Remembering Shaheed Bhagat Singh on his birth anniversary

View of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Museum at Nawa Shahar in Punjab, India

A Sikh, who is eulogized even in modern times for his martyrdom, believed that he would have got the value of his life if he sacrificed it to spread the idea of “Inquilab Zindabad” to every corner of his country, was born today in 1907.

Often referred to as Shaheed Bhagat Singh, he spent his short life in undivided Punjab and Kanpur before moving to a dramatic Delhi for India’s freedom.

Portrait of Bhagat Singh, taken by Ramnath Photographers, Delhi, in April 1929. Reproduced courtesy of the Supreme Court of India Museum

By 1925, Singh had shifted gears from romantic revolutionary to socialist revolutionary. Along with Batukeshwar Dutt, Singh entered the visitors’ gallery of the Parliament sandstone building and flung a low-intensity bomb into the assembly on April 8, 1929. They stood their ground and kept shouting “Inquilab Zindabad” and “Down with Imperialism” until they were arrested.

As a prisoner, Singh shot off frequent petitions. He sought a transfer to Lahore Central Jail from Mianwali Jail so he could engage a lawyer to fight the Lahore Conspiracy Case and prepare his defence. He said he was a political prisoner who deserved better treatment than an ordinary criminal. He demanded a special diet, no forced labour, toilet necessities and, of course, literature for reading.

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Singh never suffered from writer’s block as he wrote in an exquisite slanting handwriting. His themes were conspiracies and bombings, the stories of individual revolutionaries and the need for young people to come forward and join the movement.

An atheist man, who inspired thousands to take up the cause of the freedom movement, didn’t believe much in Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence theory.

The martyred freedom fighter at the age of 23, along with comrades Rajguru and Sukhdev, mistook the British police officer John Saunders for Superintendent James Scott, who was responsible for leading a lathi charge against Lala Lajpat Rai and his followers for protesting against Simon Commission.

The assassination of Saunders, however, led to the hanging of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev on March 23, 1931, which later came to known as the Martyrs’ Day throughout the country.

The National Martyrs Memorial, built at Hussainiwala, Punjab in memory of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru

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