat Singh was given to
Harnam Kaur as her “son” while her
husband Ajit Singh lived in exile for an
uncertain period. Bhagat Singh, in any
case, was like the political son of Ajit
Singh, with whom he shared a close bond
despite the latter’s absence. At the level
of ideas, Ajit Singh was more advanced
than the Congress leadership in the Punjab,
especially in terms of his perception of
what the freedom of India meant. He was
also much more revolutionary in thought
than the Congress leadership as he wanted
to awaken and organise the peasantry on
the basis of their economic exploitation at
the hands of the big feudal landlords and
the colonial system. Bhagat Singh went
beyond this advanced thinking of his uncle
and reached the logical end of adopting
the Marxist vision of liberation.

At the age of 15, Bhagat Singh was
questioning his father about the withdrawal
of the non-cooperation movement by
Mahatma Gandhi on the pretext of the
Chauri Chaura incident. In fact, the withdrawal
of the non-cooperation movement
after Chauri Chaura in 1922 had disillusioned
youth and revolutionaries all
over India. Chandra Shekhar Azad, who
was flogged for shouting “Mahatma Gandhi
Ki Jai”, was one among those youth, who
were very bitter at this development, and
later, in the course of his revolutionary
activities, could never trust Gandhi. They
associated with C R Dass, Jawaharlal
Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Lala Lajpat
Rai and Madan Mohan Malviya, but not
with Gandhi, though correspondence with
the latter had taken place, with Gandhi’s
reply to Sukhdev’s letter appearing in
Young India only after the latter’s execution.
To be fair, Gandhi received the letter,
though written earlier, only after Sukhdev’s
execution along with Bhagat Singh and
Raj Guru.

In a way, the withdrawal of the noncooperation
movement in 1922 gave an
impetus to the revolutionary movement
throughout the country, units of which
already existed in Bengal in the form of
Ahushilan and Yugantar, the Hindustan
Republican Association (HRA) in the
United Provinces, etc. Bhagat Singh
reached Kanpur in 1923, after informing
his father in a letter that he had dedicated
his life to the nation and hence he could
not think of marrying. His teacher at the
National College, Jai Chander Vidyalankar
had written a letter introducing Bhagat
Singh to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, editor
of Pratap, Kanpur and Congress leader of

the United Provinces. Bhagat Singh not
only worked for Pratap, he also joined the
underground revolutionary organisation,
Hindustan Republican Association,
organised by Sachinder Nath Sanyal, the
author of Bandi Jivan, who had already
gone through one round of incarceration
in the Andamans. Bhagat Singh had met
him at Lahore. It was at Kanpur that Bhagat
Singh met Bejoy Kumar Sinha, Shiv Verma,
Jaider Kapoor, B K Dutt and Ajay Ghosh.
Sukhdev and Bhagwati Charn Vohra were
his comrades in Lahore. After spending
about six months, writing under the pen
name of Balwant in Pratap, working part-
time in flood relief and also performing
the duties of headmaster in a national school
around Aligarh, Bhagat Singh returned to
Lahore upon hearing the news of his
grandmother’s illness and getting an
assurance that none in the household would
talk about his marriage anymore.

By the age of 17 Bhagat Singh had
intellectually matured to such an extent
that he wrote a prize-winning essay in
Hindi on the language issue of Punjab. In
1924 and 1925, he wrote ‘Vishv Prem’ (‘In
Love with the World’) and ‘Yuvak’, which
were published in Matwala, both under the
assumed name of Balwant Singh. His article
on the execution of the six Babbar Akali
revolutionaries in 1926 entitled ‘Holi ke
din rakat ke chinte’ (‘Blood Drops on Holi
Day’) was published under the byline of
‘one Punjabi youth’. And, in ‘Why I am
an Atheist’, written in 1930, Bhagat Singh
referred to his acceptance of the logic of
atheism by the end of 1926 when he was not
yet 19 years of age. This was in the backdrop
of a lot of Marxist literature reaching
Dwarka Dass Library in Lahore, where
Bhagat Singh had become a voracious
reader from around 1924. He did not stop
at just being an atheist, searching as he was
for radical ideas of human liberation. He
had almost become a committed Marxist
through his contacts with the Kirti group
of Ghadrite revolutionaries of Punjab. He
had regularly contributed articles in Kirti
on various issues like “communalism and its
solution”, the “problem of untouchability”,
“religion and our freedom struggle”, etc.
If he had any differences with the Ghadrite
revolutionaries, these were only about the
programme of the revolutionary party.
Bhagat Singh and his comrades were
convinced that to awaken the country from
its slumber, the youth needed to perform
some daring revolutionary nationalist
actions and make sacrifices to advance the
anti-colonial movement.

Adoption of Socialist Agenda
Adoption of Socialist AgendaAdoption of Socialist AgendaAdoption of Socialist AgendaAdoption of Socialist AgendaAdoption of Socialist Agenda

By 1928 not only Bhagat Singh, even
Sukhdev and Bhagwati Charan Vohra in
Punjab, and Bejoy Kumar Sinha, Shiv
Verma and Jaidev Kapoor in UP were
convinced about the need of a socialist
agenda for their revolutionary party. They
gave practical shape to it by calling an
urgent meeting of the central committee
of HRA on September 8 and 9, 1928 at
the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi, where after
long deliberations and at the suggestion of
Bhagat Singh, supported by Sukhdev,
Bejoy Kumar Sinha, Shiv Verma and Jaidev
Kapoor, the HRA was rechristened as the
Hindustan Socialist Republican Association
(HSRA). The addition of the word
socialist was not just ornamental as was
done by Indira Gandhi during the Emergency
by adding socialist to the preamble
of Indian Constitution. It was a well thought
out qualitative change of perception about
the goal of the Indian revolution, which
had the sanction of Chandra Shekhar Azad
as well, who was not that well read but
reposed his full trust in Bhagat Singh.

Prior to the formation of the HSRA,
Bhagat Singh trained himself in mass
organisational work. On the pattern of a
youth organisation in Italy inspired by
Mazzini and Gari Baldi, the Naujawan
Bharat Sabha (NBS) was formed in 1926.
Bhagat Singh was its general secretary and
Bhagwati Charan Vohra was propaganda
secretary. Among other activities, NBS
worked to organise lantern shows of
patriot’s pictures. They were particularly
inspired by the sacrifice of Kartar Singh
Sarabha, as he was executed at the young
age of 19 years in 1915 at Lahore and
whose photograph Bhagat Singh always
kept in his pocket. At all their public
meetings they used to garland Sarabha’s
picture put on the dais. During this period,
Ghadrite revolutionaries returned from
Moscow, trained in communist theory, and
had formed the Kirti group. Santokh
Singh had started Kirti, a journal in Punjabi
with which Bhagat Singh was associated
as a writer. After Sohan Singh Josh
became its editor following the untimely
passing away of Santokh Singh, Bhagat
Singh worked on the staff of Kirti for a
while, as he was in touch with Sohan Singh
Josh in connection with the activities of
the NBS.

Even prior to forming NBS in Lahore,
Bhagat Singh was in touch with the earliest
communists of the country in Kanpur, then
a working class city. He was in contact

Economic and Political Weekly September 15, 2007

with communists such as Satyabhakat,
Radha Mohan Gokulji and Shaukat
Usmani. In practical terms, Bhagat Singh
was part of communist movement in India
since its very inception, his later activities
testifying to this fact. Of course, he was
not formally a member of the communist
party as it was then still in its formative
period. But he had met Muzzafar Ahmad,
one of the founders of the communist
movement, who had come to Lahore after
his release from jail in the Kanpur conspiracy
case in 1924. While Bhagat Singh
had no reservations about joining the
communist party, he and his close comrades
were at the time trying to shape their
own revolutionary organisation, the HSRA.
Bhagat Singh was also clear that ultimately
the HSRA had to en masse organise
workers, peasants, students and other
potentially revolutionary sections of society.
Whereas he and his group was of the
view that, given the as yet undeveloped
political consciousness of the Indian
masses, some spectacular revolutionary
actions, along with some exemplary deeds
on the part of the young revolutionaries
were required to awaken the masses from
their slumber and initiate a mass upsurge
against British colonialism. Sohan Singh
Josh had aptly articulated what needed to
be done in his four meetings with Bhagat
Singh. But following the formation of the
HSRA in September 1928, some political
developments took place, which did not
allow HSRA the time to transform itself
as the nucleus of a set of mass organisations.
However, apart from the NBS, mass
organisations such as the Lahore Students’
Union, Bal Students’ Union and Bal Bharat
Sabha were formed.

It is interesting to know that the NBS
had helped form the Bal Bharat Sabha, an
organisation of school students between
the age of 12 and 16. No historian as yet
seems to have paid attention to this interesting
aspect of the freedom struggle. The
president of Bal Bharat Sabha in Amritsar,
Kahan Chand, aged just 11 years, was
subjected to three months of rigorous
imprisonment. And Yash, then only 10
years of age, who was to later become the
renowned editor of the Urdu daily, Milap,
was secretary of Bal Bharat Sabha. He was
prosecuted on three counts, including assisting
the Lahore city Congress and the
NBS. In those days, 1,192 juveniles under
the age of 15 years were convicted for their
political activities. Apart from the Bal
Bharat Sabha, the Bal Students’ Union
was also active in those days. At the time,

Bhagat Singh not merely drew Punjabi
youth to join these organisations, even the
Lahore city Congress was affected by his
magnetic personality. Lala Lajpat Rai’s
grandson, Baldev Raj was secretary of the
Bal Students’ Union and Dyanat Rai its
president. Such was the spread of patriotic
fervour generated by Bhagat Singh and his
comrades in those days.

Provoked by Colonial
Provoked by ColonialProvoked by ColonialProvoked by ColonialProvoked by ColonialProvoked by Colonial
Repression
RepressionRepressionRepressionRepressionRepression

Alarmed by his impact on youth, Bhagat
Singh was arrested by the Lahore police
in May 1927 on the pretext of his involvement
in the October 1926 Dussehra bomb
case. He was kept in jail for about six
weeks. It was during this period that
Bhagat Singh planned mass activities in
Punjab, but before such activities could
acquire a momentum, the Simon Commission
came to India. In spite of differences
with Lala Lajpat Rai due to his association
with communal elements, he was requested
to lead a demonstration organised by the
NBS against the Simon Commission on
October 30, 1928. Bhagat Singh himself
was not present at this demonstration, but
NBS activists were providing cover to
Lalaji when a clash with the British
police took place. The superintendent of
police (SP) of Lahore city, Scott ordered
a lathi charge and his deputy, Saunders
personally unleashed blows upon
Lalaji, resulting in the latter’s death on
November 17.

In response, Basanti Devi, the widow of
the late C R Dass, exhorted the country’s
youth to avenge the insult heaped upon the
nation. Bhagat Singh could not miss the
occasion; the HSRA decided to do away
with Scott, who was responsible for ordering
the attack on Lalaji. Bhagat Singh and
Rajguru were chosen to shoot Scott. Jai
Gopal was to identify him and Chandra
Shekhar Azad was to provide cover to the
whole team. Bhagat Singh was supposed
to shoot first, but at the signal given by
Jai Gopal, identifying the British officer,
Rajguru immediately shot at him, while
Bhagat Singh tried to call Azad by saying
“Panditji, he is not Scott” (‘Proceedings
of the Lahore Conspiracy Case’, Sukhdev’s
notes). But before Bhagat Singh could
complete this sentence, Saunders was
already shot by Rajguru, who always
wished to be in the forefront of every
action. Bhagat Singh had no option but to
pump three or four more bullets into
Saunders’ body in order to ensure that he

did not survive. Posters appeared in Lahore
the next morning wherein the revolutionaries
owned up to the act of the killing of
Saunders, who was equally responsible for
Lalaji’s death and was as much a symbol
of colonial power as was Scott. The act
sealed the fate of Bhagat Singh, who was
absolutely clear in his own mind that he
was going to be executed in this case,
following his arrest and trial. So Bhagat
Singh decided to perform as many spectacular
revolutionary acts as possible in the
short duration of his remaining lifetime.

