How revolutionaries uplifted the masses: The Tribune India

Mr. Rajivlochan


YOUNG India seems to be rising in turmoil today. Much of our reflection classes are very hopeful that such turmoil will translate into something good. A similar hope arose in 1929, when young revolutionaries captured the imagination of the Indian people like no one else had before. For the next three years, their actions will remain central to popular memory and continue to inspire young people for many decades later. Their actions also forced the rulers to consider the exasperation of the Indian people at being ruled by a foreign government. As Sukhdev’s letter, published posthumously in The Tribune on March 28, 1931, explained, their effort was to inspire the people to oppose the British more vigorously.

Bhagat Singh (21) from Lahore and his friend, Batukeshwar Dutt (19) from Burdwan, requested the arrest after throwing a bomb at the Central Legislative Assembly on April 8, 1929. The bombs were thrown just after that The Assembly passed the Trade Disputes Bill and Assembly Speaker Vithalbhai Patel had risen to vote on the Public Safety Bill. Vithalbhai was the older brother of peasant leader Vallabhbhai Patel who would later become the Prime Minister of the Interior of India. Later, the Chief Inspector of Explosives will testify that the bombs were cast iron, weighed 3.5 to 4 ounces (about 100 grams) and had used a mixture of potassium chloride and picric acid as an explosive.

“Bomb outrage by the Communists in the Assembly,” screamed the headlines the next day. Newspapers also reported that when members of the Assembly began to flee after the first bomb explosion, a second bomb was thrown at the treasury banks, at the members who “were fleeing from the first explosion.” . Fifteen minutes later, the members returned to the hemicycle from the halls where they had taken refuge. Inside the hall, they discovered brochures that had been thrown from the visitors’ gallery. The “red pamphlets,” as they were called at the time, purported to be “opinions” of the Socialist Republican Army of Hindustan and were signed by Balraj, the commander-in-chief. This was the pseudonym that Chandrashekhar Tiwari (23) used to sign brochures, he called himself “Azad”.

“It takes a great noise to make the deaf hear,” said the pamphlet referring to French anarchists and justifying the bomb. He alludes to the fall of the French and Russian monarchies through revolutionary action and condemns constitutional methods. “This House, the so-called Indian Parliament,” said the pamphlet, had only humiliated India for the past ten years. “The Republican Socialist Association of Hindustan … realizing its full responsibility, decided and ordered its army to take this particular action so that an end can be put to this humiliating farce and let the foreign bureaucratic exploiters do so. what they want but to do is in their naked form in the public eye, ”he said, urging the elected representatives to“ return to their constituencies ”and“ prepare the masses for the coming revolution ” . “Long live the revolution”, he concludes, while hoping that “the sacrifice of individuals on the altar of the revolution … will bring freedom to all making it impossible to exploit man by man”.

Pundit Madan Mohan Malaviya, who sat in the assembly, called the action “shocking and most deplorable”, as did Dewan Chamanlal, founder and first secretary general of the Congress of Indian Trade Unions (AITUC). “A despicable crime against the national movement itself,” he said. Madras nationalist newspaper The Hindu described it as “the work of mad fanatics.” On April 11, addressing a public meeting in Bezwada, Gandhi said that due to the bomb explosion, “Swaraj took a step back … it delayed the progress of the national movement.” He would blame the government for creating a situation in which young people, out of a sense of “mad vengeance and helpless rage”, resorted to violence in order to make their voices heard by the government.

Pandit Motilal Nehru issued a press note saying “such an incident is a disaster for India”. He called revolutionaries “a few lost and foolish young people” while insisting that “the real India does not believe in the cult of the bomb”. He warned that at this point the country was faced with a choice. “The choice is between Gandhi and ‘Balraj’. Motilal Nehru, at this point, had concocted a consensus on the sharing of power among India’s political leaders through what was known as the Nehru Report, a project to create an Indian-led constitutional government, India acquiring dominion status within the British Empire. Only Jinnah disagreed with the Nehru report. He demanded that Muslims, as they were a minority in India, should be given a greater share of power than the proportion of their population. Any violence at this point, we believe, would have derailed such efforts towards dominion status.

Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt refused to make any immediate statement, either upon their arrest or in the days that followed. On the contrary, they said, they would say whatever needed to be said in court.

Much of the public interest in their case revolved around what would have been their “rigid silence.” They insisted on making a statement only before a judge. There was also a growing admiration for them, having stirred up the imperial government. Police reports indicate that the public is increasingly grateful to revolutionaries.

When the trial began in Delhi on May 8, 1929, Bhagat Singh and Dutt appeared before Judge AB Pool in the district prison courtroom, shouting “Inquilab Zindabad” and “Down with imperialism”. They would later state their condemnation of foreign rule over India, the need for the people to regain control of their destiny, and the government’s insensitivity to Indian concerns.

Well-known lawyer Asaf Ali came forward to defend the case of revolutionaries. He insisted that “Inquilab Zindabad” was just a slogan and could not become the basis for prosecuting anyone. Ali also insisted that the “red brochure” was a “schoolboy joke” and that there was no reason for the police to assume that it was incitement to revolution. The young revolutionaries have shown a great capacity to dramatize their opposition to the imperial government. Gandhi was perhaps the only Indian who was not impressed. People “do not seek the gallows for political freedom,” Gandhi stressed, disagreeing with Bhagat Singh’s method and insisting that the Gandhian method of peaceful persuasion was a better strategy for Indians to achieve their goals. purposes.

Thelma J. Longworth