“Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamarey dil mein hai, Dekhna hai zor kitna baazu-e-qatil mein hai.” The very reference of poet and freedom fighter Ram Prasad Bismil’s couplet instantly brings to mind the resolute resolve and supreme sacrifice of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and hundreds of thousands of others who gave up their lives as sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands & wives and mothers & fathers to contribute towards the freedom of our nation.
Bhagat Singh, born into a politically active family on September 28, 1907, grew up learning about ideologies which by name are extremely different. His grandfather was influenced by the Arya Samaj while his father and uncles were members of the Ghadar Party, an organization that believed in revolutionary measures, violent and non-violent, to attain freedom.
But it was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that shook Bhagat Singh, then a boy of 12 years, and he became active in the Non-Cooperation movement. The calling-off of the movement by Mahatma Gandhi disillusioned young Bhagat and he became an advocate of overthrowing the British government by violent means.
As he grew older, his allegiance to the cause of freedom grew stronger. To avoid marriage, he ran away and left a letter that said, “My life has been dedicated to the noblest cause, that of the freedom of the country. Therefore, there is no rest or worldly desire that can lure me now.”
He went on to join the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) which had Chandrashekhar Azad as one of its leaders. They avenged the death of Lala Lajpat Rai by killing John P. Saunders, in a case of mistaken identity as James A. Scott, who had ordered the lathi-charge which proved fatal for Lalaji, was the actual target.
After some time, to come in the public eye and wash off the tag of terrorism that had been associated with their name, Bhagat Singh accompanied by Batukeshwar Dutt threw two bombs into the Central Assembly chamber from its public gallery while it was in session. The ensuing trial was a sham and Singh and Dutt were sentenced to life imprisonment. Soon however, the British connected the dots of the murder of Saunders with Singh and the result of a new trial subsequently convicted and sentenced him to death.
His views on anarchy - which he described as mistaken for deconstruction and that which he insisted advocated complete independence - and atheism, came under fire and continued to be viewed in an unfavourable and unfair light by many for decades. Instead, what Bhagat Singh advocated through these concepts was total autonomy on self. A kind of independence which would set an individual free from the bounds of religion, worldly desires and most importantly, servitude.
His views and his ideology has prevailed and shall be cherished by generations of millions of Indians for whom he sacrificed his life willingly.
Title image: RD
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