86 years after Bhagat Singh’s hanging, Pak lawyer seeks to establish his innocence
Advocate Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi said Bhagat Singh fought for the independence of undivided India, adding that the freedom fighter is respected by both Indians and Pakistanis.world Updated: Sep 12, 2017 21:52 IST
Eighty-six years after Bhagat Singh was hanged for the murder of a British police officer, a Pakistani lawyer is fighting to prove the freedom fighter’s innocence in a Lahore court.
Advocate Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi on Monday filed a fresh petition in the Lahore high court for the early hearing of his case to prove Singh’s innocence. The court had in February 2016 asked the Pakistan chief justice to constitute a larger bench to hear the petition by Qureshi, who runs the Lahore-based Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation.
However, no action has been taken yet.
In his petition, Qureshi said Singh was a freedom fighter and fought for the independence of undivided India.
Many Pakistanis, especially in the Lahore area, consider Singh a hero. Qureshi said Singh is respected in the subcontinent by both Indians and Pakistanis, adding that even the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had twice paid tribute to him.
“It is a matter of national importance,” he said.
His petition wants the court set Singh’s sentence aside by exercising the principles of review and order the government to honour him with a state award.
Bhagat Singh was hanged by the British on March 23, 1931 in Lahore after being charged of hatching a conspiracy against the colonial government. The case was filed against Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru for allegedly killing British police officer John P Saunders.
Qureshi said he hopes the case will be heard this month. He said he has also written to the federal government for erecting a statue of Singh at Shadman Chowk in central Lahore, where three freedom fighters were hanged.
“I have written to the government for building a statue of Singh but have not yet got any response from it in this regard,” he said.
In 2014, Lahore police searched through records of the Anarkali police station on the court’s order and found the First Information Report on Saunders’ murder in 1928. A copy of the FIR was provided to Qureshi on the court’s order.
Written in Urdu, the FIR was registered on December 17, 1928 at 4.30 pm against two “unknown gunmen”. The case was registered under Sections 302, 1201 and 109 of Indian Penal Code. Singh’s name was not mentioned in the FIR, even though he was eventually handed down the death sentence for the murder.
Qureshi said special judges of the tribunal handling Singh’s case awarded death sentence to him without hearing the 450 witnesses in the case. Singh’s lawyers were not given the opportunity to cross-examine them.
“I will establish Bhagat Singh’s innocence in the Saunders case,” he said.