Banned under the British regime, a slew of rare documents including a lithograph depicting the hanging of Bhagat Singh, will be published by the Bihar State Archives after 84 years.
A few months after Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hung in Lahore Jail in Western Punjab in Pakistan in 1931, almost 2,000 km away a press in Calcutta printed a lithograph that depicted this much publicised hanging, still remembered as one of the most inspiring and controversial events in the freedom struggle. In the Shivaji Press portrayal, Lord Krishna is seen showering blessings over the trio (also a play on helping Draupadi with a sari after her disrobing), alongside a cell full of revolutionaries looking on.
It also features a ship carrying prisoners on a boat to Kala Pani, that stood as the British Indian prison on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, marking a historical moment in India’s freedom struggle. The lithograph was soon seized and banned by the British regime as soon as it was published. This was done in order to suppress nationalist feelings. So when the same lithograph, titled Teen Shaheed, resurfaced again within the premises of the Bihar State Archives (BSA) in Patna, stuck somewhere in the rubble of papers and a heap of dust, it was one of the more unexpected surprises for Vijoy Kumar, Director, Bihar State Archives .
“Since people’s awareness of India’s fight against the British rule was increasing, their spirit was rising. So the British government banned and confiscated such types of publication, including pamphlets and leaflets propagating nationalist sentiments,” says Kumar, about the lithograph, which was unearthed among rare documents that were simultaneously proscribed across the country by the British government.
The picture runs alongside the caption, borrowed from the famous poem, Rang de basanti chola. Fearing mass agitation after the trio’s hanging, and having witnessed the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930, and to counter anti-British feelings among Indians, the British had banned the literature bearing anti-government sentiments. They would impound material falling under the category.
All these will now be published after 84 years, in three volumes, along with 2,000 rare documents. Other valuable documents slated to be published include those related to Bihar Congress leader Sri Krishna Singh, who was arrested in 1923 for writing and acting in his play Bharat Durdasha in his hometown Haveli Kharagpur in Munger. In this, he blatantly talked about the economic exploitation prevailing in the country at that point of time. Interestingly, Singh went on to become the first chief minister of the state in independent India.