Many comrades of the HSRA were
underground for their involvement in the
Kakori rail dacoity case, particularly
Chandra Shekhar Azad. After the Saunders’
murder, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev
and others were also driven underground.
Bhagat Singh escaped to Calcutta along
with Durga Bhabhi from where he
remained in touch with some Bengali revolutionaries,
out of whom Jatinder Nath
agreed to come to Lahore to train other
comrades in the techniques of bomb
making. At this point, the HSRA was in
a fix: having adopted a socialist perspective
of Indian liberation, they wanted to
focus upon organising workers, peasants,
students and youth, but the Saunders’
murder and some earlier cases against them
did not allow them to work openly. Neither
could they take the cover of the Congress
party for open political work, as they had
serious and fundamental differences with
that party.

In such a binding situation, the only
option Bhagat Singh could visualise for
himself and the HSRA was to awaken the
people by engagement in revolutionary
activities, but with a minimum loss of life,
and then sacrifice their own lives in such
a manner that the whole country becomes
aware of their goals and ideas. Bhagat
Singh also wanted to remove the “terrorist”
tag from the organisation, as well as
from their individual selves. For this they
wished to utilise platforms from where
their voice could reach millions of people.
Bhagat Singh could visualise what they
would achieve by sacrificing their lives in
the prime of their youth, but in a manner
in which their sacrifices would inspire
large numbers of their countrymen. By
shooting Saunders in daylight, the HSRA
took to this path in right earnestness, for
the incident had inspired millions of their
countrymen. Bhagat Singh however made
it absolutely clear in one of his court statements
that they bore no personal grudge
or malice against anyone.

Economic and Political Weekly Sptember 15, 2007

Making the Deaf Hear
Making the Deaf HearMaking the Deaf HearMaking the Deaf HearMaking the Deaf HearMaking the Deaf Hear

Jatin Das came to Lahore and bombs
were fabricated in some rented houses. To
stabilise the people’s enthusiastic response
to Saunders’ assassination, Bhagat Singh
wanted another equally spectacular action.
The British colonial government was then
bent upon notifying the public safety bill
and trade disputes bill as law, in spite of
stiff opposition from the masses and from
the members of the central assembly.
Bhagat Singh and his comrades decided
to throw harmless bombs intended only to
cause a loud noise in the central assembly.
The issue was discussed in the central
committee of the HSRA in the absence of
Sukhdev. Bhagat Singh’s proposal to
depute the latter for the action was rejected
as he was bound to be trapped in the
Saunders’ murder case and the party did
not want to lose a leader of his stature at
such a crucial time. When Sukhdev came
to know of the decision, though a close
friend of Bhagat Singh, he was upset and
taunted him for “trying to save his life”,
knowing fully well that he was the best
person for the job as no one else could
project the party’s view as effectively as
he could. The central committee met again
and Bhagat Singh insisted that he would
be part of the team, and that they would
get themselves arrested after the act. The
party however wanted them to escape after
the act, but reluctantly agreed to Bhagat
Singh’s proposals.

The action was inspired by a similar act
of a revolutionary in the French parliament
to focus attention on the poverty of the
people, which had the famous one-liner,
“it needs an explosion to make the deaf
hear”. This was the first sentence of the
pamphlets strewn by Bhagat Singh and
B K Dutt in the central assembly after they
had thrown two harmless bombs over the
empty benches of the central assembly.
But the explosion did create a commotion
in the assembly and only a few members
like Pandit Motilal Nehru, Madan Mohan
Malviya and Jinnah could keep their calm
by remaining standing on their seats. Most
of the others, including the home secretary,
ran helter-skelter, some even hiding
under the benches. And here the two historic
slogans came into existence – Inquilab
Zindabad (Long Live Revolution) and
Samrajyavad Ka Nash Ho (Down with
Imperialism); in the course of time, these
slogans particularly Inquilab Zindabad
became part of not only revolutionary
groups, but of all other organisations,

including the Congress. Of course, the
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the
Hindu Mahasabha and other communal
organisations would never have anything
to do with this slogan.

In fact, Inquilab Zindabad is a translation
of ‘Long Live Revolution’, an international
slogan of the working class
movement. It was earlier translated in Hindi
as – ‘Kranti Chirjivi Ho’, but did not catch
the imagination of the people. ‘Inquilab
Zindabad’ not only caught the imagination
of the Hindi-speaking people of India, it
spread from Agartala to Chennai, and from
Srinagar to Mumbai. It became quite
popular in the India subcontinent and in
some other countries as well. Bhagat Singh
in fact felt rightly proud that “in his small
life, he has made this slogan reach crores
of Indians”. Inquilab Zindabad, finally replaced
‘Bande Mataram’, which was the
most popular slogan of the nationalist
movement from 1905 to April 8, 1929,
prior to Bhagat Singh and Dutt raising it
in central assembly. In any objective
analysis of Bhagat Singh’s contribution to
the national movement, the initial spread
of this most popular slogan would be
attributed to him.

In the Courts and in Jail

The action (explosion in the Assembly)
was planned in a very meticulous manner.
Photographs of Bhagat Singh and Dutt
were taken prior to the action, copies of
the statement issued on the occasion were
made in plenty and the press got these in
time, on the very same day, April 8, 1929.
British police officers were scared even to
arrest them as both of them were holding
live pistols in their hands, but while shouting
the slogans, they put their pistols on
the table, indicating to the police that they
were ready to be arrested. Police officers
moved towards arresting them only after
they had kept their pistols aside. In the
meantime, Jaidev Kapoor had already gone
out of the Assembly hall. The immediate
aim of the revolutionary group had been
achieved and now the next task was to
spread the message of revolution among
their countrymen. Bhagat Singh had again
a well thought out plan. They would not
defend themselves in the courts, rather
they would use the British courts as platforms
to spread their message by making
political statements there. They did not
hire any lawyer for their defence, but
accepted the advice of advocates. The
services of the nationalist advocate Asaf

Ali was available to them and it was Asaf
Ali who read Bhagat Singh and B K Dutt’s
historic statement in the sessions court on
June 6, 1929, where they were being tried
in the Delhi Bomb Case. This statement
is a policy document that explains the aims
and objectives of the revolutionary movement
in lucid terms (Shiv Verma (ed), The
Selected Writings of Shaheed Bhagat
Singh, National Book Centre, New Delhi,
1986, p 71):

We humbly claim to be no more than
serious students of the history and the
conditions of our country and her aspirations.
We despise hypocrisy. Our practical
protest was against the institution, which
since its birth has eminently helped to
display not only its worthlessness, but its
far-reaching power for injustice. The more
we have pondered, the more deeply we
have been convinced that it exists only to
demonstrate to (the) world India’s humiliation
and helplessness and it symbolises
the overriding domination of an irresistible
and autocratic rule. XXX Solemn resolutions
passed by the house have been contemptuously
trampled underfoot on the
floor of (the) so-called Indian Parliament.

Bhagat Singh and Dutt further clarified
their aim: “we deliberately offered ourselves
to bear the penalty for what we had
done and to let the imperialist exploiters
know that by crushing individuals, they
cannot kill ideas. By crushing two insignificant
units a nation cannot be crushed”
(ibid, p 73). And they dared the colonialist
power by posing the question: “Can ordinances
and safety bills snuff out the flames
of freedom in India? Conspiracy cases,
trumped up or discovered and the incarceration
of all young men who cherish the
vision of a great ideal cannot check the
march of a revolution. But a timely warning,
if not unheeded, can help to prevent
loss of life and general sufferings. We took
it upon ourselves to provide this warning
and our duty is done” (ibid, pp 73-74).

Bhagat Singh and Dutt in their statement
had explained how thoughtfully they had
thrown the harmless bombs in “vacant
spaces”, in order not to harm any one, and
the only damage was to the empty bench
and slight abrasions in less than half a
dozen cases. And since they were asked
in the lower court what they meant by the
word revolution, in his statement in the
session court he explains the concept of
revolution (almost) in Marxist terminology.
They speak of capitalism and the
establishment of the dictatorship of the
proletariat for the consummation of the
ideal of revolution. And yet, they also tell

Economic and Political Weekly September 15, 2007

the British colonial power of the Marxist
epithet that “peaceful transition is also
possible if timely warning is heeded by the
power(s) that be”. The statement concludes
again with the slogan ‘Long Live Revolution’.

In fact the concept of revolution had
become so all engrossing for Bhagat Singh
that all his attention and energy was focused
upon clarifying it to himself as well
as to his comrades and countrymen and the
imperialist power. When Ramanand
Chatterjee, the editor of Modern Review
ridiculed the slogan “Long Live Revolution”,
Bhagat Singh and Dutt rebutted him
with a letter, which was published in The
Tribune (December 24, 1929): “Revolution
did not necessarily involve sanguinary
strife. It was not a cult of bomb and pistol.
They may sometimes be mere means for its
achievement. … A rebellion is not a revolution.
It may ultimately lead to that end”
(Shiv Verma (ed), p 81). Bhagat Singh
defines revolution as “spirit of longing for
change for the better” and they wish that
the “spirit of revolution would always
permeate the soul of humanity, so that the
reactionary forces may not accumulate
strength to check its eternal onward march”.

There were two aims of the intended
actions of Bhagat Singh and his comrades
in the courts and in jail:

(i) To expose British colonialism through
the courts, using them as a platform to
spread their ideas;
(ii) To expose the brutalities of British
colonialism in jail by resorting to hunger
strikes there and thereby drawing public
attention.
The British authorities were not unaware
of these plans, but they were just put in
the dock by self-sacrificing spirit of Bhagat
Singh and his comrades. The third intention
of Bhagat Singh was his own ideological
development. It is amazing to see
a man, about to go to the gallows, deeply
immersing himself in a serious study of
world revolutionary history, and this, in
trying circumstances. In the course of
preparing court statements, his serious self-
study of Marxism definitely helped. He
organised hunger strikes for months
together; even as he was brutally beaten
by police and nursed his wounds in jail,
he studied, wrote and took copious notes
from the books he read.

