Bhagat Singh biography

Bhagat Singh



Bhagat Singh was born in 1907 at Banga, a village in Lyallpur district (now in Pakistan) in a Sikh family) He was the second of five children of his parents, Kishan Singh and Vidya Vati. He had three brothers and a
Bhagat Singh
Bhagat Singh
The family was quite well-oil" as peasant proprietors. They had nationalistic inclinations and also took part in reform movements led by Arya Samaj and the Singh Sabha. The most famous member of the family was, of course Ajit Singh, uncle of Bhagat Singh, who was deported to Mandalay for six months along with Lala Lajpat Rai in 1907 for leading an agitation against the Colonization Bill. Bhagat Singh was very attached to his uncle and was obviously inspired by his self-sacrifices as a nationalist. Ajit Singh had left India and spent many years working for India in self-exile while in foreign lands.
After completing his primary education in a village school Bhagat Singh joined the D.A.V. High School at Lahore. After passing the matriculation examination, he joined D.A.V. College. There he was influenced greatly by his history teacher. Bhai Parmanand who was later sentenced to life imprisonment in the 1915 Lahore conspiracy case and was sent to Andaman where he spent six years). From his early days Bhagat Singh had qualities of leadership and founded the College Student Union, and served as its president. He also joined the Indian National Congress while still a student but left it finding it ‘supine and ineffective’. When Lajpat Rai founded the National College in 1921, Bhagat enrolled in it leaving D.A.V. College and graduated from it in 1923.
Bhagat Singh had developed an interest in reading. He read widely especially literature about socialism, Marxism and revolutionary movements while studying in college. At a young age he decided to devote his life for the country’s cause through revolutionary activities.
In 1924, the family of Bhagat Singh, specially his grandmother, started pressing him for marriage. As he did not want to be saddled with family life which would hamper his activities as a revolutionary, he left home and reached Kanpur, armed with a letter of introduction from one of his teachers for the Congress leader Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. Bhagat Singh stayed in Kanpur for five months, working for the Hindi paper Pratap edited by Vidyarthi. In spite of being president of the U.P. Congress, Vidyarthi had a soft corner for the revolutionaries and his office served as a meeting-point for them. There Bhagat Singh met revolutionaries like Batukeshwar Dutt, Chandershekhar Azad and others. He also wrote articles and pamphlets under the name, Balwant. The stay at Kanpur served as an apprenticeship in journalism for him and for writing revolutionary literature. Early in 1925 Bhagat Singh returned to Lahore after being assured that his family would not force him to marry.
While still a student of the National College he had joined the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (1923) and was soon elected as its general secretary. After his return from Kanpur, he founded the Nav Jawan Bharat Sabha in 1925 in Lahore to inculcate a spirit of revolution in the youth. He came in touch with several revolutionaries in Lahore like Sukhdev, Yashpal, and Bhagwati Charan besides those he had met at Kanpur. On the Dussehra day of 1926 a bomb exploded in Lahore. Bhagat Singh was arrested and prosecuted but was released in the absence of valid proof. By 1928 the Hindustan Socialist Republic Association (HSRA) had created a network of branches throughout north India.
Lajpat Rai, as leader of the Nationalist Party in the Central Legislative Council, moved a resolution on 16 February 1928 to boycott the Simon Commission which was carried by sixty-eight to sixty-two votes. To live up to his conviction, he led a demonstration in Lahore when the Commission members arrived there on 30 October 1928. Lajpat Rai was assaulted by the police and a British officer hit him on the chest. Lajpat Rai died on 17 November presumably of injuries. This shocked the nation and the members of the HSRA decided to take revenge, and kill Scott, deputy superintendent of police who they thought had hit Lajpat Rai. Bhagat Singh with his two associates, Rajguru and Azad, reached Scott’s office on 17 December 1928. Mistaking Saunders, assistant superintendent of police, for Scott, Raj Guru fired a shot followed by four shots from close quarter by Bhagat Singh. Saunders died on the spot. All three escaped. Bhagat Singh reached Calcutta incognito.
This was followed by two bombs thrown in the Legislative Assembly Hall in Delhi by Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt on 8 April 1929. The bombs did not kill anyone but a few persons were slightly injured. Bhagat Singh and Dutt did not run away but offered themselves for arrest. They had also thrown a red pamphlet earlier from the gallery and shouted revolutionary slogans like ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ‘Long Live Revolution’. Both of them were arrested and put in solitary confinement in Delhi `jail. They were committed to the sessions in the first week of June. Bhagat Singh made an historic statement in the court drafted by him which ‘forms a glorious chapter in the history of the revolutionary movement’. An excerpt from it reads: “The bomb was necessary to awaken England from her dreams. Our sole purpose was to make the deaf hear and give the timely warning. We have only marked the end of an era of utopian non-violence of whose futility the rising generation has been convinced beyond the shadow of doubt”.
Jawaharlal Nehru was so moved by the statement made by Bhagat Singh that he published it in the Congress Bulletin. The statement of Bhagat Singh and Dutt did not have any effect on the judge and he sentenced the two of them to transportation for life. An appeal in the high court was rejected.
