Friday, 7 January 2011

The Hindu article on my new book on Bhagat Singh in Urdu


M. Tahir speaks to seasoned author Chaman Lal who has just penned another book on Bhagat Singh

‘The sword of revolution is sharpened at the whetstone of thoughts.' You mention ‘Bhagat Singh' and see the spark in his eyes. He is Chaman Lal, author and educationist who teaches Hindi but breathes Punjabi and Urdu. For long Lal has been relentlessly trying to paint the ‘true picture' of the revolutionary through his writings. His latest book, “Bhagat Singh Key Rajneetik Dastavez”, published by National Book Trust and translated into Urdu by Hasan Musanna, titled, “Bhagat Singh Ke Siyasi Dastavez” has just hit the stands. Timely too considering Bhagat Singh's anniversary has just been observed across the country. This 233-page paperback is priced at Rs.85.
Lal, former Chairperson, Centre for Indian Languages, JNU, is a man on a mission. Delivering lectures, writing articles and books on Bhagat Singh has made Lal an authority on him. It all started four decades ago in his native place, Rampura Phul, Bhatinda. Then Hind Pocket Books brought out a series on the freedom fighters which was serialised in “Desh Bhakt Yadan” in Punjabi. This got Lal interested in Bhagat Singh. He has not looked back since.
This book is important as the documents throw enough light on Bhagat Singh's beliefs. They prove beyond doubt his deep thoughts and clear political vision, based on Marxism. In fact, Bhagat Singh, keenly aligned with Lenin's views, was studying Lenin till just before the hanging.
Why another book?
If you ask Lal, ‘why another one' as he has already penned half a dozen books on the revolutionary in different languages, he says, “See, people don't think of Bhagat Singh beyond a freedom fighter who threw a bomb in Delhi Assembly and was hanged by the British. I want to change this mindset and bring out the real Bhagat Singh, the intellectual who could have been a hero of the masses, at par with Gandhi if not better, due to his deep political views and a clear roadmap to freedom!”
According to him the British Empire was seeing in him an ideological hero and a leader like Lenin and the history has neglected this revolutionary and reformer. He aims to right this wrong with the new venture in a country that is at times guilty of selective memory.
The documents collected in this book show Bhagat Singh in a new perspective who by his own admission was an atheist who refused to say ‘Wahe Guru' before hanging. His dislike for Naram Dal, old stalwarts of freedom struggle, the Non-cooperation Movement and a policy of wait and watch is more than evident. He was the man of action rather, truly following the French revolutionary, Vaillant, who had said, “It takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear.”
He was also influenced by communist reformers and was impressed by the popular unrest during the 19th Century around Europe, America and Russia, specially the Tsar period. According to Lal, Bhagat Singh was the first freedom fighter who brought ‘Inquilab Zindabad' slogan into political arena while throwing the bomb in Delhi Assembly.
Why this translation in Urdu? Lal shuffles in his seat looking into the collection on his desktop to inform that Zahida Hina of Pakistan has called Bhagat Singh a ‘Pakistani Shaheed' and this Urdu book would support a Pakistani democratic movement or more aptly a Left democratic movement.
He is also striving to set up an archive on the lines of Gandhi and Nehru.
Beyond literature, even cinema has focussed on Bhagat Singh. Just a few years ago we had a spate of films on the revolutionary. Lal is clear about the portrayal of Bhagat Singh in films.
According to him the character of Bhagat Singh was more objective in Rajkumar Santoshi directed flick, The Legend of Bhagat Singh. He didn't like Ramanand Sagar's Bhagat Singh but found Guddu Dhanoa's Shaheed touching for its songs. He, however, has serious reservations about the much talked about Rang De Basanti. For the moment though, he would have us all reading Bhagat Singh. The language can be of our choice, the subject remains the same.

