Bhagat Singh is considered to be one of the most influential revolutionaries of Indian Nationalist Movement. His defiance of the British rule from a very young age, his revolutionary acts to target the empire and his hanging when he was only 23 have made him one of the more notable heroes of the Indian Independence movement. He was a charismatic Indian socialist revolutionary whose two acts of dramatic violence against the British in India.
He was what the present ruling dispensation would call an ‘Urban Naxal’; a university student and a left intellectual- activist; he despised communalism, upheld secularism and critiqued religion; he talked about overthrowing Capitalism, Feudalism and Imperialism.
Bhagat Singh was born in Punjab, India, now Pakistan, on September 28, 1907, to a Sikh family. The family was steeped in nationalism and involved in movements for independence.
Bhagat Singh attended Dayanand Anglo Vedic High School, which was operated by Arya Samaj (a reform sect of modern Hinduism), and then National College, both located in Lahore. He began to protest British rule in India while still a youth and soon fought for national independence.. He quit school at thirteen to devote his life to Indian independence. He became involved in several violent demonstrations of political defiance and was arrested several times.
Two incidents during his teen days shaped his strong patriotic outlook – the Jallianwala Bagh Masacre in 1919 and killing of unarmed Akali protesters at the Nankana Sahib in 1921.
In 1926, Bhagat Singh founded the Naujavan Bharat Sabha (Youth Society of India) and joined the Hindustan Republican Association (later known as Hindustan Socialist Republican Association), where he met several prominent revolutionaries.
He also worked as a writer and editor in Amritsar for Punjabi- and Urdu-language newspapers espousing Marxist theories. He is credited with popularizing the catchphrase “Inquilab zindabad” (“Long live the revolution”)
In October 1928, Bhagat Singh’s comrade, Lala Lajpat Rai led a march in protest against the Simon Commission. Police attempted to disburse the large crowd, and during the melee, Rai was injured by the superintendent of police, James A. Scott and died two weeks later.
To avenge his friend’s death, Bhagat Singh and two others plotted to kill the police superintendent, but instead shot and killed police officer John P. Saunders. Singh and his fellow conspirators escaped arrest despite a massive search to apprehend them. Bhagat Singh had to flee Lahore to escape the death penalty.
Arrest and Trial
‘The Red Pamphlet’, which they threw in the Assembly read, “It takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear”. It added that smoke bombs were hurled to protest against British Government’s “attempt to thrust new repressive measures like the Public Safety and the Trade Disputes Bill, and reserving the Press Sedition Bill for the next session…upon the masses of India”. The two bills referred earlier attacked the working classes in India and called for deportation of working-class leaders and declared strikes as illegal terming them as ‘munity against the administration’. The Press Sedition Bill was a direct attack on Freedom of speech and expression.
In April 1929, Bhagat Singh and an associate bombed the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi to protest implementation of the Public Safety Bill, Defence of India Act, and then surrendered. The bombers planned to get arrested and stand trial so they could further promote their cause.
Through further investigation, the police discovered the connection between Bhagat Singh and the murder of Officer Saunders and he was rearrested. While awaiting trial, he led a hunger strike in prison. Eventually, Singh and his co-conspirators were tried and sentenced to hang. He was executed on March 23, 1931.
He died a martyr at the age of just 23 years. Following his execution, the supporters and followers of Bhagat Singh regarded him as a “Shaheed” (martyr). Bhagat Singh was hanged in the Lahore jail along with Shivaram Hari Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar on March 23, 1931.
As India pays tributes to Bhagat Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has decided to stage a sit-in protest against the Farm Acts on 28th September, 2020 at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh.
“He’ll always remain a source of inspiration for us,” Amit Shah said on Twitter. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid his tributes to the revolutionary in his 69th ‘Mann ki Baat’ episode.