The Indian freedom struggle comprised of an innumerable set of actions. Yet, the most unique and important among the actions was the contribution of the Indian revolutionaries, the handful of youth who had a clear vision of universal brotherhood and equality. They stood for economic, social and political independence. Organizations like Naujawan Bharat Sabha (NBS), Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) were the pioneers behind the vision. The whole idea of building a socialist India was inspired by Russia’s socialist revolution, whose leader V.I. Lenin made a great impact on the minds of the leaders of HSRA. The inclination and commitment towards the communist and Marxist doctrine can easily be traced if one goes through the writings of Bhagat Singh on the problem of Punjab’s language and script, the problem of untouchability, communalism and the writings of comrade Ram Chandra, a man associated with the Naujawan Bharat Sabha and Shiv Verma. In India, it has become a regular trend to play with historical dates and their significance. The recent past has seen a series of attempts to play with the history of the Indian revolutionary movement and it is being undertaken by the so-called self-proclaimed nationalists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Shiv Sena and other Hindutva groups. Followers of Savarkar are in a state of pain as they don’t have their own icon who gave up their lives during the nation’s liberation movement. A huge deficit and bankruptcy prevail.
HIS STORY IN BRIEF
Bhagat Singh left home for Kanpur when his parents tried to get him married, saying that if he married in slave India, and “my bride shall only be death” and joined Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. He along with Sukhdev planned to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai and plotted to kill the Superintendent of Police James Scott in Lahore. However, in a case of mistaken identity, John Saunders, the Assistant Superintendent of Police was shot. Although a Sikh by birth, he shaved his beard and cut his hair to avoid being recognized and arrested for the killing. He managed to escape from Lahore to Calcutta. A year later, he and Batukeshwar Dutt threw bombs in the Central Assembly Hall in Delhi, and shouted “Inquilab Zindabad!” He did not resist his arrest at this point. During interrogation, the British came to know about his involvement in the death of John Saunders a year earlier. At the time of his trial, he didn’t offer any defense, rather used the occasion to propagate the idea of India’s freedom. His death sentence was pronounced on 7 October 1930, which he heard with defiant courage. During his stay in jail; he went on a hunger strike against the policy of better treatment for prisoners of foreign origin.
On April 8, 1929, Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly “to make the deaf hear” as their leaflet described the reason for their act. As intended, nobody was hurt by the explosion as Bhagat Singh had aimed the bomb carefully, to land away from the seated members, on the floor. The bomb, deliberately of low intensity, was thrown to protest the repressive Public Safety Bill and Trades Dispute Bill and the arrest of 31 labor leaders in March 1929. Then a shower of leaflets came fluttering down from the gallery like a shower of leaves and the members of the Assembly heard the sound of, ‘Inquilab Zindabad!’ and ‘Long live Proletariat!’ rent the air. Bhagat Singh and B.K.Dutt let themselves be arrested, even when they could have escaped, to use their court appearances as a forum for revolutionary propaganda to advocate the revolutionaries’ point of view and, in the process, rekindle patriotic sentiments in the hearts of the people. Bhagat Singh surrendered his automatic pistol, the same one he had used to pump bullets into Saunder’s body, knowing fully well that the pistol would be the highest proof of his involvement in the Saunders’ case. The authorities believed that in Bhagat Singh they had caught a big fish and that he was the mastermind behind all revolutionary activity in India. The government was, however, intrigued by the two revolutionaries giving themselves up so easily. The British did not want to take any chances, so even the summonses to the two revolutionaries were delivered to them in jail.
The style and format of the writing in the handbills struck British intelligence as suspiciously familiar. The format and style in these handbills were similar to the style and format of the handwritten posters that announced the murder of Saunders and which had been plastered on the city’s walls. The British began to suspect that Bhagat Singh was one of Saunder’s killers. He was singled out as the author of the text on the leaflets as well as on the posters. Bhagat Singh was charged with attempt to murder under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code. Asaf Ali, a member of the Congress Party was his lawyer. The Trial started on 7 May 1929. The Crown was represented by the public prosecutor Rai Bahadur Suryanarayan concluding that Bhagat Singh and BK Dutt threw a bomb with the intention “to kill or cause injuries to the King Majesty’s subjects”, and the trial magistrate was a British Judge, P.B Pool. The manner in which the prosecution presented its case left Bhagat Singh in no doubt that the British were out to nail him. The prosecution’s star witness was Sergeant Terry who said that a pistol had been found on Bhagat Singh’s person when he was arrested in the Assembly. This was not factually correct because Bhagat Singh had himself surrendered the pistol while asking the police to arrest him. Even the eleven witnesses who said that they had seen the two throwing the bombs seemed to have been tutored.
Some of the questions asked in court were:
Judge: ‘Were you present in the Assembly on the 8th of April, 1929?”
Bhagat Singh: ‘As far as this case is concerned, I feel no necessity to make a statement at this stage. When I do, I will make the statement.”
Judge: ‘When you arrived in the court, you shouted, “Long Live Revolution!”. What do you mean by it?’
As if it had already made up its mind, the court framed charges under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act. Bhagat Singh and Dutt were accused of throwing bombs ‘to kill or cause injuries to the King Majesty’s subjects’. The magistrate committed both of the revolutionaries’ to the session’s court, which was presided over by Judge Leonard Middleton. The trial started in the first week of June 1929. Here also, Bhagat Singh and Dutt were irked by the allegation that they had fired shots from a gun. It was apparent that the government was not limiting the case to the bombs thrown in the Assembly. It was introducing extraneous elements to ferret out more information about the revolutionary party and its agenda. On 7 October 1930, about three weeks before the expiry of its term, the tribunal delivered its judgment, sentencing Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru to death by hanging. Others were sentenced to transportation for life and rigorous imprisonment. This judgment was a 300-page one which went into the details of the evidence and said that Bhagat Singh’s participation in the Saunders’ murder was the most serious and important fact proved against him and it was fully established by evidence. The warrants for the three were marked with a black border. Looking at the above facts which are recorded in the journals clearly exhibits that Indian Muslims were hardcore patriots and always stood with India.
INDIA LAW JOURNAL 2007
PAWAN DATTA; ShaheediDiwas: Sham Trial By British Raj; The Tribune News Paper,25th March 1931
INDIA TODAY; SEPTEMBER,2017
SIKH EXPRESS SEPTEMBER, 2017
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