Manuscripts Written in Jail
Manuscripts Written in JailManuscripts Written in JailManuscripts Written in JailManuscripts Written in JailManuscripts Written in Jail

Bhagat Singh drafted four manuscripts
while in jail. These were (i) ‘The Ideal
of Socialism’, (ii) ‘Autobiography’,

(iii) ‘History of Revolutionary Movements
in India’, and, (iv) ‘At the Door of Death’.
According to Shiv Verma, these manuscripts
were smuggled out of jail through
Kumari Lajjawati of Jalandhar, who handed
them over to Bejoy Kumar Sinha in 1938,
after his release from Andaman jail. Sinha
passed these on to a friend for safe custody,
but the latter destroyed the manuscripts,
fearing a police raid at some stage. The
manuscript Jail Notebook was however
collected by Kulbir Singh or some other
member of Bhagat Singh’s family. Kumari
Lajjawati, Congress activist and secretary
of Bhagat Singh’s defence committee,
frequently visited Lahore jail to discuss
legal aspects of the case. In an interview
to the Nehru Memorial Museum and
Library’s oral history cell, she recalled that
she had brought some papers given by
Bhagat Singh, which she showed to Feroze
Chand, editor of People, Lala Lajpat Rai’s
paper from Lahore. Feroze Chand was told
to select whatever he wanted for publication
in the People. He selected some papers
and returned the remaining ones to
Lajjawati, which she handed over to Bejoy
Kumar Sinha in 1938. Feroze Chand
published ‘Why I Am an Atheist’ in the
September 27, 1931 issue of People, ironically
marking Bhagat Singh’s first birthday
after his execution on March 23 of that
year. Prior to that, in its issue of March 29,
just after Bhagat Singh’s execution, People
published extracts from the now famous
‘Letter to Young Political Workers’. It
seems that Feroze Chand had also selected,
what had been mentioned by Shiv Verma
as ‘At the Doorsteps of Death’ and some
other papers, including Bhagat Singh’s
letter on the death sentence, given to the
young revolutionary Harikishan, which
were also published in People.
The strange part of this whole saga of
indifference to the documents, considered
so valuable now, is that neither Kumari
Lajjawati nor Feroze Chand, nor even Bejoy
Kumar Sinha, who was given the custodianship
of those papers at the instructions
of Bhagat Singh himself, took the trouble
to seriously look into those papers and note
their contents. How Shiv Verma had come
upon the contents of those papers is also
shrouded in mystery. He might have come
across them in jail from Bhagat Singh
himself, but whether those were really
manuscripts in proper form or just notes
like the Jail Notebook, cannot be said with
certainty. It does not seem that this mystery
would get resolved. Nevertheless, the
essentials of Bhagat Singh’s thoughts have

come to light and an evaluation of his
thought process can be made on the basis
of the retrieved documents, which are quite
substantial.

On the surface of it, it is difficult to
imagine that Bhagat Singh could write
four full-fledged books in such a short time

– about two years, April 8, 1929 to
March 23, 1931, especially when he was
involved in hunger strikes and in court
matters. Out of the four titles mentioned,
two seem to be interrelated, namely, his
autobiography and ‘At the Door of Death’.
The other two titles, if these were short
pamphlets, then he could have completed
them, but writing a full-fledged history of
the revolutionary movement in India seems
far-fetched under the difficult circumstances
of the last two years of his life. However,
Bhagat Singh did plan to write a full-
fledged book on ‘The Science of the State’,
for which he had taken detailed notes,
which are included in his Jail Notebook,
the only original part of this manuscript.
In this proposed book, Bhagat Singh was
trying to trace the historical evolution of
the state up to that of the modern socialist
state. Had he got the time to write this
book, it would perhaps have been a significant
contribution to Marxist analysis
of the state, that is, if one were to go by
his notes on the subject.
The manuscript that survived – first
published in 1994, edited by Bhupender
Hooja – is a significant document in its
own right. It is not a notebook like the
prison notebooks of Gramsci or the philosophical
notebooks of Lenin, not even like
Che Guevara’s diaries. It is not a diary at
all; this Notebook is unique in its own way.
It includes notes of the books read by
Bhagat Singh in jail, prior to his execution.
Apart from being significant in its selections,
these notes are an objective indicator
of the development of Bhagat Singh’s ideas.
The notes are also reflective of his aesthetic
sensibilities, as a large number of
the quotes are from the classics of world
literature. These quotes show that Bhagat
Singh was a revolutionary with a rare
sensitivity. During and after his student
days, his fondness for films had been
mentioned by many of his close friends
and comrades. He was a fan of Charlie
Chaplin’s films and also films like Uncle
Tom’s Cabin and The Three Musketeers.
Apart from being a good singer, he acted
in college dramatics, which show his
interest in literature and other art forms.
This was perhaps why the elder revolutionary,
Ram Saran Dass asked Bhagat Singh

Economic and Political Weekly September 15, 2007

to write an introduction to his collection
of poetry (Dreamland).

It is also interesting to know that much
before Bhagat Singh’s Jail Notebook attracted
scholarly attention in India, it was
discussed in detail by the Soviet indologist,
L V Mitrokhin in his 1981 book, Lenin and
India, whose Hindi translation was published
in 1990. In this book, an entire
chapter is devoted to ‘The Last Days of
Bhagat Singh’. In this book, references
have been made to earlier studies such as
A V Raikov’s 1971 article entitled ‘Bhagat
Singh and His Ideological Legacy’,
Mitrokhin’s own ‘The Books Read by
Bhagat Singh’, included in the 1971 publication,
India on Lenin. In these Russian
publications, an objective assessment of
Bhagat Singh’s intellectual development
has been undertaken and he has been placed
in the tradition of Marxist thought.

I had seen the manuscript of Bhagat
Singh’s Jail Notebook in the Nehru Memorial
Museum and Library (NMML) in 1984
and started writing about it in Hindi journals,
regretting that it was yet unpublished.
The NMML had got a copy from Bhagat
Singh’s younger brother Kulbir Singh on
condition of “not publishing it”. It was
only in 1992 that the late Bhupender Hooja,
chief editor, Indian Book Chronicle, Jaipur,
started serialising it in his monthly. My
letter of appreciation made Hooja feel more
confident about its authenticity and so he
published it along with his editorial notes
in book form in 1994 from Jaipur. Despite
some good reviews, and being such a
significant historical document, the Notebook
did not get the attention it deserved.
Ironically, translations of the Notebook
appeared in Hindi and other languages
without giving any credit to the painstaking
work of annotations done by the aged,
yet energetic editor of the Notebook,
Bhupender Hooja. Hopefully its new
edition would bring this historical document
into proper focus and would draw
the attention of historians, students of the
revolutionary wing of India’s freedom
movement and political activists alike.

This document should be read in relation
to Bhagat Singh’s other significant documents
– ‘Why I Am an Atheist’, ‘Court
Statements’, ‘Letter to Young Political
Workers’, etc, which have acquired the
status of classic documents of the Indian
revolutionary movement. In fact, in the
Notebook, the quotes taken from books,
other than literary, are a guide to the development
of democratic political thought,
from the classics of ancient Greece to the

best of Marxist writings up to at that point
in time. In a way, the Notebook is also
reflective of Bhagat Singh’s personality,
concluding, as it does, with a partially read
book of Lenin on the day of his death,
March 23, 1931. The Punjabi revolutionary
poet Paash has paid an apt tribute to
Bhagat Singh of his last moments, by saying
that “Indian youth need to read the next
page of Lenin’s book, folded by Bhagat
Singh on the last day of his life”.

Political Weapon of the
Political Weapon of thePolitical Weapon of thePolitical Weapon of thePolitical Weapon of thePolitical Weapon of the
Hunger Strike
Hunger StrikeHunger StrikeHunger StrikeHunger StrikeHunger Strike

The indefinite hunger strikes by Bhagat
Singh and his comrades in jail were uncompromising,
reflected in their dear
comrade Jatin Das laying down his life on
September 13, 1929 on the 63rd day of his
fast unto death. Forcible feeding of milk
had damaged Jatin’s lungs and despite
appeals by his other colleagues a few days
earlier, he refused to give up his fast, with
the clear understanding and declaration
that he was consciously giving up his life
for the cause of India’s freedom. Bhagat
Singh and Dutt had continued their fast
even after Jatin’s death, breaking it only
in the first week of October, after fasting
for 115 days. Bhagat Singh undertook
another round of hunger strike against the
tribunal hearing on the Saunders’ murder
case, when they were brutally beaten up
at the orders of the presiding judge, from
whose order the Indian judge Agha Haider
disassociated himself and was removed
from the tribunal.

Bhagat Singh and his comrades used the
political weapon of the hunger strike in a
most effective manner. In fact it needs to
be emphasised that moral strength of
observing self-sacrificing hunger strike has
always been effective in all societies and
it still carries that strength. The difference
between a suicide bomber and hunger
striker is that suicide bomber, while giving
his life for the cause, dear to him, takes
away the lives of others as well and as such
loses the sympathy of people, whereas, a
hunger striker, harming only his or her
health or even sacrificing his or her life,
pricks the conscience of nation. Bhagat
Singh and his comrades were aware of this
fact and they used it to the hilt, erasing the
impression of being killers or terror
creators. This also shows political maturity
of Bhagat Singh. The weapon of hunger
strike is quite effective even today, provided
it carries the moral strength of the
cause and person undertaking this step.

Trial and Execution
Trial and ExecutionTrial and ExecutionTrial and ExecutionTrial and ExecutionTrial and Execution

Bhagat Singh and his comrades boycotted
the trial in the Saunders’ murder
case. The way in which the tribunal handed
over death sentence to Bhagat Singh,
Rajguru and Sukhdev is thoroughly
exposed in A G Noorani’s book The Trial
of Bhagat Singh. The trial and the sentence
were akin to sanctioning murder of Indian
revolutionaries by British colonialists.
Bhagat Singh had befittingly written to the
governor of Punjab on March 20, 1931,
three days prior to their execution, to treat
them as prisoners of war, as they were
waging war against British imperialism
and as such “they should be shot dead”
rather than being hanged. But British
imperial power proved to be so cowardly
that they could not even maintain the timing
of the hanging, 6 to 7 am. Against all
international norms, they hanged Bhagat
Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at 7 pm on
March 23 itself. A huge rally was held on
that day at Lahore, organised by the
Naujawan Bharat Sabha, apprehending that
execution will take place in the morning
on March 24. But, scared of the huge
gathering of people at the Lahore central
jail, British colonial officials executed them
at 7 pm on March 23 itself. But the news
could not be withheld from the people of
Lahore. The rally was about to end, when
the news of the executions came and people
rushed to the gates of the jail. Scared,
British officials hacked the bodies of the
martyrs into pieces, packed the pieces in
sacks, and took these away from the rear
gates of the jail towards the bank of the
Sutlej river near Ferozepur. The bodies
were burnt in kerosene in an alarming
hurry in the jungle near Ganda Singhwalla
village. But people from Ferozepur and
Lahore, angry and anguished, located the
place of the (half-done) cremation before
the dawn of March 24, collected the unburnt
and half-burnt bones, and took these
to Lahore, where a proper cremation of the
three martyrs was undertaken on the banks
of river Ravi.

At that time, the Congress Party in Punjab
had formed a fact-finding committee to
enquire into the mistreatment to the dead
bodies of the martyrs. Newspapers in those
days, particularly Bhavishya from
Allahabad, had highlighted the committee’s
hearing, but the report never appeared in
the public realm. While the Congress
Party’s report of the Kanpur riots following
the execution of martyrs had drawn
national attention, and a reprint has

Economic and Political Weekly September 15, 2007

recently been published by the National
Book Trust, it is strange that no one ever
even refers to the Congress Party’s fact-
finding report about the disposal of the
martyrs’ bodies by British colonial authorities.
The Kanpur riots, which started
after the execution of Bhagat Singh and
his comrades, unfortunately took a communal
colour and tragically took the life
of the Congress leader, nationalist journalist
and admirer of Bhagat Singh – Ganesh
Shankar Vidyarthi.

Same was the condition of the martyrs’
memorial. The fact is that Naujawan Bharat
Sabha had formed a memorial committee
to build a suitable memorial for the martyrs,
which was sabotaged by the Congress
Party. That later a memorial near Ferozepur
called Hussainiwala was built had no
relevance at that time of the national
movement. Lahore was the hub of the
national movement; it was the place where
Bhagat Singh and his comrades had spent
their lives in political action; it was there
that they were executed, and it was there
where they were properly cremated, as was
Lala Lajpat Rai. The most logical thing
would have been to build a memorial in
memory of Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh,
Sukhdev and Rajguru on the banks of river
Ravi, which would have been a source of
inspiration for the youth of Punjab.

