Babu Ram Charan: Delhi Conspiracy Commission


PART – 1:

We Indians are free today. There are Prime Ministers, Ministers, Chief Justices, Judges, Chief Ministers, IAS officers and other endless persons holding power today. While we enjoy these powers, we always tend to forget that we all owe a debt to all those sons and daughters of mother India who fought the British for the freedom of this country and in return suffered great brutalities, pains and agonies at their hands, and even courted death willingly for the cause of their motherland.

These sacrifices were made by them voluntarily out of their love for their mother land. While these true sons and daughters of mother India suffered great agonies at the hands of the enemies of their country, a large number of ‘make-believe’ freedom fighters – who later on took reins of the free India into their hands as Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers etc. – were enjoying their life in cozy jails and palaces with full sympathy of the British rulers. None of them suffered even as little as a lathi blow on their head, while these great Indians – revolutionaries – suffered brutalities at the hands of the British and many of them went to gallows.

We have a long – really a very long – list of such ‘make-believe’ official freedom fighters and heroes of India’s freedom struggle.  But in this list – in the official history of Indian freedom struggle – there is no mention of the contribution of those who sacrificed their comforts and life for the sake of this country. In this regard, the history of Indian freedom struggle needs to be corrected for this flaw; and the true freedom fighters and the make-believe freedom fighters need to be assigned their ‘rightful’ respective places in the history of India’s freedom struggle, where they in fact and in honesty belong.

We must be sensible to understand one thing: the British people were at that time of the history, as they are today, very pragmatic people. They had the means, the weapons, and they had the strength, the British Army, to foil any non-violent attempt to liberate India and deprive them of “the Jewel of their Empire”, which India was regarded by them.

The British rulers knew fully well that Indian revolutionaries like Chapekar brothers, Kartar Singh Sarabha, Ras Bihari Bose, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Surya Sen, Aurobindo Ghosh, Batukeshwar Dutt, Subhash Chandra Bose and countless others like them had a mesmerizing effect on the mind and psyche of the Indian people. These rulers were well aware of the fact after they were weakened militarily and financially in the WW-2 that if they did not soon hand over the rein of India to those who advocated non-violence and were in favor of an amicable settlement of the Indian independence issue, Indian people would rise in revolt against them and win their freedom, which they would not be able to stop with the use of their weakened military power.

The British knew that these revolutionaries had no faith in the Gandhian policy of non-violence and passive resistance in dealing with their rule of India. These revolutionaries were of the firm view that such tactics of passive resistance were mistakenly relying on the good moral sense of the British and vainly hoping the British to leave this country on their own under the moral pressure of  these Gandhian method of non-violence and non-cooperation. It is borne by the historical record and admitted by the British – post Indian independence – that it was only the rebellious impact of Subhash Chandra Bose and his Azad Hind Fauz on the mind of the Indian people that made them (the British) decide to leave India in 1947; when asked of the impact that Gandhi made on their decision to leave India, the British Prime Minister Attlee spoke in a slow tone to emphasize the meaning of his words: Mi ni mal !

The British did not have the slightest doubt in their mind that these teeming Indians – who numbered into crores -would rise in armed revolt against them; that they would follow in the foot-steps of revolutionaries; that these ferocious revolutionaries and their millions of followers did not believe in non-violence like Gandhi; that the British – who were running the imperial administration in India – would suffer a bloodbath at the hands of these violent Indians, in the worse way than they had in 1857.

The British imperialists were pragmatic. They decided at the end of World War 2 to disband their empire in India, hand India over to those who favored reconciliation with them (the British) and leave this country in the hands of those who were their friends in their best interest. The British were mortally afraid of the Subhash Bose’s Indian National Army, better known as ‘Azad Hind Fauz’. They had a foreboding of coming events in India in the Imperial Navy’s mutiny in Bombay and passionate national stirrings against the trial of Azad Hind Fauz’s soldiers.

The credit for creating circumstances that forced the British to take the decision to leave India goes to Indian revolutionaries in the major part. This claim is based on an objective analysis of these hard facts: firstly, the British imperialists were pragmatic people; secondly, India was indeed a ‘Jewel in the Imperial Crown’, which they were not willing to forgo; thirdly, in the World War Two the British were devastated militarily and financially; fourthly, revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Subhash Vose, Chandra Shekhar Azad etc. were more loved and cherish by Indians than Gandhi and Nehru etc.; fifthly, there was mutiny in imperial navy in Bombay against the British; sixth, there was national resentment against the British for putting the Azad Hind Fauz’s soldiers on trial; seventh, Attlee – the British Prime Minister – himself admitted that in taking their decision to leave India Mahatma Gandhi had the ‘minimal’ effect and Subhash Bose’s factor had been a major consideration. The tall claims of the Gandhian pacifists that India won freedom by waging a non-violent struggle fly in the face of these hard facts.

