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Satwinder  Satti
Satwinder
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Thanks Amrit veer and Balihar veer for such a great information u sharing
07 Sep 2009

Balihar Sandhu BS
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Views on Bhagat Singh by Com. Ajay Ghosh .. (Part 8)
The Hunger Strike
Thus began the great Lahore conspiracy case hunger strike that continued for 63 days resulting in the self-immolation of Jatin Das and stirring the country to its very depths.
In the beginning the government and the jail authorities did not take the strike seriously. They believed it would peter out in a few days and this belief on their part was strengthened when two of the prisoners gave up the strike after a few days. Some of us were none too confident either and I for one wondered how long it would be possible for me to remain without food. All of us had undergone hardships before physical conflict with the police now did not frighten us, but the prospect of starving ourselves for days, weeks and even months - this was a chilling prospect indeed.
For ten days nothing big happened. Hunger grew and with it physical weakness. Some had to take to bed after a week and, as the trial continued, it was a' real strain for them to sit in the courtroom. But our first terror had gone. Hunger strike did not seem such a hard job after all. But we did not know that the real fight was yet to come.
After ten days forcible^ feeding was started. We were all in separate cells at that time. Accompanied by a number of tough and strong nambardars (convict overseers) the doctors came to each cell, the hunger striker was thrown on a mattress, a rubber tube was forcibly pushed into his nostril and the milk poured into it.
Violent resistance was offered by everyone but with little effect at first. It almost seemed as if they had already beaten us.
In the night on the thirteenth day of the strike news reached me in my cell that Jatin Dass was in a bad state and had been removed to the jail hospital. At first I could not make out what had happened for Das had appeared quite fit only a few hours ago. Then the man who had brought the news - he was a subordinate jail official - hesitatingly told me that something had gone wrong during forcible feeding and Das was now lying unconscious.
This was shocking news indeed. I like most others amongst us, had never met Das before my arrest. But during the few days that we had come to know him in prison he had won everyone's affection. Though quiet and unassuming, he had a keen sense of humour and a fund of stories and anecdotes, which he used to narrate to us and make everyone laugh.
I called the jailor and by bullying him got the permission to visit the jail hospital.
Das was lying there on a cot, unconscious, with doctors attending on him. They feared he might die that very night. He recovered but developed pneumonia and that weakened him so much - he refused all medicines and nourishment – that forcible feeding was now out of question….

To be continue >>>>
07 Sep 2009

Balihar Sandhu BS
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Views on Bhagat Singh by Com. Ajay Ghosh .. (Part 9)
From now on the strike became grim and determined. Das was followed by Shiv Varma and others. Soon the hospital was full. Court proceedings were now adjourned.
It was a veritable race for death that now began. Who would be the first to die - this became the subject of competition.
Many were the methods we devised to defeat the doctors. Kishori swallowed red pepper and boiling water to cause sore throat so that the passage of the tube led to such coughing that it had to be taken out lest he might die of suffocation. I swallowed flies immediately after forced feeding to induce vomiting. These devices came to be known to the doctors and guards were kept on us.
Determined to break us the jail officials removed all water from our cells and placed milk instead in the pitchers. This was the worst ordeal imaginable. After a day thirst grew unbearably. I would drag myself towards the pitcher, hoping every time to find water but drew back at the sight of milk. It was maddening. If the man who had hit upon this device had been there before me, I would have killed him.
Outside the guard sat - watching every movement -mute, impassive.
I could not trust myself much longer. I knew that a few hours more and I was bound to give way and drink the milk. My throat was parched, my tongue swollen.
I called the guard. As he stood outside the barred door I asked him to get me a few drops of water at least. His reply was: "I cannot do it. I have no permission".
Fury took possession of me. I snatched the pitcher and hurled at against the door, breaking it to pieces, spilling the milk on the guard. He recoiled back in horror. He thought I had gone mad. He was not far from right.
The same torture was being undergone by Kishori and others who were then in cells. And everyone, as I leamt later, had done the same thing -broke their pitchers before their guards.
The jailor gave away. Water was brought to our cells. I drank and drank. Then I fell sick and vomitted out every drop.
In the meantime sympathetic hunger strikes were taking place wherever there were political prisoners. A powerful mass movement had grown to back our demands. Mass meetings and demonstrations were taking place in every part of the country.
The Meerut conspiracy case prisoners went on hunger strike after a few days. The news was flashed across the seas. It created a stir in England. World attention was now focused on conditions in Indian prisons.
Several times during the hunger strike Bhagat Singh came to our jail on the plea of consultation but really to meet us and know how we were faring. Though himself weak and emaciated he would sit by the side of Das and other comrades and cheer them up. His very presence infused new life in us and we looked forward eagerly to these visits….

