A black-and-white picture of a man being flogged by a uniformed policeman is circulating online with captions falsely claiming that the picture shows freedom fighter Bhagat Singh being whipped by a British police officer.
BOOM found that the viral image is from 1919 and does not show the freedom fighter. We also went through books on the life of Bhagat Singh and learned that there are only four photographs of the revolutionary ever found - through his childhood till his incarceration. The viral picture is not one of them.
One of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian freedom struggle, Bhagat Singh was born in Lyallpur district of Punjab in British India in 1907. He was arrested for the first time on May 29, 1927 in connection with a year-old Dussehra bomb case. Singh was in police custody for five weeks before being granted bail on July 4, 1927.
Later, on April 8, 1929, Bhagat Singh, along with another revolutionary Batukeshwar Dutt, threw bombs and leaflets from the visitors gallery in the Central Assembly (now called Indian Parliament) in Delhi. After months-long trial, the trio of Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar were sentenced to death on October 7, 1930.
The execution was to be carried out on October 27 but Singh filed an appeal in the Privy Council which was heard and dismissed in February of 1931. On March 23, 1931, the three freedom fighters - Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev - were hanged to death.
The viral post shows a picture of a man with his hands tied to a pole. His lower half is bare revealing his buttocks while a policeman in uniform stands nearby. A newspaper clip showing the same picture has been shared in inset.
A long Hindi caption with the viral post translates to 'A photo of Bhagat Singh being flogged for the sake of independence was published in a newspaper back then to set an example that no on becomes another Bhagat Singh. At a time when Bhagat Singh and other freedom fighters were fighting for independence, people like Ambedkar, Gandhi and Nehru did nothing for them despite being barristers. Their servility towards the British resulted in all the luxuries in their lives. Revolutionaries, meanwhile, were jailed and even chose the noose for the country. But people still think that Gandhi, Ambedkar and Nehru were great'.
(Hindi: आजादी के लिए कोड़े खाते भगत सिंह जी की तस्वीर उस समय के अखबार में छपी थी ताकि और कोई भगत सिंह ना बने भारत में........जिस समय भगत सिंह सहित सभी क्रांतिकारी आज़ादी के लिए लङ रहे थे वही अम्बेडकर,गाँधी और नेहरू जैसे लोग बैरिस्टर होते हुये भी क्रांतिकारीयो के लिय कुछ नही किया।अंग्रेजों के चाटुकार बनकर सुख-सुविधा से जी रहे थे। क्रांतिकारीयो ने जेल काटी, दर्द सहा यहाँ तक की फांसी चढ गए देश के लोगों के खातिर लेकिन लोगो को आज भी महान गाँधी,अम्बेडकर और नेहरू को बताया जाता है)
View the post below and check its archive here.
The picture is quite viral on Twitter and Facebook with similar claims.
BOOM did a reverse image search on the viral picture and found an article published in Byline Times in 2019. It carries the same picture with a caption reading 'Indians were flogged following the Amritsar massacre in 1919'.
The Amritsar massacre here refers to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre which took place on April 13, 1919 in Amritsar, Punjab. Acting brigadier-general Reginald Dyer had ordered the British Indian army troops to open fire on a crowd of unarmed civilians who had assembled in Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate Baisakhi.
We then did a keyword search with the words 'Indians', 'flogged', 'Amritsar', '1919' and 'massacre' and found the same photo with similar captions in other articles.
An article published in The Clarion on April 17, 2019 under the headline Remembering Heroes of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre shows the same image with a caption 'Flogging in the erstwhile Punjab in 1919'.
Another article published on the website of Sabrang India has the picture with the same caption.
Going by the captions if we conclude that the picture is from 1919, then Bhagat Singh was 12-years-old at this time.
BOOM then referred to the book Bhagat Singh Reader edited by Chaman Lal, a retired professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is the honorary advisor, Bhagat Singh Archives and Resource Centre, Delhi Archives.
The book presents a voluminous collection of all the writings of Bhagat Singh including his letters, telegrams, notices as well as jail notebook.
The book also archives four photos of the young revolutionary and clearly mentions them as 'the only four photos of Bhagat Singh ever found'.
View the pictures below.
The above photos happen to be the four most widely shared pictures of the freedom fighter.
BOOM was unable to independently verify who was the man shown in the viral picture.
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