Monday, 16 October 2017

Bhagat Singh letter to his father-Reference The Tribune column

   Dr. Harish Khare wrote a on father-sons duel in his very popular column in The Tribune given below, then I responded to him, posted below this piece and Harish Khare was graceful enough to take note of it and published my response, but excluding Bhagat Singh letter attached to my response, due to space constraint of the column. To give a holistic view of discussion, posting Dr. Khare's columns on 1st and 16th October ad my letter to him attached with Bhagat Singh's letter to his father.

Dear Harish Khare ji,
    Even though I don't write you every time, I enjoy reading your writings in The Tribune and share it with large no of people on my social sites.
     I enjoyed your Spectrum Face to Face with Mahatma so much!
   This particular is in reference to your Sunday coffee (I find its real term kafeeklatsch- बहुत क्लिष्ट) piece-This father-son duel in Aurangzeb style. While for lighter vain it is fine, but seriously some time father-son have to express different opinions, even sharply. Recently Supreme Court judge D Y Chandrachud, almost castigated his father Justice Y V Chandrachud for supporting emergency even indirectly, when he was Judge in Supreme Court and the son overturned father's judgement!
    More seriously Bhagat Singh wrote a historical letter to his father on 4th October 1930 and insisted on its publication immediately as pronouncement of judgement in Lahore Conspiracy case was due on 7th October. He castigated his father for trying to save his life by cooking up an excuse of Bhagat Singh not being present in Lahore on the day of Saunders murder. I am attaching copy of the letter, which was carried in media(Perhaps Tribune as well) on 5th October, two days prior to the pronouncement of judgement. Had that letter of Bhagat Singh not published, his image as a fearless revolutionary would had been seriously compromised and he would not have attained the iconic status of today!
  One can see that Bhagat Singh maintained the dignity of father-son relationship, yet expressed his views most clearly and sharply and his father Kishan Singh showed the same grace by getting letter published as per the wish of his son.
   In fact there is a lesson for present day leaders of the country from this exchange of views between father and son. If Rahul Gandhi could gather courage and criticise 1975 emergency imposed by her grand mother and also express clear regrets on 1984 Delhi riots under his father's government, his image as a political leader could soar to such heights that he could look like true inheritor of his great grand father Jawaharlal Nehru's legacy, which was sadly betrayed by her own daughter and grand son!
With warm regards
Chaman Lal

Letter to Father Kishan Singh   4th October 1930 (Notes-30)

Oct. 4, 1930
I was astounded to learn that you had submitted a petition to the members of the Special Tribunal in connection with my defence. This intelligence proved to be too severe a blow to be borne with equanimity. It has upset the whole equilibrium of my mind. I have not been able to understand how you could think it proper to submit such a petition at this stage and in these circumstances. In Spite of all the sentiments and feelings of a father, I don't think you were at all entitled to make such a move on my behalf without even consulting me. You know that in the political field my views have always differed with those of yours. I have always been acting independently without having cared for your approval or disapproval.
I hope you can recall to yourself that since the very beginning you have been trying to convince me to fight my case very seriously and to defend myself properly. But you also know that I was always opposed to it. I never had any desire to defend myself and never did I seriously think about it. Whether it was a mere vague ideology or that I had certain arguments to justify my position, is a different question and that cannot be discussed here.
            You know that we have been pursuing a definite policy in this trial. Every action of mine ought to have been consistent with that policy, my principle and my programme. At present the circumstances are altogether different, but had the situation been otherwise, even then I would have been the last man to offer defence. I had only one idea before me throughout the trial, i.e. to show complete indifference towards the trial in spite of serious nature of the charges against us. I have always been of opinion that all the political workers should be indifferent and should never bother about the legal fight in the law courts and should boldly bear the heaviest possible sentences inflicted upon them. They may defend themselves but always from purely political considerations and never from a personal point of view. Our policy in this trial has always been consistent with this principle; whether we were successful in that or not is not for me to judge. We have always been doing our duty quite disinterstedly.
In the statement accompanying the text of Lahore Conspiracy Case Ordinance the Viceroy had stated that the accused in this case were trying to bring both law and justice into contempt. The situation afforded us an opportunity to show to the public whether we were trying to bring law into contempt or whether others were doing so. People might disagree with us on this point. You might be one of them. But that never meant that such moves should be made on my behalf without my consent or even my knowledge. My life is not so precious, at least to me, as you may probably think it to be. It is not at all worth buying at the cost of my principles. There are other comrades of mine whose case is as serious as that of mine. We had adopted a common policy and we shall stand to the last, no matter how dearly we have to pay individually for it.
Father, I am quite perplexed. I fear I might overlook the ordinary principle of etiquette and my language may become a little but harsh while criticizing or rather censoring this move on your part. Let me be candid. I feel as though I have been stabbed at the back. Had any other person done it, I would have considered it to be nothing short of treachery. But in your case, let me say that it has been a weakness - a weakness of the worst type.
This was the time where everybody's mettle was being tested. Let me say, father, you have failed. I know you are as sincere a patriot as one can be. I know you have devoted your life to the cause of Indian independence, but why, at this moment, have you displayed such a weakness? I cannot understand.
In the end, I would like to inform you and my other friends and all the people interested in my case that I have not approved of your move. I am still not at all in favour of offering any defence. Even if the court had accepted that petition submitted by some of my co-accused regarding defence, etc., I would have not defended myself. My applications submitted to the Tribunal regarding my interview during the hunger strike, were misinterpreted and it was published in the press that I was going to offer defence, though in reality I was never willing to offer any defence. I still hold the same opinion as before. My friends in the Borstal Jail will be taking it as a treachery and betrayal on my part. I shall not even get an opportunity to clear my position before them.
I want that public should know all the details about this complication, and, therefore, I request you to publish this letter.
Your loving son
Bhagat Singh

(Italics/bold mine)

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