To be continue >>>>
07 Sep 2009

Balihar Sandhu BS
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Views on Bhagat Singh by Com. Ajay Ghosh .. (Part 10)
At last when Jatin Das was on the point of death and the conditions of Shiv and others were very serious, the government yielded. A committee with a non-official majority was appointed to recommend changes in jail rules. The committee met us in prison, assured us that most of our demands would be conceded and on the basis of its assurances we resolved to end the strike.
Jatin Das was now beyond any hope of recovery. He could no longer talk or even hear. Victory, so it seemed at that time, had been won but the man who had more than anyone else contributed towards it was not to live to share its fruits.
There he lay, with all of us sitting round him, and a lump rose in my throat. As he passed away and I lifted my head, I saw tears even in the eyes of hardened jail officials. When his body was borne out of the jail gate, to be hauled over to the huge crowd that was waiting outside, Hamilton Harding, superintendent of police Lahore, bared his head, bowing in reverence before the man whom all the might of the British empire had failed to defeat.
The promise made by the government on the basis of which we abandoned the strike were not kept forcing»,us to resort to two more hunger strikes and even afterwards the new rules were interpreted in such manner as to exclude the vast majority of political prisoners from any benefit. But public attention was focussed on the terrible conditions prevailing in the jails-conditions far worse than today. The sham pretensions of the government stood exposed.
One event during the hunger strike moved us deeply. Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna, the founder of the Ghadr Party and a hero of the Lahore conspiracy case of 1915-16, who was then in the Lahore central jail, joined the strike; he had already served 14 years in the Andamans and in Indian prisons and was about to be released. We were informed by the superintendent that if he persisted, he would lose his remissions and would have to remain in prison much longer. Moreover, Babaji was old and in ill health, 14 years of hell had shattered his body and the hunger strike might end disastrously for him.
In vain, however, Bhagat Singh saw Babaji and pleaded with him - he was in tears when he reported the interview to us - to desist. Babaji continued the strike as long as we did. He lost a good part of his remissions and had to remain in jail for a year more….

To be continue >>>>
07 Sep 2009

Balihar Sandhu BS
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Views on Bhagat Singh by Com. Ajay Ghosh .. (Part 11)
The Man and His Ideas.
Bhagat Singh had none of the characteristics of the traditional terrorist leader. We had differences amongst us on many occasions, several of the meetings we held were stormy and more than once Bhagat Singh had to follow a course of action with which he did not agree. Impetuous and strong willed, he lacked the coolness and imperturbability of Azad and would at times fret and fume and lash at those who seemed to vacillate. But only seldom did he give offence and whenever he did so he felt mortified and begged forgiveness with such candour and sincerity that one could not bear any grudge against him. Of affectionate nature, tender towards ailing comrades, frank and open hearted, with no trace of pettiness in his make-up, he was a man who claimed the love of all who were even acquainted with him.
Always passionately fond of studying Bhagat Singh spent most of his time in prison reading socialist literature. Perhaps the first among us to be drawn towards socialist ideas, he was an avowed atheist and had none of the religious beliefs of earlier terrorists. It would be an exaggeration to say that he became a Marxist, but more and more as a result of his studies, of discussions which we held frequently and under the impact of events outside - stirring events took place while we were in prison: the Sholapur uprising, the Peshwar upheaval, the heroic stand of Garhwali soldiers led by Chandra Singh - he began to stress the need for armed action only in coordination with and as an integral part of the mass movement, subordinated to its needs and requirements.
Studies in prison deepened the love that we already cherished for the Soviet Union and on the occasion of the 1930 anniversary of the November revolution, we sent greetings to the Soviet Union, hailing its victories and pledging support to the Soviet State against all enemies....

