Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s name was not mentioned in the FIR for the murder of a British police officer in Lahore in 1928, the Lahore police have found, in a major boost to prove the legendary freedom fighter’s innocence in the case 83 years after his execution.
Petitioner Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi, chairman of the Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation, had filed a petition seeking an attested copy of the first information report (FIR) registered against Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru for allegedly murdering then SSP (senior superintendent of police) John P Saunders.
Bhagat Singh was awarded the death sentence for Saunders’ murder and he was subsequently hanged at Shadman Chowk in Lahore in 1931, aged just 23.
More than eight decades after his hanging, the Lahore police searched through the record of the Anarkali police station on the court’s order and managed to find the FIR of Saunders’ murder.
Written in Urdu, the FIR was registered with the Anarkali police station on December 17, 1928, at 4.30 pm against two “unknown gunmen”. An official of the Anarkali police was the complainant.
The complainant-cum-eyewitness said the man he followed was “5 ft 5 inch, had a Hindu face, small moustache, having slim and strong body, wearing white trouser (pyjama) and grey shirt (kurta) and also wearing small black Christi-like hat.”
The case was registered under sections 302 and 109 of the Indian Penal Code. An inspector of the Lahore police’s legal branch on Saturday handed over the attested copy of the FIR in a sealed envelope to additional district and sessions judge (Lahore) Tariq Mahmood Zargham.
The court handed Qureshi a copy of the FIR. Qureshi said special judges of the tribunal handling Bhagat Singh’s case awarded death sentence to him without hearing 450 witnesses of the case.
Bhagat Singh’s lawyers were not given the opportunity of cross-questioning them, he said.
Qureshi has also filed a petition in the Lahore high court, seeking reopening of Bhagat Singh’s case.
“I want to establish Bhagat Singh’s innocence in the Saunders case,” he said.
The Lahore high court has referred the case to the chief justice for the constitution of a larger bench to hear the case.