Monday, 29 March 2010

In Bhagat Singh's Memory-Haroon Khalid- Courtesy Dr.Khatau Mal-Karachi Share

In Bhagat Singh's memory

After making this demand for years, the citizens of Lahore have
finally changed the name of Shadman Chowk to Bhaghat Singh Chowk on
his 79th death anniversary

By Haroon Khalid

There are few people who have challenged the status of Gandhi as the
most famous leader of the Indian Freedom Movement. Bhagat Singh at the
age of 23 was able to do that. This name has received immense coverage
in the recent years, courtesy the Indian cinema. Had it not been due
to the recent popular Indian movies, not many people in Pakistan would
have been aware of this young revolutionary, who shook the foundations
of the British Imperial Empire and gave a new impetus to the freedom
struggle. His methods and methodology was a marked departure from the
popular modus operandi of the Congress Party. Initially, Bhagat Singh
supported Gandhi's cause but after sudden end to the non-cooperation
movement following the Chauri Chaura incident, he was disillusioned by
the non-violence of Gandhi, preferring to do things his own way.
Bhagat Singh says in his writings that when the deaf can't hear, their
ears need to be pulled up; 'to make the deaf hear'. His bombing of the
Delhi Assembly was to achieve this purpose. The aim was not to kill
anyone as a low intensity bomb was used, and it was thrown at a vacant
location where it could do minimum damage. It was thrown only with the
purpose of making their voice reach the rulers. Gandhi rejected the
'cowardly' act; however, both Jinnah and Nehru developed a romantic
association with this young patriot and tried till the end to stop the
hanging of Bhagat Singh.

Much has been brought in front of the public about the life and
thoughts of the young revolutionaries by the movies; however, what
many people in Pakistan do not know is that this part of India, which
later became Pakistan, played a prominent role in the life of Bhagat
Singh. He was born in a small village in the out-skirts of Faisalabad,
where his ancestral house and primary school still stand. It is told
that one of his Muslim friends from early days, still lives in the

Bhagat Singh got his education from Lahore, and this is where he
became a revolutionary in the true sense of the word. He also formed
his Naujawan Bharat Sabha in Lahore, whereas the office of the Party
was in a small room in the precincts of Mozang. It is said that the
room, where the office once was, still exists.

Bhagat Singh was kept in Lahore Jail which exists near Ichhra today.
However, at that time the jail was much bigger than what it is today,
covering most of the area of Shadman, right up to the Hata Mul Chand

Near the Main Market of Shadman, there is a roundabout with a
fountain, called the Shadman Chowk or Faware wala Chowk. It is said
that the gallows of the jail were around this area, and this is where
Bhagat Singh, along with his compatriots, Sukhdev and Rajguru, were
hanged on March 23, 1931.

The state of history in Pakistan is pitiable. Instead of being taught
as a subject to illumine the mind of the pupil, it is used as a
political weapon to mould the thoughts of the young. The results
achieved so far have been more than satisfactory. It is bizarre how
even the elitist schools in the country would begin teaching history
from Indus valley, talk about Gandhara civilization and jump straight
to the Mughals, leaving a void of more than a thousand years. The
legacy of Bhagat Singh has also escaped history books even though he
is so closely associated with Lahore; not many people are able to make
that connection. Despite receiving recognition from the founder of
Pakistan, Bhagat Singh has failed to make an impact on the policy
makers of the country, which sadly is not Bhagat Singh's loss but our
own. The reason seems to be the non-Muslim credentials of the martyr.
Hopefully one day, we would be able to look outside the pale of
religious boundaries and admire and own people by their actions and
thoughts and not by their dogmatic parameters.

There are nonetheless a few organisations and individuals in the
country who seem to admire the history of our land, and make an effort
to own and disperse it amongst the people. On the 23rd of March this
year, when most of the Pakistanis were enjoying the 'Pakistan Day'
holiday with their families and friends, there were a handful of
people who were protesting at the Shadman Chowk. These people, who
belong to the various communist and socialist groups of the city, have
been gathering here on this particular day, exhorting the government
to change the name of this Chowk from Shadman Chowk to Shaheed Bhagat
Singh Chowk, in memory of the youth of Lahore who sacrificed his life
for the desolate people of India, irrespective of their colour, creed
or religion.

Over the years this particular group has been able to get recognition
from local politicians and the media. Some years ago, the then
Governor Punjab Lt. General (Retd) Khalid Maqbool conceded to their
demand verbally. However, since this issue is for the local government
and not for the governor, the order could not be implemented.
Therefore, the struggle goes on. This year when the group met at a
preliminary meeting at Diep Saeeda's house, it was suggested by Iqbal
Qaiser that instead of asking the officials to change the name, they
should rather put up a board next to the Chowk, declaring it Shaheed
Bhagat Singh Chowk, just like somebody decided to call it Chaudary
Rehmat Ali Chowk a few years ago. The former board that sprang up over
night may likely counter the demand of this group. On March 23, they
completely covered the existing board with spray paint, and wrote
Shaheed Bhagat Singh Chowk on it. Even though the local inspector
objected to their action, he did nothing. Salman Rashid pointed out a
few weeks ago, how various crossings are named after local traders,
etc. Let us see if this crossing would be able to retain its new name
given to it by this group.

