On March 23, India celebrated 'Saheed Divas' where Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to the trio of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. In an attempt to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai, they had killed to British Police officer JP Saunders. Saheed Divas is celebrated in the memory of these three legendary freedom fighters, who were hanged that day.
But the truth was something else. They weren't only hanged but later their bodies were dragged along the dirty passageways, chopped into pieces, stuffed into sacks, which were then whisked out of the jail compound secretly.
The horror however didn't end here. Their remains were abruptly stacked on a truck which headed northwards from Lahore to Kasur- a drive of about two hours. Two priests--one Hindu and the other a Sikh, were hired who read out the final prayers over the mutilated bodies and then they were quickly loaded onto a funeral pyre to burn in the dark of the night. Later their charred remains were then hurled into river Sutlej. The exact spot was to be later identified as Post No. 201. Once the priests and the policemen had gone from the spot, suspicious villagers retrieved the body parts and set about cremating them properly.
Public outrage erupted on the streets as the news broke out. They were scheduled to be hanged the next day, at dawn on 24 March 1931.
The Daily Worker, a New York newspaper condemned Bhagat Singh’s hanging as ‘one of the bloodiest deeds ever undertaken by the British Labour Government’.
Gandhi was also blamed for not intervening into the matter. One of the greatest revolutionaries and freedom fighters of India just got doomed in the horrors of midnight.
This is an excerpt from ‘The Execution of Bhagat Singh: Legal Heresies of the Raj’ written by Satvinder Singh Juss. It has been published with permission from HarperCollins India.