While they were undergoing sentence, the Lahore Conspiracy Case (murder-of sunders) was also opened. There were large scale arrests before that and almost all the revolutionaries were arrested. Some of them became approvers and the role of Bhagat Singh was disclosed. Thus Bhagat Singh was charged with murder and brought to Lahore jail from Delhi. While in prison, Bhagat Singh and his colleagues started a hunger strike on 15 June 1929. They were demanding better facilities as political prisoners. The hunger strike went on for several weeks. The prolonged fast created great commotion among the public and huge demonstrations were held all over India. Jawaharlal Nehru met the prisoners in jail on 9 August 1929. In a speech at Lahore he said, “The hunger-strikers in Lahore jail are undergoing this magnificent suffering, suffering which it is in the power of few men to endure, not for themselves but for all political prisoner. The sacrifice of these young men has roused us to a new consciousness of political life and once more made all of us yearn for liberty of the country. What a contrast this is, compared with the unfortunate wrangles among Congressmen and the fighting for securing positions in the Congress and the reception committee. I am ashamed to hear of these internecine differences among the Congressmen."
Gandhi in a letter dated l july 1929 reprimanded Nehru for publishing the statement of' Bhagat Singh which he thought was written by his counsel, and for undergoing Bhagat Singh and his colleagues for undergoing fast. Nehru in his reply on 13 July 1929 informed Gandhi: “I am sorry you disapproved of my giving Bhagat Singh and Dutt’s statement in the Congress Bulletin. I found that there was very general appreciation of it among Congress circles, I decided to give extracts. It was difficult however to pick and choose and gradually most of it went in. You are mistaken in thinking that the statement was the work of their counsel. My information is that counsel had nothing or practically nothing to do with it .
As Bhagat Singh and his comrades were charged with murder and were not cooperating with the Court and were shouting revolutionary slogans in the Court, a Special Tribunal was appointed to prosecute them. The trial thus became a farce. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were sentenced to death. The rest of them were sentenced to transportation for life. A petition was filed in the Privy Council by prominent public men which was rejected. On 14 February 1931, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya submitted an appeal to the Viceroy seeking his prerogative of mercy in commuting the death sentence to transportation for life on grounds of humanity. The Viceroy was not moved.     The three, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, were hanged in the Lahore jail on 23 March 1931, at 7 pm. Their bodies were secretly taken out and cremated on the bank of Sutlej River the same night.
The nation was stunned. There were huge demonstrations throughout the country. There was a general feeling that Gandhi did not do enough to use his influence with the Viceroy, to save the lives of Bhagat Singh and his two comrades. Some believed that he did his best, but the facts do not support their contention. Gandhi, during his meeting with Viceroy Lord Irwin on 18 February 1931, raised the question of the death sentence of Bhagat Singh and his two comrades, as an afterthought but according to Irwin, Gandhi did not plead for commutation, only for postponement. On 23 March 1931, the day fixed for the hanging, Gandhi wrote to the viceroy in the morning in Delhi (the hanging had to take place in Lahore). It is not certain at what time the viceroy received Gandhi’s letter. In the letter Gandhi wrote: Though you were frank enough to tell me that there was little hope of your commuting the sentence of death on Bhagat Singh and two others, you said you would consider my submission on Saturday….Popular opinion rightly or wrongly demands commutation. When there is no principle at stake it is often a duty to respect it. The strangest part of the tragic episode is that the same evening (on 23 March 1931) Gandhi issued a statement: Bhagat Singh and his companions have been executed (they were executed at 7 p.m. in Lahore jail) and have become martyrs. Their death seems to have been a personal loss to many. I join in the tributes paid to the memory of these young men. And yet I must warn the youth of the country against following their example."
Gandhi left for Karachi on 26 March to attend the Congress session there. He was warned about the anger of youth against him for not saving Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. He alighted at Malir, a wayside station fifteen miles from Karachi, for fear of the angry demonstration. The demonstrators had reached Malir station also and received Gandhi with black flags and shouts of ‘Gandhi murdabad’ and ‘Gandhi go back’.
Gandhi drafted a resolution to be passed in the Congress session. He asked Nehru to move the resolution, who refused, but later agreed due to his regard for Gandhi. The significant part of the resolution reads: 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 Syts. Sukhdev and Rajguru, and mourns with the bereaved families the loss of these While moving the resolution, Nehru said, “Why is _everyone thinking of Bhagat Singh today? Even children in villages know about him. Many before him have made sacrifices and many more are still doing so. But why is the name of Bhagat Singh on every tongue? There must be some reason for this. He was a clean fighter who faced his enemy in the open field. He was a young boy full of burning zeal for the country. He was like a spark which became a flame in a short time and spread from one end of the country to the other, dispelling the prevailing darkness everywhere”.
The author of the official history of the Congress, an ardent Gandhian, wrote: “At the time of the Karachi Congress in 1931, it was doubtful whether Gandhi or Bhagat Singh occupied the chief attention of India”. As late as 30 July 1931 Gandhi wrote: “The Bhagat Singh worship has done and is doing incalculable harm to the  country”.
Notwithstanding Gandhi’s disapproval. Bhagat Singh has become a legend and will continue to be praised by generations to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment