BHAGAT SINGH: A Man of Revolution
BHAGAT SINGH was born in the village of Bang in the District of Lyallpur on Saturday, the 27thof September, 1907 (13thAsuj, 1964 Bik) at 0900 hours. He was the second child in the family of Kishan Singh. It is commonly believed that Bhagat Singh was the eldest son of Kishan Singh ,but this is not correct .Kishan Singh’s first son was Jagat Singh ,Who died at the age of 11,when he was studying in the 5thclass. Because of the early death of his brother, Bhagat Singh came to be regarded was the first child of Kishan Singh. Bhagat Singh is survived by four brothers and three sisters, namely Kulbir Singh, Kultar Singh, Rajinder Singh, Ranbir Singh, Bibi Amar Kaur, Bibi Parkash Kaur and Bibi Shakuntla.
His birth took place at the time when the political situation in the country, particularly in the Punjab ,was very tense due to the agitation the Colonization Act , launched by his uncle, Ajit Singh a well–known revolutionary, and Lala Lajpat Rai ,some of the leaders even “looked to driving the British out of the country either by force or through passive resistance by the people as a whole.’’(1)
The prevailing political situation the country can also be judged from the following extract from the judgement in the first Lahore Conspiracy Case, 1915. ‘In 1907, awake of sedition passed over India, including the Punjab, We Know, too, that the wave of sedition has kept ebbing and flowing since then.’’(2) Natural as it was, the prevailing political trends in the country, and in Bhagat Singh’s house particularly went on fertilizing the soil in which the seeds of patriotism had been sown. They showed their full impact on the child at a later stage.
At the time of Bhagat Singh’s birth, his father was in the Lahore central jail in connection with the agitation launched by him against the Colonization bill. His uncle, Ajit Singh, was interned in the Mandalay Jail. Kishan Singh, an under–trial at that time, had put in a bail application, which was granted. Consequently, he was released on a bail of Rs, 50000 and similarly his brother, Swarn Singh was released on a bail. Both brothers reached home 1or2days (3) after the birth of Bhagat Singh. At about the same time, a telegram regarding the release of his uncle Ajit Singh was also received from the Mandalay Jail. Because of that happy coincidence, the birth of the child fortunate. Accordingly the grandmother named the child Bhaganwala which came to be used as his nick name. It was born was from his original name Bhaganwala that the child was later named Bhagat Singh.
Bhagat Singh joined the District Board Primary School in the village Banga in the year 1911-12. At school, he was a very lovable child, so lovable and sociable was he, that even children of the senior classes were very friendly and affectionate towards him. He was very quick in making friends. Early in life Bhagat Singh came into contact with well-known political leaders of India such as Lala Lajpat Rai Lala Pindi Dass, & Sufi Amba Prashad. The Ghadar movement of 1914-15 launched, by the Punjab peasants, who had returned from the U.S.A and Canada, brought Bhagat Singh into touch with such Ghadar heroes as Kartar Singh Sarabha, Rash Bihari Bose and others. They used to visit at Kishan Singh place at Banga for consultation and financial assistance, and the child would hear their talks and plans. Of these Ghadar heroes, Kartar Singh Sarabha about the trial court in the First Lahore Conspiracy Case had remarked, “He is a young man, no doubt but he is certainly one of the worst of these conspirators and is a thoroughly callous scoundrel, proud of his exploits, to whom no mercy whatever can or should be shown”, (4) influenced Bhagat Singh the most. Kartar Singh Sarabha’s ascending the gallows as a result of the judgement in the Lahore Conspiracy Case I in 1916-a supreme sacrifice for India’s freedom by a lad of about 19 years-left yet another deep impression on Bhagat Singh mind. He was only 9 years old, and that impression changed his way of thinking and outlook towards life.
Bhagat Singh also left the D.A.V.School, Lahore, in 1921 when he was a student of the 9th class. Then he joined the National College, Lahore, started by Parmanand and Lala Lajpat Rai, and affiliated to the Quami Vidyapith, Lahore. Most of the students who joined that National College were those who took part in the non-cooperation movement. Here, a doubt arises how Bhagat Singh could join the college, when he was a 9th class student only. According to the statement of Jai Dev Gupta, the students were given two months to prepare themselves and to appear for a test. Bhagat Singh and Jai Dev Gupta brunt midnight oils for the months and sat for the entrance test in the National College. In that test, they were successful, and they were admitted directly to the 1st year class in the National College.