To be continue >>>>
07 Sep 2009

Balihar Sandhu BS
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Views on Bhagat Singh by Com. Ajay Ghosh .. (Part 12)
Throughout the trial we strove to carry out the policy we had chalked out in the very beginning, the policy of propaganda by action. The success of that policy and the tremendous publicity that our case received made the government furious. Every opportunity was seized to break us. We were equally determined never to give into humiliating orders, never to bow before the court and the police. And the result was frequent struggles, physical clashes with the police, prolonged adjournments.
The effect of each of these was better exposure of the government more publicity and more popular sympathy for us.
After nine months of trial before the magistrate and long before even a small number of prosecution witnesses had been examined, the proceedings were abruptly ended and "in view of the emergency" that had arisen threatening "peace and tranquillity" a special ordinance was promulgated by the viceroy to try us known as the Lahore conspiracy case ordinance of 1930, its provisions were of an unheard of character. We were to be tried before a special tribunal that could, if it deemed it necessary, dispense with our presence. There need be no lawyers, no defence witnesses, no accused in the court. Any sentence, including the sentence of death, could be passed by the tribunal. And to crown it all, against its judgement there was no right of appeal. Never had any government calling itself civilised adopted such measures.
What the government intended, above all, was to defeat our policy of using the trial for revolutionary propaganda. Another thing, it seemed, was worrying them. Mr. Frane, the only police official present at the spot when assistant superintendent Saunders was killed, had failed to identify Bhagat Singh. Due to the tremendous popular enthusiasm that the case had evoked, a number of key witnesses had turned hostile, more were likely to follow suit and two of the approvers had retracted their confessions.
The whole case was in danger of ending in a fiasco if ordinary legal procedure were followed and ordinary legal facilities allowed us.
Before the trial had proceeded in the court of the special tribunal for a fortnight the expected clash came. Orders were passed by the president of the tribunal to handcuff us for raising slogans when entering the court. On our pointing out that this had never been objected to in the magistrate's court or even in the High Court where we had been taken once the police were ordered to use force.
There, in the presence of lawyers and visitors, scores of policemen armed with lathis and batons pounced upon us. This was the order they had been waiting for. We fought back with bare firsts but the odds against us were too heavy. Blows rained on our chests, on our,.arms. Thrown on the ground we were kicked and beaten with lathis. We were removed from the court by force, bloodstained and severely injured. The injuries were so serious that several comrades could not move for days together....

To be continue >>>>
07 Sep 2009

Balihar Sandhu BS
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Views on Bhagat Singh by Com. Ajay Ghosh .. (Part 13)
We demanded withdrawal of the order and assurance that such things would not be repeated. This was not forthcoming. Justice Agha Haider, the only Indian member of the tribunal, was so moved by the scene he had witnessed that he issued a statement that he had been no party to the order to handcuff us and to use force. A few days later the tribunal was reconstituted. His name was missing from the reconstituted tribunal.
And so the trial proceeded, without defense lawyers, without defense witness, before a court from which the one judge whose sense of justice would into permit illegal beating-ups and who therefore might take an independent stand on the question of sentences also had been removed. What the judgment would be was a foregone conclusion.
In October 1930, after a farcical trial lasting five months, the judgment was announced. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death, seven to transportation for life, others to long terms of imprisonment. I was among those acquitted because the only evidence against me was that of two approvers, the third approver who had deposed against me having retracted his confession. As the jail gates closed behind me and I stood on the street outside, I felt like a man who had deserted his comrades.
What Bhagat Singh had come to mean to our countrymen I realised only when I was out. "Bhagat Singh Zindabadh" was the slogan that rent the air' wherever a meeting was held. "Inquilab Zindab" -the slogan he had been the first to raise-had replaced "Bande Mataram" as the slogan of the national movement. His name was on lips of the millions, his image in every young man's heart. My chest swelled with pride as I thought of my long association with such a man.
Hopes there were still of saving Bhagat Singh and his comrades. Everyone expected that the release of the Lahore case prisoners or at least the commutation of their death sentences would be one of the terms of any agreement between the Congress and the government. That expectation was belied. We had been guilty of violence and so while the congress leaders desired to save Bhagat Singh that could not be made one of the conditions of the Gandhi-Irwin pact.
On the evening of 23rd March 1931, just on the eve of the Karachi session of the Congress, the death sentences were carried out. Bhagat Singh was barely 24 at that time.
I was then on my way to Karachi. Men who heard the news wept like children. As for me I was too stunned even to think.
Like a meteor, Bhagat Singh appeared in the political sky for a brief period. Before he passed away, he had become the cynosure of millions of eyes and the symbol of the spirit and aspirations of a new India, dauntless in the face of death, determined to smash imperialist rule and raise on its ruins the edifice of a free people's state in this great land of ours.

