Mahatma Gandhi and Congress on Bhagat Singh’s Martyrdom

gandhi bhagat singh

Sangh Parivar and leaders and spokesmen of its affiliates never miss any opportunity to malign Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. The latest in their malicious campaign is an article written by Rakesh Sinha, BJP member of Rajya Sabha. In his article published in Indian Express (August `14) Sinha claims that “Despite the unbounded reverence for Mahatma Gandhi the masses rejected his silence on the hanging of Bhagat Singh.”

This is totally untrue. The fact is that Gandhi’s reaction was boundless. He not only broke his silence, the moment the news of Bhagat Singh’s hanging reached him, he himself penned a moving yet powerful resolution on Bhagat Singh and comrades which was adopted by the Indian National Congress on 29th March 1931. Gandhi asked Jawaharlal Nehru to move the resolution which was seconded by Madan Mohan Malaviya.

The resolution reads as follows : “This Congress while dissociating itself from and disapproving of political violence in any shape or form, places on record its admiration of the bravery and sacrifice of the late Sardar Bhagat Singh and his comrades, Sukhdev and Rajguru, and mourns with the bereaved families the loss of these lives. This Congress is of the opinion that this triple execution is an act of wanton vengeance and is a deliberate flouting of the unanimous demand of the nation for commutation This Congress is further of opinion that Government have lost the golden opportunity of promoting goodwill between the two nations, admittedly held to be essential at this juncture, and of winning over to the method of peace the party which, being driven to despair, resorts to political violence.”

Not only that, he wrote an article in the issue of ‘Young India’ of 29 March 1931. Gandhi wrote:

Bhagat Singh and his two associates have been hanged. The Congress made many attempts to save their lives and the Government entertained many hopes of it, but all has been in a vain.

“Bhagat Singh did not wish to live. He refused to apologise, or even file an appeal. Bhagat Singh was not a devotee of non-violence, but he did not subscribe to the religion of violence. He took to violence due to helplessness and to defend his homeland. In his last letter, Bhagat Singh wrote, “I have been arrested while waging a war. For me there can be no gallows. Put me into the mouth of a cannon and blow me off.” These heroes had conquered the fear of death. Let us bow to them a thousand times for their heroism.

“But we should not imitate their act. In our land of millions of destitute and crippled people, if we take to the practice of seeking justice through murder, there will be a terrifying situation. Our poor people will become victims of our atrocities. By making a dharma of violence, we shall be reaping the fruit of our own actions.

“Hence, though we praise the courage of these brave men, we should never countenance their activities. Our dharma is to swallow our anger, abide by the discipline of non-violence and carry out our duty”.

Mahatma Gandhi also spoke on more than one occasion against the hanging of Bhagat Singh and his associates. Mahatma Gandhi in March 1931, made a final appeal to the Viceroy in the interest of peace to commute the sentence of Bhagat Singh and two others. He emphatically argued that ‘popular opinion  demands commutation: when there is no principle at stake, it is often a duty to respect it.

These  concrete evidences refute Sinha’s claim that Gandhi kept silence on Bhagat Singh’s hanging stands refuted. I hope that he would submit an unqualified apology for maligning the Mahatma.

L S Herdenia is a journalist by profession and a well-known activist & fighter for the cause of Secularism and Communal Harmony

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