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Remembering the Shaheed

Remembering the Shaheed
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Martyr Bhagat Singh has a very brief period of active political life. In this brief time span he has transcended to the top of a thought process which make him ever relevant to the emerging situations. As these years there is increased interest in him by the common man so there is an urge to have more thorough understanding.

The short period of active life also creates a paradox. In absence of thorough understanding of the process of his revolutionary growth, the scope for interpretation of shahid for narrow benefit has been on rise. Thus there is an urgent need to have better understanding of the growth of thought process.

Bhagat Singh was considered to be one of the most influential revolutionaries of the independence movement. He is often referred to as ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh’. He was born into a Sikh family which had earlier been involved in revolutionary activities against the British Raj. Singh as a teenager studied European revolutionary movements and was attracted to anarchist and Marxist ideologies. He became involved in numerous revolutionary organisations and quickly rose through the ranks of the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) to become one of its main leaders, eventually changing its name to the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) in 1928.

The country remembers him for his revolutionary activities to free India from the clutches of Britishers. The country observes his martyrdom on 23 March each year to pay homage to his contributions in the freedom movement.

The principles of Singh was opposite to the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi. Bhagat Singh was the follower of revolutionary methods to dethrone Britishers from the country. It is so that in order to seeking revenge for the death of Lala Lajpat Rai at the hands of the police, he murdered British police officer John Saunders.

He eluded efforts by the police to capture him. Soon after, together with Batukeshwar Dutt, he undertook a successful effort to throw two bombs and leaflets inside the Central Legislative Assembly while shouting the slogan of revolution. The two men were arrested, as they had planned to be. Held on this charge, he gained widespread national support when he underwent a 116-day fast in jail, demanding equal rights for British and Indian political prisoners. During this time, sufficient evidence was brought against him for a conviction in the Saunders case, after trial by a Special Tribunal and appeal at the Privy Council in England. He was convicted and subsequently hanged for his participation in the murder, aged 23. His legacy prompted youth in India to begin fighting for Indian independence and he continues to be a youth idol in modern India, as well as the inspiration for several films. He is commemorated with a large bronze statue in the Parliament of India, as well as a range of other memorials.

Bhagat Singh, a Sandhu Jat, was born on 28 September 1907 to Kishan Singh and Vidyavati at Banga village, Jaranwala Tehsil in Lyallpur district of the Punjab Province of British India. His birth coincided with the release from jail of his father and two uncles, Ajit Singh and Swaran Singh. His family were Sikhs, some of whom had been active in independence movements, and others having served in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army. His ancestral village was Khatkar Kalan, near the town of Banga in Nawanshahr district (now renamed Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar) of Punjab.

His grandfather, Arjun Singh, was a follower of Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s Hindu reformist movement, Arya Samaj, which had a considerable influence on the young Bhagat. His father and uncles were members of the Ghadar Party, led by Kartar Singh Sarabha and Har Dayal. Ajit Singh was forced to flee to Persia due to pending court cases against him, while Swaran Singh died at home in 1910 following his release from Borstal Jail in Lahore.

Unlike many Sikhs of his age, Singh did not attend the Khalsa High School in Lahore. His grandfather did not approve of the school officials’ loyalism to the British authorities Instead, he was enrolled in the Dayanand Anglo Vedic High School, an Arya Samaji institution.

In 1919, at the age of 12, Singh visited the site of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre hours after thousands of unarmed people gathered at a public meeting had been killed. At the age of 14, he was among those in his village who welcomed protestors against the killing of a large number of unarmed people at Gurudwara Nankana Sahib on 20 February 1921. Singh became disillusioned with Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence after Gandhi called off the non-cooperation movement. Gandhi’s decision followed the violent murders of policemen by villagers who were reacting to the police killing three villagers in the 1922 Chauri Chaura incident. Singh joined the Young Revolutionary Movement and began to advocate for the violent overthrow of the British in India.

Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death in the Lahore conspiracy case and ordered to be hanged on 24 March 1931. That schedule was moved forward by 11 hours and he was hanged on 23 March 1931 at 7:30 pm in Lahore jail with his comrades Rajguru and Sukhdev.
It is reported that no magistrate of the time was willing to supervise his hanging as was required by law. The execution was supervised by an honourary judge, who also signed the three death warrants as their original warrants had expired. The jail authorities then broke the rear wall of the jail and secretly cremated the three martyrs under cover of darkness outside Ganda Singh Wala village, and then threw the ashes into the Sutlej river, about 10 kilometres from Ferozepore.
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