Looking back more than 75 years now,
one can only wonder why no memorial was
built to these martyrs in Lahore or at the
birth places of Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev
in Lyalpur, now Faislabad in Pakistan.
Even today it is desirable that the Pakistani
and Indian people jointly erect a suitable
memorial at Lahore, as well as at Faislabad,
in memory of Bhagat Singh. He is perhaps
the only symbol of resistance against
colonialism and imperialism that evokes
respect among the Pakistani people as well.
Bhagat Singh is a common thread between
the now divided Punjabis, and can serve
as a common symbol of resistance against
US imperialism as well.

Symbol of Revolutionary
Symbol of RevolutionarySymbol of RevolutionarySymbol of RevolutionarySymbol of RevolutionarySymbol of Revolutionary
Transformation
TransformationTransformationTransformationTransformationTransformation

There are some other interesting aspects
of the saga of Bhagat Singh. He had an
excellent rapport with national leaders –
Subhash Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lala
Lajpat Rai, Madan Mohan Malviya, and
others. Despite differences in approach,
they remained in contact. Chandra Shekhar
Azad’s meeting with Nehru at Allahabad,
as described by Nehru himself, was not

that pleasant. Azad did not impress Nehru,
but he did contribute Rs 1,000 to help the
revolutionaries go to Russia, although the
trip never materialised due to Azad’s death.
Both Subhash Bose and Nehru were appreciative
of Bhagat Singh, although
Congress leaders and revolutionary youth
often worked at cross-purposes due to their
radically different strategies and tactics in
the struggle for freedom. When Lala Lajpat
Rai allied with communal forces, Bhagat
Singh and his comrades castigated him
openly. Yet they did not break with him;
the very same Lala Lajpat Rai’s grandson
was the secretary of Bal Students’ Union,
inspired by Bhagat Singh. Moti Lal Nehru,
Madan Mohan Malviya and Dewan
Chaman Lal condemned the non-lethal
bomb throwing by Bhagat Singh in the
central assembly in rather strong words.
Gandhi declared it “a mad act of two young
men”. Bhagat Singh described Dewan
Chaman Lal as a “psuedo-socialist” in his
famous session court statement and Tej
Bahadur Sapru, as no different from the
Britishers, if the system remained same.
Yet the same Pandit Motilal Nehru, Dewan
Chaman Lal, Madan Mohan Malviya, and
even Tej Bahadur Sapru, apart from
Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Bose and
Jinnah, stood on the side of these revolutionary
youth in the courts, or when they
were observing hunger strikes; they went
to every possible extent to save their lives.
Advocates like Asif Ali, Kailash Nath
Katju, Chander Bhan Gupta and Mohan
Lal Saxena stood by these youth. It was
the spirit of nationalism that bound the
national leaders and revolutionary youth
together. They criticised each other bitterly,
yet came together at the time of crisis,
particularly against British oppression of
the Indian people. This is something that
needs to be learnt by present-day national
leaders and revolutionary youth.

Another aspect of Bhagat Singh and the
revolutionary movement was their total
opposition to the caste system and communalism.
If the dalit movements of today
accept any national leader, apart from
Ambedkar, as their national hero, as their
genuine supporter, it is Bhagat Singh.
Bhagat Singh’s writings and his conduct
earned him the love and support of the dalit
masses. In jail, before going to gallows,
Bhagat Singh was not only reading Lenin,
he asked for food from ‘bebe’, as he
addressed the dalit jail employee Bogha with affection. Bhagat Singh treated
the scavenger of the jail like his mother.
Indeed, when Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and

Rajguru were going to the gallows, laughing
and singing it was Charat Singh and
the other prisoners who were crying and
also shouting lnquilab Zindabad after
Bhagat Singh and his comrades.

It may also be noted that none of the
communal organisations, whether of Hindus,
Muslims or Sikhs had spoken a word
in favour or defence of these revolutionaries.
It needs to be underlined that it is
only the left movement that has truly tried
to uphold and imbibe the spirit of the
revolutionary movement of our country.
The left is the true inheritor of the legacy
of the revolutionary wing of the freedom
struggle.

It was Gandhi and Bhagat Singh who
knew that nothing could stop the execution
of revolutionaries, Gandhi due to his own
convictions, and Bhagat Singh due to his
own, equally or perhaps much stronger
convictions. The institution of British
colonialism of course knew the finale, as
it was bent upon killing the young men,
particularly Bhagat Singh, in whose personality
it was observing the traits of a
growing Indian Lenin. The British could
afford to deal with the Congress Party, to
which it could safely transfer its political
power, while protecting its economic interests.
It could not afford to have Bhagat
Singh alive, for he would have pledged to
take part in the complete overthrow of
the system of imperialist and capitalist
exploitation.

In a way Bhagat Singh had his way
vis-à-vis British colonial power. With a
group of less than a hundred persons, he
could unnerve and rattle the most powerful
empire on earth, could chalk out his own
path to martyrdom, stir millions of people.
It was Patttabhi Sitaramaya, the Congress
historian and Gandhi’s candidate against
Subhash Bose at the Tripuri Congress,
who had to admit that Bhagat Singh was
no less popular than Mahatma Gandhi.
This was not a small achievement for a
man less than 24 years of age, with just
six to seven years of active political career
behind him. After the pronouncement of
the death sentence, Jaidev Kapoor asked
Bhagat Singh “if he regretted dying so
young”? Bhagat Singh first laughed at the
question, then replied seriously: “Stepping
upon the path of revolution, I had thought
that if I could spread the slogan of ‘Inquilab
Zindabad’ throughout the country, by
giving away my life, I would feel that I
have received the full value of my life.
Today sitting behind the bars of [the]
execution barracks, I hear the sound of

Economic and Political Weekly September 15 2007

[the] slogan from crores of people. I believe
that this slogan of mine would attack
imperialism as the driving force of [the]
freedom struggle till the end. … What
more value can be of such a small life?”

Shiv Verma mentions an incident in July
1930 when Bhagat Singh had come to
Lahore Burail Jail from Central Jail to
meet them on the excuse of discussing
their court case. Jokingly they pronounced
judgments on one another, excepting
Rajguru and Bhagat Singh, knowing they
were the ones who will be hanged. And
then Bhagat Singh said that we were afraid
to face the reality, as the sentence would
be “to be hanged by the neck till we are
dead”. “He was in form that day, …
speaking in low pitch … that was his style.
Showing was not his habit, that was perhaps
his strength also”. Then he quotes
Bhagat Singh’s own words (Shiv Verma
(ed), p 41): “This is the highest award for
patriots and I am proud that I am going
to get it. … They may kill me, but they
cannot kill my ideas. They may crush my
body, but they will not be able to crush
my spirits. My ideas will haunt the British
like a curse till they are forced to run away
from here.” Speaking with full passion, he
continued, “Bhagat Singh dead will be
more dangerous to the British enslavers
than Bhagat Singh alive. After I am hanged
the fragrance of my revolutionary ideas
will permeate the atmosphere of this beautiful
land of ours. It will intoxicate the
youth and (prepare them) for freedom and
revolution, and that would bring the doom
of British imperialists nearer. This is my
firm conviction. I am anxiously waiting for
the day when I will receive the highest
award for my services to the country, my
love for my people.” Shiv Verma concludes
his introduction to the writings of
Bhagat Singh with these words – “Bhagat
Singh was correct, the spirit never dies
and it did not die then either” (Shiv Verma
(ed), p 42).

The spirit of Bhagat Singh needs to be
lived much more than in 1931. I would
recommend the study of Bhagat Singh’s
Jail Notebook and other writings with
Bhagat Singh’s own words, which he wrote
as an introduction to a poetry collection
of fellow revolutionary, Ram Saran Dass
(Shiv Verma (ed), p 123):

Please do not read it to follow blindly and
take for granted what is written in it. Read it,
criticise it, think over it [and] try to formulate
your own ideas with its help.

Email: prof.chaman@gmail.com

Economic and Political Weekly Sptember 15, 2007

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Visiting Sites relating to Bhagat Singh in Pakistan

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Visiting Sites relating to Bhagat Singh in Pakistan

Chaman Lal

During my first visit to Pakistan, visiting sites relating to Bhagat Singh’s activities was an added attraction. Accompanied by Zubair, well known progressive story writer of Punjabi, I first went to Bradlaugh Hall, which few people know now. Hall is in dilapidated condition and some training school is being run from there. From the shape of building, one can well imagine that it was a grand building once. National College established by Lala Lajpat Rai, where Bhagat Singh was a student, was located in this building. Fortunately, the foundation plate is still intact. The foundation of this headquarters of freedom movement was laid by Surender Nath Sen in 1900. It would be better if Government of India could impress upon Pakistan Govt. to get it declared as heritage building. Lajpat Rai Hall of Lahore, which housed famous Dwarka Dass library, now in Chandigarh, is now held by fingerprint bureau of Pakistani police. I could not visit this place; I could not locate Khwasarian village, nearby Lahore, which was the abode of Bhagat Singh family for many years. Even river Ravi bank, where Lala Lajpat Rai and later the remains of Bhagat Singh , Rajguru and Sukhdev were cremated or Bhagwati Charan Vohra gave his life in bomb explosion, while testing, could not be located. Ravi has perhaps dried up and people say it has become a ‘nallah’. They also say that India has stopped releasing water to river Ravi. However I could easily locate the place of Saundras killing and DAV college hostel nearby. There is not much change in that area, except that DAV College and hostel have turned into Govt. Islamia College and hostel now. But the SSP office remains the same as was during Scott’s time. I was also able to visit ‘Phansighat’, execution spot of Lahore jail, which has now been demolished and Shadman Chowk or’ Fountain Chowk’ instead has come up. It is a residential colony now, with no trace of jail or its historicity, where hundreds of freedom fighters were hanged. Democratic Pakistani activists do gather on 23rd March at Shadman Chowk and burn candles. They also plan to put a plaque nearby, indicating its historicity. Bhagat Singh lived in many houses of Lahore during his underground days and people still talk of those houses. One such house is said to be on Jail road. Najam hussain Sayeed, well known Punjabi writer lives on jail road, but he has no idea of that house.

I could go to birth place of Bhagat Singh with newly met local friends, who arranged a car, which took us first to Waris Shah’s mazar at Jandiala Sheikh. We crossed through Sheikhupura. Visiting Waris Shah mazar was an experience, where every year competition of singing ‘Heer’ is held and it starts with singing of Amrita Pritam’s “ Aaj Aakhan Waris Shah nun………’. From Jandiala , we moved to Nankana Sahib. It is a small town, but the access road is huge. Pakistan has paid more attention to its roads and correctly boasts of its motorways from Lahore to Peshawar. But Pakistan lacks in railway services. Nankana Sahib has eight Gurdwars in its vicinity, including the main one, where in February 1921; morcha was started against Mahants, who were polluting the pious place. Mahants, supported by British colonialists had killed nearly two hundred Sikhs, before vacating the Gurdwara. Inside the Gurdwara, there is ‘Shaheed Jand(tree)’, where one protestor Lachhman Singh was burnt alive. In Nankana Sahib, most of the Gurdwaras relate to Guru Nanak’s childhood stories—where he was born, where he played, where he studied etc. I took ‘langar’ with my Muslim friends of Lahore, who had accompanied me there.