We all owe a debt to these revolutionaries. At the least that we can do to them is to remember them and cherish the memory of their heroic deeds. We are narrating here the life stories of some of them. One of such revolutionaries participating in Chandra Skher Azad’s Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) was Babu Ram Charan Singh.

PART – 2:

Chandra Shekhar Azad had always carried with him a Mouser pistol to face any exigencies in his revolutionary work. As a tocken of his confidence, Chandra Shekhar Azad had given to Babu Ram Charan his personal Mouser pistol for the use in revolutionary work. Unfortunately, this pistol  given to Babu Ram Charan was prone to misfire at times. This defective pistol became a cause of trouble for Babu Ram Charan leading to his arrest and trial.

At one occasion when he was engaged in a revolutionary mission, he was accidently got injured in the palm of his hand by this pistol. His injury was being treated by one Bal Kishon, who was a co-revolutionary and a medical compounder by profession.

After the blowing up of the Vice Roy train, the British Government got the wind of a big conspiracy being hatched by the revolutionaries. The police in Delhi (and other parts of India) was at its job with full might snuffing at any available clue to the revolutionary activities.

To the British, these activities were sedition against their established rule. The following details about Babu Ram Charan Singh have been compiled from the official and certified copy of the “Proceedings of the Delhi Conspiracy Commission.” One such copy is in possession of this author and some others may perhaps be found in the British archieves. In this respect, post independence the Nehru / Congress government did nothing to preserve the memory of Indian revolutionaries; in fact, this government detested all revolutionaries, just to appropriate to itself the credit of getting India free from the British yoke.

At the end of October 1930, at about 7 A. M. when Bal Kishon was returning from the house of Babu Ram Charan Singh after applying a dressing to his injury to his hand a police constable stopped him on the way at a shop near Chawari Bazar close to the lane which leads to the Arya Samaj temple and went away after speaking something with him.

The next day, Sardar Karam Singh, a C.I.D. man, came to Dr. H. Sen’s shop, where Bal Kishon (son of Ramji Lal Sharma resident of village Khaira Meerut district) was working as a Compounder. He was told that he was wanted by the police for some thing.

Bal Kishon requested the constable to let him go to the shop of Dr. H. Sen and arrest him there if necessary but the constable made him sit in the bazaar. Then, a sub-Inspector and several constables arrived there and told him to come with them. They asked him where his house was. Bal Kishon replied that he had no house of his own and was staying with Babu Ram Charan Singh in his house.

The police told him to take them to the house of Babu Ram Charan Singh and thereupon he took them to that house. On arriving there, the police searched the house but Ram Charan Singh, was not found there. Bal Kishon was under watch not only by the police but also by the revolutionaries. It was not safe to attempt to meet him. Bal Kishon was taken to the Kotwali and arrested.

Thus came Babu Ram Charan Singh to the notice of the police for the first time and his troubles began from then on.

Compounder Bal Kishan was arrested by the police near the clinic of Dr Sen, where he was employed. On coming to know of the arrest of Bal Kishon, Babu Ram Charan sensed his impending troubles and immediately deserted his house where he was living along with Bal Kishon. He met with other co-revolutionaries and informed them of the development.

In Matia Mahal area, there was a safe house already rented by the revolutionaries, where four or five revolutionaries were staying. It was a secret place on the upper story of a house for hiding of revolutionaries. Babu Ram Charan was shifted to that house. However, this secret house was also not safe enough from the police.

Soon thereafter the house in Matia Mahal where injured Ram Charan Singh was staying was also raided by the police in the mid-night hours.

The house was surrounded by the police; all exit points of the house were guarded by the police and one of its detachments started climbing up the stair-case of the house.

The revolutionaries staying in the upper story of the house were fully alert in their usual manner, as if they were waiting for this moment to happen. They immediately knew that the police was at their door-step and took no time to decide their next action i.e., fleeing away from the house.

But it was a three storied building and the only exit from the house was by climbing down the stair-case, which was now being used by the police to climb up. It was a dangerous moment for the revolutionaries and there was no time left now to think to devise some way out of the danger.

They all immediately took a desperate decision – to jump from the house down to the ground. Fortunately for them, on the second story of the house there was a projection (called Chhajja) to save them from directly falling to the ground from a height.

They all, one by one, jumped down from the third story of the house to that projection on the second story and, then from that place, jumped to the ground in the street. After landing on the ground, they all started running away in different directions.

