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.
The Great Martyrdom and Post Martyrdom of Bhagat Singh
The Great Martyrdom
They may kill me, but they cannot kill my ideas. They can crush my body, but they will not be able to crush my spirit.
The trial of Bhagat Singh and other accused commenced. In those days political prisoners were not treated properly in the jail. They were not given proper food. They were made to suffer in every possible way. Bhagat Singh and his companions decided to fight against the wretched conditions.
They launched a hunger strike advocating for the rights of prisoners and those facing trial. During the hunger strike that lasted 63 days and ended with the British succumbing to his wishes, he gained much popularity among the common Indians. Before the strike his popularity was limited mainly to the Punjab region. However, a revolutionary Jatin Das died during the hunger strike in Jail.
Owing to the slow pace of the legal proceedings, a special tribunal consisting of Justice J. Coldstream, Justice Agha Hyder and Justice G. C. Hilton was set up on the directives of the Viceroy, Lord Irwin on 1 May 1930. The tribunal was empowered to proceed without the presence of the accused and was a one-sided trial that hardly adhered to the normal legal rights guidelines.
The trial of Bhagat Singh and his companions began; it drew the attention of the whole world. The court was heavily guarded by the police. No spectators were allowed inside the court. The prisoners were brought to the court in chains. They used to shout ‘Long Live Revolution’ and only then enter the court hall.
Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt stated, “If the deaf are to hear, the sound has to be very loud. When we dropped the bomb, it was not our intention to kill anybody. We have bombed the British Government. The British must quit India and make her free.” They also explained the objects of their association. The whole world came to understand their aim and activities because of the press reports.
The tribunal delivered its 300-page judgement on 7 October 1930. It declared that irrefutable proof has been presented confirming the involvement of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru in the Saunders murder case. Bhagat Singh admitted to the murder and made statements against the British rule during the trial. The three were sentenced to be hanged till death, some were to undergo life imprisonment, some were to be kept in jail for five years, some for seven, some for ten years.
Warrent of Execution on Sentence of Death
Bhagat Singh was to be hanged! When the news spread, the people all over the country were mad with rage. Thousands of appeals were sent to the Government, pleading that he should be saved. Several leaders of public life joined in the appeal. But all attempts failed. It was decided to hang them on the 24th of March 1931. Even the members of the prisoners’ families were not allowed to meet them. Moreover, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged a day before the appointed day, that is, on March 23, 1931.
Even on the day of their hanging they were fearless. It is said that the trio proceeded quite cheerfully towards the gallows while chanting their favourite slogans like “Inquilab Zindabad” and “Down with British Imperialism”. They competed with one another to be hanged first. It was decided that first Sukhdev would be hanged and then Bhagat Singh and finally Rajguru. All the three climbed the platform. Kissing the rope, they themselves put it round their neck. They died with the name of Bharat Mata on their lips. Such was the glorious end of the three champions of freedom.
That day no one in the jail touched food. Everyone was in tears. The next day, not knowing that the trio had already been hanged, their relatives came to meet them. But it was all over with them. The dead bodies of the martyrs had been secretly burnt on the bank of the river Sutlej. Getting a clue thousands of people raced to the spot; but only the ashes remained. The people sobbed, with the ashes in their hands.
All over the country tributes were paid to the heroes who fought for freedom and sacrificed their lives. Hundreds of songs were composed and sung about the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh. Even today, the heroic spirit of Bhagat Singh is an unfailing source of inspiration to the youth of the country. His courage, spirit of adventure and patriotism are an example to one and all in India and the world.
The place where Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were cremated, at Hussainiwala on the banks of the Sutlej river, became Pakistani territory during the partition. On 17 January 1961, it was transferred to India in exchange for 12 villages near the Sulemanki Headworks. Batukeshwar Dutt was cremated there on 19 July, 1965 in accordance with his last wishes, as was Bhagat Singh’s mother, Vidyawati. The National Martyrs Memorial was built on the cremation spot in 1968 and has memorial of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. During the 1971 India-Pakistan war, the memorial was damaged and the statues of the martyrs were removed by the Pakistani Army. They have not been returned but the memorial was rebuilt in 1973.
