Sunday, November 25, 2007

Did Gandhi do his best to save Bhagat Singh?

Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru, Sukh Dev were proven guilty of killing a police officer Saunders and were sentenced to death in Lahore Conspiracy case. They wanted to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai who was injured in a lathicharge ordered by Saunders. Gandhi pleaded with the then Viceroy Lord Irwin for commutation of their death sentence even though he never approved political killings. This has to be told to put to rest the canard being spread by bollywood movie buffs that Gandhi was responsible for Bhagat Singh's execution or that he didn't do enough to save Bhagat Singh's life.

We fail to realize that Bhagat Singh in 1931 was one among many revolutionaries and he turned popular during court trial and after his martyrdom. Indian National Congress came under pressure to do something to save their lives. The British, on the other hand had no intention of commuting the sentence.They intentionally carried out the execution on the eve of Karchi session of INC as if to embarrass its leadership.

Bhagat Singh didn't wish to live long after he was sentenced to death.The trio refused to apologize and declined to file a mercy petition. Gandhi took up the issue with viceroy Lord Irwin during his negotiations post mass civil disobedience movement of 1930-31. There was nothing that Gandhi could do to save their lives. He himself was fighting with the British Indian government and failed to secure all the demands put forward during his talks with viceroy.

Go through the following essays:

1."Of means and ends" Frontline,April 2001

Viceroy Lord Irwin:
"As I listened to Mr. Gandhi putting the case for commutation before me, I reflected first on what significance it surely was that the apostle of non-violence should so earnestly be pleading the cause of the devotees of a creed so fundamentally opposed to his own, but I should regard it as wholly wrong to allow my judgment to be influenced by purely political considerations. I could not imagine a case in which under the law, penalty had been more directly deserved."

2."Did the Mahatma do his best to save Bhagat Singh?" by RK Bhatnagar, former press secretary to President R Venkataraman.

3."Half Truths and True Lies" by Sankar Ray, Hindustan Times

Gandhi's final attempt on the day of execution
Letter to Viceroy,March 23,1931
March 23, 1931
It seems cruel to inflict this letter on you,but the interest of peace demands a final appeal.Though you were frank enough to tell me that there was little hope of your commuting the sentence of death on Bhagat Singh and two others,you said you would consider my submission of Saturday.Dr. Sapru met me yesterday and said that you were troubled over the matter and taxing your brain as to the proper course to adopt.If there is any room left for reconsideration,I invite you attention to the following.

Popular opinion rightly or wrongly demands commutation.When there is no principle at stake,it is often a duty to respect it.In the present case the chances are that,if commutation is granted,internal peace is most likely to be promoted.In the event of execution, peace is undoubtedly in danger.

Seeing that I am able to inform you that the revolutionary party has assured me that,in the event of these lives being spared,that party will stay its hands, suspension of sentence pending cessation of revolutionary murders becomes in my opinion a peremptory duty.

Political murders have been condoned before now.It is worth while saving these lives,if thereby many other innocent lives are likely to be saved and maybe even revolutionary crime lmost stamped out.Since you seem to value my influence such as it is in favour of peace,do not please unnecessarily make my position,difficult as it is,almost too difficult for future work.
Execution is an irretrievable act.If you think there is the slightest chance of error of judgment,I would urge you to suspend for further review an act that is beyond recall.
If my presence is necessary,I can come. Though I may not speak I may hear and write what I want to say.

“Charity never faileth.”
I am,
Your sincere friend,

From a Photostat: C.W. 9343,Courtesy: India Office Library. Source: Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi

on the very day in his letter superscribed "confidential" the Viceroy wrote: 'I have again thought very carefuly over everything that you have said- and the last thing I should wish to do would be to make your task, especially at this juncture, more difficult. But I am afraid, for the reasons I sought to explain fully to you in conversation, I cannot see my way to feel that it would be right to take the action you request...."(C.W.9344)

Gandhi had no reason to speak for three revolutionaries as he never believed in their means .Being a humanist he pleaded for sparing their lives.He was not in a position to command and he himself spent more than 2000 days of his lifetime in jails of SOouth Africa and India.Even assuming that Gandhi could have saved them, the trio preferred to die and refused to seek any commutation of death sentence.

Gandhi's tribute to the martyrs, Navajivan, 29-3-1931.

Brave Bhagat Singh and his two associates have been hanged.Many attempts were made to save their lives and even some hopes were entertained, but all was in vain.Bhagat Singh did not wish to live. He refused to apologize; declined to file an appeal. If at all he would agree to live, he would do so for the sake of others; if at all he would agree to it, it would be in order that his death might not provoke anyone to indiscriminate murder.Bhagat Singh was not a devotee of non-violence, but he did not subscribe to the religion of violence; he was prepared to commit murder out of a sense of helplessness. His last letter was as follows: “I have been arrested while waging a war. For me there can be no gallows. Put me into the mouth of a cannon and blow me off.” These heroes had conquered the fear of death. Let us bow to them a thousand times for their heroism.But we shouldn't imitate their act.I am not prepared to believe that the country has benefited by their action.I can see only harm that has been done.We could have won swaraj long ago if that line of action had not been pursued and we could have waged a purely nonviolent struggle.There may well be two opinions on this conjecture of mine.However, no one can deny the fact that if the practice of seeking justice through murders is established amongst us, we shall start murdering one another for what we believe to be justice.In a land of crors of destitutes and crippled persons, this will be a terrifying situation. These poor people are bound to become victims of our atrocities. It is desirable that everyone should consider consequenes of this.Further, we want a swaraj which is theirs and for them.By making a dharma of violence, we shall be reaping the fruit of our own actions. Hence, though we praise the courage of these bravemen, we should never countenance their activities.By hanging these men,the government has demonstrated its brute nature, it has provided fresh proof of its arrogance resulting from its power by ignoring public opinion. From this hanging it may be concluded that it is not the intention of the Government to part with any real power to the people. The Government certainly had the right to hang these men. However, there are some rights which do credit to those who possess them only if they are enjoyed in name only. If a person exercises all his rights on all occasions, in the end they are destroyed. On this occasion, the Government would have brought credit to itself if it had not exercised its rights and this would have been highly useful in maintaining peace. However, it is obvious that the Government has not to date developed such discretion. It has given a clear reason for the public to get enraged. If the latter shows anger, it will lose the game which it is about to win. Some officials may even hope that the public will give vent to its anger. Whether they do so or not, ours is a straightforward path. While negotiating the settlement, Bhagat Singh’s hanging was weighing upon us. We had hoped that the government would be cautious enough to pardon Bhagat Singh and his associates to the extent of remitting the sentence of hanging. We should not break the pledge we have taken just because our hopes have not been fulfilled, but should bear this blow which has fallen upon us and honour our pledge. By doing so under even such trying circumstances, our strength to get what we desire will increase rather than decrease, while, if we break our pledge or violate the truce, we shall suffer loss of vigour, loss of strength and it will add to our present difficulties in reaching our objective. Hence our dharma is to swallow our anger, abide by the settlement and carry out our duty.