There is another interesting story related to this area. The British
rule at that time demanded presence of a magistrate by the gallows at
the hour of persecution. However, such was the support of these three
people that no magistrate in whole of India wanted to take the risk.
The British in desperation turned to Nawab Muhammad Ahmad, who was an
honorary judge from Kasur. He was present at the time of their
hanging, from where their bodies were taken to the bank of River
Sutlej where they were cremated in his presence. Later on, people
built samadhis to mark the area. These are present on the Indian side
of the border, and are visible from Ganda Singh, Pakistan.

The irony is that later, during Bhutto's tenure, Nawab Muhammad Khan
was killed at this place (Shadman). His son Ahmad Raza Khan Kasuri
launched an FIR against Z.A. Bhutto at the Ichhra police station for
the murder of his father. Later, Zia-ul-Haq hanged Bhutto for the
death of Nawab Muhammad Ahmad. He is buried in Kasur near Bulleh
Shah's tomb. On one side of Sutlej is the grave of this magistrate and
on the other are the Smadhs of the Shaheeds.

Being a historical location and closely associated with Bhagat Singh,
it is a reasonable demand on the part of the citizens of Lahore to
rename this Chowk after Shaheed Bhagat Singh. After years of futility,
they have finally taken the action themselves. In a city where anybody
can name a Chowk on his/her name, it would indeed be a pity if the
name of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Chowk is not accepted by the authorities,
and the populace.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

On Bhagat singh's distorted pictures in Govt. advertisements

Professor Chaman Lal Dated:--23rd March 2010


Centre of Indian Languages (SLL&CS)

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi -110067

Media Release on distortion of Bhagat Singh face in Govt. Advertisements.

Shimla: It is extremely painful and shameful to know that both Central Govt. of India and state Govt. of Punjab have issued advertisement on 23rd March martyrdom day with the disfigured face of Bhagat Singh. In spite of the fact that I have been bringing this to the notice of President and Prime Minister of India and Chief Minister of Punjab many times through my email communications that both Governments are using a thoroughly distorted painting of Bhagat Singh’s face since decades, even the statues erected at hussainiwala and later at basing on that at Parliament complex have been distorted due to using this painting rather than the real pictures of Bhagat Singh, which are available. In spite of protests made by the family members of Bhagat Singh and scholars working on martyrs, both the Governments have shown utter insensitivity in this matter and continuing with their contemptuous treatment of martyr’s face, which has never been done in case of national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhash Bose or Dr. Ambedkar.It is only with most respected martyr of the country and region that this insulting behavior is repeated every other day. For instance today’s papers carry Central Government advertisement with red turbaned painting picture of Bhagat Singh and state Government of Punjab carries yellow turbaned painting picture of the martyr. Fact of the matter is when four real photographs of Bhagat Singh are available, then why one of the original photographs is not being used. Most popular and the last photograph of Bhagat Singh wearing an English hat was taken on 4th April 1929 by Ramnath, a photographer at Kashmere gate Delhi. Both Governments to out do each other in communal politics use turbaned painting of the martyr. Even if someone wants to use turbaned photograph of Bhagat Singh, that is also available with the family and now with the whole world through internet. This photograph of Bhagat Singh is with white turban and white Kurta taken at National College Lahore. One photo is of eleven years with turban and another without turban, but with bound head hair taken at Lahore police station being interrogated in 1927. Any where in the world, only real photographs are used to focus upon their national or international heroes, paintings are used only in case when real photographs are not being available, so painters try their imagination to create the images, as in case of gods and goddesses or even Sikh Gurus, when camera was not available.

I appeal to fair minded people in the Government and outside not to treat this matter so lightly. In fact I have given the four real photograph card, along with my book ‘Jail Notebook and Other writings’ (Bhagat Singh) to honorable Chief Justice of India Justice K.G. Balakrishanan as well, when he came to inaugurate Supreme court exhibition ‘the Trial of Bhagat Singh’ in September 2007.I wish that if the governments do not pay any attention to this sensitive issue ,I request Hon’ble Courts to take sue motto notice of this statement and issue notices to state and central Governments. If some public spirited advocate wishes to file public interest petition, he or she should do it for this national cause.