***** Inqulab Zindabad ****
07 Sep 2009

Amrit Manghera
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Chapter 10 THE HUNGER STRIKE
Bhagat Singh's declaration of hunger strike to ameliorate the lot of political prisoners, coming as it did in quick succession to the life-sentences in the Assembly Bomb Case, added to the causes that contributed to his influence on the public. There were hunger strikes before, by political prisoners, some of which ended fatally. But, except in the case of the prisoners in the Kakori Cons­piracy Case, these hunger strikes were undertaken to redress particular grievances. It was Bhagat Singh's hunger strike which first diverted the attention of the public to the need of the amelioration of the lot of political prisoners as, a class.

Before the sentences had been passed by the Sessions Judge, both Bhagat Singh and Batukeswar Dutt had decided up on a hunger strike in order to bring about a change in the so rigours jail life of the political prisoners. He was able to communicate their decision to the Press which geniously came forward to help them by carrying on an agitation in favor of the demand.

Perhaps the average reader has no idea of the hardships that prisoners are subjected to the jail. One fact alone is enough to bring home the seriousness of the suffering. In the Benares Conspiracy Case (1916), of the eleven persons convicted, three died in jail and one turned mad. The writer, who was convicted in that case had an opportunity to see the special orders (of course it was confidential) of the Inspector General of Prisons, in respect of their treatment. As far as he remembers, the wordings were—"To be kept apart day and night from all other prisoners." The implication is simple : as a jail is inhabited by prisoners, a political prisoner has to suffer solitary confinement for the whole of his term of imprisonment. For a social man, no other sentence is more horrible.

In a Bengali book recently published, named, "Ten years in the Andamans," the writer who was convicted in the famous Barisal Conspiracy Case, has narrated many horrors to which political prisoners were subjected in the Andamans. Bhagat Singh was well conversant with these details. For himself he had not the slightest apprehension. To what ever Indian jail he might be transferred, he was sure to receive special and considerate treatment. Moreover, by this time he had learnt of the tidings of the forth-coming conspiracy case, and he also knew from certain identification parades that the prosecution wanted to lay the Saunder's murder at his door. Hence he had absolutely no personal advantages to hope for from a successful hunger strike. But he really felt very greatly for those workers in the same field who were pining away their days in British Prisons.

For two days after their conviction Dutt and Singh- were kept together in the Delhi Jail, after which the former was transferred to Lahore Central Jail' while Bhagat Singh was sent to the dreary jail at Meanwali. While at Delhi both were receiving European class treat­ment. Before they had quitted the Delhi Jail, they launched into that other struggle which attracted the attention of the Indian public for the next four months.

In his demands for the better treatment of political prisoners, Bhagat Singh purposely kept his pitch low. He put forth what may be regarded as the minimum demands with an eye to the possibility of their fulfillment. In entering into the struggle, therefore, his purpose was a practical one, namely, to achieve something concrete for the un­fortunate political prisoners and not to enter into an idealistic fight for an idealistic cause. Bhagat Singh demanded that all persons who are convicted of offences that are actuated by political motives, and not for any personal gain or object, should be regarded as political prisoners who should be allowed facilities for study, newspaper, better diet, and association of all political prisoners with each other. It was only later, after the immortal Jatindra Nath Das had entered into the arena that the fight began to assume the latter aspect, and the more the hunger strike with its attendant misery and agony prolonged, the more idealism began to enter into the fight.

The authorities had no idea of the stuff that they had to deal with. They thought that the pangs of hunger would be sufficient to induce Bhagat Singh to discontinue it. But the hunger strike went on unabated. Full one month after the declaration of hunger strike, the Punjab Government began to move in this matter. By this time the trial in the Lahore Conspiracy Case had commenced and the undertrials threw in their weight with Bhagat Singh and Dutt by declaring a sympathetic hunger strike on 13th July, 1929.

