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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Family opposes move to get Bhagat Singh's book released by Modi

Vishav Bharti, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, October 15, 2013
First Published: 00:48 IST(15/10/2013) | Last Updated: 19:29 IST(15/10/2013)

An invitation to Narendra Modi to release martyr Bhagat Singh's jail notebook, extended by a kin, has irked scholars and the family of the martyr.

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In May this year, Gurgaon-based Yadvinder Singh Sandhu, grandson of Bhagat Singh's younger brother Kulbir Singh, announced at a press conference in Chandigarh that the jail notebook of Bhagat Singh, which is in the possession of Kulbir Singh's family, will be available in the form of a glitzy coffee-table book format.

Now, the book is ready for circulation and an invitation has been extended to Modi to release it. Confirming the development, Yadwinder Singh said they had requested Modi to release the book. "We have sent him two to three dates and will get the final schedule soon. The book will be released at a function at Talkatora Stadium in Delhi," he said.

However, the invitation has irked the other family members of Bhagat Singh as well as the scholars who have written about Bhagat Singh.

Prof Jagmohan Singh, a Ludhiana-based nephew of Bhagat Singh, has initiated a campaign against the move with a letter appearing in the latest issue of the weekly Mainstream. He said Modi should not be invited for the purpose as Bhagat Singh and his comrades were firmly opposed to communalism and communal violence.

He said that in the present context it was important that the literature belonging to Bhagat Singh should be released only by a person whose life is in conformity with the values and principles for which Bhagat Singh lived and died. "Clearly, Modi does not qualify for the role," he said.

Lashing out at Yadvinder Singh, he said the diary is already a public document, the need for its release does not arise and the entire exercise appears to be guided by a selfish motive.

Not just the martyr's kin, the move has irked a section of scholars and historians also.

Chaman Lal, former professor of Indian Languages at Delhi's JNU and an expert who has edited and penned several books on him, said in a letter to other scholars that the invitation to Modi to release a book on Bhagat Singh is like "Hitler being invited to release Lenin's book" or "Bush being invited to release Che Guevara's book". "The  family member is trying to hog limelight by this irresponsible move; none of the other members of Bhagat Singh's family approves it," he said.

Shamsul Islam, associate professor, department of political science, Satyawati College, University of Delhi, opposed it saying it was "a second hanging of Bhagat Singh" in a letter that appeared on the website Counter Currents. "I strongly feel that no person should be allowed to betray the great legacy of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. It is hoped that Yadvinder Singh Sandhu who claims to be a relative of the martyr will not be party to the second hanging of Bhagat Singh," he said.

The book

Bhagat Singh's notebook was handed over to his younger brother Kulbir a day before the 23-year-old revolutionary was executed by the British at Lahore Central Jail, with Rajguru and Sukhdev on March 23, 1931. The revolutionary's jail notebook was first published in Hindi in the early 1990s and again towards the end of that decade. It was published in Punjabi a few years ago. The 288-page coffee-table book will have a scanned version of the original manuscript and a printed version of the text on the facing pages.

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