A social media post claims that Gandhi & Nehru’s inaction about Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya’s plea led to Bhagat Singh’s death. Further, the post delineates a few other references which put Gandhi and Nehru in a bad light with respect to the hanging of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru. Through this article let’s fact-check the claims made in the post.
Claim: Gandhi & Nehru’s inaction about Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya’s plea led to Bhagat Singh’s death.
Fact: Gandhi, on a few occasions, made requests to the viceroy at the time, Lord Irwin, seeking a reprieve of Bhagat Singh’s death sentence. In fact, even before Malaviya’s plea, Gandhi had already appealed for the suspension of Bhagat Singh’s execution during a conversation with the viceroy in October 1930. Contrary to the viral claim, Lord Irwin, in his speech, unequivocally supported the punishment of Bhagat Singh, disregarding Gandhi’s plea. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.
The viral post alleges that Gandhi & Nehru did not act on Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya’s plea to stop the hanging of Bhagat Singh. Additionally, the post suggests that Lord Irwin was surprised by the absence of any action from Gandhi and Nehru, stating that if they had made a request, he might have considered it.
It is true that, on 14 February 1931, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya appealed to the Viceroy for mercy in the case of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev, and to commute the death sentence into that of transportation for life. However, there is no evidence to say that reacting to the plea, the then Viceroy Lord Irwin sought Nehru and Gandhi’s consent letters, and inaction of both these leaders with respect to the issue led to their hanging.
Gandhi’s appeal to Irwin:
As a matter of fact, much before Malaviya’s plea, in October 1930, during an interaction with the Viceroy, Gandhi requested the suspension of Bhagat Singh’s execution to which the Viceroy responded saying “I am very grateful to you that you have put this thing before me in this manner. Commutation of a sentence is a difficult thing, but the suspension is certainly worth considering.”
In fact, even hours before the day of Bhagat Singh’s hanging, Gandhi tried to stop Bhagat Singh’s execution by writing to Viceroy Lord Irwin asking for the cancellation of the hanging. However, despite Gandhi’s request, the British government executed the trio on 23 March 1931.
Irwin ignored Gandhi’s plea:
Further, in the viral post, it is argued that Lord Irwin himself said in London that “if Nehru and Gandhi had appealed to stop Bhagat Singh’s execution even once, we would certainly have canceled his execution.”
On the contrary, Lord Irwin in his farewell speech made some statements contradicting the viral claim. He said “As I listened the other day to Mr. Gandhi putting the case for commutation formally before me, I reflected first on what significance it surely was that the apostle of non-violence should so earnestly be pleading the cause of devotees of a creed fundamentally opposed to his own, but I should regard it as wholly wrong to allow my judgment on these matters to be influenced or deflected by purely political considerations. I could imagine no case in which under the law the penalty had been more directly deserved.”
To sum it up, Gandhi on multiple occasions appealed to Lord Irwin for suspension of Bhagat Singh’s execution.