While at national college, Bhagat Singh came into contact with Bhagwati Charan, Sukhdev, Ram Krishan and Tirath Ram. In that college, in addition to the normal subjects, special lectures on patriotism, nationalism, etc. Were delivered by national leaders, such as Bhai Parmanand, Lala Lajpat Rai and others. Prof.Jai Chandra Vidyalankar very much impressed by Bhagat Singh. He started giving him talks on the history of revolutions, and socialism, thus further adding to his revolutionary zeal. Vidyalankar had contacts with revolutionary groups in Uttar Pradesh.
Bhagat Singh did not pass his B.A. when the incident about his marriage took place a result; he had to leave his studies. Bhagat Singh did not pass his B.A. and had to leave the National College in1924 on account of his proposed marriage.
The Marriage Episode
Bhagat Singh grandmother loved him very much. She wanted that Bhagat Singh should be married so that she could have a grand-daughter-in-law. His father said that his grandmother wanted that Bhagat Singh should be married at all costs. After a great deal of thought, Kishan Singh wrote to Bhagat Singh as follows:
“Dear Bhagat Singh,
We have settled your marriage. We have seen the bride. We approve of her and her parents. I myself and yourself must honour the desire of your old grandmother. Therefore, it is my order that you should not create any difficulty in the celebration of the marriage and be prepared for it happily.”
The Bhagat Singh replied, “If you, who are staunch patriot and brave personality, can be influenced by such trifles, then what will happen to an ordinary man? You are only caring for Dadi, (my grandmother), but in how much trouble is our mother of 33 crores, the Bharat Mata? We will have to sacrifice everything for the sake of her troubles.” Thus Bhagat Singh decided finally rather took a vow, not to marry. Hence that proposed marriage brought an end to the formal education of Bhagat Singh. He left his studies and went to Kanpur early in1924. Before leaving with his friends, he said:
“Friends I tell you today that if my marriage takes place in the slave-India, my bride shall be only death. The Barat will take the form of a funeral procession and take the Baraties will be the martyrs of the country.”
The Akali Jatha Incident
At Lahore, Bhagat Singh collected his friends and others, having identical political views, and discussed the starting of an organization to proceed with their mission. After deep discussions, it was decided that the organization be started. In pursuance of that decision in March1926, they founded an association known as Naujawan Bharat Sabha with Ram Krishan, B.A. (National), as its President, and Bhagat Singh as its secretary. Bhagat Singh was the real founder of that Sabha. Soon, that Sabha adopted political aims, and the “social objects”. The political aims adopted by the Sabha were:
(a) “To establish a completely Independent Republic of the labourers and peasants of the whole of India;
(b) To infuse a spirit of patriotism into the hearts of the youth of the country;
(c)To express sympathy with and to assist the economic, industrial and social movements.”(5)
Under the leadership of Bhagat Singh, the Naujawan Bharat Sabha celebrated the “Martyrs’ Day” in Brad- laugh Hall, Lahore in the memory of revolutionaries. Bhagat Singh held a meeting of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha in October1928 and prepared the workers of the Sabha for a demonstration against the “John Bulls’’ on their arrival at Lahore. The Commission arrived there on the 30thof October, 1928. An all-parties procession, headed by Lala Lajpat Rai, marched towards the Railway Station, Lahore to demonstrate their protest against the arrival of the Commission. Bhagat Singh and his co-workers were in the forefront of the huge procession. The processionists carried black flags and shouted slogans “Simon Commission go back”, “Inquilab Zindabad.” Full of love for the people moved on singing songs like the one given below:
‘Hindustani hain ham, Hindustan hamara
Mur Jao Simon jahan keh hai tumhara’
(We are Indians and India is ours
Go back to the country that is yours)
Assembly Bomb Case
“BHAGAT SINGH AND B.K. DUTT threw bombs in the Imperial Assembly.” “Raised slogans of Inquilab Zindabad.” “The two men arrested are Bhagat Singh of Lahore, believed to be an absconder wanted by police and B.K. Dutt the two bombs are said to have been thrown by Bhagat Singh. The first landed near the front Government benches, the second among the back Government benches. After throwing the bombs, Bhagat Singh fired two shots from an automatic pistol which then jammed. According to the report of the Chief Commissioner, Delhi, dated the 8thof April1929, sent to secretary, Home department. Those hurt as a result of the explosion of bombs were:
- Hon’ble Sir George Schuster
- Sir Bomanji Dalal, MLA
- Mr.S.N. Roy
- Mr.P.R. Rau, Financial Commissioner of Railways
These persons were injured not because of bomb fragments, but by the broken chips. After that Bhagat Singh was kept in the Kotwali Chandni Chowk.Then on about the 16thof April, he was shifted to the Civil Lines Police station, Delhi near the old Secretariat. Bhagat Singh’s morale in the Jail was very high and he was taking the whole thing as a drama. He did not allow his father to engage lawyer for him.
