The year 2007 marked the birth centenary of Bhagat Singh and the 75th year of his execution. He was executed in the Central Jail of Lahore on March 23, 1931 at 7.30 p.m.
Since then a number of questions have been raised regarding Mahatma Gandhi'sattitude towards Bhagat'sSingh'strial and execution. Most historical narratives have discussed this because when Bhagat Singh was hanged, many wondered why Gandhi did not try to save him! He was loved for his selflessness and respected for this moral integrity and practical sagacity. Some writers alleged that Gandhi could have saved Bhagat Sigh'slife if he had wished but didn?t. Gandhi'sown party workers and followers clarify with ?pathetic earnestness? that Gandhi failed not because of his lack of interest in the well-being of Bhagat Singh, but because of the conditioning circumstances which were beyond his control. Though the author quotes the views of Kuldip Nayar, D.S. Deol, K.K. Khullar and British historians like Percival Spear, C.H. Phillips and Judith Brown, what is interesting to read is what D.G. Tendulkar has to say. Quoting from Gandhi'sspeech in Delhi on March 7, 1931, he says, ?Those who use the sword will perish by the sword? and argues that Gandhi'smoral commitment to non-violence prevented him from supporting Bhagat Singh'sacts of violence. On the other hand, Pattabhi Sitaramayya, the official Congress historian, says, ?Gandhi himself definitely stated to the Viceroy that if the boys should be hanged, they had better be hanged before the Congress, then after.?
This is not all. A general assumption in the works published so far on the subject is that the crime of the commutation of Bhagat Singh'sdeath sentence was one that could have been amicably resolved between Gandhi and Irwin with tact and compassion.
The author of the book offers his criticism of the view expressed by some historians who believe that Bhagat Singh was a convinced and confirmed Marxist, Socialite and Leninite. He adds that Bhagat Singh grew and evolved by drawing inspiration from several quarters. He meditated on his own experiences. Through this book the author traces the growth and evolution of the revolutionary'sthinking through his various stages of growth by identifying the influences that affected him, though none can deny that Bhagat Singh, by his sacrifice, had aroused national consciousness in the country.
The book shows that Bhagat Singh and his associates were as much the victims of British imperialism as of Gandhian politics.
After presenting all the pros and cons of the argument, the author concludes by saying that a sacrifice never goes in vain and that Gandhi despite his disapproval of the rebellious act regarded Bhagat Singh'ssacrifice as a patriotic one. Lest he hurts the soul of either of the two patriots, the author concludes by describing both the Mahatma'sand Bhagat Singh'ssacrifice as ?constructive destruction?.
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