Savarkar, Bhagat Singh and .....

Chaman Lal

Frontier in its June 5-11, 2016 issue has published three articles related to Bhagat Singh. First is comparison of two petitions sent by Veer Savarkar in 1913 and other by Bhagat Singh on 20th March 1931, to British colonial authorities. These petitions have been quite viral on social media also and an online journal published it earlier.

In second article I M Sharma, a well-known author/editor of many books on Indian revolutionaries and movements, has protested over denigration of Savarkar by way of this comparison.

In third article taken from Veer Savarkar website, Bhagat Singh has been shown as publisher of one of editions of Savarkar's book—'First war of Indian Independence'.

While I M Sharma has every right to hold his views on Savarkar, however as a matter of interpretation of history, historic events and historical personalities, others also have the right to view Savarkar, as they think him to be, of course with the evidence of facts and documents. Everywhere in the world, there have been many personalities, who were revolutionaries in early phase. Veer Savarkar in his earlier phase, when he wrote 'First War of Independence' in Marathi in 1907 to mark 50lh anniversary of 1857, was secular and he acknowledged the role of last emperor of India Bahadur Shah Zafar despite his old age and other Muslim warriors of the struggle. In 1909, Savarkar also encouraged and patronized Madan Lal Dhingra to kill Curzon Wylie in London, which he did and got hanged on 17th August 1909. Mahatma Gandhi in fact wrote 'Hind Swaraj' in response to Dhingra's killing of Wylie and he framed his ideas of non-violence as against revolutionary violence to achieve Indian freedom. However after his return to India and arrest with long incarceration in Andaman's jail, Savarkar changed his views and turned communal in his outlook. He never took part in hunger strikes done by other revolutionaries in Andaman's jail in which many revolutionaries sacrificed their lives like Mahavir Singh, an associate of Bhagat Singh, Ramrakha, a Ghadarite revolutionary, many Bengali revolutionaries, in whose memory 'Shaheed Park' is created just in front of Andaman jail. Surprisingly, the earlier NDA Govt. put even Savarkar's statue in this park along with the real martyrs of Andaman jail. Only NDA/BJP/RSS can explain that how Savarkar, who died a normal death after independence, being remained an accused in Mahatma Gandhi assassination case and acquitted only due to 'lack of clinching evidence', hence remained 'suspect', was made out to be a 'martyr' with other real martyrs of Andaman!

Savarkar's later role as corumunalist and his role in Gandhi assassination, despite not being convicted, has certainly degraded his status as 'revolutionary' and people have right to condemn him for that role. His abject apologies to British colonial regimes, not once, but many times and his willingness to be part of colonial policy of 'Divide and Rule', by helping colonialists with his communal agenda of dividing Indian society, certainly cannot add to his status as 'Revolutionary', which I M Sharma has tried to defend, without any substance.

Savarkar website claims that Bhagat Singh published his book is again devoid of fact/truth. Bhagat Singh was born only in 1907, first edition of book came out around the time. Book was banned in India but was available to Indian revolutionaries, if Lal Hardyal has published its edition that could have reached India as well and could be in possession of revolutionaries. Bhagat Singh and his fellow revolutionaries certainly eulogised this book and must have distributed, but there is no record to show in the form of printed book found anywhere to support the claim that he published it. Bhagat Singh translated and published Irish revolutionary Dan Breed's autobiography in Hindi which was published by Pratap Press Kanpur in 1926 at the cost of one anna only. He also probably translated Sachindernath Sanyal's classic book-Bandi Jivan in Punjabi, whose advertisements are found in Punjabi journal Kirti, with which Bhagat Singh was associated in editorial staff and wrote for it also till 1928.

RSS as per its habit of rumour/lie making has also claimed that Bhagat Singh visited its Nagpur office to meet its supreme K B Hedegwar, has never been confirmed from any reliable source, from his own writings or memoirs of his co-fighters.

There is nothing on record to show that either RSS/Hedgewar or Veer Savarkar expressed any anguish on the hanging of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev in March 1931, no resolution published in any of their publications or other Indian papers, whereas from Mahatma Gandhi to Periyar-Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Subhas Bose, Madan Mohan Malviya and so many other Congress men are on record through their statements in many Indian journals, of expressing their anguish and disapproval/condemnation of British colonial regime on their execution. With what face RSS tries to appropriate Bhagat Singh or other revolutionaries' legacy by cooked up stories!

I M Sharma has also mentioned 'Bhagat Singh's death wish' and Gandhi fulfilling it by not pressing upon British colonial authorities, for commutation of his sentence. Here again, I M Sharma has very poor understanding of Bhagat Singh's insistence on not getting his execution waived. He reluctantly signed petition to Privy Council for review of his death sentence, only on the understanding that it will earn revolutionaries time to become more popular among Indian masses and they will rise to demand their release and they did rise. But Bhagat Singh told his close associate Bejoy Kumar Sinha in Lahore jail—'Dekho Bhai fansi rukni nahin chahiye'—Look brother execution must not be waived and he desired them to be hanged when people's resistance reaches at peak and that is how it happened. Bhagat Singh knew that all paths for revolution were closed for them at that moment and he wanted to make people rise for Indian freedom struggle and he thought their execution will serve this purpose. He proved right in his assessment, it was not his 'death wish', but political assessment and tactic to make even his death to be costlier like 'a death heavier than mountains', for British colonialism. I M Sharma has done no justice to Bhagat Singh's martyrdom by his own volition to make Indian people rise up for freedom struggle, by using term 'death wish'. Che Guevara taunted his CIA hired killer to 'shoot me coward', when he was wavering in shooting him and had to be given a full bottle of alcohol to get him completely drunk in order to make him shoot Che. Was Che having 'death wish', when he shouted at his killer 'to shoot him'?!

Mahatma Gandhi was reluctant from the very beginning to intervene into the matter of Bhagat Singh and his execution, due to his so-called belief in 'non-violence' philosophy, but Gandhi failed even to be true to his own philosophy of non-violence, by not opposing 'death sentence' as principled position of his philosophy, if nothing else! Of course he was worried at Bhagat Singh's abnormal popularity among Indian masses, which could have threaten his own 'one man hegemony' in Indian Congress politics, had Bhagat Singh been allowed to live!
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Vol. 49, No.6, Aug 14 - 20, 2016