Urdu book-'Bhagat Singh ke Siyasi Dastavez' can be ordered at Ahmad Ali Sheikh, Sheikh Mubark Ali Publisher,62,Muzang Road Safanwala Chowk Lahore-Phone-6361306,mob.-03334266930 Or Imran Haque,Deputy Director(Sales),National Book Trust,Nehru Bhavan Vasant Kunj,New,phone-011...-26707700-02

Title of the book
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    • Shahid Kaiser Bajwa that is good to remember the great Bhagat singh
      07 October 2010 at 09:42 ·

    • Madan Rai Aap ke Bhagat ingh ke bare men lekhan par Hindu men lekh dekha.mujeh jahan tak jankari hai ,ees par pahla mahatwapoornkary aapne Heerawal men leekhe lekh se aarmbh keeya tha.Hame to aap ke aaur Merityu Bodh kelekh se hee ees mahan krantikari ko sahi paripreksh men janne ka aawsar meela.Han Hansraj Rahbar ke yogdan ko bhi nahin boolaya ja sakta hai.
      07 October 2010 at 12:13 ·

    • Tariq Yazdani
      Bhgat sing ki inqalabi jado jahad ke bare main to bachpan se hi bahut kuch pardhte aae hain aur un kai logon se mil chuke hain jo keh Bhagat sing ki underground zindgi ya Jail ke sathi rahe hain aur unse Saheed e watan Bhagat sing ke bare m...ain bahut kuch sun chuke hain.Janab hassan Sb nain professor Chaman Lal ki kitab Bhgat Sing ke Sayasi dastavezaat ka Urdu main tarjuma kar ke Bhagat Singh ke Sayasi nazriyat se hamain aur aane wali naslon ashna karwane ka fareeza ada kiya hai. Yaqeenan is se Pakistan main Bhaghat Singh ke chahne walon main beshumar Izafa ho ga Aur hamari azadi ki tehreek aur perwan chardhe gi.

      Yeh jang hai jang-e Azadi
      Azadi ke parcham ke tale
      See more

      07 October 2010 at 23:13 · · 1 personLoading...

    • Angrez Sekha Bahut Vadhieya ji,,,,,,,,
      07 October 2010 at 23:19 · · 1 personRauha Khalid likes this.

    • Saima Hayat hmmm ....good work ....
      08 October 2010 at 14:28 ·

    • Tariq Yazdani Thanx Rauha
      16 October 2010 at 00:29 ·

Books and photos

My Urdu book-'Bhagat Singh ke Siyasi Dastavez' can be ordered at Ahmad Ali Sheikh, Sheikh Mubark Ali Publisher,62,Muzang Road Safanwala Chowk Lahore-Phone-6361306,mob.-03334266930 Or
Imran Haque,Deputy Director(Sales),National Book Trust,Nehru Bhavan Vasant Kunj,New,phone-011...-26707700-02

