Bha­gat Singh: a rebel in prison

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Five more let­ters of Bha­gat Singh found with his younger brother Ran­vir Singh’s fam­ily re­veal the teenager’s fear­less and forth­right

ap­proach in deal­ing with the Bri­tish of­fi­cial­dom.

THE ear­li­est record of Bha­gat Singh’s writ­ings dates back to 1918 when he was 11 years old, and they were post­cards he had writ­ten in Urdu and Pun­jabi to his grand­fa­ther and an aunt, Hukam Kaur. Col­lec­tions of Bha­gat Singh’s writ­ings be­gan to ap­pear only in the 1970s, and the lat­est col­lec­tions in Urdu and Marathi com­prise 125 writ­ings of Bha­gat Singh, in­clud­ing 53 let­ters. With the ad­di­tion of five more let­ters dis­cov­ered in 2017-18 to the col­lec­tions, Bha­gat Singh’s writ­ings num­ber 130, apart from his Jail Note­book.

In this process of search­ing for Bha­gat Singh’s writ­ings, this writer lo­cated five let­ters of his in his trial pro­ceed­ings edited by M.J.S. Waraich, which were then pub­lished in The Tri­bune in 2007. Fol­low­ing this, he found 10 more let­ters from the ex­hi­bi­tion ti­tled “The Trial of Bha­gat Singh” held in 2008 in the newly built Supreme Court mu­seum com­plex. The Supreme Court gave him a dig­i­tal copy of the ex­hi­bi­tion and the per­mis­sion to use the con­tents with ac­knowl­edge­ments. The 10 let­ters were pub­lished in The Hindu of Au­gust 15, 2011, along with the rare pho­to­graph of Bha­gat Singh and B.K. Dutt, first pub­lished on April 12, 1929, in Bande Ma­tram from La­hore.

In 2013, this writer found a let­ter of Bha­gat Singh that even Bha­gat Singh be­lieved was lost. How­ever, it was a Hindi trans­la­tion from the Eng­lish orig­i­nal. This let­ter was re­trans­lated into Eng­lish, and both ver­sions were pub­lished in The Hindu (Sun­day Mag­a­zine) of March 23, 2014. In fact, be­fore go­ing to the gal­lows, Bha­gat Singh took care to leave his writ­ings in safe hands. Thus, he handed over his Jail Note­book to a younger brother, Kul­bir Singh, along with a few other items.

CHAMAN LAL

Many of his writ­ings were on loose sheets of pa­per, which he handed over to Ku­mari La­j­jawati, who was sec­re­tary of the Bha­gat Singh De­fence Com­mit­tee and re­ported di­rectly to Jawa­har­lal Nehru on all steps taken to save the life of the three con­victed rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies, Bha­gat Singh, Sukhdev and Ra­jguru. Bha­gat Singh wanted her to hand over these pa­pers to his com­rade Be­joy Ku­mar Sinha, who was serv­ing life im­pris­on­ment in the An­damans

BHA­GAT SINGH pho­tographed se­cretly at La­hore po­lice sta­tion dur­ing his first ar­rest and de­ten­tion from May 29 to July 4, 1927, in con­nec­tion with the La­hore Dussehra bomb case (Oc­to­ber 25, 1926), with Gopal Singh Pannu, DSP, CID, La­hore.

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