On 15 August 2008, an 18-foot tall bronze statue of Singh was installed in the Parliament of India, next to the statues of Indira Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose. A portrait of Singh and Dutt also adorns the walls of the Parliament House.
In 1968, a postage stamp was issued in India commemorating the 61st birth anniversary of Singh. A ₹ 5 coin commemorating him was released for circulation in 2012.
Every year there would be gatherings of the people on the cremation ground of martyrs. That alone would remain a remnant symbol of those patriots who shed their blood For the sake oF the country. —Anonymous
After the arrest of Bhagat Singh and other revolutionaries, Chandra Shekhar Azad successfully evaded arrest for about next two years but on 28 February, 1931 he was surrounded by armed police in Alfred Park of Allahabad. He engaged for long, exchanging fire with the police but shot himself down when he was left with the last bullet in his pistol.
Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and Chandra Shekhar Azad became cult figures. The war they conducted themselves both in and off the court, both in and off the jail endeared them to the massess. Though Mahatma Gandhi hesitated to plead for them, he pleaded for the commutation of the punishment given to lifelong deportation.
On 17 February, 1931 Lord Irwin signed a pact with MK Gandhi and yet Gandhi could not save the young heroes of India. Though Irwin rose and rose up in the socio-political ladder of England to be raised to an Earldom in 1944, Gandhiji’s popularity plummeted.
Consequently like Khudi Ram and Jatin Das (who fasted in the jail and died on the 64th day of the self-imposed starvation), Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru and Chandra Shekhar Azad became toasts of the entire Hindustan (Undivided).
Bhagat Singh, despite his involvement in 26 terrorist activities alone then in Punjab in one year said, “Revolution to me was not the cult of pistol and bomb”. He, further, expanded: “Revolution is the inalienable right of the mankind. Freedom is the imprescriptible birth right of all”. So he himself and his comrades were glorious in welcoming death.
Further they explicated: “We are content. We await the advent of revolution”. Explaining his own ethical position, in the article “Why I am an atheist?”, he stated that he was “trying to stand like a man with an erect head to the last; even on the galiows”.
Six days before the Indian National Congress met on 29 March, 1931 in Karachi, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were executed allegedly for their terrorist activities. Vallabhbhai Patel, in his presidential address said:
The execution of young Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru has filled the country with deep resentment. I cannot identify myself with their methods, but the patriotism, daring and sacrifice of Bhagat Singh and his comrades, commend my admiration. The heartless and foreign nature of the Govt, was never more strikingly demonstrated than in their carrying out the executions in the teeth of the all but the universal demand for the commutation of the death sentence.
The Indian National Congress Resolved :
The Congress, while dissociating itself from and disapproving of political violence in any shape or form, places on record its admiration of the bravery and sacrifice of the late Sardar Bhagat Singh and his comrades, Sukhdev and Rajguru.
Gandhiji, the apostle of non-violence, salved his conscience by condemning violence but also admired Bhagat Singh’s violent activities for the sake of liberation of India. Yet, his public reputation slumped alarmingly.
For the Indians, Bhagat Singh was not just an ordinary person killing unpopular British officials as well as Indian traitors but was a champion of communism, socialist welfarism, national solidarity, secularism, and emancipatory humanism. So after the execution the entire nation immersed itself in condolence.
After the death of Bhagat Singh, ‘Inqualab Zindabad’, became the battle cry of all the dispossessed and the poor, fighting against every kind of exploitation, injustice and domination. He never intended to indulge in any act violence and murder. He went on to say that the present system based on exploitation would have to be ended. He wanted a society free from exploitation and inequality.
Did not Gandhiji seek the same goal which he called Ramrajya? Did both of them not opt for their martyrdom in the service of the country? Both of them had nourished the feeling that their thought, their labour, their feelings would survive even after the dissolution of their bodies. Both had chosen different paths to their goal of freedom for the country and its people. Their self-chosen motto was not revenge but revolution, bravery not cowardice.