Vicharvan Inqlabi Bhagat Singh-online

Bradlaugh Hall-Haroon Khalid

Bradlaugh Hall: A symbol of a revolution

by Haroon Khalid
From 1900 till 1947, for almost half a century the famous Bradlaugh Hall of Lahore situated on the Rettigan road, remained a symbol of Revolution for the entire British India. Charles Bradlaugh, Lala Lajpat Rai, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Ajeet Singh, Bhagat Singh, and Jawaharlal Nehru all towering figures of their times have been associated with this hall. What should have been preserved as the museum of political revolution in Lahore lies in shambles near the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences today. There is a huge lock on the entrance of the hall placed there by The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB). The gloomier aspect is that not many people of the city today are aware of the political, cultural and social significance of the Bradlaugh Hall. There are a few people who are actually aware of its existence.
Rettigan road in the late 19th century was occupied by massive British bungalows. This was the elite section of the town. Charles Bradlaugh, an English Parliamentarian, advocate of Indian freedom from the British yoke, bought a piece of land here. Bradlaugh unlike his fellow British conservatives belonged to a different school of thought. He was one of the most famous atheists of his time who refused to take the oath on Bible when elected in the Parliament. He was also one of those Parliamentarians who advocated that the Indian people should be allowed to choose their own fate; in the Parliament. His resolution was accepted.
In Lahore, he had earlier purchased this vast tract of land; however no hall had been constructed so far. The British Government could not appreciate his sympathy for the Indians so they initially took the contract of laying down railway tracks from him and then ordered him to leave Indian land immediately. He bought a boat, stocked food and anchored the boat on the bank of Ravi. His contestation was that since he was not on Indian ‘land’ therefore he was not disobeying the State. He was later forced to leave. In England he gathered together members of the civil society and the labor class to advocate for the cause of Indian freedom.
Surinder Nath Banarjee in 1900 after the departure of Charles Bradlaugh inaugurated this hall. He was a member of the Indian National Association which was incorporated into Congress later. From 1898-1905 he remained the President of the Indian National Congress.
Perhaps the greatest contribution to this hall came from Lala Lajpat Rai. He was born on the 28th of January 1865 in Ferozpur to Ghulab Devi. Ghulab Devi Hospital on the Ferozpur road is named after her. He joined the Government College Lahore in 1880 from where he got a degree in Law. As part of Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement he founded the National College inside this Hall to impart quality education to Indians, who did not want to join British institutions. In 1928 when the Nationalists boycotted the Simon Commission there were speeches organized here against it hosted by Lala Lajpat Rai, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, and Syed Atta ullah Shah Bukhari. The National College takes us directly to Bhagat Singh and his comrades. In 1922 he joined this college where he met Sukhdev and Yashpal his future compatriots. He remained here till 1926 and his political bearings were marked by his stay here. During that juncture and even after that many plays and other cultural activists were organized here with the focus on freedom of India. Another comrade of the Naujawan Bharat Swabha Bhagat Singh’s party Shareef Mateen, an inhabitant of Lahore remained in refuge here during the case against Bhagat Singh. He was present here with party members, the parents and brother of Bhagat Singh. During the trial his parents used to sit outside the hall on a charpoy and people passing by used to acknowledge them. The British Government established a Police check-post nearby to monitor the activities of the refuge.
Bhagat Singh was brought to this college by his Uncle Ajeet Singh a prominent figure of the Gaddar Movement. In the first half of the 20th Century political activists from the Gaddar Movement, Kissan Tehrikh and Pagadi Sambhal Jutta found refuge here. In the 1920 the famous Mohan Roy founder of the All India Communist Party and member of the International Communist Manifesto gave a memorable speech here, exhorting people to stand up for their rights and fight the British Imperialism. Inder Kumar Gujral a freedom fighter and former Prime Minister of India mentions of this hall in the most reminiscing tone. He says that this is where his political journey began from, where they formed their first Student Union. They heard the revolutionary speeches of Jawaharlal Nehru and poetry of Josh Miliabadi here for the first time. They also heard here Haran Mukherjee, Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, Mian Ifthikharuddin and Dr. Saifuddin Kachlo.
When the first film studio in Lahore was setup in 1933 it was organized in fields next to the Bradlaugh Hall property of the Hall.
It is a pity that a Hall, which remained so close to the Independence of British India and a center of cultural activity for half a century, saw a complete turn of fate after the creation of Pakistan. For a little time after 1947 it was used to store food stuff after which till 1980s, it served as a steel mill. It reopened as a technical education centre, the Milli Technical Education Institute however because of a dispute between the Directors; one of them took possession of the Hall and rented it out to private academies. Finally the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) took possession of the Hall claiming to be the legal owners of the property and since 2009 it has been closed. Now it is a sanctuary for criminal activities.
It is high time that the government realizes the political and cultural significance of the Bradlaugh Hall and conserves it as a museum of Revolution. Portraits or sculptors of the various important personalities who have been related to the Hall can be put up and a short history of the movements that have sprang up from here or that have remained in focus here can be put on the walls with pictures from the movement. The Hall can be open to general public. If steps are taken in this direction the significance of this Hall would be reestablished and the waning interest of our people in the history and culture of our land can be revived.

