86 Years On, a Pakistani Lawyer to Prove Bhagat Singh’s Innocence
Many Pakistanis, especially in the Punjabi-speaking Lahore area, consider Singh a hero.
Eighty-six years after revolutionary Bhagat Singh was hanged for the murder of a British police officer, a Pakistani lawyer is fighting to prove the legendary Indian freedom fighter's innocence in a Lahore court.
Advocate Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi filed a fresh petition on 11 September in the Lahore High Court for the early hearing of his case to prove Singh's innocence. Qureshi runs the Lahore-based Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation.
The division bench of the Lahore High Court had in February last year asked the chief justice of Pakistan to constitute a larger bench to hear the petition by Qureshi. But no action has been taken yet.
Qureshi said he hopes the case will be heard this month.
I will establish Bhagat Singh’s innocence in the Saunders caseImtiaz Rashid Qureshi, Advocate, Petitioner
In the petition, Qureshi had said Singh was a freedom fighter and fought for independence of undivided India. Many Pakistanis, especially in the Punjabi-speaking Lahore area, consider Singh a hero.
His petition wants the court to set aside the sentence of Singh by exercising principles of review and order the government to honour him with a state award.
Qureshi said that Singh is respected even today in the subcontinent not only by Indians but also by Pakistanis.
How Was Singh Hanged?
Singh was hanged by British rulers on 23 March 1931 at the age of 23 in Lahore, after being tried under charges for 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.
In 2014, Lahore police searched through records of the Anarkali police station on the court's order and managed to find the First Information Report on Saunders' killing in 1928. A copy of the FIR was provided to Qureshi on the court's order.
Written in Urdu, the FIR was registered with the Anarkali police station on 17 December, 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.
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