“The bomb was necessary to awaken England form her dreams. We drop the bomb on the floor of the assembly chamber to register our protest on behalf of those who had no other means left to give expression to their heart-rending pain. Our sole purpose was to make the deaf hear and give the careless a timely warning. The hearing of the case ended on 10thJune, 1929, and the judgement, was announced on the 12th.
Epic Hunger Strike For Jail Reforms
Later he was shifted to the Lahore Central Jail for his trial in Saunders Murder Case which came to be known as the Lahore Conspiracy Case. In that notorious Mianwali Jail, Bhagat Singh soon came into contact with political prisoners. In consultation with, he decided to start a hunger strike for the achievement of better facilities in the jail. He managed to collect all the prisoners and his under trial comrades and addressed them as follows:
“Friends, if we had been outside the jail, we would have continued our fight for freedom and died now we are in jail. This jail has also been established by the British imperialism and its object is to weaken the will and physique of the patriots. Man is not treated as man. Let us put up a fight.”
On being asked by them as to what they had to do, Bhagat Singh replied, “Hunger–Strike. Shout; raise hands who are ready to sacrifice themselves for this national cause and welfare of humanity?” All present there volunteered and agreed. Bhagat Singh’s comrades-other under trials in the Lahore Conspiracy Case-namely, Sukhdev, Ajoy Ghosh and B.K. Sinha-were lodged in the Lahore Borstal Jail. On coming to know about the hunger strike of Bhagat Singh, they also followed suit in July 1929. After his hunger strike of Bhagat Singh on 15thJune 1929. Similarly, the load of his comrades began falling, but they kept up their fight. Their hunger strike aroused wide public sympathy. Under the joint support of the city Congress and the Naujawan Bharat Sabha a meeting was held at Amritsar on 30th June, 1929in the Jallianwala Bagh at 8p.m.under the chairmanship of Dr Saif-ud-din Kitclew to celebrate Bhagat Singh Day.(6)It was the same Jallianwala Bagh which had sparked off the spirit of sacrifice in Bhagat Singh.
A Symbol of Sacrifice
Bhagat Singh is a living symbol of self-sacrifice, B.K.Sinha, one of the close associates of Bhagat Singh who was convicted with him in the Lahore Conspiracy Case (1929), wrote, “As for the spirit of self – sacrifice, the revolutionary movement. When he was going to throw the bomb in the assembly, there was a suggestion that he should escape. But he stoutly opposed the idea. He insisted that he should get himself arrested. So that he could speak his socialist ideas more effectively and with a greater appeal. At the time of the Saunders’s murder, the party did not want him to participate, but he was so keen to take the risk that he could not be finally dissuaded.”*Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru writes, “the lesson which they (people) should from Bhagat Singh is to die in a manly and bold manner so that India might live.”(7) “Both Azad and Bhagat Singh are names which are likely to live in popular memory-whatever reluctant consideration lingers, Bhagat Singh regarded today as a hero, a martyr and a most famous son of India.”(8)
The Ghadarite Society and Bhagat Singh
The militant movement to end British rule in India was first started in Maharashtra and Bengal. In the Punjab, the extremist movement was launched in 1907 by Ajit Singh and Lajpat Rai. The movement got a set back with the arrests and deportation of Ajit Singh and Lajpat Rai under the provisions of regulation III of 1818. This was commonly known as the Ghadr Movement. It was launched in the year 1914-15 in the Punjab by Ghadr party members, most of whom were Punjabi peasants, who had migrated to Canada and America for earning a living. The activities of the ghadrites, their trials convictions and hanging left a deep imprint on the minds of young elements. It was their example of sacrifice which was followed by Bhagat Singh and his comrades through the Naujawan Bharat Sabha and the Hindustan Republican Association.