Finding that their prey were about to escape before their own eyes, the police stationed on the ground guarding the house immediately raised an alarm and ran in hot pursuit of the fleeing revolutionaries.

Babu Ram Charan Singh was being chased by several constables; while running after him, these police-men raised alarm saying, “Daku, Daku, Pakado, Daku” (catch hold of them, they are dacoits).

On alarm being raised by the policemen, several ordinary people living in the neighborhood also joined in the chase and overtook the policemen in speed coming very close to Ram Charn Singh.

Realizing that he was about to be caught by these fellow compatriots, Babu Ram Charan said in a commanding voice, “Khabardar, Ham Krantikari Hain (Don’t touch us, we are revolutionaries!)”

The pursuers at once gave way to allow him to escape, slowed down themselves in speed, pretended as if they did their best to grab the fleeing criminal, looked back to the police-men following them who were left far behind them, as if to show them the uselessness of their chase and to discourage them, and stopped their chase. Thus, Babu Ram Charan Singh made good his escape from the police.

After escaping from the police encirclement, while still injured in his left hand palm, he reached his native village Barkali to take shelter in the safety of his native place. However, the police already had several revolutionaries in their dragnet and from them had extracted under torture the necessary information about his native place. Armed with this information, the police reached Babu Ram Charan Singh’s village. He was found there, arrested and taken away.

Initially, he was not produced before a judicial magistrate. He was kept in police custody for long and severally tortured by them to get information about his revolutionary activities and particulars of his fellow revolutionaries. He pretended innocence and denied any wrong doing. This was the standard technique of the revolutionaries in those days, which invited more torture at the hands of the police.

On being questioned of the cause of the injuries in his hand, he offered a simpleton native explanation. He said he was an ordinary village boy landing a helping hand to his family occupation of agriculture and, while tethering his domestic oxen, the oxen pierced its horn into his left hand palm.

The police was not convinced of this explanation.

When he did not succumb to the police pressure, he was produced before a judicial magistrate at Meerut. The magistrate directed that he be medically examined of his hand injuries. The district civil surgeon, an Englishman, examined him and prepared a medical report of his injuries. This medical report stated that the accused had one injury on the palm of his left hand; that the injury was caused by some piercing object like bullet.

Though the accused was arrested from a place in Meerut, was produced before a judicial magistrate there and medically examined by the civil surgeon of that place, he was an accused of the conspiracy in Delhi to throw the lawfully established British government of India by violence, that is, an accused in a sedition case in Delhi.

So he was directed by the Meerut judicial magistrate to be taken by the Delhi police to stand his trial there.

The police in Delhi was obsessed with the revolutionary activities and bomb explosions in Delhi,  and wanted to frame Babu Ram Charan Singh in these bomb explosion incidents.

On reaching Delhi, Babu Ram Charan Singh was produced before a judicial magistrate, who directed to get him medically examined. He was examined by the civil surgeon in Delhi and again a medical report of his injury was prepared. This time the report stated that the injury was caused by some explosion like a bomb.

After his medical examination, he was given by the court in remand to police custody for questioning. Once in their custody, the police in Delhi questioned him about his activities.

He again pretended innocence of any revolutionary activity. On being questioned the cause of the injury in his hand, he once again repeated the same native explanation that he was an ordinary villager, who while tethering his domestic oxen, was pierced by oxen with its horn in his hand palm. The police again was not convinced of this simple explanation.

To break his spirit and to spill the beans of his revolutionary activities, police applied all tricks of the trade on him. He was threatened that he would be implicated in the seditious revolutionary activities, which may even involve his whole family; and he may be sent to gallows for these crimes; as an alternative to save himself and his family, he was offered to be let off accepting his explanation, provided he truthfully revealed his revolutionary activities and activities of his fellow revolutionaries. But the trick did not work with him and he remained steadfast in his version of the story of the injury.

The police finding him non-cooperative and not forthcoming in revealing the revolutionary activities carried out by him and his fellow activists, resorted to the last weapon in their arsenal, i.e. torture.

While questioning him in custody, he was routinely forced by the police to lie down naked on ice-slabs for hours together. He was badly beaten and denied food for days together; and, then was given unwholesome food to eat.

To force him to reveal the secret activities of revolutionaries, the police applied for and got several remand extensions from the court, and every time he was tortured in police custody. This treatment broke his health and he developed dysentery.

This ailment though was successfully treated later on when he was sent to jail as under trial prisoner by a kind English jail doctor, ultimately resurfaced again in his old age and became the cause of his untimely death in 1976.

