Lahore: A petition was today filed in a Pakistani court requesting an early hearing by a full bench of a murder case against legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh to prove his innocence, 83 years after his execution by British authorities.
Advocate Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi, chairman of the Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation, today filed the application in the high court here for early hearing of the matter. In his petition Qureshi said Singh was a freedom fighter and fought for independence of undivided India. The case was filed against Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru for allegedly killing British police officer John P Saunders. Singh was hanged by the British on March 23, 1931, after being tried under charges of hatching a conspiracy against the colonial government.
Qureshi said Singh was initially jailed for life but later awarded death sentence in another “fabricated case”. He said the freedom fighter is respected even today in the subcontinent not only by Sikhs but also Muslims as the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah twice paid tribute to him. He said it is a matter of national importance and should be fixed before a full bench.
He also pleaded to set aside the sentence of Singh by exercising principles of review and said the government must honour Singh with a state award. The last hearing of the case was held by Lahore High Court Justice Shujaat Ali Khan in May, 2013 when he referred it to the chief justice for the constitution of a larger bench.
Last year, Lahore police provided the copy of the original FIR of the killing of Saunders in 1928 to the petitioner on the court’s order. Singh’s name was not mentioned in the FIR of the case for which he was hanged in 1931 aged just 23.
Eighty-three years after Singh’s hanging, the Lahore police searched through the record of the Anarkali police station on the court’s order and managed to find the FIR which did not mention Singh’s name, in a major boost to prove the legendary freedom fighter’s innocence in the case.
Written in Urdu, the FIR was registered with the Anarkali police station on December 17, 1928 at 4.30 pm against two “unknown gunmen”. The case was registered under sections 302, 1201 and 109 of the Indian Penal Code. Qureshi said special judges of the tribunal handling Singh’s case awarded death sentence to him without hearing 450 witnesses in the case.
Singh’s lawyers were not given the opportunity of cross-questioning them, he said. “I will establish Bhagat Singh’s innocence in the Saunders case,” he said.