Number of political leaders, patriots have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of India but the role of Bhagat Singh - born on September 23, 1907 in village Banga now in Pakistan - an Indian socialist revolutionary whose two acts of dramatic violence against the British in India and execution at age 23, on March 23, 1931 at Shadman Chowk too in Lahore in Pakistan - made him a folk hero of the Indian independence movement – cannot be forgotten.
Today is the 111th birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh, who inspired hundreds in his time to embrace the cause of India's independence with abandon and whose clarity of thought in his short life remains stunning and illuminating to this day. Bhagat Singh, who is perhaps the greatest revolutionary India has known and loved, was just 23 when he was martyred in 1931.
On this celebrations are held at the various institutions named after him and tributes and remembrances of the same float on social media from leaders, spokespersons and commoners alike.
Bhagat Singh was an Indian revolutionary socialist who was influential in the Indian independence movement. Modern India is desperately looking for such virtues in an elusive leader as the youths of today lack ethical values. We need to instil in them the sense of enthusiasm and patriotism. We also need people like Bhagat Singh today to fight against the evil forces to free India from corruption and this would be our best tribute to the martyr.
Remembering the most prominent revolutionary – Bhagat Singh - on this day, through his biography, will definitely carry forward his revolutionary teachings.
During the revolutionary movement in India, Bhagat Singh gave a new direction and formed 'Naujavan Bharat Sabha' to spread the message of revolution in Punjab, formed 'Hindustan Samajvadi Prajatantra Sangha' along with Chandrasekhar Azad to establish a republic in India, assassinated police official Saunders to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai, dropped bomb in Central Legislative Assembly along with Batukeshwar Dutt.
Bhagat Singh was one of the highest-flying faces of Indian freedom struggle. He was a revolutionary ahead of his times. By Revolution, he meant that the present order of things, which is based on visible injustice, must change. He studied the European revolutionary movement and was greatly attracted towards socialism. He realized that the overthrow of British rule should be accompanied by the socialist reconstruction of Indian society and for this political power must be seized by the workers.
Bhagat Singh gave a new direction to the revolutionary movement in India. He differed from his predecessors on two counts. Firstly, he accepted the logic of atheism and publicly proclaimed it. Secondly, until then revolutionaries had no conception of post-independence society. Their immediate goal was the destruction of the British Empire and they had no inclination to work out a political alternative. Bhagat Singh, because of his interest in studying and his keen sense of history gave the revolutionary movement a goal beyond the elimination of the British. However, clarity of vision and determination of purpose distinguished Bhagat Singh from other leaders of the National Movement. He emerged as the only alternative to Gandhi and the Indian National Congress, especially for the youth.
Bhagat Singh was born in a Sikh family in village Khatkar Kalan in Nawanshahar district of Punjab. The district has now been renamed as Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar in his memory. He was the third son of Sardar Kishan Singh and Vidyavati. Bhagat Singh's family was actively involved in freedom struggle. His father Kishan Singh and Uncle Ajit Singh were members of Gadhar Party founded in the U.S to oust British rule from India. The family atmosphere had a great effect on the mind of young Bhagat Singh and patriotism flowed in his veins from childhood.
Bhagat Singh who was in hiding all this while volunteered to throw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly where the meeting to pass the ordinance was being held. It was a carefully laid out plot, not to cause death or injury but to draw the attention of the government, that the modes of its suppression could no more be tolerated. It was decided that Bhagat Singh and Batu Keshwar Dutt would court arrest after throwing the bomb.
On April 8, 1929 Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw bombs in the Central Assembly Hall while the Assembly was in session. The bombs did not hurt anyone. After throwing the bombs, Bhagat Singh and Batu Keshwar Dutt, deliberately courted arrest by refusing to run away from the scene. During his trial, Bhagat Singh refused to employ any defence counsel. In jail, he went on hunger strike to protest the inhuman treatment of fellow-political prisoners by jail authorities.
On October 7, 1930, Bhagat Singh, Sukh Dev and Raj Guru were awarded death sentence by a special tribunal. Despite great popular pressure and numerous appeals by political leaders of India, Bhagat Singh and his associates were hanged in the early hours of March 23, 1931.
Today, in view of serious internal and external threats to India, Bhagat Singh’s ideology is still relevant today and can be a bulwark against the exploiters and the corrupt. Remembering is keeping alive such souls and there is a need to understand Bhagat Singh and appreciate his deeds to keep his spirit alive.
Despite his patriotic qualities, Bhagat Singh – who fought for the independence of the subcontinent – was first given life imprisonment and later was given a death sentence in a false case.
Not only this, after 87 years of the hanging of Bhagat Singh in 1930, Imtiaz Rasheed Qureshi, a Pakistan based advocate has now filed a petition in Lahore High Court to reopen the case and declare him innocent.
The then Governor had constituted a tribunal through an ordinance which was valid for four months but it started its proceedings six days prior to the lapse of its term. The Tribunal neither recorded the testimony of 450 witnesses nor listened to Singh’s side. Later, Bhagat Singh and his two companions – Sukhdev and Rajguru – were hanged. An appeal filed against the punishment in London was dismissed.
Special judges of the tribunal handling Singh's case awarded death sentence to him without hearing the 450 witnesses in the case. Singh's lawyers were not given the opportunity to cross-examine them. "I will establish Bhagat Singh's innocence in the Saunders case," he said.
Eighty-six years after revolutionary Bhagat Singh was hanged for the murder of a British police officer, a Pakistani lawyer is fighting to prove the legendary Indian freedom fighter’s innocence in a Lahore court.
In 2014, Lahore police searched through records of the Anarkali police station on the court’s order and managed to find the First Information Report on Saunders’ killing in 1928. A copy of the FIR was provided to Qureshi on the court’s order.
Written in Urdu, the FIR was registered with the Anarkali police station on December 17, 1928, at 4.30 pm against two ‘unknown gunmen’. The case was registered under sections 302, 1201 and 109 of Indian Penal Code. Singh’s name was not mentioned in the FIR even though he was eventually handed down the death sentence for the murder.
Qureshi speaking to me said special judges of the tribunal handling Singh’s case awarded death sentence to him without hearing the 450 witnesses in the case. Singh’s lawyers were not given the opportunity to cross-examine them. “I will establish Bhagat Singh’s innocence in the Saunders case,” he said.
Hats off to Imtiaz Rasheed Qureshi, Chairman Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation, Pakistan, who is also pursuing with the Pakistan government to Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation Pakistan – BSMFP - Imtiaz Rasheed Qureshi, Chairman, today has filed writ petition in the Lahore High Court Lahore for seeking direction to the Punjab Gov. to name the Shadman Chowk as Bhagat Singh Chowk, Pak files petition under article 199 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973 before Chief Secretary Govt of Punjab Lahore, Deputy Commissioner Lahore and Lord Mayor Lahore.
Qureshi said, “Bhagat Singh is as much of Pakistan as much as he is of India. He was born in present-day Pakistan, so he is the hero of India and the son of Pakistan.”
Frankly speaking, Bhagat Singh is still seen as the role model by a large number of young people in India. His sense of sacrifice, patriotism and courage are something that will be revered and looked upon by generations to come.
Merely declaring the holiday on the martyr day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh would not suffice; the real tribute will be, if every year, his birthday is celebrated not only in the institutions named after him but in all educational institutions, to remember his great sacrifice for the freedom of India.
More-so, now a day in view of serious internal and external threats to India, there is a need to understand Bhagat Singh’s ideology can be the bulwark against the exploiters and the corrupt. To keep his spirit alive, there is also a call for to make his autobiography available for the young generation by making it a part of syllabus in our educational institutions.
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