Broken in his health but not in spirit, he was sent in judicial custody to jail as under trial prisoner to stand trial on the charge of sedition. He remained in jail as under trial prisoner for more than one year.

During the trial, the prosecution’s case was that he had been participating in the seditious (read: revolutionary) activities (with other accused persons who were being tried independently in separate trials in different courts); these activities were aimed at overthrowing the government by the use of force; to achieving this objective of overthrowing the government by force, he was making bombs and exploding them.

In support of this version, the government/prosecution relied, in addition to some police witnesses, chiefly on the medical report of the civil surgeon in Delhi.

It was averred by the prosecution that the injury to the accused was caused by the explosion of a bomb.   To prove its case, the prosecution relied on the medical report of the Delhi civil surgeon  which had stated that the injury was caused by an explosion like a bomb. The concerned civil surgeon was called as a witness in the court and examined by the prosecution.

In his examination-in-chief (main examination) the civil surgeon stood by the correctness of his report. Then, he was cross-examined (confronted with his statements by asking questions) by the defense counsel.

These questions and answers were the masterpiece of legal oratory. The questions by the defense and answers by the doctor went like this:

Q – You say that the injury of the accused was caused by a bomb explosion.

A – Yes.

Q – Could it be caused by a bullet?

A – No.

Q – Are you absolutely certain that it was caused by a bomb explosion and not by bullet?

A – Yes, absolutely certain.

Q – How can you be so certain?

A – A bullet fired from a weapon would pierce through and through across the palm. But a bomb explosion would not so pierce through and through, as is the case with the injury of the accused.

Q – How can you say that the wound of the accused was not through and through across the palm?

A – I put a wire into the wound and tried to pass it through, which it did not.

This pointed question by the defense and the pointed answer by the civil surgeon ended his cross-examination.

To rebut the prosecution case of a bomb explosion, the defense submitted the medical report of the civil surgeon of Meerut and summoned him as a witness in the court to prove his report.

In his examination-in-chief, he stood by his report that the injury of the accused was caused by a bullet. He was cross-examined by the prosecution about his report. It went like this:

Q – Could the injury of the accused be caused by a bomb explosion?

A – No.

Q – You say that the accused injury was caused by a bullet.

A – Yes.

Q – How can you say so?

A – To make sure of the nature of the injury, I put a wire into the accused wound and it passed through it.

This answer by a government civil surgeon completely demolished the prosecution case of the seditious activities of the accused by exploding bomb and saved Babu Ram Charan Singh.

He was acquitted of the charge. Although he had already suffered a tremendous amount of torture and had remained in jail.

To the great disquieting and discomfiture of the government, this unwanted outcome of his trial was caused by two factors: firstly, the over-enthusiasm of the prosecution to somehow prove that the accused was indulging in bomb-making activities of the revolutionaries to overthrow the government by force; and secondly, the credit to civil surgeon of Meerut for sticking to the truth of bullet injury.

In fact, the wound was caused by a bullet.

Babu Ram Charan Singh, though acquitted of the charge by the trial court, suffered great brutalities at the hands of British government and remained in jail as under trial prisoner.

After his acquittal in this case, he was given two mouse pistols as reward by his HSRA revolutionary friends, who were still active after the death of Chandra Shekhar azad, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and many other prominent leaders. These weapons were kept by him concealed in a ‘cavity’ specially made for this purpose in a wooden ‘Pata’ – field leveller used in agriculture – and to be used in revolutionary struggle against the British rule. He carried on his revolutionary activities thereafter for some time but death of so many revolutionary leaders made him dejected.

Babu Ram Charan Singh was the resident of village Barkali, Tehsil Sardhana, district Meerut in the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh). He was the only son of Gajraj Singh (alias Umrao), by caste a Jat. His was an agriculturist family having a considerable Zamindari in Barkali.

Around 1928, while studying at Sardhana, he came into contact with his fellow villager Bhagirath Lal, who was a revolutionary activist of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. A Brahmin by caste, Bhagirath Lal was then studying in Delhi and staying along with his younger brother Aman – aged about 12 years – in Lachhman Das Dhramshala at Nigambodh Ghat on the bank of river Yamuna.

While still a young boy studying in middle school, Babu Ram Charan got involved himself in the revolutionary activities of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. He was supplied revolutionary literature by his mentor Bhagirath Lal, which included “The Life of Jatindra Nath Das”, “Desh-Ki-Bat” (Let’s talk about the nation), “Nav Yuvakon se do baten” (A few words to youths), “Amar Puri: by Kishan Dutt Paliwal”, “Azadi ke Diwane”, “Mulki Maya”, “Bandi Jiwan” (Slave Life) etc.

