This Day in History (17-Dec-1927) – Bhagat Singh and Rajguru killed Sanders, Asst. Suprintendent of Police

With no Indian member on the Simon commission body, formed for political reforms, angry Indian nationalist leaders across the ideological spectrum boycotted the commission. In Lahore, Lala Rajpat Rai, the most popular leader of Punjab, was hit during a lathi charge while leading an agitation against the commission, and succumbed to his injuries. ‘The Hindustan Socialist Republican Army’ was considering the plan of avenging the death of Lalaji by killing the Police Officers, who were responsible for Lalaji’s beating that led ultimately to his death. They had two-fold object in this: first to give the popular movement a turn towards violence, and second, to show to the world that Lalaji’s beating was not taken lying by India. The action was incident­ally to advertise the existence of a revolutionary party in India. For this purpose it was decided that Bhagat Singh and Shivaram Rajguru should attempt on the life of Mr. Scott, the S. S. P. Meanwhile Chandra Shekhar Azad the absconder in the Kakori Conspiracy Case of 1926, was to direct the whole action and to work as a rear guard.

The whole plot was carefully thought out and complete arrangements were made for the same. Originally, it was the intention of these three youths to fight out a pitched battle with the police and if possible, to lay down their lives fighting. They believed that in this way they would be able to rouse up the imagination of the youth and bring them into the ranks of the revolutionaries.  But the plan failed in two respects. Instead of Mr. Scott they murdered Mr. Saunders. Then, as the police did not follow them up, their desire for a pitched fight; could not be fulfilled. Only one Police Officer, namely Mr. Fern, came out of the Police Office after the shots had been fired that killed Mr. Saunders. But two bullets whirling by his head proved too strong an argument for returning back. Only Chanan Singh, a constable dared to follow them up. He was entreated to give up the chase; but on his refusing to do so, he was also killed by bullet shots.

Next morning the police discovered several posters pasted on walls, with the bold printed heading in red :  “The Hindustan Socialist Republican Army,” below which was written out in thick letters: “Saunders is dead, Lalaji is avenged,” and some other matter in justification of the action.