From Nankana Sahib, there was direct route to Jadanawala, though road patch was bad for few kilometers. Crossing Jadanawala, a tehsil town, we reached at the road leading to Chak No. 105, before we could ask someone on the way, a pleasant surprise awaited us. There was a tin board on roadside, painted with Bhagat Singh picture behind bars. Some Jasbeer Singh from Faislabad( Old name Lyalpur) had put this signboard, with his email address. It became easier for us. When we were reading the signboard, some people came close to us and seeing our interest in Bhagat Singh told us the lane to his village. They suggested that before going to village, we should meet one Farhan Khan nearby. As it turned out, Farhan Khan is 82 year old gentleman, retired as Excise officer, having his factory named as Gulab Farm, adding Bhagat Singh town on the signboard. He belonged to Chak NO.107, Pathankot nearby. We reached his place and he welcomed us warmly. In his drawing room, there was old but framed, glass broken black and white photograph, the typical hat wearing popular photograph. Farhan Khan was too happy talking about Bhagat Singh family. He was five years old, when Bhagat Singh was martyred, Bhagat Singh’ younger brothers, names he did not remember (Obviously Kulbir Singh and Kultar Singh), used to meet him. The man was such admirer of Bhagat Singh that I wanted to present him a copy of his writings, but I had no spare copy.I had taken few copies, recently published in English by Leftword and NBT. Farhan Khan got it photocopied, borrowing it for just one hour or so, the time, which we spent at house of Bhagat Singh. We moved to Chak no. 105, accompanied by the man sent by Farhan Khan. It was getting dark. The road to village was not very good. When we reached there, it was not the old house; it was now being shared by three Virk brothers. Pakistan have as many Virks, Randhawas, Sehgals, Bhattis,Cheemas, Waraiches,Gills or Sidhus etc, as much we might be having in our part of Punjab. It was almost four canal land area, which is now shared by Iqbal Virk, Sadiq Virk and Mushtaq Virk families- the three brothers, who were allotted this house after partition. They had migrated from Virk village from Amritsar. Out of the three, Sadiq Virk is no more, but his family lives there. When we reached there were few women working near Chullah, later on we could meet Akhtar Virk, son of Mushtaq Virk, who is now advocate at Faislabad. He told us that not only this house, they also acquired 17 acre Mango garden of Kishan Singh, father of Bhagat Singh. Asked about the value of this much land, we were told it was six lakh per acre, which meant that it has value of more than one crore rupees today. Though Bhagat Singh family also having garden at Chak no. 105, was not known earlier to us, yet it came as no surprise to me. The judge, who wrote judgment for the execution of Kartar Singh Sarabha, has clearly mentioned that Kishan Singh (father of Bhagat Singh) has contributed one thousand rupees (nearly one lakh rupees of today) to the cause of Gadar party in 1914 or 1915. The legend of Bhagat Singh and family becomes more fascinating, because their commitment to the nation overstepped their comforts in life. It is no wonder that Waqar Ahmad, a political science student from Peshawar becomes enamored of Bhagat Singh and reached me through mail, just to know more about Bhagat Singh. Waqar remained in touch with me on phone during my stay in Lahore and was hoping to meet me, as Peshawar University Teachers Association was trying very hard to get visa cleared for me, so that I could visit Peshawar. We had welcomed Peshawar University teacher’s delegation recently in JNU. And it was also during my stay in Lahore, Raza Naeem, a columnist for Dawn, reached me through mail to get a copy of ‘The Jail Notebook and Other writings’ of Bhagat Singh, compiled and introduced by me and published by Leftword on this 23rd March, for reviewing it in ‘Dawn’. I could leave a copy for him in Lahore, apart from talking on phone many times. Raza wanted to hold discussions in Karachi about Bhagat Singh.

Lyalpur was built by British officers as a planned city. This area has very fertile land, so the peasants from other parts of Punjab were encouraged to buy lands here, just as many Punjabi peasants had gone to Terai area to buy lands. Interestingly more people from Doaba went there. They were allotted lands in villages named as Chak with numbers. The families which shifted here attached the name of their village or area to these numbered chaks. Thus Chak no. 65 is Mukundpur, Chak no 67 is Gidderpindi, Chak no. 104 is Samra, Chak no.105 is Bange(From Banga of Doaba),Chak no 106 is Khurla, Chak no. 107 is Pathankot,Chak no. 109 is Bajajanwala and so on. These names continue after partition as well. Only the landowners and inhabitants of the houses have changed. We were told that prior to 1965, there were not many restrictions and lot many people used to visit these places. After 1965, restrictions increased, recent years, there again has been some relaxation and people are again coming to visit these places. We were told that a bus full of Punjabis from Canada had come to visit the place last year. After partition Lyalpur, renamed as Faislabad, became the centre of textile industry. It is now the third biggest city of Pakistan, after Karachi and Lahore. But the city has probably suffered the same problems as has been faced by Ludhiana. Faislabad cloth is rated high in Asian market.

Chaudhary, 98 year old first photo journalist of Pakistan, worked with Faiz Ahmad Faiz, who took over as editor of ‘Pakistan Times’, in place vacated by ‘The Tribune’. Earliest photographs of Pakistani leaders have been shot by F.E. Chaudhary, a Christian. He is the one, who shot the pictures of Central Jail Lahore, when it was being demolished in 1960’s. He has kept that file of photographs, which includes the photographs of ‘Phansighat’, where Bhagat Singh, Sarabha and so many other freedom fighters were executed. I tried to capture these photos through my ordinary camera, but did not succeed. And what was the wish of Chaudhary, who is living with his son, Principal of a Christian school in Lahore, a most pleasant man to talk? He wanted to locate his friends of pre partition days, who had migrated to Delhi, mostly photographers. One name he mentioned is of C.L.Soni and co., another Shankar Dass and Co. There were three brothers Meeting people was an enriching experience for me. I had already some contacts and also many references. I was keen to meet Salima Hashmi, daughter of legendry poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, who along with Faqir Aazijudin, both well known artists and art scholars of Pakistan had recently visited Fine Arts deptt. of Punjabi University Patiala, in context of a seminar. So one evening I spent with Hashmis at their Model Town house, where once Faiz lived. Prof. Salima hashmi is now Dean, Visual Arts of Beaconhead University Lahore, after retiring as Principal of famous National Art College of Lahore. Her husband Prof. Shoib Hashmi, retired Economics Professor is columnist for some dailies and jolly person. Their daughter is named as Meera and granddaughter as Anya. Salima told that Faiz Ahmad Faiz had heard shots of firing on Saundras, as he was somewhere close to DAV College that day. These shots were also heard by legendry Communist leader of Pakistan late Mazhar Ali, this was confirmed by his wife and mother of famous writer Tariq Ali—Tahira Mazhar Ali, whom I met at her house and presented Bhagat Singh’s writings, she is also among those, who celebrate Bhagat Singh in Pakistan. Tahira Mazhar Ali, at the age of 82 years and Salima Hashmi, both are active in democratic movement of Pakistan. Salima had taken part in a women’s rally during my stay. Leftist activists in Pakistan are called ‘Surkhe’(Reds) in popular parlance . One such ‘surkha’, I met by chance at Fictionhouse bookshop, a progressive publisher and bookseller of Lahore. Fictionhouse has published almost all books of eminent historian Mubark Ali, both in Urdu and English. As I had taken some photocards of Bhagat Singh and Dr. Ambedkar to distribute in Lahore and I handed over one such card to fictionhouse owner, an old man present there asked me to give one card to him also. Then he introduced himself as Aslam Raheel Mirza, Communist Party of Pakistan’s worker. He said that we celebrate Bhagat Singh day every year.

An interesting happening in Pakistan also got related to Bhagat Singh. Nawab Mohd Ahmad Khan was a prosecution witness (Sarkari gawah) against Bhagat Singh and his comrades in Lahore Conspiracy case. He rose to become an honorary magistrate in Pakistan. He was murdered at the same place in 1970’s, where Bhagat Singh was executed i.e. Shadman Chowk. Further coincidence is that Zulifkar Ali Bhutto was trapped for the murder of this man by Zia ul Haq and hanged in Lahore jail in 1977. Now everyone in Pakistan say that Bhutto was framed in this case with US complicity. Also every Pakistani says that Zia ul Haq’s eleven year rule was the blackest period of Pakistan history, worst than all other military rulers like Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan or Parvez Musharf. Zia regime completely smashed the secular, liberal and democratic fiber of Pakistani society and had thrown it into prolonged struggle to regain its democratic freedoms back. At this moment Pakistani society has awakened and is now struggling to overcome the most poisonous effects of Zia regime. Let us wish and hope that they succeed.

Chaman Lal

Professor, Centre of Indian Languages(SLL&CS)

J.N.U., New Delhi-110067

Chamanlal1947@yahoo.co.in Mob. 09868774820

Political Correspondence of Bhagat Singh

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Political Correspondence of Bhagat Singh

Chaman Lal*

As we know by now that, 107 documents of Bhagat Singh, apart from his ‘Jail Notebook’ and Hindi translation of Dan Breen’s ‘My fight for Irish Freedom’ have come to light. These include five letters published for first time in March 2007 by this author. Out of these 107 documents, forty five falls in the category of correspondence—letters, telegrams and notices/leaflets.(1) Correspondence of Bhagat Singh is available from 1918, when he had not completed even 11 years of age. There are three notices and four telegrams out of these 45 documents. Letters can be broadly divided into two types. Letters of personal nature, addressed to family members and friends; and letters of political nature, addressed to father, friends, British officials, judges, editors of journals etc.

Out of 38 letters, 15 can be categorized as of personal nature, though referring to political context also. 23 letters are of political nature, though there are personal references also in these. First five available letters of Bhagat Singh were written between 1918 and 1921, i.e. from the age of 11 years to 14 years. Another set of ten personal letters were written from jail during 1930-31, just in one year period at the age of 22 years plus. The first set of personal letters belong to absolute innocent phase of life and the last set of personal letters, belong to the mature and most fertile period of Bhagat Singh’s life.

As far as letters of political nature are concerned, the first political letter of Bhagat Singh is addressed to his father in 1923, at the age of sixteen years. Then twenty plus letters are written during 1927 to 1931, including one letter written, just a day before execution. This is the most maturing period of Bhagat Singh’s personality, from the age of 20 years to twenty three plus.

Let the notices be discussed first, though these are just three in number, yet these carry great significance. First such notice was pasted on the walls of Lahore, in the intervening night of 18th and 19th December, 1928. Notice was drafted on 18th December itself by Bhagat Singh, though issued in the name of Balraj, commander-in-chief of HSRA, i.e., Hindustan Socialist Republican Army; the military wing of HSRA, i.e., Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. Balraj was the pseudo name of Chandershekhar Azad. Both wings of HRA were rechristened as HSRA on 8&9th September, 1928 at Ferozeshah kotla grounds in Delhi. This notice was pasted in context of killing of J P Saundras, Deputy Superintendent of Police Lahore on 17th December in broad daylight, in front of SSP office in Lahore city. Saundras has blown lathis on Lala Lajpat Rai on 30th October, 1928, when he was leading a huge procession against Simon Commission. Lala Lajpat Rai died on 17th November and HSRA decided to avenge this ‘national humiliation’ as exhorted by Basanti Devi, the widow of famous nationalist C R Dass. Exactly a month later Saundras was killed and this notice appeared on the walls of Lahore. This notice was written Bhagat Singh’s own handwriting and was produced as an exhibit in the court. The notice declares in bold letters—“J.P.Saundras is killed; Lala Lajpat Rai is avenged”. The text of notice reads-‘Really it is horrible to imagine that so lowly and violent hand of an ordinary Police official, JP Saundras could ever dare to touch in such an insulting way the body of our so old, so revered and so loved by 300 million people of Hindustan and thus cause his death. The youth and manhood of India were challenged by blows hurled down on the head of the India’s nationhood.’

The subheading of notice is ‘Beware ye tyrants; Beware’. The notice warns the Britishers not to ‘injure the feelings of a downtrodden and oppressed country. Think twice before per petering such a diabolic deed.’

The third subheading is ‘Long live Revolution’. In this section, text reads—‘Sorry for the death of a man. But in this man has died the representative of an institution, which is so cruel, lowly and so base that it must be abolished. In this man has died an agent of the British authority in India- the most tyrannical of Govts. of Govt. in the world.’

