Pakistan is proving to be a bigger fan of Bhagat Singh than RSS

Lahore High Court has reopened the trial of the freedom fighter after a petition filed by a civil society member.

 |  3-minute read |   04-02-2016
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On February 3, 2016, Lahore High Court ruled that the trial of Bhagat Singh in the Saunders murder case, in which he, along with Sukhdev and Rajguru, was hanged on March 23, 1931, needs to be heard by a larger bench. The case came up for hearing before a two-judge bench. The court thought that since the 1930 decision of Tribunal was delivered by a three-judge panel - all at the high court-level - the review of the judgement should be made by a larger bench. The decision followed a petition filed by Imtiaz Rashid Quereshi, founding chairman, Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation, Temple road, Lahore, through senior advocate Farooq Hasan.

The petition was heard by single judge Shujat Ali Khan in May 2013, who then sent it to chief justice of Lahore High Court for constituting a larger bench. As the case involves significant points of law, the two-bench judge that heard this petition on February 3, further referred it to the chief justice for constituting a still larger bench.

In 1996, senior Supreme Court advocate and well-known writer AG Noorani had underlined in his book The Trial of Bhagat Singh the many chinks in the judgement related to this case, and had even termed it a judicial murder. Taking clues from such publications in India, the petitioner has now requested to see the records in Punjab Archives, Lahore, which holds 135 files related to this trial as "secret". These files are no less important than the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose files, which have seen much politics recently. But no Indian leader has ever taken up this issue with the Pakistan government to get the files released. Columnist Kuldip Nayar had tried, at a personal level, to get access to these files, but did not succeed despite his good relations with the Sharif brothers in Pakistan.

Quereshi has further prayed that if the trial is found to be flawed then "appropriate steps be taken to rehabilitate the historical legacy of Bhagat Singh in a befitting manner." He has also sought to take over Poonch House - where the trial of Bhagat Singh was held - to convert it into "a museum of national history of Pakistan" and asked that streets be named after Punjab freedom fighter (All quotations from the petition of Imtiaz Quereshi filed in Lahore High Court.).

Lahore lawyers have sought the advice of senior Supreme Court of India advocate Nafis Ahmad Sidiqi, who is the son-in-law of the great nationalist and poet Hasrat Mohani. Advocate Siddiqi is advising Lahore advocates in the proceedings of this case.

It is very interesting that Pakistan's civil society is reclaiming the legacy of Bhagat Singh's freedom struggle. The location of his execution, now called Shadman chowk, was officially named "Bhagat Singh Chowk’ after the demolition of the jail there, and the decision has been stayed by the court due to opposition by Islamic jihadists. However, district coordination officer Noorul Amin Mengal, when transferred to Faisalabad (Lyallpur before 1947), had declared that Bhagat Singh's house and primary school there - Chak No. 105,  Lyallpur Bange - will be treated as a heritage house. Millions of rupees have been sanctioned its renovation and upkeep.

Compare this with RSS-imposed chief minister of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar, who overturned his predecessor Bhupender Singh Hooda’s decision to name Chandigarh airport "Shaheed Bhagat Singh airport", and instead wanted to name it after RSS worker Mangal Sen. This is the love of the RSS for Bhagat Singh, which they keep expressing from rooftops!


Chaman Lal Chaman Lal @profchaman

The author is a retired professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University and the author of Understanding Bhagat Singh.

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