Greatly influenced by such literature and the stories of revolutionary heroes like Chandra Shekhar Azad etc., and inspired by the revolutionary zeal of Bhagirath Lal, Babu Ram Charan left in 1928 his school in Sardhana to participate in the revolutionary activities of HSRA.

He came to Delhi. He was then a middle class student and of about 17 years. As he hailed from a zamindar family, he was habituated to live a life of luxury and in his school was nicknamed ‘Jahangir’ because of his easy way of life (after the name of a Mughal king famous for his extravagant way of life).

By joining the revolutionary activities of HSRA, he voluntarily chose a life full of pains and sacrifices for the sake of his motherland. In Delhi he lived in a house in Sirkiwalan. The avowed aim of HSRA was to awaken and unite people, particularly youth, to make India free of the British rule by the revolutionary force.

To pass on in the prying eyes of the area residents as an innocent civilian engaged in legitimate occupation to earn his livelihood, he joined as a Store Keeper at the ‘Brooke Bond Company’.

This job was only for the namesake, was arranged by a party sympathiser there and was not supposed to go there and work as store keeper. In reality, he was carrying on revolutionary activities of HSRA led by Chandra Shekhar Azad.

He started working in Delhi at ‘Himalyan Toilets’ company – a manufacturing facility bearing such an innocuous name. ‘Himalyan Toilets’ in fact manufactured bombs and bomb-making materials, like picric acid, sulfuric acid and poisonous gas. Babu Ram Charan, in addition to working there, was engaged in distributing revolutionary propaganda literature, books and pamphlets etc.

Babu Ram Charan was very close to Bhagirath Lal and Bhagirath Lal was in the inner close circle of Chandra Shekhar Azad, and because of this proximity Babu Ram Charan came into close contact of Azad earning his full confidence.

In Delhi Babu Ram Charan was engaged in revolutionary activities, like opening bomb-shell factory, deliberating to rescue Bhagat Singh, buying arms, buying cyclostyle machines to print party pamphlets, organizing provincial committees of HSRA etc.

Once he, along with his another revolutionary friend, was going somewhere in Meerut, a city in United Provinces. They both were riding on a bicycle and it was the night time. The bicycle had a pump on it, which used to be there on bicycles in those times for inflating the tubes of bicycle wheels in case of necessity. In those days, it was necessary for bicycles to be equipped with a lamp powered by a dynamo for lighting in the night. But these revolutionaries were riding two persons on a single bicycle and the light of the vehicle too was not put on.

Near Begum Bridge area, a British policeman riding on a horse beckoned them to stop. On stopping the bicycle, the policeman arrogantly asked them why they were riding two on a single bicycle and why there was no light on in the vehicle. They knew that it was their mistake but they felt very bad on the arrogant tone of the policeman. Before they could say anything in response to the policeman, the policeman got down his horse and deflated the tubes of the wheels of their vehicle. They got enraged of his arrogance and behavior. While the policeman was kneeling busy indeflating the tubes, these revolutionaries took out the pump out of their bicycle and struck him with this weapon. The policeman groaning in pain, raised an alarm suspecting them to be revolutionaries. Both of them escaped unmolested by the British power.

It was the courage of revolutionaries in those days of the British power when Indians, by and large, used to remain afraid of police; they normally used to avoid facing even a constable, let alone confronting him.

 

These were the times of the Soviet communist power in the world and the remaining HSRA revolutionaries in India, including Yaspal, slowly drifted towards communism and communist party of India.

Babu Ram Charan was a self-made person with great appetite for reading. He read the classics of Marxism, like Anti-Dhuring, Das Capital, Communist Menifesto, Dialectic of Nature etc. He started thinking on deeper questions of Nature and its mysteries.

Fortunately at that time he got possession of a book by Sri Aurobindo “Glimpses of Thoughts and Aphorism”, which changed his life forever. He found answer to all his questions in Sri Aurobindo. He was now a spiritual person. He plunged himself into the practice of Yoga. He became an accomplished Yogi in his own way and he remained so till his death.

He had a premonition of his approaching death and one day at the beginning of July, 1976 he told his relatives that he was taking their leave forever.

He told his family his death had come and no treatment was possible. Even at his death bed, while still in possession of his consciousness and aware of his coming end, he bid all his dear family members to leave him absolutely alone so that he may prepare himself for his last journey in all joy.

And, thus a revolutionary departed from this world with grace.

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  1. Trackback: Nand Kishore Nigam: Delhi Conspiracy Commission | Indian People's Congress

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