Sardar Kishan Singh’s sympathies with Ghadar movement brought Bhagat Singh ‘when he was only seven in contact with the Ghadar heroes like Kartar Singh Sarabha, Bhai Parmanand and others. These Ghadar leaders used to visit Kishan Singh’s place at Banga for consultation and financial assistance, as mentioned above, and the child (Bhagat Singh) would hear their talks and plans. These ideas influenced the most. Kartar Singh Sarabha’s ascending the gallows as a result of the judgement in the Lahore Conspiracy CaseI in 1916 reinforced the impression on Bhagat Singh’s mind. Though he was only nine years old, it must have influenced his way of thinking and outlook on life.
The Impact of Kartar Singh Sarabha
The impact of Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha’s heroism and sacrifice on Bhagat Singh can also be judged from the fact that when Bhagat Singh was arrested, a photograph of Kartar Singh was recovered from him. He always carried Sarabha’s picture in n his pocket and derived inspiration from it. Moreover he used to show that photograph to his mother and say, “Dear mother, this is my hero, friend companion.” While at home Bhagat Singh used to sing the following couplet-a favourite with Kartar Singh Sarabha.
“Seva Desh di jindriya badi aukhi
Galan karnian dher sukhalian ne
Jinhan desh seva vich pair paya
Unhan lakh musibtan jhaliane” (9)
The Ghadrites, Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy and Bhagat Singh
Bhagat Singh, who was 12 at that time when he came to Jallianwala Bagh at Amritsar from Lahore where thousands of persons were died by firing under the orders of General Dyer’s. Bhagat Singh could not have remained unmoved. The earth, where the blood was spilt, had a religious purity for him. He visited the place and bowed in respect. There were tears in his eyes but they were never shed. The red earth echoed and re-echoed the need for sacrifice within the mind and soul of Bhagat Singh. He picked a handful of that red soil and vowed to himself ‘A sacrifice.’ He brought it and kept it in a bottle. He received inspiration from the contents of the bottle, which thought helped him to purify his mind and soul and so strengthen him to make the ‘sacrifice’ and thereby to punish that national insult.
Bhagat Singh used to explain his heroic deeds and supreme sacrifice for the nation and encourage the audience to follow his example. On Bhagat Singh’s request Baba Chuhar Singh arranged a meeting between Bhagat Singh and Sant Randhir Singh Narangwal, who was also undergoing life imprisonment in Lahore Central Jail in connection with the Ghadr movement. During the conversation Sant Randhir Singh blessed Bhagat Singh in these words:
“The Almighty is the Saviour,
Don’t lose heart
God will help you
Don’t fear death.
God may turn the cards,
Then come out of the jail smiling.”
Assuring the Sant, Bhagat Singh replied, “Santji, the soul will come out smiling, through the body be dead. The spirit will soar high.”Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev were secretly hanged on the evening of 23rd March, 1931 in order to avoid repercussions in the jail; Baba Chuhar Singh realized that Doomsday for his young comrades had arrived. So it was he who first went to the cell of Bhagat Singh before noon and informed him that he and his comrades would be kissing the hangman’s noose that day.
- The Indian sedition Committee Report, 1918, p.142
- Lahore Conspiracy Case I. Judgement,13 September, 1915, Part IIIA (I), p.1
- As per statement of S. Kultar Singh younger brother of Bhagat Singh (interview with him by the writer on December 22, 1966 at Saharanpur).
- Lahore Conspiracy Case I Judgement, dated the13th September, 1915 the individual case of Kartar Singh Sarabha, p.7
- Home Department (Political), Government of India 1930, File No.130, and K.W.p.1
- Home Department (Political), Government of India 1930, File No.130, and K.W.p.13 (of the file)
- Nehru J.L. An Autobiography, New Delhi (1962) p.193.
- Home Department (Pol.), Govt. of India, 1931 File no. 18-111. Weekly Report dated 25 March, 1931, No.12.p, 1 and 2.
- Quoted from a poster ‘Message to Indian Youth’ issued by the late Shrimati Vidyawati, mother of Sardar Bhagat Singh.
Ms. Puneet Sharma
Student, B.A. IInd Year,Roll No. 5854 , B.A. IInd Year.
P.G.Govt. College for Girls, Sector-11, Chandigarh