The last paragraph of the notice reads—‘Sorry for the bloodshed of a human being; but the sacrifice of individuals at the altar of the revolution that will bring freedom to all and make the exploitation of man by man impossible, is inevitable.’ (2)

It is repeated again—‘Inqlab Zindabad’.( All quotes from same notice)

One can see the socialist thought of HSRA, adopted three months earlier, taking shape in this notice. British colonial Government had been perceived as ‘the most tyrannical Govt. of the world and Saundras has been identified not as an individual, but as ‘representative of an institution’, the institution of colonialism and exploitation. ‘Death of a man’ has been regretted, but in the death of this man, death of colonial system had been wished.

In another notice issued about the same incident on 23rd December again carries the name of Balraj, actually written by Bhagat Singh, the action had been justified on the grounds that ‘ this was an avenge for the biggest national insult’ in the form of attack on the grand old man of India Lala Lajpat Rai. It had also been justified on the ground that it was as per ‘the rule (rule 10-b&c) of HSRA. The slogan of ‘Inqlab Zindabad’- ‘Long Live the Revolution’ had been repeated in this notice as well.(3) It seems that HSRA had given a serious thought to the adoption of the slogan of ‘Inqlab Zindabad’ and ‘Death to Imperialism’ ( Samrajyavad Murdabad), which reverberated in the Central Assembly, four months later in Delhi. For Bhagat Singh, the political meaning of the slogans was to arouse people’s emotions. Earlier the slogan of ‘Vande Matram’ used to do it. Now they thought that an advanced slogan is necessary to raise people’s consciousness. That is how all the three notices issued by HSRA under the name of Balraj,scripted by Bhagat Singh, prominently focused on these slogans. These two slogans were adopted from Bolshevik Revolution of Russia in November 1917, which suited Indian conditions perfectly and caught the imagination of people in no time.

In the third and more elaborately political notice/leaflet was printed and thrown in Central Assembly on 8th April, 1929 by Bhagat Singh and B K Dutt, after exploding non-harmful bombs in the Assembly. They quoted French Revolutionary Valliant’s words-‘It takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear’ to justify their action. The leaflet refers to the repressive measures adopted by British colonial regime in the form of Public Safety and Trade Disputes Bill. Press Sedition Bill was kept reserved for next session. The leaflet refers HSRA(Hindustan Socialist Republican Association) as most serious and responsible organization, which had decided to stop ‘this humiliating farce and let ‘the alien bureaucratic exploiters’ do what they wish, but to make them come before the public eye in their naked form.’

The leaflet refers again to ‘the callous murder of Lala Lajpat Rai’ and declares that ‘it is easy to kill individuals but you can not kill the ideas. Great empires crumbled but the ideas survived. Bourbons and Czars fell while the revolution marched ahead triumphantly.’

This is clear reference to French revolution of 1789 and Bolshevik revolution of 1917. By far this is the clearest political statement by Bhagat Singh and his associates about the power of ideas to arouse people for revolution. It is clear break from earlier emotive and quasi religious approach of Indian revolutionaries to arouse people in the name of nation or religion against ‘foreign rulers’.

Emphasis on ‘the sanctity of human life’ has again been asserted in the concluding Para of leaflet, but the necessity of sacrifice of individuals has also been underlined. ‘The sacrifice of individuals at the altar of the great revolution that will bring freedom to all, rendering the exploitation of man by man impossible is inevitable.’(4)

The leaflet concludes with the slogan—‘inqlab Zindabad’. In fact all three notices issued by HSRA and drafted by Bhagat Singh, shows that the revolutionary movement in India had taken the clear ideological position of Lenin’s anti-imperialist stance.

Fourth notice had been issued by Bhagat Singh on 17th June 1929, as life convict no. 117 of Mianwali jail. It is addressed to Inspector General Jails, Punjab, Lahore and announces that ‘he is on hunger strike from 15th June and he has lost six pounds of weight.’ By asserting himself as ‘political prisoner’, Bhagat Singh had enlisted his demands for ‘better food, bathing facilities, availability of books/newspapers’ etc.(5) This notice shows that how a mature political personality was developing in Bhagat Singh.

Three brief telegrams also confirm the ideological positions taken by HSRA in these notices.

On 24th January 1930, Bhagat Singh and other convicts of Lahore Conspiracy Case greeted Third International Moscow on ‘Lenin Day’. Hey came to court wearing red scarf’s around their neck and shouted slogans like-‘Socialism Zindabad’, ‘Samrajyavad Murdabad’ and gave telegrams to Magistrate, which was published in ‘The Tribune’ of 26th January, 1930.(6)

They sent another telegram to Hindustani Samiti in Berlin on 5th April 1930, condoling the passing away of Indian revolutionary Shyamji Krishan Verma.(7) Third telegram was sent to the convicts of Kakori case, who were on hunger strike in Barailee jail. They were Sachinder Nath Bakhshi, Rajkumar Sinha, Mukundi lal and Manmath Nath Gupt. They were requested to end their hunger strike in view of the notification issued for classification of convicts in jail.(8)

There is another telegram sent by Bhagat Singh to Home Secretary, Govt. of India on 24th January 1930. This draws his attention towards the fact that though they had ended their hunger strike in view of the assurances given to them regarding behavior with political prisoners in jail, yet the Congress leaders of jail reform committee are not being allowed to meet them. It is also referred that under trial prisoners of Lahore Conspiracy case were badly beaten up by orders of police officials on 23rd and 24th October, 1929.(9)

Bhagat Singh’s political correspondence through letters roughly starts from year 1923, with a letter addressed to his father. This is quite well known letter, when Bhagat Singh left home for Kanpur ‘to serve the nation.’ Letter written originally in Urdu, can be quoted verbatim—Respected father, Namaste,

My life has already been committed to a noble cause—the cause of freedom of India. For that reasons comforts and worldly desires have no attraction in my life. You must be remembering that at the time of my sacred thread ceremony ( Yagyopavit),when I was quite young, Bapuji(grandfather) had declared that I was being pledged for the service of the country. I am therefore honouring the pledge of that time. I hope you will excuse me.

Yours obediently—-Bhagat Singh.(10)

Though a simple and small letter, yet to understand Bhagat Singh’s mental make up and his political commitment, this letter is quite significant. Bhagat Singh was clear from the day one, that his life was dedicated to the nation and so he was not tempted by any such thing, which could be considered normal for his age—good clothing, good eating, and living in comforts, given the rich financial background of his family. He started living in hardships by his own choice. He worked as newspaper vendor in Kanpur, worked in ‘Pratap’, Hindi paper edited by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, worked during floods around Kanpur in relief activities. As his grandfather pledged him for the service of the country, he took that pledge more seriously than even his family. No one in the family perhaps wanted to see him die, even while serving the nation, yet Bhagat Singh never faltered when the cause of freedom needed his life.

From 1923 to 22nd March 1931, a day prior to his martyrdom, Bhagat Singh wrote number of letters to his close family members, friends, editors and many official letters to British officials—judicial as well as administrative. Two more letters addressed to his father are available—one written in April 1929, after his arrest in Delhi Assembly bomb case and another written on 4th October 1930, this letter is again a historic document. Bhagat Singh’s father was a Congress activist, for that matter, his whole family was part of freedom struggle, as is clear from Bhagat Singh’s first available letter to his father. His grandfather Arjun Singh himself was nationalist and all his three sons—Kishan Singh, Ajit Singh and Swarn Singh were freedom fighters. While Swarn Singh died at the age, at which Bhagat Singh was to die later. He died due to tuberculosis contracted in jail. Ajit Singh remained exiled for 38 years, return only to die on 15th August 1947 itself. Kishan Singh along with two brothers served many years jail terms, so were the two younger brothers of Bhagat Singh later- Kulbir Singh and Kultar Singh.

In his second letter to his father, Bhagat Singh informed his father about being shifted to Delhi jail, after being kept in police remand from 8th April till 22nd April. He informs his father that ‘the drama’ pf trial will be over within a month. He tells his father that that there was no need of any lawyer; however he needs legal ‘consultation’. He also demands few books to be sent to him and about ‘good treatment’ in Delhi jail. From this letter one comes to know about the strategy of Bhagat Singh regarding ‘political trials’, which he elaborated later in many of his letters or other writings. Bhagat Singh was clear that ‘political actions’ by revolutionaries should not be ‘denied’ in the courts, on the contrary ‘these should be accepted’ and the philosophy of such actions are propounded ‘in the courts’ by revolutionaries. The third letter to his father written on 4th October with much anguish makes this strategy more clear, where Bhagat Singh censures his father quite harshly for his ’unwanted interference’ in the case, in order to ‘save’ the life of his son. Bhagat Singh’s father had given a petition to special tribunal, conducting Saundras murder trial, that’ his son was innocent and he had nothing to do with Saundras murder’. Expressing himself as being ‘astounded’ to know about this petition, Bhagat Singh wrote that’ it has upset the whole equilibrium of my mind.’ The he puts very strongly that- ‘in the political field my views always differed with those of yours. I have always acting independently without having cared for your approval or disapproval.’

Bhagat Singh reminds his father that though he (his father) always wanted him (Bhagat Singh) to fight his case seriously and defend him properly, but he (BS) always opposed it. Thus he tells his father that ‘we have been pursuing a definite policy in this trial’. H e explains further their policy—‘I have always been of opinion that all political workers should be indifferent and should never bother about the legal courts and should boldly bear the heaviest possible sentence inflicted upon them. They may defend themselves but always from political considerations and never from a personal point of view. Our policy in this trial has always been consistent with this principle; whether we were successful in that or not is not for me to judge.’

In this letter, the maturity of political thinking of Bhagat Singh can be seen at its peak. He tells his father—‘My life is not so precious, at least to me, as you may probably think it to be. It is not at all worth buying at the cost of my principles. There are other comrades of mine whose case is as serious as that of mine. We have adopted a common policy and we shall stand to the last, no matter how dearly we have to pay individually for it.’ After explaining his policy about the case, then Bhagat Singh performs perhaps a most difficult duty— of censuring his father and he does shirk from this unpleasant but politically necessary duty.

‘Father, I am quite perplexed. I fear I might overlook the ordinary principles of etiquette and my language may become a little but harsh while criticizing or rather censoring this move on your part. Let me be candid. I feel as though I have been stabbed at the back. Had any other person done it, I would have considered it to be nothing short of treachery. But in your case, let me say that it has been a weakness—a weakness of worst type.

This was the time where everybody’s mettle was being tested. Let me say father, you have failed. I know you are as sincere a patriot as one can be. I know you have devoted your life to the cause of Indian independence. But why, at this moment, have you played such a weakness? I can not understand.’(11)

This was not just a private letter, Bhagat Singh insisted that this letter must be published at the earliest and so it was in ‘The Tribune’. Probably this move by Kishan Singh made Bhagat Singh so apprehensive that he instructed Kumari Lajjawati, secretary Bhagat Singh defence committee, while handing over the bag of his papers, prior to his pending execution, ‘to hand over these papers only to Bejoy Kumar Sinha’ , who was his close friend at ideological level as well and who was undergoing imprisonment in Andamans. As per Lajjawati, Bhagat Singh had specifically instructed her ‘not to hand over these papers to her father’. And Lajjawati followed these instructions and refused even ‘to show’ the papers to Kishan Singh, when he wanted.(12) Though Lajjawati gave this bag to Lala Firoze Chand, editor of ‘People’, weekly established by Lala Lajpat Rai, to take whatever papers for publication. Lala Firoze Chand took out some papers, which were later published in ‘People’, which included—‘Letter to Young political workers’(fragments) on 29th March, 1931, “On political Trials’-9th June 1931, and ‘Why I am an Atheist’-27th September, 1931. As per Lajjawati, she handed over the remaining papers to BK Sinha in 1938, after his release from Andamans and how these were lost, that is a somewhat controversial and unconfirmed story.

