By Asjad Nazir
LEGENDARY Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh was imprisoned and then hanged on March 23, 1931, aged just 23 with two other accused. After his death, he became a symbol of freedom and hope in an India, ruled by the British Raj.
His legend has been chronicled in many ways, including through film, theatre, books and even in songs. The latest attempt to revisit the iconic Indian figure is a new book The Execution of Bhagat Singh: Legal Heresies of the Raj, due to be released on November 15, which dissects the legal case that led to his death.
Unlike previously, where his life story is told in an almost mythical way, this book gets down to the bare bones of his imprisonment, subsequent hanging and what led to it.
The book starts off interestingly with archive photos, original documents, including the execution order and a prologue about the starting point of this book. There are also photos of the author looking through old documents during his meticulous research, which adds an authenticity to it.
The book then opens up with the hanging and it’s subsequent fall-out before going back to the historic events that led to the death of the young freedom fighter. The author documents, what happened during the imprisonment and puts a magnifying glass on the legal case, in a way perhaps not done before to give a great window into an important chapter of Indian history. He shows that what was supposed to be a legal trial veered to being more political, thus robbing the defendants of their rights and also exposes multiple wrongdoings of the British Raj.
The fascinating read, which is written in an accessible way, gives a window into Indian history and is at times like a gripping drama.
There are many occasions where the author doesn’t come across as a neutral observer in the way he writes, when the evidence is so compelling that he didn’t need to do that and show any bias.
That doesn’t stop this from being a massively important and gripping book, which will appeal to history buffs and the many who remained fascinated by Bhagat Singh.