Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Shivaram Rajguru and others who murdered police officer John Saunders - British India

Shivaram Hari Rajguru (24 August 1908 - 23 March 1931) an agitated  Indian freedom fighter took to revolutionary ideology to fight against the British who had taken over India and had been exploiting Indian lands, insulting Indians by way of dissemination and were responsible for pushing the Indian economy to the lowest level. They, during their occupation,  vastly improved the British  economy  at the cost of Indian suffering. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, there arose  several groups of Indians across India, burning with patriotic zeal, who took to violence as a last recourse to deal with repressive British officers. Rajguru, hailing from   Maharashtra, is known mainly for his involvement in the assassination of a British Raj police officer.
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Born on 24 August 1908 into a  a Deshastha  Brahman  family to Parvati Devi and Harinarain Rajguru, he  lived at Khed on the banks of the river  Bheema near Pune. Having lost his father when he was barely six, he and his brother were burdened with the responsibility of taking care of his family  He had his early education at Khed and later studied at New English High School at nana ka bara in Pune. He moved over to Varanasi where he learnt Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures. Here, he got a chance to get exposed to the ideas of Indian revolutionaries

Being an adult  charged with evolutionary  mind, it is quite obvious, he was drawn to the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA)  that wanted free India to be ruled by Indians and were resolute to achieve their goal at any cost. Rajguru became a good marksman and could handle guns well.  Rajguru, like countless revolutionaries. strongly believed that the the nonviolent civil disobedience preferred by Mahatma Gandhi won't make a dent in the obdurate British mind  believed that ferocity and letting loose terror against the oppressors  would be  far more effective against British rule than  Gandhi's Satyagraha that might be self-defeating and would yield little results. HSRA organization made their presence felt in many places  as the members of this group wee inspiring Indians, the British  kept an eye on them. The Lahore Conspiracy Case (December 18, 1928) and the bombing of the Central Assembly Hall in New Delhi (April 8, 1929) are cases in point.  Being a courageous man he was willing to  do any sacrifice to free India from vice-like grip the British had on India and its people. Only free India became his watch word.


Rajguru joined the group of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Chandeasekara Asad and they were mostly operating in Punjab and UP with  with Kanpur, Agra and Lahore as his headquarters.  and took part in the assassination of a British police officer, J. P. Saunders, at Lahore in 1928. It was a premeditated attack on the police officer and it was done to avenge the death of  an eminent freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai who died a fortnight later after he had been  hit by police while participating in a protest march against the Simon Commission. The public opinion was that  Rai's death  was due to police brutality.  Chandrashekhar Azad, Shivram Rajguru, Bhagat Singh and Jai Gopal were given the task of  killing the British police officer  who ordered the lathi-charge purportedly John Saunders?  On 17th December 1928, while Saunders came out of his office and started his motor-cycle, he was shot dead in front of the police headquarters at Lahore by Rajguru. Shivaram Rajguru, along with Sukhdev Thapar, who was the accomplice of the legendary Bhagat Singh, spearheaded the attack. Rajguru then went into hiding in Nagpur.  On his travel to Pune,  Shivaram  Rajguru was finally arrested. Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar were then convicted of their crime and sentenced to death. Paradoxically, their target  was senior Police officer  James Scott who had ordered  his men to lathi-charge the protesting group  against the Simon Commission (1927) that visited India to discuss Indian political reforms. The commission did not include any Indian member that infuriated the Indian leaders across India. It was yet another insult on the Indians by the Raj. 

The three men   and 21 other co-conspirators were tried under the provisions of a regulation that was introduced in 1930 specifically for that purpose. All three were convicted of the charges.

The Tribune in its front pages announced the executions of Rajguru and others  scheduled for hanging on 24th March, Three activists were hanged a day earlier on 23 March 1931. They were cremated at Hussainiwala at the banks of the Sutlej river in the Ferozepur district of Punjab. Shivaram Rajguru was too young to die just only 22 years old at the time of his execution: he became a young martyr like Bhagat Singh.

Legacy: His birthplace of Khed. MH  has since been renamed as Rajgurunagar in his honour. Rajguru Market, a shopping complex at Hisar, Haryana, was named in his honour in 1953