Mahatma Gandhi never even defended himself. Always said that if I have committed a crime, I am ready to face the punishment. Taking full responsibility for the Chauri-Chaura incident on himself, he said that ‘punish me’. If some people raise the question that Gandhi did not do enough to save Bhagat Singh, then in response it can be said that he never tried to save himself.
Gandhi is all over the world, at least in the form of statues. There are about 70 countries in the world in which the statue of Gandhiji is installed. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, which is now known as Gujarat. A day dedicated to the ‘Father of the Nation’, Gandhi Jayanti is a celebration of his birth anniversary.
‘If Gandhi Ji wanted, the execution of Bhagat Singh could have been prevented’. There are many such allegations, which have often been levelled against Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi tried his best to save the lives of Bhagat Singh and his associates till the last moment. The paper also discusses Gandhi’s strategy of focusing on suspension rather than reducing the death penalty.
Mahatma Gandhi elaborated his position on Bhagat Singh and revolutionary violence at the Karachi Congress session, three days after the execution of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.
The false impression has been created that Gandhi took an interest in the fate of Bhagat Singh only a few weeks before his execution. Already on May 4, 1930, one day before he was arrested, Gandhi had written to the viceroy strongly criticizing him for the creation of a special court to try the revolutionaries in the Lahore conspiracy case:
“You have found a shortcut through the delay of the law in the matter of the trial of Bhagat Singh and others by eliminating the ordinary procedure. Is it any wonder if I call all these official activities a veiled form of Martial Law?” On January 31, 1931, he spoke at Allahabad on the subject of the execution of Bhagat Singh. “Those on death row should not be hanged. My personal religion tells me that not only should they not be hanged, but they should not even remain in prison. However, that is my personal opinion and we cannot make their release a problem”.
He went to great lengths to save Bhagat Singh’s life and, contrary to what people like to believe, would have further supported their agendas.
Gandhi raised the issue of Bhagat Singh with the Viceroy on February 18, 1931:
He talked about Bhagat Singh. I told him, “This has nothing to do with our discussion, and it may even be inappropriate for me to mention it. But if you want the present atmosphere to be more favorable, you must stay the execution of Bhagat Singh.” The Viceroy liked this very much. He said: “I thank you very much for bringing this matter to me in this way. Commutation of sentence is a difficult thing, but certainly suspension is worth considering.”
Lord Irwin, in his own report to the Secretary of State on the same day, penned his position on the issue of commutation:
He (Mahatma Gandhi) did not plead for commutation, although he would, being opposed to all taking of life, take that course himself. He also thought it would have an influence for peace. But he did ask for postponement in present circumstances. I contented myself with saying that, whatever might be the decision as to exact dates, I could not think there was any case for commutation which might not be made with equal force in the case of any other violent crime.
Gandhiji writes in his book ‘Swaraj‘, “The death penalty should not be given.”
“Had I had a chance to talk with Bhagat Singh and his companions, I would have told them that their chosen path was wrong and unsuccessful. I want to show the truth that by following the path of violence, I want to show the truth that by following the path of violence. Can’t get it. Only difficulties can be found.
“I tried in as many ways as I could to explain to the Viceroy. I used the power I could to convince. On the morning of the 23rd I wrote a personal letter to the Viceroy in which I had poured out my whole soul.”
“Bhagat Singh was not a priest of non-violence, but did not consider violence as a religion. These heroes had even conquered the fear of death. Salute to their valor. But their act should not be imitated. I don’t believe that someone has benefited. If the practice of gaining fame by killing blood is started, then people will start looking for justice in each other’s murder.”
- On April 8, 1929, Bhagat Singh along with his associate Batukeshwar Dutt dropped two bombs on the Central Assembly in Delhi and also arrested on the spot. Bhagat Singh’s motive was not to kill anyone. With opposition to the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Disputes Act, the voice of freedom was to be carried to the world.
- Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were sentenced to death on October 7, 1930, and hanged in Lahore jail on March 23, 1931, one day before the scheduled date.
- On March 5, 1931, 17 days before the execution, there was an agreement between Viceroy Lord Irwin and Mahatma Gandhi, known as the Gandhi Irwin Pact.
- The historian and author of many books on Gandhi, Anil Nauria, says that Gandhi had sent Tej Bahadur Sapru, MR Jayakar and Srinivas Shastri to the viceroy to reduce the hanging of Bhagat Singh.
- Herbert William Emerson, who was Home Secretary in the British government from April 1930 to April 1933, wrote in his memoirs that Gandhi’s efforts to save Bhagat Singh and his companions were honest and to call them improvised is an insult to the messenger of peace.
- According to Gandhiji, ‘If he had had the chance to talk to Bhagat Singh and his companions, he would have told them that the path they had chosen was wrong and unsuccessful. Bearing God as my witness, I want to express this truth that Swaraj cannot be achieved by following the path of violence. Only difficulties can come.
- Historian AG Noorani, in his book The Trial of Bhagat Singh Chapter 14, Gandhi’s Truth, says that Gandhi made half-hearted efforts to save Bhagat Singh’s life. He did not forcefully appeal to the viceroy to commute Bhagat Singh’s death sentence to life imprisonment.
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