Ai watan ai watan

Kuldip Nayar on Bhagat Singh memorials

Lahore Central jail, where the three revolutionaries were hanged on the day in 1931, has been practically demolished. Their cells have been razed to the ground as if the establishment does not want any sign of their hanging to remain. It is a pity because Bhagat Singh’s sacrifice, long before partition, could have been a link of sorts between the two countries.

Three years ago, some of us located at Lahore the place where Bhagat Singh and his two comrades were hanged. Ironically, the locality where the scaffold for hanging was put up, has been named Shadman (abode of happiness). I asked residents of the colony if they knew who Bhagat Singh was. Many of them had heard the name. Some had a vague idea of his confinement and hanging.

“When we came here, there were only police quarters, which were pulled down as the colony expanded,” said a man in his fifties. The then Lahore Deputy Commissioner had not even heard of Bhagat Singh’s name.

Fortunately, the place of hanging is a bit removed from the main road. There is a pond which gives serenity to the site. We paid homage to the martyrdom of the three on March 24 to avoid the Pakistan National Day celebrations. The following year, we could not hold even a meeting because the authorities had clamped Section 144. The recurrent blasts at Lahore this year kept us away.

The busy roundabout, near which the scaffold for hanging was put up, has a story which is told and retold. This is the place where Nawaz Mohammad Ahmed Khan, father of Ahmed Raza Kasuri, then a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, was shot at.

Former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had reportedly “instructed someone” to kill Kasuri, a staunch opponent. When the bullets were fired through automatic weapons, Kasuri was negotiating the roundabout. His father, sitting next to him, received fatal injuries near the scaffold.

Kasuri’s grandfather was one of the officials who had identified the bodies of the three revolutionaries. Old timers believe that nemesis caught up with the Kasuri family when Mohammad Ahmed Khan was wounded at the roundabout. Ironically, Bhutto himself was hanged some 25 years ago.

Bhagat Singh was a staunch secular who knew no borders of prejudice or bias. For him the world was divided between the haves and the have-nots. Religion or caste did not figure anywhere. In an essay on “Why am I an atheist?” he argues: “Any man who stands for progress has to criticise, disbelieve and challenge every item of the old faith. If after considerable reasoning one is led to believe in any theory or philosophy, his faith is welcomed. His reasoning can be mistaken, wrong, misled, and sometimes fallacious. But he is liable to correction because reason is the guiding star of his life. But mere faith and blind faith is dangerous; it dulls the brain, and makes a man reactionary.”

Bhagat Singh maintained a notebook throughout his internment. A voracious reader as he was he would write down in his notebook the sentences he liked. Dwelling on his lack of faith in any religion, Bhagat Singh quoted from the notebook Upton Sinclair, an American socialist. The latter wrote: “Just make a man a believer in immortality and then rob him of all his riches and possessions. He shall help you even in that ungrudgingly. The coalition among the religious preachers and possessors of power brought forth jails, gallows, knots and these theories.”

The saddest day was March 23. It began like any other day when the political prisoners were let out of their cells in the morning. They normally remained out during the day and returned after sunset. But on March 23 when warden Charat Singh showed up at 4 p.m. and asked them to get back in, they were surprised.

It was too early for them to be locked up. They had often stayed long after sunset despite the warden’s rebukes. But this time he was not only strict, he was also adamant. He would not say why. All that he muttered incoherently was “orders from above.” They guessed that it was the hanging of Bhagat Singh and his two comrades.

The scaffold was old, but the hefty hangmen were not. All the three men sentenced to death stood on separate wooden planks, with a deep ditch of water running below them. Bhagat Sigh was in the middle. The noose was tightened around each one’s necks. They kissed the rope. Their hands and feet were tied. The hangmen pulled the rope and removed the rafters from under their feet. It was a crude mechanism. The bodies, limp and drooping, remained hanging from the scaffold for a long time. They were brought down and examined by a doctor who pronounced them dead.