Bhagat Singh’s letters to Sukhdev are equally significant for expressing his philosophical views about life, particularly about ‘Love’ and ‘Suicide’. But the reference point here again is political Perception. Bhagat Singh initially was not chosen by revolutionary group for throwing bomb in Delhi assembly, because of his indispensability for the party, despite Bhagat Singh’s own pleadings for it. Sukhdev was not present in that meeting and after his return he charged Bhagat Singh of showing ‘weakness’ for some unnamed woman and thinking himself to be too big. At Bhagat Singh’s insistence the meeting of group was called again and Bhagat Singh chosen to go to assembly, who, also got the approval of the group to ‘not to escape’ and use the platform of courts to propound their political views. To rebutt Sukhdev’s accusations, Bhagat Singh wrote a letter to him on 5th April 1929, which was delivered by Shiv Verma to Sukhdev on 6th April, two days prior to the throwing of bombs in Delhi Assembly. While expressing his anguish at being misunderstood by ‘my brother; my own brother’, Bhagat Singh dwells upon the features of his own personality. He says emphatically-‘I am full of ambition and hope, and full of charm of life. But I can renounce all at the time of need, and that is the real sacrifice.’ Bhagat Singh also refers to the over idealistic bent of mind of radical activist, while referring to the natural feeling of love. ‘We in spite of all radical ideas that we cherish, have not been able to do away with the over idealistic Arya Samajist conception of morality. We may talk glibly about all the radical things that can possibly be conceived, but in practical life we begin to tremble at the very outset. This I will request you to do away with.’(13)

Another letter to Sukhdev, in response to his own letter, in which Sukhdev expressed the desire ‘to commit suicide’; in case he got the ‘sentence of transportation for life’. Sukhdev wished only for ’death’ or ‘release’. Bhagat Singh gave him a very sharp reply. Sukhdev had earlier did not sustain police tactics and made a ‘statement’, after his arrest in April 1929, even when Bhagat Singh and Dutt were being kept in police custody and both refusing to give any statement to police after their arrest in Delhi bomb case. Again when all others comrades of Lahore conspiracy case continued their hunger strike in support of Bhagat Singh and B K Dutt’s hunger strike, in which Jatin Dass gave even his life, Sukhdev could not sustain the hunger strike for long. Bhagat Singh reminds Sukhdev of their earlier conversation about ‘Suicide’, when they had not been arrested, in which Sukhdev thought suicide to be ‘horrible and heinous’. Bhagat Singh at that time told that’ in some situations suicide may be justifiable’. Bhagat Singh takes this view now that ‘suicide is a heinous crime. It is an act of complete cowardice. Leave alone revolutionaries, no individual can ever justify such an act.’ Bhagat Singh debates with Sukhdev about the role of ‘suffering’, who thinks that suffering can not serve the country that is how he did not endure the suffering of hunger strike. Here Bhagat Singh defends the role of hunger strike in order to improve the miserable condition of political prisoners in jail. He puts the query to Sukhdev in this context that was this hunger strike or the death of Comrade Jatindernath Dass could be called suicide? Bhagat Singh’s emphatic view is—‘No. Striving and sacrificing one’s life for a superior ideal can never be called suicide.’ He underlines the fact that due to hunger strike, they won the political rights for better treatment of political prisoners—‘Ultimately, our sufferings bore fruit. Big movements started in the whole of the country.We were successful in our aim. Death in the struggle of this kind is an ideal death.’

Bhagat Singh tells Sukhdev that getting hanged in this case ‘will also be beautiful, but committing suicide-to cut short the life just to avoid some pain-is cowardice. Bhagat Singh discusses Russian literature at length in this context, which both comrades had been discussing during their earlier life outside the jail. Bhagat Singh speaks about the role of jail in understanding the realities of life—

‘I want to tell you that in jail, and in jail alone, can a person get an occasion to study empirically the great social subjects of crime and sin. I have read some literature on this and only the jail is the proper place for the self study on all these topics. The best part of the self study for one is to suffer oneself.’

One can write a thesis on the basis of just this one letter of Bhagat Singh, which is most clear expression of his philosophical, political and cultural ideas. Bhagat Singh tells Sukhdev that they were not doing something very unusual in life. They were just ‘a product of the needs of our times’, as was Marx. And here he gives the most mature Marxist understanding of Marx, which Marx himself gave about himself at one time—

‘I shall even say that Marx—the father of communism- did not actually originate this idea. The industrial revolution of Europe itself produced men of this kind. Marx was one among them. Of course, Marx was also instrumental to an extent in gearing up the wheels of his time in a particular way.

I (and you too) did not give birth to the idea of socialism and communism in this country; this is the consequence of the effects of our time and situations upon ourselves. Of course, we did a bit to propagate these ideas and therefore I say that since we have already taken a tough task upon ourselves, we should continue to advance it. The people will not be guided by our committing suicides to escape the difficulties; on the contrary, this will be quite a reactionary step.’

One can see the giant of a committed theoretician of Marxist revolution taking shape in Bhagat Singh at the age of 23 years, when this letter was written. He asserts his materialistic thinking, their atheist approach towards god, hell, heaven etc and declares that he is hundred percent certain about the capital punishment being awarded to him—‘ I do not expect a bit of moderation or amnesty. Even if there is amnesty, it will not be for all, and even that amnesty will be for others only, not for us; it will be extremely restricted and burdened with various conditions. For us, neither there can be any amnesty nor will it ever happen. Even then, I wish that release calls for us should be made collectively and globally. Along with that, I also wish that when the movement reaches its climax, we should be hanged.’ Bhagat Singh declares his unflinching faith in the revolution, in face of his certain death-‘A revolution can be only achieved through sustained striving, sufferings and sacrifices. And it shall be achieved.’ To Sukhdev and his kind of persons in revolutionary movements, his biting lesson is—‘You will kindly excuse me for saying that had you acted according to this belief right at the time of imprisonment (that is, you had committed suicide by taking poison), you would have served the revolutionary cause, but at this moment, even the thought of such an act is harmful to our cause.’(14) Here one can be reminded of young Bengali woman revolutionary of Chittagong fame—Preetilata Wadedar, who had consumed capsule of cyanide, after throwing bomb in Britishers club on 24th September 1932 and got martyred, that perhaps would never be considered suicide in revolutionary movements.

Bhagat Singh sent a message to second Punjab Students Conference held at Lahore on 19th October 1929, under the Presidentship of Subhash Chandra Bose. Here the very first line of his message shows that how Bhagat Singh was trying to remove the tag of ‘bombs and pistols’ from their movement. He says—‘Today, we can not ask the youth to take to pistols and bombs.’ Xxx the youth will have to spread this revolutionary message to the far corners of the country. They have to awaken crores of slum-dwellers of the industrial areas and villagers living in worn out cottages, so that we will be independent and the exploitation of man by man will become impossibility.’(15)

In a letter addressed to Ramanand Chatterjee, the editor of Modern Review, who ridiculed the slogan of ‘Inqlab Zindabad’, Bhagat Singh reasserts-‘Revolution did not necessarily involve sanguinary strife. It was not a cult of bomb and pistol. They may sometimes be mere means for its achievements.’(16)

Bhagat Singh wrote two letters in context of Harikishan’s trial being taking place. Harikishan had shot at Governor of Punjab during the convocation of Panjab University Lahore on 23rd December 1930. Governor survived but one other official died in this attack. Harikishan was just a young boy of 18 years and was bound to be hanged in this case, however the way lawyers conducted his case that made Bhagat Singh quite unhappy. While one of the letters in untraceable till date, another letter was found in Bhagat Singh papers and was published in the ‘People’(Lahore) on 9th June 1931, after Harikishan was hanged on 31st May 1931. Bhagat Singh defends his earlier line of facing such trials by boldly accepting the deed and facing the consequences, which will make public sympathize with the cause. He comes heavily on lawyers in the context of this case and castigates them—‘Lawyers should not be so unscrupulous as to exploit the lives and even deaths of young people who come to sacrifice themselves for so noble a cause as the emancipation of suffering humanity. Xxx why should a lawyer demand such an incredible fee as has been paid in the above case?’ Bhagat Singh was particularly unhappy the way Harikishan was shown not being so bold, whereas Bhagat Singh knew that they ‘are trying to belittle the beauty of the marvelous character of our young comrade.’(17)

Two more letters of Bhagat Singh need special mention here, while the official correspondence of Bhagat Singh with British judicial and jail officials needs to be deferred for another paper. Bhagat Singh wrote to Governor of Punjab on behalf of all three condemned prisoners of Lahore Conspiracy case on 20th March, 1931, three days prior to the executions. They pleaded ‘to be shot dead as war prisoners’ as India and British colonialism were ‘at war’ and they were ‘soldiers of Indian side’. The letter contains the historic statement—‘The days of capitalist and imperialist exploitation are numbered. The war neither began with us nor is it going to end with our lives. It is inevitable consequence of the historic events and the exciting environments. Our humble sacrifices shall only be a link in the chain that has accurately been beautified by the unparallel sacrifice of Mr. Das and most tragic but noblest sacrifices of Comrade Bhagwati Charan and the glorious death of our dear warrior Azad.’(18)

The last letter or rather last words authored by him on 22nd March, just a day prior to final journey, are addressed to his comrades and rightly so. He lived and died amongst them. It is interesting to know that his last words are written in Urdu. These words are written neither in English, which he mastered so much in the last part of his life, nor in Punjabi, his mother tongue, whose Gurmukhi script he learnt with conscious choice. Incidentally, his last letters to his younger brothers-Kulbir and Kultar, penned on 3rd March were also in Urdu. Urdu is the first and last language of his expression, perhaps he expressed himself most comfortably in that language, which he learnt as medium of instruction in school in those days. Bhagat Singh was at complete peace with himself, fully contended with life he lived in the last moments of his life and he expresses it I these words—‘I am proud of myself these days and I am anxiously waiting for the final test. I wish the day may come nearer soon.’ Bhagat Singh prolonged his trial to the extent possible by various means at his disposal, most of these created most imaginatively, with the full awareness of getting capital punishment, because of his political agenda-to expose British judicial and administrative system so thoroughly that Indian people become aware of the true form of colonial regime. And when his agenda was complete, he was ready to face death most boldly, as Che Guvera faced in Bolivia thirty six years later, challenging the American army man him to shoot him. Only one thing pricked him—‘My heart nurtured some ambitions for doing something for humanity and for my country. I have not been able to fulfill even one thousandth part of these ambitions. If I live I might perhaps get a chance to fulfill them. If ever it came to my mind that I should not die, it came from this end only.’(19)

One should mark here that the word ‘humanity’ comes here before the word ‘country’. Bhagat Singh had become truly an international martyr for the cause of humanity and not just Indian martyr for the cause of the country on 23rd March 1931. His political consciousness had grown to the level of ‘human liberation’ and not just ‘Indian liberation. One should understand Bhagat Singh from this perspective.