The story of the hunger strike of the undertrials in the Lahore Conspiracy Case is a subject on which a separate volume can be, and ought to be written. In a short time the attention of the whole country was drawn to the heroic struggle of the Lahore hunger-strikers . Before the forces of public opinion and the gallant hunger-strike, even the Punjab Government began to yield gradually. On, 14th of July, on the very day that Sardar Bhagat Singh sent a special application to the Home Member to the Government of India, the Punjab Government came out with their first communique, allowing some facilities in the diet for the undertrials in the Lahore Conspiracy Case on medical grounds. Of course, this was nothing. Soon after, a second Government communique was published, deleting the words 'on medical grounds' from their first communique, and extending the facility to Bhagat Singh and Dutt, the two convicted undertrials.

On 28th July, when Jatin Das's condition became serious, Bhagat Singh sent a special message through a prominent Congressman that the undertrials in the Borstal Jail might suspend the hunger strike, leaving the battle to Bhagat Singh and Batukeswar alone. This shows his self-sacrificing mentality.

The condition of Jatin Das had gone still worse. He refused even to take enema. His whole system had become poisoned, and he could not even open eyes. The well wishers of the hunger strikers, prominent Congressmen and members of the Lahore Conspiracy Case Defense Committee emplored and entreated, but Das remained adamant to his purpose.' A message was sent to the Governor of the Punjab that if Das paid any heed to anybody, that was to Bhagat Singh's words, and Bhagat Singh might he persuaded to plead with Jatin for allowing enema to be given. The Governor atonce permitted that Bhagat Singh might be brought over from the Central Jail to the Borstal Jail so that he might try to persuade Das. Bhagat Singh's immense influence was atonce demonstrated when Jatin yielded to the. former's entreaties, and agreed to take enema. The doctor's report was that this enema prolonged Das's life by at least, a fortnight. The jail authorities, who had left no stone unturned to achieve this very object, were astonished. The Deputy Superintendent of the Borstal Jail, Khan Sahib Khair Din, asked of Jatin in wonder as to why he so easily consented to the very same proposal of Bhagat Singh, to which he had turned a deaf ear when it came from the jail people. Jatin gravely replied—"Khan Sahib,. you do not know; Bhagat Singh is a brave man I can not dishonor his words."'



On a similar occasion, when the results of the Punjab Jail Enquiry Committee were within sight, it was Bhagat Singh who was able to persuade Das to take medicine so that he might linger on till he had opportunity to examine the results of the Punjab Jail Enquiry Committee. With disjointed words which were hardly audible, he said to Sardarji,—"Bhagat Singh, though I feel and I am convinced that I ought not to swerve from my vow, yet I can not but accede to your request. Please do not ask anything more from me again !"

When the hunger strikers were about to suspend their hunger strike, Bhagat Singh insisted that the first condition would be for the Government to release Das unconditionally. All the members of the Jail Enquiry Committee unanimously agreed to this. But the Government did not release Das and consequently Bhagat Singh, Dutt and four others again went on hunger strike. But their prolonged misery had no effect and meanwhile Das died.

As Bhagat Singh and others thought that what had been promised by the Punjab Jail Enquiry Committee would be sufficient for the first fight, the hunger strike was unanimously suspended.
07 Sep 2009

Amrit Manghera
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Chapter 11 THE LAHORE CONSPIRACY CASE
The more one examines the proceedings of the Lahore Conspiracy Case, the more one is impressed by the subtle policy of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. The Lahore Conspiracy Case cost the Government very dearly, because by means of this very trial, Bhagat Singh and others achieved to a very great extent those very things which the Government dreaded so much.

As soon as the hunger strike was over and the proper trial was expected to begin, Bhagat Singh formed a small group of three members, namely, he him­self, Sukhdeva and Bijoy Kumar Sinha, which began to think as to how best to realize the aims of their party by utilizing this very trial. They determined that the whole proceedings should be so conducted as to best serve to propagate their ideas, aims, objects and methods.

First of all, they had to fight for the preliminary rights of the undertrials. Hitherto, the political undertrials were treated as if they were no better than ordinary criminals. By the persistent efforts of 'the undertrials, which were often attended with great hardships, they were able to exact an honorable treatment from the authorities. Comfortable chairs, newspapers, tables, lunching tents were gradually provided for, and de facto recognition was given to the fact that they were nothing less than patriots.

