Friday 28 October 2016
13 October 1997 Books 10 Questions

Khushwant Singh

The writer dismisses the allegations against his father as inspired by the BJP
Did you know about the existence of records where your father deposed against Bhagat Singh?
Of course, I knew. It was an open trial.

Were you aware of these events as they unfolded?
All this was published openly in the papers.

Did you ever ask your father about it?
After he came back from the assembly, all that was discussed was the bomb-throwing incident. Of course, at that point he did not know who the two boys were.

What was the exact sequence of events?
My father, Sir Shobha Singh, was in the visitor's gallery when the bombs were thrown. He was asked to identify the two men, which is what he did. Bhagat Singh pleaded guilty so what could my father do? Anyway they were sentenced for killing Saunders, not for this incident.

Did your father in his later years feel any regret about his testimony?
There was national regret when Bhagat Singh was hanged. He'd become a hero by then.

Being a British contractor, do you think your father was anti-nationalist?
He was not only a British contractor, he was also the biggest contractor in Delhi.

Are you angry/embarrassed by what your father did?
At that time, we did not feel anything about it. He had only identified them. To insinuate that he got his knighthood for this is rubbish. He was knighted 15 years later.

Why do you feel the controversy has been dug up now?
This entire thing is aimed at me. My father died a long time ago, so it doesn't affect him. This is at the instigation of the saffron brigade.

And your reaction to the timing?
My writing's become more and more anti-saffron brigade. I'd written a strong piece when the chargesheet was filed in the Babri Masjid case and this story appeared four days later.

What do you think of Bhagat Singh?
I thought very highly of Bhagat Singh. I even managed to get his autograph when he was in jail.

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