Monday, February 6, 2023
HomePoliticsYes, Congressmen Nehru, Malviya did meet Bhagat Singh, others in jail

Yes, Congressmen Nehru, Malviya did meet Bhagat Singh, others in jail

Text Size:

Nehru even piloted a resolution in Congress session expressing admiration for Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, and slamming their execution as an act of ‘wanton vengeance’.

New Delhi: Speaking at a public rally in Karnataka Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked, “When Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Batukeshwar Dutt, Veer Savarkar, greats like them were jailed fighting for the country’s independence, did any Congress leader go to meet them?”

It seems Modi or his research team didn’t do his/their homework yet again. Historical writings clearly show that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, then one of the top-ranking leaders of the Congress, did visit the freedom fighters in jail on 8 August 1929.

In fact, while the official Congress line was that the route to securing freedom lay in non-violence, not the forcible overthrow of the British as Bhagat Singh and other members of the Hindustan Socialist Republic Army believed, Nehru and some of the younger leaders of the Congress, including Subhas Chandra Bose, had a soft corner for them. Bhagat Singh, according to multiple sources, also had great respect for Nehru and Bose.

Bose also reportedly attended the Lahore conspiracy case trial but was not permitted to interact with Bhagat Singh and others.

After Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death for their alleged role in the Lahore conspiracy case, Singh and some of his fellow prisoners, like Batukeshwar Dutt, started an indefinite hunger strike, seeking better conditions in jail for all the inmates.

When their condition started deteriorating, Nehru paid them a visit in jail.

Here is how Nehru described the visit in his autobiography: “I visited the Central Jail and the Borstal Jail yesterday and saw Sardar Bhagat Singh, Mr Batukeshwar Bhat and Mr Jatindranath Das and all the other accused in the Lahore conspiracy case, who are on hunger strike. Attempts have been made for many days past to feed forcibly all these hunger-strikers. In the case of some of them the results of this forcible method were so injurious that all forcible feeding had to be given up in the face of a greater danger.”

Nehru then elaborated on their condition. “Some of the accused are just maintaining a measure of strength on account of forcible feeding which is given twice a day. Others are in a bad way. Those who cannot be forcibly fed, lest they should die under the force used, cannot obviously survive long now if present conditions continue. They are dying slowly from day to day and the final act in the tragedy cannot be long delayed,” he wrote.

Nehru also referred to the fast-deteriorating health of Jatin Das: “The condition of Mr Jatinchandra Das is specially critical. He is very weak and cannot easily move. He speaks in whispers. He is in considerable pain and looks for release in death. Others whose condition is serious are L. Shiv Varma, Mr Ajoy Kumar Ghosh and L. Jaidev.”

Incidentally, Das died in jail after a 63-day hunger strike.

“It was very painful for me to meet these extraordinarily brave young men and to see their manifest suffering. I gather from them that they would adhere to their resolve, whatever the consequences to their individual selves might be. Indeed, they didn’t care very much for their own selves,” he wrote.

“They could not undergo such tremendous suffering for a little personal comfort in future. They feel strongly, however, that the lot of political prisoners in India is bad and must be improved,” Nehru added.

Even Mahatma Gandhi, who didn’t approve of the violent ways of these nationalists, tried to seek reprieve for them from the British. He met Lord Irwin, the former governor general and viceroy of British India, on 19 March 1931 in this regard, but his plea went unheeded and, four days later, the three were hanged. The British actually advanced the hanging by six days.

At the annual Congress session just a few days after the hanging, an official resolution was moved by Nehru, seconded by Madan Mohan Malviya. The resolution was interesting since the Congress, while dissociating itself from political violence, recorded its admiration for Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.

“This Congress is of the opinion that this triple execution is an act of wanton vengeance and is a deliberate flouting of the unanimous demand of the nation for commutation,” it read.

According to multiple sources, speaking at the same conference, Bhagat Singh’s father, Kishen Singh, disclosed that the freedom fighter had told him not to worry and let him be hanged.

“You must support your general (Gandhi). You must support all Congress leaders. Only then will you be able to win independence for the country,” he quoted his son as having told him.

Reached for comment on this apparent inaccuracy in the prime minister’s speech, eminent historian S. Irfan Habib told ThePrint: “History has to be interpreted based on facts and not imaginary ones because they suit someone’s present political needs. Sadly, our past has become a political battlefield and an arena to settle scores.”

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

1 COMMENT

  1. Prime Minister of a nation turned to be a big Bluffer .
    He tried to attack Jawaharlal Nehru , with a vengeance and venom
    He made statement of lie about general Thimmayya. Again Field Marshal Kariyappa
    Now about Nehru vs. Bhahath Singh
    This is Coebbles propaganda mode

Comments are closed.

Most Popular