Chaman Lal , hastakshep.com
In context of ‘Narendera Modi being invited to release Bhagat Singh Jail diary’! I join in expressing my concern with further emphasis that it is like ‘Hitler being invited to release Lenin’s book’! or ‘Bush being invited to release Che Guevara’s book!
Only this one family member from nine brother-sisters large family of Bhagat Singh with number of nephews/nieces/grand nephew/nieces/in laws of all, one living sister of Bhagat Singh in Toronto-Canada, is trying to hog headlines by this reckless and irresponsible move, none of other huge family members of Bhagat Singh family has approved this move, rather like Jagmohan Singh, most of them disapprove it.
Moreover same family member has earlier claimed in Times of India highlighted report that he is going to get President of India to release the same proposed jail notebook as coffee table book for upper middle classes! Funniest part of it is that the same jail notebook has already been published ample of times.
On Narender Modi releasing Bhagat Singh jail notebook! Facts are here-
History of Jail Notebook of Bhagat Singh
Now almost every serious admirer of Bhagat Singh knows about his Jail Notebook, but before 1981, hardly anyone other than Bhagat Singh’s family members, knew about its existence. During fiftieth martyrdom anniversary of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev in 1981, Kulbir Singh, younger brother of Bhagat Singh allowed its microfilm to be made by National Archives/Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, with the condition of ‘not to be published’! That time this Jail Notebook was put on exhibition in National Archives of India along with other documents of revolutionary movements to mark fiftieth martyrdom anniversary. Both institutions then kept the notebook for consultation in their records. Around the time its copy was given to Gurukul in Inderprastha, Delhi by Kullbir Singh’s younger son Abhey Sandhu. This was the time when Mitrokhin, the Russian scholar on Indian history, visited Kulbir Singh many times and took whole or part of Notebook to Moscow and wrote about its significance. Mitrokhin’s writing on Bhagat Singh’s notebook, made the Indian scholars wake from their slumber and they also started paying attention towards it. At a personal level, I myself first time saw the notebook in Nehru Memorial Library and Museum in 1984 and took extensive notes from it, and started writing about it in newspapers/journals. Actually Jail Notebook was part of that bagful of documents, which Bhagat Singh handed over to Kumari Lajjawati, who was secretary of Bhagat Singh defense committee and later Principal of a college in Jalandhar. She was instructed by Bhagat Singh to hand over this bag to Bejoy Kumar Sinha on his release from jail. Sinha was transported for life in Lahore Conspiracy case and was released in 1938, when Congress governments came to power in many states. Lajjawati showed that bag to Lala Feroze Chand, editor of ‘The People’, himself a committed socialist. Lala Feroze Chand published few documents from those papers, including Letter To Young Political Workers of 2nd Februay 1931 in abridged form, Letter about Harikishan’s case, who was executed after Bhagat Singh in for shooting Punjab Governor in Punjab University Lahore’s convocation and ‘Why I am an Atheist’ on 27th September 1931 issue, first birth day of Bhagat Singh after his execution. This essay was lost during partition times and many websites in the world are still carrying retranslated version of this essay from some Indian language. I have reproduced ‘The People’s first printed version of this essay in my latest book-‘Understanding Bhagat Singh’ released recently. The People in editorial note has ascribed copy rights of the essay to S. Kishan Singh, father of Bhagat Singh. Bhagat Singh’s writings were being published from Bhagat Singh’s life time in many Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and English papers, which were put into a volume for first time by Virender Sandhu, niece of Bhagat Singh and daughter of S. Kultar Singh, who was most close to Bhagat Singh’s heart. It is Virender Sandhu, who authored the most authoritative biography of Bhagat Singh’s whole family in 1968 in Hindi. Later Jagmohan Singh, another nephew of Bhagat Singh and son of Bibi Amar Kaur collected more documents and put in a volume in Punjabi-Bhagat Singh ate Unah de saathiyhan de dastavez.
