The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Bhagat Singh Effect of Jallianwala Bagh and Departing Gandhian Path
Effect of Jallianwala Bagh
I am a man and all that concerns mankind concerns me.
On 13th April 1919 the Baisakhi day, a meeting was in progress at the Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar. The object of the meeting was to register protest against the Rowlett Act It was attended by around twenty thousand people, including children, youths, adults, the old, and men and women of all ages. Jallianwala Bagh had high walls on all four sides, with only one small, narrow passage.
The meeting was peaceful. Meanwhile General Dyer reached there with his battalion. He ordered his soldiers to stand on one side and fire on the unarmed people. People ran helter-skelter but the escape route was unusually narrow. Many people jumped into the well to save their lives, but perished there.
They shot dead a thousand people just in no time. General Dyer saw that the firing continued till his anger cooled off.
In this massacre in all one thousand six hundred shots were fired. As per the Government report, 400 persons died and nearly two thousand were wounded. Later on, the Congress constituted a Commission of Enquiry to go into it. According to its report the number of the dead and the wounded was nearly double of what the government report stated.
The whole India was plunged into deep anguish due to this incident in Punjab.
Bhagat Singh was then only twelve years old; but his mind was deeply disturbed by this event. The next day he did not return home after the school hours. His family at home waited for him very anxiously.
After the school, Bhagat Singh went straight to the place of the tragedy. Somehow managing to push through the police on guard, he went in. He collected a bottle of mud wet with the blood of the innocent Indians killed, and returned home. Seeing that he was late, his younger sister said, “Where were you all this time? Mother has been waiting for you with food ready”. But Bhagat Singh was not at all thinking of food. Showing the bottle in his hand, he said, “Look here. This is the blood of our people killed by the British. Salute this.”
Then young Bhagat Singh put the bottle in a niche and worshipped it with flowers.
The common people who had assembled in Jallianwala Bagh carried no weapons. Nor was there a way to escape from the place. And these innocent people were killed by the British police! Such were the thoughts working in the mind of young Bhagat Singh. The feeling that somehow the British must be driven out of India became firmer in his mind.
That was the time when the Indian National Congress was fighting for the country’s freedom. It awakened the people’s love for their country and was uniting the people. Even before entering the ninth class, Bhagat Singh decided to participate in this work. He was only thirteen then.
Young Bhagat Singh told his father of his decision and asked for his permission. Himself a revolutionary, Sardar Kishan Singh willingly gave his consent. Bhagat Singh joined the freedom movement.
At that time, there was running a powerful “Swadeshi” anti-foreign cloth movement in the country. “If the foreign cloth was bought, other countries were benefited. In order to end this, all ought to wear cloth made in our country. Foreign cloth must be burnt”—so the leaders taught. Bhagat Singh took part in this movement with great zeal. Right from his early days, he used to wear only Khadi. Every week he would collect foreign clothes, heap them up and burn them.
Patriotism flowed in his veins from the days of his childhood. By the time he completed his secondary education, Bhagat Singh knew everything about the revolutionaries of his family. He had learnt all the details about them at home. And the desire to fight for the country’s freedom grew strong in him.
Bhagat Singh’s eldest brother Jagat Singh died at the age of 11. After this Sardar Kishan Singh shifted to Nawankot near Lahore where he had some land. Bhagat Singh was admitted to DAV School, Lahore. He passed the matriculation examination from there only.
When Bhagat Singh was in 9th standard he had the opportunity to attend the meeting of Congress. His father took him to Belgaum Congress held in 1924 which was presided over by Mahatma Gandhi.
Departing Gandhian Path
Any man who stands for progress has to criticize, disbelieve and challenge every item of the old faith.
To continue his studies, Bhagat Singh joined the National College. This college had been started by great patriots like Lala Lajpat Rai. Though he had not been to school for some time, Bhagat Singh had a good knowledge of history and politics. The Principal was astonished and permitted him to join the college straight away.
During the day he would listen to the lessons in the class. In the evening he would collect several friends and discuss the coming revolution. This became his daily routine. While in the college he was very intimate with Sukhdev and Yashpal.
At college, Bhagat Singh took part in several plays. A teacher who saw him in the leading roles in ‘Rana Pratap’ and ‘Samrat Chandragupta1 remarked, “This boy will become a great man.”
In the beginning Bhagat Singh was a devout Gandhian. But the Chauri Chaura backlash dismayed not only Gandhiji but also Bhagat Singh, a lad of only fifteen years. Then the heroic martyrdom of Khudi Ram, Kanailal and Kartar Singh made him pin his faith on armed revolution.
In 1922, the Congress organized a procession in the town of Chauri Chaura in Gorakhpur District. Then some rogues locked up twenty-two policemen together in a house, set fire to the house and burnt them. Before this, similar acts of violence had occurred even in Bombay and Madras. Mahatma Gandhi felt very sad at all this. He asked the people to end the non-cooperation movement which was then going on in the country.
That was a great disappointment to young Bhagat Singh, a lad of fifteen. Should an important movement be given up, just because 22 persons died? Before that, a nineteen-year-old revolutionary by name Kartar Singh had been hanged by the British Government. Then none of these supporters of non-violence raised any objection. How could non-violence become so important now? Such thoughts weakened Bhagat Singh’s faith in non-violence and non-cooperation movements. He went on firmly believing that armed revolution was the only practical way of winning freedom.
Young Bhagat Singh and contemporaries like Azad were deeply and emotionally influenced by that tragedy. Azad, Bhagat Singh and many others then distanced themselves from the path of Gandhi. They were more attracted by the aggressive and violent revolutionary ideals and means to achieve the freedom of India.
Bhagat Singh made a deep study of the lives of the revolutionaries of Ireland, Italy and Russia. The more he read, the deeper grew his belief that war alone could bring freedom. The youth of the land should be inspired to turn to revolution. The very thought of fighting for freedom should thrill the young men. So thinking, Bhagat Singh began to organize the youth.
He was also deeply moved by the activities of the European anarchists like Proudhan, Bakunin and Kropotkin. He was sensitized by the exploits of the Russian nihilists, of the young Turks in Turkey and the Afro-American Negroes over their racialist tormentors. He subscribed to the theories of the anti-Italy and anti-Russia radicalists. Thus Bhagat Singh, the manque-radicalist grew up on the balanced diet of the European radicalism.