Chaman Lal

Indian Institute of Advanced Study Shimla(March 2010 only)-0177-2831376/2832195

Tel. 011-26704656 (Mob.-09868774820) Email: -

79 years ago Bhagat Singh story in The Tribune-Lahore

Kuldip Nayar in The Tribune

Inqlab Zindabad

It is  23rd March now on the clock-the most significant day for revolutionary movement of not only India,but for whole of South Asia, at least as important for Pakistan as for India.The greatest martyr of both India and Pakistan held the head of dignity of indian nation of 1931 and revolutionary movement of the whole world, high, with the resounding sounds of 'Inqlab Zindabad' and Down with Imperialism'.The event made the British colonialism hang its head in shame before the brave three-Bhagat singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev!
         Yesterday amarjit chandan sent a link of Aajkal Urdu daily from Lahore with the question that 'whether Bhagat Singh came to my dreams ever?' Since I went to bed only after it struck 23rd March and put a small note for the day on facebook and blog,I kept on thinking to update the note with photographs, so I am doing it now,have posted some rare photographs on facebook.
          I am trying to imagine the three days of March 1931.On 20th March Bhagat Singh wrote to Governor of Punjab, daring him to send firing squad in order to shoot them, as they were 'war prisoners', since the war was on between Indian nation and British colonialism.On 22nd March Bhagat singh wrote a letter to his Comrades, exhorting them to continue the struggle, though they will face immense hardships,more than dyeing; living and struggling will be much difficult...And what on 23rd itself,I presume they all three slept well in the night, after singing revolutionary songs.They knew only about 24th March as the day of execution.At the time of meetings, Pran Nath Mehta their friend and advocate brought the book on or by Lenin as sought by Bhagat singh , a day earlier.In all likelihood Pran Nath Mehta must have informed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev that all their families have refused to avail the last meeting with them, though all three families were present in Lahore that day for the last meeting. Rajguru's poor mother  traveled all the way from Maharshtra to be with his son.Sukhdev's mother was there with Sukhdev's uncle Lala Achint Ram Thapar, who was like a father to Sukhdev after the death of his father earlier.Jail authorities refused permission to Lala Achint Ram to accompany them for the last meeting, due to 'not being blood relation'.To protest against this, the all three families refused to avail the meeting.I was trying to gauge the pain of three mothers, particulary of Rajguru's poor mother, who came all the way from a village near Pune in Maharashtra,who has not got many chances to meet her son during the trial, being far away.At least Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev families had many chances to meet them,being in Punjab.Bhagat singh was worried that at last meeting his mother may not cry, so he advised her not to come,she did come,but now showing examplary courage bear pain, refused to see their sons for last time, exposing British colonial regime's cruelty in its worst form.
              Bhagat Singh could understood everything,when Bogha, dalit jail worker came ,Bhagat singh asked him to cook lunch for them.In 1931, Bogha cried,he can't commit this 'sin' to cook for 'high caste',but bhagat singh told him that before going to gallows, he has to eat from the hands of 'Bebe', they used to call Bogha, bebe(mother), since like mother he cleansed their shit.Bhagat singh had his way and got his last food from 'Bebe'.Then he started reading Lenin and around four jail warder Chatar Singh requested them to take bath,could not explain anything except crying.Bhagat singh understood 'time is up'. they got ready for the 'last and final journey'.Bhagat singh again continued reading lenin book, when around six, the jail staff came to fetch them,Bhagat singh smiled and said-'wait for a while', 'let me finish this page-a revolutionary is meeting another revolutionary, don't spoil the beauty of their meeting' .they waited.
         All three arms in arms, singing started moving towards gallows.bhagat singh's weight has increased by ten pounds, with the expectation of execution, mind 'exepectation and not apprehension', as he was so happy and excited to sacrifice his life for the country and people, in order to awaken them.i sometime wonder whether we shall celebrate 23 March with happiness or express sorrow as many people do.Bhagat singh would have said-Celebrate your struggles on this day, don't spread gloom, be cheerul and strong.
                       At 7.p.m or around, they were at gallows,Bhagat singh refused to wear the black cloth on his face and told British officer-you are lucky to see how happily Indians go to gallows for the nation.Saddam hussain was not the first to go to gallows with uncovered face, Bhagat singh was the first one.
                       And what did the British after the executions were over. Scared of people's anger, gathered at jail gate, the news spread fast.They mutiliated the bodies by cutting these into pieces, put into stacks and took from back gate towards hussainiwala, had burnt the bodies with kerosene oil with some Pandit/Granthi around from Kasur. Large number of people walking bby foot collected the half burnt body pieces,brought to Lahore and a lakh people joined in funeral march to Ravi bank in Lahore on 24th March evening.Thus ended the saga of one of bravest men and patriot of history at the age of 23 years and five months plus.
        Today i had to decline many invitations on Bhagat singh memorial programmes from Allahabad, Nagpur, delhi, Patiala, Chandigarh,begusarai and from Jhunjhunu in Rajsthan ,where a statue of Bhagat Singh is being inaugurated.My heart though is at Phansighat Lahore, where at, many activists are gathering to pay homage to the great martyrs of both India and Pakistan. My greetings to all revolutionary people anywhere in the world on this great day and best tribute to Bhagat Singh and Che Guvera is to shout with them-Inqlab Zindabad', Down with Imperialism(Neo colonialism)' and Socialist movement revival zindabad.Long Live revolution and Long Live Socialism.

Sunday, 21 March 2010