Recently(on 28th September 2016), 109th birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh was observed.
Bhagat Singh was one of the infinite jewels which adorned India during the struggle for independence. The gravity of his contributions is still felt and revered by the people not just in India but across the globe.
This article will be a brief of Bhagat Singh’s role in the National movement, his contributions, the events which shaped his actions and thoughts among others.
In a chronological order , it goes like this:
- At the age of 12 years, traumatized by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre(under the helm of General Dyer). This was a major event in the early stage of his life which imbibed considerable bitterness against the Britishers.
- In the beginning, supported Gandhi Ji and his strategies of Satyagraha and Non-violence in the beginning and took part in the Non-Cooperation Movement
- But–>irked by the Gandhian policies after withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation movement post the Chauri Chaura violent incident(1922)*
- He was now inspired by the anarchist* and Marxist ideology*.
- Began to involve himself in revolutionary activities and upheld violence to overthrow the British Raj.
- Became a prominent part of the Hindustan Republican Association(HRA), an organization comprising of revolutionaries like Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Chandrashekhar Azad among others.
- Kakori conspiracy*(1925) was a setback for HRA.
- Formed Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha (a left-wing organization to gather youth and peasants by educating them about ideologies like socialism etc.) in 1926
- Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev among others laid the foundation of the Hindustan Socialist Republic Association(HSRA) in 1928.
- The word “socialist” in HSRA was added on Singh’s insistence. This confirms his propensity towards socialism*.
- Simon Commission and death of Lala Lajpat Rai was one of the turning points in his activities.
- Lala Lajpat Rai was beaten to death by police while protesting against the arrival of Simon Commission(1928).*
- In order to avenge his death, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru and Chandrashekhar Azad conspired to kill the Supridentent of Police(SP), Scott. However, due to mistaken identity, they shot dead ASP, Sauders.
- Bombing the Central Legislative Assembly:
- Bhagat Singh along with Batukeshwar Dutt.
- The purpose was to “make the deaf hear”(to voice their concerns regarding the British rule) . However, the bomb was harmless.
- To protest against the Public Safety Bill* and the Trade Disputes Act*.
- Was inspired by French revolutionaries.
- “Inquilab Zindabad” was the voiced slogan. It means- “Long live the revolution”.
- Charged with Saunder’s murder, bombing legislative assembly and manufacturing bomb–> arrested as a political prisoner.
- 116 day Hunger strike against the pity conditions and abominable treatment meted out to the Indian prisoners–>demanded equal treatment for European and Indian prisoners.
- Executed along with Sukhdev and Rajguru on 23rd March 1931.
Bhagat Singh: Thoughts and Beliefs
- Rationalist: upheld reason as the source of valid knowledge.
- Atheist-> questioned religious ideologies , particularly after witnessing inter-religious riots –> this was an outcome of his rationalist outlook.
- Socialist–> inspired by the Russian(Bolshevik) Revolution which upheld Socialist ideology.
- Towards the end, he himself admitted the effectiveness of the leadership of Gandhi Ji and called to abrogate violence.
- Anarchist: upheld absence of the British state.
- Chauri Chaura incident(1922): A violent breakout of the masses against the police. Police allegedly used force on the peacefully protesting masses. Mahatma Gandhi called off the Non Cooperation movement due to this event as the principle of Non-violence was breached. Bhagat Singh and other young nationalists were disillusioned by this.
- Anarchism: An ideology which denies any role of state. It upholds the principle : ” State is an unnecessary evil”.
- Marxism: an ideology which upholds the principle of struggle of the working class(proletariat) against the bourgeoisie(capitalist or ruling class).
- Kakori Conspiracy: train robbery took place in Kakori(U.P) led by HRA revolutionaries in 1925.
- Socialism: means of production and distribution to be owned by the community as a whole.
- Simon Commission(1929): a commission sent to INDIA for constitutional reforms—>Opposed by the nationalists on grounds that it had no INDIAN member.
- Public safety bill: To stop communist activities by suppressing communist organizations.
- Trade Disputes act: restrictions on strike action, mass picketing, forbade unions from having political objectives.