“Inquilab Zindabad, Inquilab Zindabad”- these chants of freedom shook the entire Lahore Central Jail on the evening of March 23, 1931 when Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were ‘hanged’ to death. Even today, these ‘chants’ are enough to fill us with immense national pride.
However, one cannot deny how unfair history has been to this martyr. The pro-congress history that we (or every Indian child) have consumed from an early age is a work of pure creativity, with cherry-picked excerpts to suit the current political conditions. Unfortunately, Bhagat Singh could never find a delightful spot for himself in our ‘vague’ historical texts.
Bhagat Singh was a communist, a well-educated one. Matters related to religion, gender disparities and caste discrimination never formed a part of his liberal ideas. Bhagat Singh’s values and ideas are important, even today. This article is an attempt to explore the unknown side of the great martyr, which can still act as a guiding light for our youth.
- Reason behind Bhagat Singh’s death: When Simon came to India in 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai led a protest against the Simon Commission in which he became prey to a planned murder by British police officer named Saunders. Bhagat Singh led a nationwide protest against this brutal murder and when no one listened (including the Indian Congressmen), he decided to take revenge. In February 1928, Bhagat Singh shot down Saunders in broad daylight.
Later, the streets of Kolkata were flooded with posters saying, “Lala Lajpat Rai’s death is avenged, Saunders has been murdered”.
- Bhagat Singh was a harsh critique of the Police system: It has been widely known that the British used the police system as a weapon to save their colonial rule in India. Bhagat Singh used to criticise the Indian Police Act (which was, and still is, an absolute copy of Britain’s Police System).
Bhagat Singh argued in the court trial of Saunders’ murder case that during a ‘lathi charge’, police cannot attack on the head of a protestor. (Unfortunately, due to the strong presence of the British in judiciary, Bhagat Singh’s argument was suppressed and he was sent to jail).
He used to dream of a free India without the ‘suppressive’ and inhumane Police Act. Contrary to his vision, our Constitution still bears the burden of the same.
- When Jinnah firmly defended Bhagat Singh: Bhagat Singh and Mohammad Ali Jinnah were two completely opposite people, but in spite of their ideological differences, they shared a strong common vision for freedom.
In the Central Assembly meeting of September 12, 1929, Jinnah vehemently opposed the British Government’s treatment of the freedom fighters in jail. Not many of us are aware of this, but Bhagat Singh’s court trial ran without his ‘presence’ in the court,
In his remarkable speech, Jinnah concluded by saying, “The money of the taxpayer should not be wasted in prosecuting men, nay citizens, who are fighting and struggling for the freedom of their country”.
- Bhagat Singh was hanged, but not till death: It might sound like questioning the history, but I cannot go any further without making this revelation about a secret ‘operation’ that was carried out on March 23, 1931. A book written by ex-British Intelligence Officer, titled ‘Some Hidden facts: Martyrdom of Bhagat Singh’, reveals about an operation named ‘Operation Trojan’. The book further goes on revealing that Bhagat Singh was ‘shot dead’ (not hanged) by the Father-in-law of John Saunders (who was killed by Bhagat Singh) in an act of planned vengeance. It was because of the same reason that the post-mortem of Bhagat Singh’s body was never conducted.
Even more disturbing is the fact that influential Indians like M.K Gandhi and Pandit Nehru, who had a powerful presence in the British camp, never made an effort to honour these martyrs with a glorious ‘farewell’.
- Bhagat Singh’s parents could not even attend his cremation: The brave souls were supposed to be hanged on March 24. In a backstabbing move, the British hanged them on March 23 itself and without any delay their bodies were immediately transferred to a secret cremation ground on the banks of Satluj- Beas River.
Later when protests erupted, Bhagat Singh’s parents were misguided by the British police and were sent to another cremation ground in Hussainwala (Punjab). It was done to prevent Bhagat’s parents and relatives from getting exposed to the ‘bullet’ marks on the martyr’s body.
- Bhagat Singh was extremely fond of reading: In his short but glorious life of 23 years, Bhagat Singh read close to 300 books, mostly containing foreign literature. He took keen interest in freedom movements of other countries and wanted to implement those ideas for India’s freedom. Interestingly, he read most of these books during his time in prison.
Shaheed Bhagat Singh once said, “Merciless criticism and Independent thinking are the two necessary traits of revolutionary thinking”.
Bhagat Singh was one of the greatest critiques of his time. Any tribute to this hero would be incomplete if it goes without the elements of strong criticism in it.
The day of March 23, 1931 left all of us in shame with unanswered questions that are nothing less than a debt on every Indian.
On an ending note, a salute to the great martyr in his own words:
“Sarfaroshi ki tamannah ab hamare dil mein hai, dekhna hai zor kitna Baaju-e-Kaatil mein hai”