Few years later monthly ‘Indian Book Chronicle’ edited by Bhupinder Hooja in Jaipur started serializing the jail notebook of Bhagat Singh in 1992, which made me quite happy and I complimented Hooja ji. Hooja Ji got its copy from from his elder brother G B Kumar Hooja who remained Vice Chancellor of Gurukul Kangri Haridwar, got its copy from Gurukul Inderprastha. With my appreciation, Sh. Bhupender Hooja felt reassured about the authenticity of the Jail Notebook and with his local resources and with tremendous labor in annotating the sources of Bhagat Singh’s mentioned books and writers/quotations, he brought out first printed edition of Jail Notebook in 1994, which was released in Jaipur Raj Bhavan by then Rajasthan Governor D P Chattopadhyaya. In fact Bhupender Hooja in his acknowledgements, apart from others, has acknowledged three of us, including Dr. Kamlesh Mohan from Chandigarh and Shiv Verma, comrade of Bhagat Singh, both wrote on his ideology and myself. Jail Notebook got some good reviews in papers like-The Tribune and Times of India, including my write ups in Frontier (Kolkata) and Indian Book Chronicle. Despite good reviews, the book did not reach mass readers, as its publisher has no network of distribution and the book itself was in shabby get up. Its Hindi translation, later Punjabi and some other languages translations appeared in next few years, without acknowledging Sh. Bhupender Hooja as editor and his contribution in annotations, which was the most difficult task to perform.
After I joined JNU in 2005, I convinced Leftword, New Delhi, to bring out its new edition and with Bhupender Hooja’s permission, its new edition was brought out by Leftword Delhi in 2007- during birth centenary year of Bhagat Singh. It was updated with my introduction and some additions in the form of some articles of Bhagat Singh and some on him, like that of Periyar. Sudhnva Deshpande, publisher of the book further improvised the annotations, but the main credit of the book remained with Sh. Hooja. It was translated in 2007 in Marathi from my Hindi book-Bhagat Singh ke Samupran Dastavezand in Bengali two editions came between 2009 and 2012, one of translation from Leftword edition. Now it has been translated into Urdu as well, with some parts already appearing in 2010 Urdu edition of my book- Bhagat Singh ke Syasi Dastavez. One scanned and print edition of the Notebook, edited by Babar Singh, son of Kulbir Singh and K C Yadav was also published during centenary year at the price of Rupees 999/ from Hope India publications Gurgaon.
Abhey Sandhu, younger son of Kulbir Singh, during birth centenary year of Bhagat Singh, did wonderful work of getting this jail notebook published from both Punjab and Haryana Governments in scanned form on one side and Punjabi and Hindi translations on other side. These publications were not priced and were published by public relations
Chaman Lal, writer is well-known scholar. He is Retired Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.
departments of both governments for free distribution. When I was invited to address Bhagat Singh youth awardees this year on 28th March at Mohali, I was pleasantly surprised to know that awardees of Punjab Government were being gifted with the copy of Bhagat Singh’s Jail Notebook, published by Punjab Government. I wished to make this suggestion in my speech, so I appreciated the decision of the officials.
I understand that some more editions of the notebook have also been brought out by many more publishers/ individuals, including by Abhey Sandhu himself. There is no harm in multiple editions of such inspiring books. I remember that there are multiple editions of revolutionary Ram Prasad Bismil’s autobiography in Hindi and I was pleasantly surprised to see Swami Agnivesh bringing out the edition of that autobiography at just five rupees per copy price, which his organization used to distribute to school students almost free of cost. This jail note book is part of Government of India’s publication division publication- ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh:Dastavezon ke Aiene Men’, released by Kuldip Nayar in presence of Abhey Sandhu and Kiranjit Sandhu, two nephews of Bhagat Singh, on 19th December 2007, the martyrdom of Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqualla Khan. The function was presided over by then minister for information Sh. Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, who is now in coma since many years. This volume is edited by me.
There is no harm in bringing out as many volumes of such inspiring books from as many institutions/persons, but without making the false claim that this is ‘going to be the first ever publication’ of this jail notebook.
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