Jalandhar: Lahore-based advocate Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi, who has been trying for some years to prove that Indian revolutionary Bhagat Singh was wrongly hanged, says he has been facing many hurdles in his quest, including a tough fight to get the 1928 FIR lodged against Singh from the Lahore Police.
Speaking to HuffPost India over the phone from Lahore on Saturday, the 88th anniversary of the execution of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, Qureshi said he could get the FIR only after filing a compliance petition in the Lahore high court.
Qureshi, who heads the Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation (BSMF) in Pakistan, had filed a petition in the Lahore high court in 2013 for reopening the Saunders murder case.
The FIR, written in Urdu, was registered with the Anarkali Police station on 17 December 1928 at 4:30 pm against two unknown gunmen in the murder of British police officer John P. Saunders and head constable Chanan Singh.
A police official of the Anarkali Police, who was the complainant as well as witness, said that the man he followed was “five feet 5 inch, had Hindu face, small moustache, having slim and strong body, wearing white trouser (Pyjama) and grey shirt(Kurta) and also wearing small black christi-like-hat”.
Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death in the Lahore conspiracy case and ordered to be hanged on 24 March 1931. The schedule was moved forward by 11 hours and the three were hanged on 23 March 1931 at 7:30 pm in the Lahore jail.
The FIR written in Urdu, was registered with the Anarkali Police station on December 17, 1928 at 4:30 pm against two unknown gunmen.
“I went to get a copy of FIR filed in John Saunders case and the police at Anarkali Police station at Lahore asked me to pay a bribe. I refused and filed a compliance petition with the Lahore High court. It was only then that a DSP rank officer submitted a sealed copy of the FIR in the High court. The copy was so important that even the judges also asked me for a copy of it,” said Qureshi.
While the case was earlier heard by a double bench in the Pakistan high court, a petition to refer it to a five-judge Constitution bench has been pending with the Chief Justice of Pakistan High court since 2016.
Qureshi said Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II should apologise for hanging the three men.
“We are not debating whether Bhagat Singh killed Saunders or not but the evidence on the basis of which he was hanged. The FIR did not contain his name, over 300 witnesses named in the case were not questioned and he was hanged on the order of registrar of Lahore High Court,” said Qureshi.
He further added that since the decision in Bhagat SIngh’s trial was given by the Special Three Judge bench constituted in Poonch House in Lahore, the trial to reopen the case can only be held by a five bench.
He also informed that Pakistan government has renamed Bhagat Singh’s native village, Banga Chakk number 105, as Bhagatpura.
The Pakistan govt has also renamed Shadman Chowk as Bhagat Singh Chowk in Lahore as a mark of respect to the martyr and an acknowledgement of his role in the struggle against British rule.