Coming to Bhagat Singh,he was a revolutionary socialist and was inspired by Bolshevik revolution.He wanted independent India to be a socialist state.On his advice the name of the revolutionary organisation HRA(Hindustan Republican Army) was changed to HSRA (Hindustan Socialist Republican Army). In his last testament dated Feb 2,1931, he advised the youth of India that revolutionary violence will not lead to India's independence

Apparently I have acted like a terrorist.But I am not a terrorist....Let me announce with all the strength at my command, that I am not a terrorist and I never was,except perhaps in the beginning of my revolutionary career.And I am convinced that we cannot gain anything through these methods

Bhagat Singh said that only mass based movements can achieve freedom.He declared : the real revolutionary armies are in the villages and factories.

What amuses me is the way some people having no faith in Bhagat Singh's ideology taking up his name just to vilify Gandhi. Do they approve Bhagat Singh's words on Atheism or Marx or Lenin? If not they should stop abusing the sentiments associated with Bhagat Singh's name.


Anonymous said...

sir, if you are saying that bhagat singh was executed because he wanted to, you are the biggest idiot i have come across.

Chaitanya said...

Bhagat Singh was executed because he was convicted for plotting a political murder. He was not the only revolutionary hanged by the British. We all need heroes not because we believe in their ideologies(our hypocrisy lies in there) but because we want to satiate our blind hate against some other great man. What a pity!

Unknown said...

Completely agree with 'Daddy' above..

Unknown said...

Gandhi undoubtedly was one of the mass leader. But at some point in his life he started believing he is larger than nation. It has to be HIS WAY OR NO WAY. He never supported extremists cause if he support them, they will be the hero NOT him so that make's a person feel that he really did not tried to save Bhagat Singh and his death was a begining of a new era. 90 - 100 years of non-voilence and we are slaughterd and 24 - 25 years of extremisiom we were independent.

Unknown said...

Well said Sanjiv!

Unknown said...

Who said all these non sense to you... what daddy and sanjiv said is correct.. because of you people india is still suffering from the leadership and nonsense of nehru family.....


Good Job..I am convinced, not just because of this post of yours but because I myself was never able to reckon that if it was in his power then why didn't Gandhiji get the death statement of the shaheed trio commuted and this made me do some sort of what you can call a research work. What you have put over here is very comprehensive.
Its very easy and of-course to some of us funny to call someone an idiot. What takes courage in doing is to get out of the egg-shell and abandon the semi-truth for the complete one.
Jai Hind

Abhi said...

Good job
@sanjiv may be u r right. but its not 24-25 years of extremism that gave us independence .
no can one can deny the fact
that extremists are unable to unite the whole nation they are mainly active in north

no doubt bhagat singh is the most heroic personality we have ever known but this is also the fact that he knew the consequences and he accept that because if he wanted to escape he can.

Raunaq Dé said...

Gandhi enjoyed the support of masses if he would have firmly decided to save bhagat Singh then he would have easily done it during his negotiations with lord Irwin but he didnt this very thing shows gandhis dubious character and his unwillingness to save the trio....the most serious thing is that Gandhi never wanted to support bhagat Singh as he was afraid of his popularity the same thing Gandhi did with Dr. B. R Ambedkar for Poona pact n with Subhash Chandra Bose when Mr. Bose was elected as Bengals congress president against the candidate of Gandhi even Gandhi didnt supported sardar Patel for the post of p.m even when he won the majority of the votes in congress committee elections. Gandhi had jallianwala Baugh massacre to bargain with viceroy for the lives of trio....

guggilal said...

Ya man congress like a fukin bug for this cOuntry eating it's way out ever since they came in power

Divine said...

Congress always had a ambiguous character and why wouldn't somebody live if they were given chance to... The trio would have lived long enough to curb British Government...
Gandhi didn't believe in singh's ideology but they were fighting for a common cause.
Gandhi was a strange man!!

Unknown said...

bhagat singh was being accused of a murder and i blv watever gandhi ji did he did his utmost to save their life it is really sad how we can mock or easily abuse great people really it is sad to show this kind of hatred makes u all equivalent to a certain degree of extremism......

Garry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Garry said...

Very well and comprehensively Placed... When people talk Crap about Gandhi, it is all b'coz of their lack of knowledge. One who is hanged, murdered or killed only becomes the Hero for us Indians.. And the One who wins and survives, has to go through all these criticisms.
Respect for M.K.Gandhi.