I have not been able to understand why the government is reluctant to put a copper plaque at the place in the Central hall of Parliament where Bhagat Singh threw a bomb, purposely of low intensity, to draw the attention of authorities to the two proposed Bills relating to public safety and trade disputes before the House.

He said: “It takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear.” These are immortal words uttered on a similar occasion by Valliant, a French anarchist martyr, who said: “We strongly justify this action of ours” to open the ears.

During my six-year-long membership of the Rajya Sabha, I requested all Lok Sabha Speakers of different political parties to put the plaque at the bench in the public gallery from where Bhagat Singh threw the bomb and the place on the floor where it landed. My efforts bore no fruit. This is the least homage we can pay to the memory of Bhagat Singh.

Revolutionaries statues

These are photographs from Gorakhpur,which I visited in June 2010,Faizabad, which I visited in June 2008 and Shahjahanpur,which I visited in 1989.Shahjahanpur photos I have scanned and then loaded on computer.

Najam Hussain Syed on Bhagat Singh

Najm Hosain Syed arguably is the best Punjabi writer of the twentieth century poet , critic , playwright teacher, scholar, historian and leader of Punjabi Language Movement. His writings about Punjabi heroes Dullah Bhatti ,Ahmed Khan Kharal (two plays) and about our classic poets , all of whom were revolutionaries Nanak , Shah Hussain , Bulleh ... See moreShah Waris Shah , Sachal Sarmast et al , are a legion . He is a writer who is also a teacher , songwriter and composer par excellence . He is leader of thought in the Leftist and Punjabi Language Movements in Pakistan . Sir, you as language teacher would understand that the class struggle of the people is very closely linked to people,s languages in South Asia . People as varied in life as late Prof Kishen Singh and Punjabi leftist poet Paash Shaheed acknowledged Najm,s contribution .This is a short introduction about Najm Hosain Syed .Those who do not know about him do not know much about the Punjabi language today . Though my father , a leftist/ Congressman taught me about Bhagat Singh as a child , as any Punjabi father should ,it was Najm who introduced me to the historical /real Baghat Singh . Our magazines, best ever in the language , Maan Boli / Pancham , published all the writings of Bhaghat Singh ; that is where I learned about your Historical contribution to Bhagat Singh, life and history writings . Najm Is actively engaged with project Bhagat Singh,s life. And hopefully when we bring the repertoire theater of Najm,s to East Punjab a play about Bhagat Singh will be among them. Here are two of his short poems , first about class consciousness of Bhaghat Singh and one about his dream of India,s future , then . The poems are in Punjabi . The first with Bhangra taal is purpotedly a letter in reply to an upper class friends expression of sympathy :-O, hun tay aa gaey haan ! :Laambay keekan rahiay !Hun tay aa gaey haan :Yaari taeree saadee koi nahin ;Aevaen taenu jhooth paey kahiay : Hun tay aa giay haan , lambay keekan rahiay ;Tera saada jut vaer da ay ; Eha rah milan da ay toray ;Saanun khabray ajay saar nahin ; Koee jit puri jit nahin ; Haar koee puri haar nahin ; Hun tay aa gaey haan , laambay keekan rahiay ;Hun tay aa gaey haan !Jee marnun mar jewnu koee bahar nahin , hun tay aa gaey haan ; Lambay keekan rahiay , hun tay aa gaey haan ! The second poem is more complex . It is imagining the thoughts of the Hero at the time of his death , his all seeing eye that made him what he was ! "Asaan vaekh laey aj raat bhalak jo avny hae !Hae hirkkh jeha toray na vekhan !Jinhan bhet nah bhalia kal tay aj di ghaat ander ; Oha bujhian battian baal suttay ! Asan vekh lia aj raat bhalak jo avna hae !

Bange Museum about Bhagat Singh