Another fight was raged for the admission of visitors. The trial took place ( inside the Lahore Central Jail and such restrictions and impediments were put in the way of admission of visitors that very few could get admission. This was about to frustrate the very aim of Bhagat Singh and others, that is, to influence the public by the proceedings. So after a struggle of a month or so, in which the undertrials resorted to all sorts of tactics most of these hindrances were removed, and numerous visitors, mostly youngmen. and ladies began to attend the Court regularly. The influence of the proceedings—which commenced everyday with the slogans "Long Live Revolution," "Long Live Proletariat", "Down, Down with Imperialism/'' and a national song in chorus—on the visitors can be readily realized from the fact that there were not less than half-a-dozen political conspiracy cases in the Punjab in which it has been definitely proved that the youngmen complicated in those cases were actuated and inspired by what theyheard in the court of the Lahore Cons­piracy Case.



During the proceedings, the cross-examination of the important witnesses, specially the approvers, was undertaken by the undertrials themselves. The object of these cross-examinations was never to attempt to bring out the discrepancies and lies in the statements of the approvers ; they were undertaken solely with the purpose of bringing on the record, and thereby before the public, the aims and objects of the party, the inner motive of particular action, the heroic side of their struggle, and the details of the methods they had adopted. Thus they wanted that the proceedings in their case should serve the purpose of training ;and inspiring the youths.



Whenever any opportunity arose for demonstration, the undertrials never let it slip., Thus, there were demonstrations in the open court on the "Kakori Day", "Lenin Day", "First May", "Lajpat Rai Day", and on particular occasions such as the death of Shyamaji Krishna Varma, the death of a political prisoner due to hunger strike in Hungary, and such others. On such occasions they always managed to give out a message. The Prosecution allowed to get these messages on record, because they thought. that these would implicate the undertrials themselves and would furnish good 'proofs' against them. The undertrials, who cared little about the proofs or evidence, gladly availed themselves of these opportunities.

One memorable event in the course of the trial in the Magistrate's court was the attempt to handcuff the prisoners in the court. This was the occasion: Jai Gopal, an approver in the case entered the dock with overbearing attitude. He twisted his moustache and threw out some taunting remarks towards the accused. While the others cried 'Shame' 'Shame', Prem Dutt, the youngest of the accused, flung out his slipper on the approver. Atones the proceedings were adjourned, and a standing order was passed that the accused should remain handcuffed while in the court. Bhagat, Singh and others at once determined that, come what may, they would never attend the court unless the order was rescinded.

The next day, inspite of the full physical force that the police could employ, they failed to bring to the court one single accused. Out of the 16 persons, only five could be brought in the lorry upto the jail gate, but then nothing could bring them out of the lorry. The next day they consented to come to the court with handcuffs on the understanding that these would be removed. But when this was not done they resorted to a stratagem. When lunch time came they applied that the handcuffs might be removed to enable them to participate in the lunch. After the lunch was over, the Police Officers came to put on the handcuffs again. They flatly refused to be done so. Then began a scuffle, and the court was converted into a pandemonium. Special Pathan force was requisitioned, and a merciless beating began.



In this beating Bhagat Singh was specially singled out. Eight ferocious Pathans fell upon him and booted kicks and sticks were abundantly showered on him. This, done before the very eyes of the visitors which included a fair number of ladies, had a tremendous effect, and the same evening a big meeting was held at Lahore in which the action of the police was vehemently criticized. The same was the opinion of almost all the nationalist newspapers.

Not content with the beating in the court, the police again commenced their game in the afternoon when the court rose. They fell on Sardar Bhagat Singh in the jail yard, and a most cruel thrashing commenced. However, these terrible sufferings had the desired effect. The police authorities submitted a report, to which the jail authorities concurred, that it is possible to beat them and even kill them, but it was not possible to bring them to court. As a result, the Magistrate had to rescind his order.



The Lahore Conspiracy Case gained un­precedented publicity throughout India, and even beyond India. Subscription? began to flow in from distant parts of the world. A lady from Poland sent a remittance with a request that detailed proceedings might be sent to her regularly. Donations came from Japan, Canada, and even distant South America. Bhagat Singh—Dutt days were celebrated in different parts of the country, and their portraits were widely used in calendars.

In the Magistrate's court, many distinguished public leaders paid visits to the undertrials, notable among them being Sj, Subhas Chandra Bose, Baba Gurudutt Singh, Mr. K. F. Nariman, the Raja of Kalakankar, Mr. R. A. Kidwai, Mr. Mohan Lal Saxena, and lastly, our great revered leader, the late Pandit Moti Lal Nehru. Moti Lalji went to see them twice ; the second time he entered the dock of the accused and remained closeted with them for about an hour.