References

1. Chaman Lal(Editor), ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh:Dastavejon Ke Aaine Mein’, Publication Division, Govt.of India, 2007

2. Shiv Verma(Editor),’Selected Writings of Shaheed Bhagat Singh’, National Book Centre, New Delhi, 1986(First Edition),Page 62-63

3. Chaman Lal(Editor), ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh:Dastavejon Ke Aaine Mein’, Publication Division, Govt.of India, 2007,Page 30-31

4. Shiv Verma(Editor),’Selected Writings of Shaheed Bhagat Singh’, National Book Centre, New Delhi, 1986(First Edition),Page 67-68

5. Chaman Lal(Editor), ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh:Dastavejon Ke Aaine Mein’, Publication Division, Govt.of India, 2007 Page 30-36

6. Shiv Verma(Editor),’Selected Writings of Shaheed Bhagat Singh’, National Book Centre, New Delhi, 1986(First Edition),Page 82

7. Chaman Lal(Editor), ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh:Dastavejon Ke Aaine Mein’, Publication Division, Govt.of India, 2007 Page 47

8. Chaman Lal(Editor), ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh:Dastavejon Ke Aaine Mein’, Publication Division, Govt.of India, 2007 Page 47

9. Shiv Verma(Editor),’Selected Writings of Shaheed Bhagat Singh’, National Book Centre, New Delhi, 1986(First Edition),Page 77-78

10.Shiv Verma(Editor), ‘Selected Writings of Shaheed Bhagat Singh’, National Book Centre, New Delhi, 1986, first edition, page 55

11.—Ibid—pages 112-14

12.Interview with Lajjawati by Oral History Cell of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library,New Delhi

13.Shiv Verma(Editor), ‘Selected Writings of Shaheed Bhagat Singh’, National Book Centre, New Delhi, 1986, first edition, page 55

14 –Ibid—pages 106-11

15 —-Ibid—page 79

16 Ibid-pages 80-81

17 —-ibid—pages 124-27

18 —Ibid—pages 154-56

19 — Ibid—page 157

.

** The author is Professor at Centre of Indian Languages at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is editor of Bhagat Singh’s documents.

Jinnah and his defence of Bhagat Singh

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Jinnah and his defence of Bhagat Singh

Chaman Lal

Storm created by BJP President L.K. Advani,s comments made about Jinnah, while laying wreath on his mausoleum in Karachi, is being tried to be buried now by making some excuses in the name of resolution. However this controversy has again brought into centre-focus the role of different political personalities during Indian freedom struggle. Though historians of modern India and journalists continuously keep on commenting upon or evaluating the role of political characters of national freedom struggle , yet the need remains that this debate should not be based on sensation created by a statement of a political leader, rather it should be based on facts and events and it should be objectively analyzed in a complete dispassionate manner. It should not take the shape of ‘A storm in a Tea-cup’.

In this context, first and foremost fact is that most leaders of Indian freedom struggle had contradictions in their personality, whether it was Mahatma Gandhi , Netaji Subhash Bose or Mohammad Ali Jinnah or some other leaders.Political leaders of free India are no less free from contradictions including LK Advani, who, at one time , to create communal tension, takes on Rathyatra, expresses joy at his volunteer’s demolition of Babri Mosque on 6th December’ 92 and at another time describes 6th December 92 as ‘the saddest day of my life’.Even the so-called secular Congress has no less contradictions, which has a big vision of Gujrat massacre of Muslims in 2002 as fascist specter, but which conveniently does not look at the thousands of Sikhs crushed under the weight of ‘A Big Tree’s Fall’ in 1984.

Mahatma Gandhi used to say that ‘ Pakistan will be built on my dead body’ Creation of Pakistan did not cause his death, but the extreme form of Hindutva took with life, ironically Gandhi was trying to resolve the caste and religions contradiction of Indian society within the frame work of a ‘tolerant and liberal Hinduism; Neta Ji Subhash Chander Bose got stuck in them whirlwind of world politics, where on one side were British imperialists, from whom he wanted to liberate India, but on the other side were Fascist Hitler/ Mussolini/Tojo, on whom he was depending for help, ultimately leading to his tragic end. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who was once ideal of Madan Lal Dhingra like revolutionary nationalists, because of his book in 1857 revolt, turned out to be spokesman of extreme Hindutva and apologizer to British imperialists. He also became an accused in Gandhi murder case, though acquitted by the court, his image did not get acquitted of communal personality. In fact his extreme Hindutva ideology had led to the counter extreme Muslim separatist ideology of Jinnah.

After all what is the root cause of all these contradictions? For any political personality, to gain political power is the ultimate reality and the highest ambition of his life. This reality is not limited to India or Asia, this is true for any country of the world. That is why seeing the occasion of gaining political power in 1947, when British imperialist power has declared its intention to transfer power by June 1948, neither Gandhi-Nehru-Patel nor Jinnah could resist the temptation of gaining early power, whereas the one year period was meant for an orderly and bloodless transition, in view of the high tensions of communal divide among Hindu and Muslim community. Without making any administrative and political preparation, power was transferred in great hurry in Aug. 1947, the worst rainy season for population exchange; resulting in massacre of six lakh innocent lives, displacement of more than one crore people and subjection of lakhs of women to worst crime of rape and maiming of limbs. Had this whole operation been planned in a patient and orderly manner, it would have exposed the incurable disease of Jinnah and may be by the passage of little more time, the division of country could have been avoided. But British imperialism in order to weaken the newly independent nations and for creating a permanent tension in the area, conspired to divide the country through an early operation of power transfer. Under the circumstances, Nehru’s address to Central Assembly on 14th Aug. night-‘ Tryst with Destiny’ became ‘historic’ for India and Jinnah’s address quoted by Advani became ‘historic’ for Pakistan.

Facts have rightly been brought to light about Jinnah’s personal conduct, which was never of a communal of fundamentalist Muslim or Mullah. Coming from a upper middle class family, as a successful Barrister, Jinnah was sufficiently liberal in thought and gentle in behaviour. He was never committed to ‘Namaz’, took ‘drinks’, was sensitive towards literature-culture. That is why poetess Sarojini Naidu called him ‘apostle of Hindu Muslim unity’. Birender Kumar Barnwal in his recently published book in Hindi ‘Jinnah: a Relook’ has narrated in detail, Jinnah’s love for Parsi girl Rattan Bai, who left her family to marry Jinnah and who was truly devoted to him. In fact her death in 1929 and Savarkar’s Hindutva turn made Jinnah a broken and bitter man and in later thirties he took turn towards Muslim separatist politics. But one should be aware of interesting facets of Jinnah’s personality, prior to this turn. Jinnah was close to Bal Ganga Dhar Tilak brand of politics before his turn around.

On 12th and 14th Septeber 1929, in Central Assembly, Jinnah made a long speech in context of Bhagat Singh and his comrade’s hunger strike and British imperialist design to hang these patriots with the sham of a trial ‘in absence of the accused’. It was the time, when even many Congressmen in assembly had condemned Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt for throwing bombs in assembly on 8th April 1929, for which they were ‘transported for life’, within one month in May 1929. When they went on hunger strike in jail in protest against misbehavior with them by jail staff and to demand status of political prisoner and human behavior with them in jail, British came with an amendment in criminal procedure code waiving the condition of presence of accused or their pleader in the court, thus by a sham trial convicting them in hurried manner.

The Tribune’s special correspondent for Shimla reported that while participating in the debate in central assembly on British bill, on 12th Sept. 1929, Jinnah said, The man who goes on hunger strike has a soul. He is moved by the soul and he believes in the justice of his cause’. The Tribune report mentioned, ‘Mr. Jinnah created a profound impression by the excellent form in which he argued the case. xxx Mr. Jinnah was proceeding in this strain winning applause after applause from the spellbound house’. (Quoted by A.G. Noorani in his book ‘The Trial of Bhagat Singh’) The Tribune on 14th July 1929, published the full statement of Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt as red out by Diwan Chaman Lall in the house.

Jinnah referred to Punjab in his speech by saying that’ the Punjab seems to be a terrible place…..’. He questioned the British Government, while discussing the amendment proposed by Home member James Crerar, ‘Do you wish to prosecute them or persecute them?

Crerar not only damned Bhagat Singh and Dutt, he condemned 1915-17 first Lahore conspiracy case and 1925 Kakori case prisoners as well.

Jinnah challenged law member of the assembly to starve himself a little to know the impact of hunger strike on human body by saying-‘ it is not everybody who can go on starving himself to death. Try it for a little while and you will see’.

To Mr. Crerar, he rebutted by giving an example of Mr. Cosgrave, Prime Minister of Ireland, who was under sentence of death, a fortnight prior to getting invitation to form Government. Jinnah said in so many countries, not only youth, but even grey bearded persons have committed serious offenses, moved by patriotic impulses.

Jinnah asked British Government that after all what these youth were demanding from government, by going on hunger strike-‘Do they want spring mattresses? Do they want dressing tables? Do they want a set of toile requisites? No, Sir, they asked for bare necessities and a little better treatment. I ask you in all decency, why cannot you concede this small thing?’

Jinnah’s speech began on 12 Sept. and was concluded on 14th Sept. He put the British Government on mat by his brilliant exposure of British design-‘ Don’t you think that, instead of trying to proceed with an iron hand and pursuing a policy of repression against your own subjects, It would be better if you realized the root cause of the resentment and of the struggle, that the people are carrying on?’

Jinnah even warned the government in this context-‘ Money of the tax payer will (must) not be wasted in prosecuting men, nay citizens, who are fighting and struggling for the freedom of their country.’ According to A.G. Noorani, Jinnah had high esteem for Bhagat Singh and his comrades. Jinnah also said that if this amendment was passed then the trial would be just ‘ a travesty of justice’.

Jinnah was supported my Moti Lal Nehru, Jaykar, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai etc. Amendment was carried through by 55 votes against 47. Jinnah had voted against. Even in February 1929 speech in assembly, Jinnah had condoled the death of Lala Lajpat Rai, with whom he had cordial relations. Also he pleaded for the release of Sikh leaders gaoled in connection with Sikh Gurdwara Act and opposed the detention of many nationalists like Vallabh Bhai Patel, Anne Besant, Ali Brothers, Hasrat Mohani etc.

Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were tried under the amended act and after a sham trial, were hanged on 23 March 1931, ‘ A travesty of justice’, in the words of Jinnah.

The question arises after looking through the fiery nationalist role of Jinnah prior to 1930, that having such rational (and national) views, why Jinnah played a fundamentalist communal separatist politics?

To search the answer, look at some examples from modern world politics- Mao- ‘Political power grows out of barrel of a gun’, Deng- ‘It hardly matters whether a cat is black or white, it should catch mice.’ 1967 – United Front Governments in eight states comprising Jansangh, Akalis, Socialists and Communists; 1977- Janta Party Government consisting of Jansangh and Socialists, supported by CPM; 1989- V.P. Singh Government, supported by BJP on one hand and by left on the other.

Few other instances of short cut communal politics in free India- Amrinder Singh resigning from Congress and Parliament in 1984 against Blue Star Operation, then getting readied to lead Akali Government in 1986, courtesy Governor S.S. Ray, just loosing the chance in nick of time, signing Khalistani declaration submitted to U.N. Secretary General Boutres. M. Ghali along with brother in law Simranjit Singh Mann, again joining Congress and leading Punjab Government in 2002, threatening Mann of arrest for raising Khalistani demand now. Same is the case of Savarkar, Advani, Vajpayee. To garner majority Hindu vote bank, the politics of blind prejudices against minorities. By riding the Ram Rath in 1990 to power in Delhi in 1998; allowing Gujrat massacre of Muslims by Modi Government in 2002; now under American pressure, singing the song of Indo-Pak friendship and to gain political power again, to lure Muslim votes- Jinnah drama. Jinnah also did the same, but in reverse order, first liberal then fundamentalist, same was with Savarkar. But Advani, Vajpayee are first fundamentalists, then trying to be ‘liberal’. Is not repeating the history called – A Farce!!

xxx

  • Writer is Professor at J.N.U. New Delhi and editor of ‘Bhagat Singh’s Complete Documents’ in Hindi.

Professor Chaman Lal

Centre of Indian Languages (SLL & CS)

J.N.U. New Delhi- 110067

Mobile-98687-74820