People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 25, 2007
75th MARTYRDOM ANNIVERSARY OF SHAHEED BHAGAT SINGH
‘No Hanging, Please Shoot Us’
[The main charge against the Lahore Conspiracy Case accused was that of waging war against the King. The three condemned comrades, therefore, claimed that they should be treated as war prisoners. In army the death sentence is carried out not by hangmen but by a firing squad. It was with this request that the three comrades addressed the following letter to the Governor of Punjab.]
With due respect we beg to your kind notice the following.
That we were sentenced to death on 7th October, 1930 by a British court, LCC, Tribunal, constituted under the Special LCC Ordinance, promulgated by H E. The viceroy, the head of the British government in India, and the main charge against us was that of having waged war against H M King George, the King of England.
The above mentioned findings of the court presupposed two things:
First, that there exists a state of war between the British nation and the Indian nation and, secondly, that we had actually participated in that war and were, therefore, war prisoners.
This second presupposition seems to be a little bit flattering, but nevertheless it is too tempting to resist the design acquiescing in it.
STATE OF WAR
AS REGARDS the first, we are constrained to go into some details. Apparently there seems to be no such war as the phrase indicated. Nevertheless, please, allow us to accept the validity of the presupposition, taking it at its face value. But in order to be correctly understood we must explain it further. Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist so long as the Indian toiling masses and their natural resources are being exploited by a handful of parasites. They may be purely British capitalists or mixed British and Indian, or even purely Indian. They may be carrying on their insidious exploitation through mixed or even purely Indian bureaucratic apparatus. All these things make no difference. No matter if your government tries and succeeds in wining over the leaders of the upper strata of the Indian society through petty concessions and compromises and thereby cause a temporary demoralisation in the main body of the forces. No matter if once again the vanguard of the Indian movement, the revolutionary party finds itself deserted into the thick of the war. No matter if the leaders to whom personally we are much indebted for the sympathy and feelings they expressed for us, but nevertheless we cannot overlook the fact that they did become so callous as to ignore and not to make a mention in the peace negotiations of even the homeless, friendless and penniless female workers who are alleged to be belonging to the vanguard and whom the leaders consider to be the enemies of their utopian non-violent cult which has already become a thing of the past, the heroines who have unimagingly sacrificed or offered for sacrifice their husbands, brothers and all that were nearest and dearest to them, including themselves, whom your government has declared to be outlaws. No matter if your agents stoop so low as to fabricate baseless calumnies against their spotless character to damage their and their party’s reputation. This war shall continue.
CHOICE OF YOURS
IT MAY assume different shapes at different times. It may become now open, now hidden, now purely agitational, now fierce life and death struggle. The choice, of course, whether bloody or comparatively peaceful which way it should adopt, rests with you. Choose whichever you like. But that war shall be incessantly waged without taking into consideration the petty…….(words not legible —ed.) and the meaningless ethical ideologies. It shall be waged ever with new vigour, greater audacity and unflinching determination till the socialist republic is established and the present social order is completely replaced by a new social order, based on social prosperity, and thus every sort of exploitation is put an end to and the humanity is ushered into the era of genuine and permanent peace. In the very near future the final battle shall be fought and final settlement arrived at.
The days of capitalist and imperialist exploitation are numbered. The war neither began with us nor is it going to end with our lives. It is inevitable consequence of the historic events and the existing environments. Our humble sacrifices shall be only a ling in the chain that has very accurately been beautified by the unparalleled sacrifice of Mr Das and most tragic but noblest sacrifice of Comrade Bhagwati Charan and the glorious death of our dear warrior Azad.
AS TO the question of our fate, please allow us to say that when you have decided to put us to death, you will certainly do it. You have got the power in your hands and the power is the greatest justification in the world. We know the maxim “Might is right” serves as your guiding motto. The whole of our trial was just a proof of that.
What we wanted to point out was that according to the verdict of your court we had waged war and we are therefore war prisoners. And we claim to be treated as such, i.e. we claim to be shot dead instead of being hanged. It rests with you to prove that you really meant what your court has said.
We request and hope that you will very kindly order the military department to send its detachment to perform our execution.
Bhagat Singh Raj Guru & Sukhdev
Letter to the Second LCC Convicts
[On March 22, the Second Lahore Conspiracy Case convicts, who were locked up in Ward Number 14 (near condemned cells), sent a slip to Bhagat Singh asking if he would like to live. This letter was in reply to that slip.]
March 22, 1931
The desire to live is natural. It is in me also. I do not want to conceal it. But it is conditional. I don’t want to lie as a prisoner or under restrictions. My name has become a symbol of Indian revolution. The ideal and the sacrifices of the revolutionary party have elevated me to a height beyond which I will never be able to rise if I live.
Today people do not know my weaknesses. If I escape gallows those weaknesses will come before them and the symbol of revolution will get tarnished or perhaps it may vanish altogether. On the other hand, if I mount the gallows boldly and with smile, that will inspire Indian mothers and they will aspire that their children should also become Bhagat Singh. Thus the number of persons ready to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of our country will increase enormously. It will then become impossible for imperialism to face the tide of the revolution, and all their might and their satanic efforts will not be able to stop its onward march.
Yes, one thing pricks me even today. My heart nurtured some ambitions for doing something for humanity and for my country. I have not been able to fulfil even one thousandth part of those ambitions. If I live I might perhaps get a chance to fulfil them. If ever it came to my mind that I should not die it came from this end only.
I am proud of myself these days and I am anxiously waiting for the final test. I wish the day may come nearer soon.
(Shiv Verma (ed): Selected Writing of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, New Delhi, 1986)