The writer would have very much liked to publish the important conversation that ensued between Moti Lalji and Sardar Bhagat Singh, but expediency demands silence on this matter. He hopes that time may come when it would be possible to do it.

As the Government began to perceive the tremendous effect the Lahore Cons­piracy Case trial was having on the youth of the country, they felt nervous and began to think a way out of it. Ultimately they hit upon the Lahore Conspiracy Case Ordinance. At first the Government of India did not accept the proposal for its enactment made by the Punjab Government, for fear of public agitation. But when the fight between the Congress and the Government began and the latter began to resort to one ar­bitrary ordinance after another, the ques­tion of popular resentment did not count, and this extra-ordinary ordinance was promulgated as Ordinance IV of 1930.



Bhagat Singh and others atonce perceived that they had gained a good point by exposing the hollowness of British justice. They had already succeeded in doing a sufficient amount of propaganda on behalf of the revolutionary party. By promulgating this extraordinary piece of legislature at this belated hour, the Government only played into their hands. So in a meeting of the under-trials, Bhagat Singh proposed that from now they should adopt true revolutionary attitude by refusing to take cognisance of the court. A hot discussion ensued, and two divergent notes were heard in the meeting. One group adhered to Bhagat Singh's views, another group urged that they should participate in the proceedings so that when the time came they might make bold statements like what Bhagat Singh made in the Assembly Case. Bhagat Singh urged that in the face of such terrible sentences as hanging and transportation for life, if they showed utter unconcern and refused to be a party to what be termed a force, then the moral effect of such attitude would be very great on the younger generation. The others argued that as the revolutionary party had no platform of their own, they should utilize the Court Proceedings. to serve this purpose.

But the question was settled in a strange way. As in the lower court, so in the tribunal also, they entered the court shouting their revolutionary slogans, and the proceedings could not commence until they had sung a national song. This was very much resented by the three judges of the tribunal, and after three or four days, they asserted their authority by ordering the police to handcuff the accused as soon as they had finished their song. The scene encated in the lower court was repeated and the court proceedings had to be terminated that day.

This humiliating treatment enraged the other group also and they unanimously decided to refuse to go to court. The police and jail authorities, with their previous experience, declared that it would not be possible to bring the accused to court and the proceedings had to be conducted ex-parte. Thus Bhagat Singh's wishes were completely realised. The Government, in order to keep up a show of justice, tried to induce the accused to attend court; they even went so far as to change the President "whom the accused declared to be responsible for the beating and insult in the court; but nothing suceeded.
07 Sep 2009

Amrit Manghera
Amrit
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Chapter 12 -THE JUDGEMENT AND AFTER
On the morning of 7th October, 1930,. a special messenger came to the jails from the court of the Special Tribunal. As the accused did not attend the court, the. court order regarding sentences were sent through this special messenger. Three of these orders were" marked with black border; these were the warrants of execution of Sukhdeva, Shivaram Rajguru and Sardar Bhagat Singh.

The day of the announcement of judgment was kept a dead secret. Three days ago there had been a last dinner in the jail in which even some of the jail officials were present, and farewell addresses were delivered. Three more days passed—days of tension and excitement. The prisoners inside the jail learnt that special armed forces had been posted around the jail, perhaps as a precautionary measure against emergency. No sooner had the judgments been pronounced than the news of the death sentence on Bhagat Singh and others spread in the city like wild fire. Sec. 144 had atonce been proclaimed and without any notice or effort, a big meeting was held on Municipal grounds outside the city gate, speeches were delivered, criticizing the ex-parte trial and the heavy sentences. Special editions of influencial newspapers had been published, in which photos of all the prisoners in the Lahore Conspiracy Case were printed. The publi­cation of these photos was a bit startling both to the police and the jail authorities, as they could not understand how these photos could be obtained.

Next day, Wednesday, 8th October, the enthusiasm of the people of Lahore and other big towns in India, specially youngmen and women and students, reached a high pitch. At Lahore the lead was taken by the Lahore Students Union which proclaimed a complete hartal and nonattendance at schools and colleges. Most of the educational institutions were closed, and a few that were hot closed were picketed. Seventeen young ladies, including a venerable lady of so called Mataji, and a good number of men students were arrested in this connexion ; a professor and 80 students in the D. A. V. College, Lahore were assaulted by a sergeant and a number of constables with lathis. Several lathi charges were made on the crowd of students and the general public assembled near the Government College for picketing purposes.

