INTRO: Well known scholar of Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s writings Prof Chaman Lal, currently teaching at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi was recently in Pakistan, tracking the old memories and places associated with the great martyr. He has now written to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, pleading for a memorial to the martyr at the place where he really belonged.
Dear Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh ji,
As the birth centenary of the great martyr Bhagat Singh, begins from 28th September, the day he was born in Chak No. 105, village Banga in Jadanwala tehsil of district Lyallpur (Now named Faislabad) in undivided India in year1907, I wish to draw your attention towards certain significant matters, which should be paid serious and urgent attention.
- We, in India, celebrate Bhagat Singh birth day and martyrdom day in village Khatkar Kalan in district Nawanshehar (now being named as Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar) and at Hussainiwala near Ferozepur, where we have erected a memorial for them, taking these to be the place of his birth and cremation, respectively. The fact of the matter is that both the places are artificially created. Bhagat Singh was born in a house at the place I mentioned above and I visited that house recently and brought some photographs too. Khatkar Kalan is just the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh where he never lived. Same way Bhagat Singh was executed in Lahore jail, the ‘Phansighat’ has since been demolished and turned into ‘Shadman Chowk’. Bhagat Singh had his early education in a village near his house, about which CPI General Secretary Sh. A.B.Bardhan has drawn your attention. Better part of Bhagat Singh’s life was spent in Lahore. His father, a patriot in his own right and a Congress worker had a farmhouse near Lahore. Bhagat Singh and his father had long association with Bradlaugh Hall, Lahore, which was the centre of national movement and which located National College, set up by Lala Lajpat Rai, where Bhagat Singh had his education. In fact, after execution a horrifying cremation of bodies took place, badly cut into pieces and burnt after pouring kerosene on these near Ganda Singhwala village by British rule, which is now called Hussainiwala. This piece of land was actually acquired by Govt. of India after many years of partition. But the people searching for the bodies for the whole night of 23 rd March 1931, had actually picked up the half burnt pieces and brought these back to Lahore and cremated these properly with huge procession on Ravi river bank where earlier Lala Lajpat Rai was cremated in November 1928. So the actual place for memorial of Bhagat Singh is Lahore, either at the location of river Ravi or at Shadman Chowk, where they were executed.
- On the occasion of Bhagat Singh’s centenary, I think these are the places where memorial functions must be held with the participation of Indian and Pakistani people and if possible, with both the Governments planning joint functions. Bhagat Singh is loved by Pakistani people as well and he is the one who is regarded as a common symbol of freedom struggle. The Government of India must send a delegation to Lahore and Chak No. 105, his birth place, probably under the leadership of Sh. Shashi Bhushan, former M.P. and member of programme implementation committee for Bhagat Singh birth anniversary. Members of Parliament like Mohmad Salim(CPM), Abani Roy(RSP), Debbrat Biswas (Forward Block), D Raja (CPI), historians like Prof. Bipan Chandra, journalists like Kuldeep Nayar, patriots like Baba Bhagat Singh Bilga, President Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall Jalandhar, writers like C D Sidhu, author of Punjabi play-Bhagat Singh Shaheed, film makers like Rajkumar Santoshi and Ajay Devgun (“The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ fame) members of Bhagat Singh family, Kiranjit Singh (nephew-son of Kultar Singh), Jagmohan Singh (nephew), Abhai Singh (nephew), Advocate and writer Malwinderjit Singh Waraich, Researcher Dr. Gurdev Singh Sidhu etc. should form the Indian delegation. Each of these has contributed towards preserving the legacy of Bhagat Singh.
- The Government of India should make efforts to get Bradlaugh Hall of Lahore declared as heritage building from Government of Pakistan. At the moment the building is in bad shape, but this must be preserved due to its historic importance in freedom struggle. This should also serve as common symbol of the people of both the countries. Same way the house where Bhagat Singh was born should also be turned into a memorial. Initially, a plaque must be put up there and it should develop into a place, where Indian visitors could easily go to pay their respects as they go to Nankana Sahib. A plaque and statue of Bhagat Singh needs to be put up near or inside Shadman Chowk square, Lahore. This demand has been made many times by Pakistani intelligentia itself and the present Pakistani Govt. may not be averse to this idea. A plaque should be put up in Mianwali jail in Pakistan where Bhagat Singh was kept for few months.
- A year long common programmes like film shows, drama festivals, poets/writers meet, seminars etc. should also be chalked out to commemorate Bhagat Singh, either at various groups level or at Governmental level or at both the levels. In this regard Bhagat Singh’s writings must be published in Urdu, Sindhi, Pashto, Punjabi (Persian script) and Baluchi for Pakistani readers. At least it should begin with Urdu and Punjabi in Persian script which is in use in Pakistan.
I wish and hope that these suggestions may be kept in mind while chalking out various programmes in regard to Bhagat Singh’s centenary. If programme implementation committee can discuss these suggestions that will even be better. The committee has already taken a commendable decision to establish Bhagat Singh Chair in JNU and 1857 Chair in IGNOU.
With best regards
Editor—’Bhagat Singh ke Sampuran Dastavej'(Hindi)
Editor—’Bhagat Singh ke Rajnitik Dastavej’ (Hindi-NBT-under print)
Co-editor ‘Bhagat Singh aur unke sathiyon ke Dastavej'(Hindi)
Compilation and Introduction—’Jail Notebook and Other Writings’-Bhagat Singh (Leftword, Delhi)
Editor Bhagat Singh:Jivan aur Rachna’ (Hindi—being submitted)
Writer Ghadar Party Nayak:Kartar Singh Sarabha(Hindi-NBT)
President- Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association (JNUTA)
(Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also Chairman, National Committee on National Anniversaries Government of India New Delhi).