On the 68th anniversary of India’s Independence we commemorate the patriots who gave away their life as if it were a mere trifling. We celebrate the romanticism these martyrs had with their country, their soil and above all with their mother land. Adhering to this, the first name that comes to our mind is of a man who laid the foundation of a revolution by invigorating the upcoming generations with his example. A man who eternalised himself in the hearts and minds of the people in such a manner that even today his name repletes our souls with utter pride. A venerated revolutionary and freedom fighter. He is better known to us as Shaheed – e – Azam, Bhagat Singh. This year marked the 84th anniversary of his demise. His death spurred millions of revolutionaries to fortify their struggle for Indian Independence. We would like to pay him homage by stating some interesting facts about his life.
1.) Even at a very young age he decided to dedicate his life to the purpose of India’s independence even if it comes with a price of his life. He left his home for Kanpur when his parents tried to marry him forcefully. He said he does not want to get married in “slave India” and stated “my bride shall only be death”. After this he joined Hindustan Socialist Republican Association to contribute to this purpose. This shows the allegiance and dedication he owed to the country.
2.) Bhagat Singh was not only an extremist and a freedom fighter but also a great and intellectual reader and thinker. During his time in jail he spent most of his time reading books because they brought solace and moral satisfaction to him. Initially he was not allowed to read and right in jail but after long and rigorous hunger strikes he gained back his right to do so as stated in the jail manuals. He maintained a note of 404 pages and kept notes and quotes from the books he read.
3.) In the October of 1928 there was a clash between the rebels and the policemen because Sec. 144 was invoked which prohibited them from any demonstration which resulted in a feud. Many demonstrators were badly beaten amongst whom was Lala Lajpat Rai who died later. To avenge his death Bhagat Singh along with Sukhdev decided to kill Superintendent of Police, James Scott in Lahore. However they mistook John Saunders, the Assistant Superintendent of police for Scott and shot him dead. But they did not regret it since Saunders was also connected to the beating of Lalaji.
4.) A measure of his commitment can be deduced from the fact that though he was a Sikh yet he shaved his beard and cut his hair to hide his identity. He did this so prevent himself from getting recognised and arrested for the killings of Britishers. As a result he was able to escape from Lahore and reach Calcutta to continue his struggle.
5.) Mahatma Gandhi considered Bhagat Singh’s ideologies of militant nationalism and the left wing political activity as most injurious to the cause of Indian Independence. Many people speculate that Gandhi was responsible for Bhagat Singh’s death owing to the fact that he had a creed for non-violence and Singh’s extremist measures of militancy to wreck British power in India were deemed catastrophic for his course of action. Gandhi didn’t even care to see Bhagat Singh in jail when he was on hunger strike and is said to have appealed to the Viceroy for his commutation half-heartedly.
6.) A year after moving to Calcutta he and Batukeshwar Dutt threw bombs in the central assembly hall in Delhi constantly and vigorously shouting “Inquilab Zindabad”. He did not even resist his arrest at this point. It was during his interrogation that the British came to know about his involvement in Saunders death a year earlier. Even during his trial he did not defended himself but used this platform to propagate his ideas of India’s freedom. As a result he death sentence was announced on 7th October 1930 which he adhered with commendable courage.
7.) Bhagat Singh went on a hunger strike in jail because he observed that preferential treatment was given to the European prisoners. He went on a strike demanding equality in standards of food, clothing, toiletries and other hygienic necessities as well as availability of books and a newspaper. An account of atrocities done on them even during the strike stated that they were beaten brutally by officers, different food items were kept in their cells to check their resolve and water pitchers were filled with milk. But still they continued their strike and not for even once stumbled from their path.
8.) In his last petition to the governor of Punjab, Bhagat singh wrote that he takes the responsibility of the events and incidents for which he has been tried and that he does so with pride and elegance. He further writes that the war for India’s Independence shall continue. It might take some other form other times. Sometimes it will be open, sometimes closed, sometimes agitational and then a fierce life and death struggle and that this form of the war shall rest in the hands of the Britishers.
9.) His death sentence was to be exercised on 24th March 1931 but it was preponed by 11 hours to 23rd March 1931. With this proposition no magistrate came forward to supervise the hanging. It was after the original death warrant expired that it was an honorary judge who signed and oversaw the hanging.
10.) According to legends Bhagat Singh marched to the gallows with a smile on his face and did one last act of defiance by shouting “down with British Imperialism”. He was hanged till death after this. India’s most loved, respected and famous freedom fighter was only 23 years of age when he was hanged. His death was followed by mass agitation and served as a source of inspiration for many to come.