In the evening a big procession was organized which frequently shouted ' "Long Live Bhagat Singh", "Long Live Sukhdeva", "Long Live Rajguru". At Bradlaugh Hall a huge meeting exclusively of students and youngmen took place, in which resolution congratulating Bhagat Singh and others .for their brave sacrifice was passed. In the same evening and at the same time, another big meeting organized ;by the Congressmen took place at municipal grounds outside Morigate in which 12,000 people had collected, which was presided over by Shrimati Parbati Devi, daughter of late Lala Lajpat Rai.

Spontaneous hartals took place in many district towns of Punjab, and other big towns all over India. At Amritsar, the enthusiasm was as high as at Lahore. A complete hartal was obser­ved, and even tongas and other vehicles' did not ply. Delhi, Bombay, Cawnpore, Allahabad, Benares, Calcutta and many other cities showed their respect to' Sardar Bhagat Singh and others in publicly organized meetings.

Soon after the sentences were pronounced by the Special Tribunal, the Defence Committee set about to file an appeal in the Privy Council on the ultra vires point for the promulgation of the ordinance. A few words are necessary here about the Defence Committee.

As soon as it was discovered that the police wanted to launch a big conspiracy case at Lahore, many nationalist leaders,. Hindu, Mohamedan and Sikh, began to show their interest in the case and their sympathy for the accused. Sometime in June 1929 a strong "Defence Committee" was formed at Lahore, which began to collect money for defence purposes and to render help to the suffering families' of the accused. It did not take much time to collect together a decent fund. It is significant that the fund was almost exclusively contributed by the poorer class. As the contribution in most cases was quite small, it is probable that-some twenty to thirty thousand peo­ple must have contributed towards the fund.

The Defence Committee not only , looked towards the legal defence, which was the smallest part of their duty as there was never any idea of putting up a legal defence, it also arranged to supply books to the undertrials who were voracious readers, to find lodging and boarding for the relatives who came to interview the prisoners from distant parts of the country, to supply the needs of the undertrials, and when possible, to render monetary help to the needy re­latives of the accused.

After the judgment was delivered, the Defence Committee began to plan for filing an appeal to the Privy Council. This had been settled by Bhagat Singh and others from before. As there may have been some misconceptions in the mind of some regarding this appeal in the Privy Council, it "is necessary that Bhagat Singh's idea about it should be .frankly stated.

The foremost idea, of course, was that it would serve the purpose of propaganda in foreign countries. The Viceroy, in a preamble to the ordinance, stated many facts concerning the conduct of the ac­cused during the trial which necessitated the promulgation of the ordinance. This provided an opportunity to controvert those facts. Among the facts were .the prolonged hunger strike to which the accused resorted, and which prevented the continuation of the trial. By an appeal to the Privy Council Bhagat Singh wanted to show to the civilized world what inhumanities the political prisoners in India were subjected to, and also to hold before the world the selfless sacrifice of brave Jatindra Nath Das.

Another idea was to draw the attention of the enemies of England to the existence of a socialist revolutionary party in India. In his instructions to the counsel, Bhagat Singh emphasized that it should never be tried to show that they were no revolutionaries in India, nor should any attempt be made to take the help of British-made laws to get a reduction in the sentences.

The third idea was not less important-than the first two, but from a political point of view, much more brilliant. It should be stated that in this idea Bhagat Singh was greatly influenced by Bijoy Kumar Sinha who had a keen political sense. The idea was to postpone the hanging till that time when it should have maximum effect. At that time, i.e., October, 1930, the whole country was greatly agitated over the numerous lathi charges, prosecutions and imprisonments all over the country. The hangings at that time would not have produced much impression in the country. Bhagat Singh and others had an apprehension that the Congress might come to a dishonorable settlement with the Government ; so he wished that the Government should hang him and his comrades at such a time when the hangings would strengthen the hands of the extremists and the younger party, and would reveal the weakness of the Congress.

The hangings on 23rd March, 1931 were so splendidly fitted with the inner most desires of Sardar Bhagat Singh that we can not but admire the strategy by which he was able to score over the Government even in the matter of his death. The subsequent events also fully justified the keen political judgment of .the young revolutionaries.
15 Sep 2009

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