Is Mahatma Gandhi responsible for the death of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru?
No. This stupid myth refuses to go. The Mahatma pleaded to the Viceroy multiple times to commute the death sentence to Bhagat Singh & other revolutionaries. I will paste the entire final letter with my own emphasis on some sentences.
M. K. Gandhi
1 DARYAGANJ, DELHI,
March 23, 1931
Govt. of India.
It seems cruel to inflict this letter on you, but the interest of peace demands a final appeal. Though you were frank enough to tell me that there was little hope of your commuting the sentence of death on Bhagat Singh and two others, you said you would consider my submission of Saturday. Dr. Sapru met me yesterday and said that you were troubled over the matter and taxing your brain as to the proper course to adopt. If there is any room left for reconsideration, I invite you attention to the following.
Popular opinion rightly or wrongly demands commutation. When there is no principle at stake, it is often a duty to respect it.
In the present case the chances are that, if commutation is granted, internal peace is most likely to be promoted. In the event of execution, peace is undoubtedly in danger.
Seeing that I am able to inform you that the revolutionary party has assured me that, in the event of these lives being spared, that party will stay its hands, suspension of sentence pending cessation of revolutionary murders becomes in my opinion a peremptory duty.
Political murders have been condoned before now. It is worth while saving these lives, if thereby many other innocent lives are likely to be saved and maybe even revolutionary crime almost stamped out.
Since you seem to value my influence such as it is in favour of peace, do not please unnecessarily make my position, difficult as it is, almost too difficult for future work.
Execution is an irretrievable act. If you think there is the slightest chance of error of judgment, I would urge you to suspend for further review an act that is beyond recall.
If my presence is necessary, I can come. Though I may not speak1 I may hear and write what I want to say.
“Charity never faileth.”
Your sincere friend,
M. K. Gandhi
From a Photostat : C.W. 9343. Courtesy: India Office Library
Was the Mahatma a bit uneasy about this? Yes, you can clearly see from the language. He was quite embarrassed to even make this request. To understand why, think of this scenario.
Let’s say you are dealing with a harsh moneylender. He has taken over your house. After a lot of pleading, arguing and protesting through legal means you have finally softened the moneylender. The moneylender has started to see your side of things slowly and is feeling a little guilty.
Just when this is happening, your elder son goes out and breaks the arm of that moneylender’s son – who has nothing to do with the whole dispute. Will you be uneasy and embarrassed to defend for your son? Will not the money lender scoff at you – for speaking of righteousness and the right actions for so long and then finally defending a wrong action?