Context: Bhagat Singh’s birth’s Anniversary function by Punjab Govt.
- Bhagat Singh was born in a politically aware family that followed Gandhi.
- Bhagat Singh burnt the books received by the British government as a part of the non-cooperation movement and enrolled in the National College in Lahore after Gandhi called for boycotting government-aided institutions.
- The Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the ruthless killing of the unarmed Akali protesters at the Nankana Sahib in 1921 deeply moved him.
- He distanced himself from Gandhi’s non-violent approach after the Chauri Chaura incident in 1922 and aligned himself with the Young Revolutionary Movement.
- He then advocated violence as morally justifiable for the cause of freedom.
- Bhagat Singh wrote multiple thought pieces in Indian newspapers under various pen names.
- The death of Lala Lajpat Rai was what initiated Bhagat Singh’s path to his execution.
- Lala Lajpat Rai had succumbed to the injuries he suffered at the hand of British police in a protest against the Simon Commission.
- Bhagat Singh planned to kill the Superintendent of Police who ordered lathi to charge at the protestors as revenge for Lala Lajpat Rai’s death.
- However, Bhagat Singh and his associates ended up killing the Assistant Superintendent of Police by mistake and went into hiding.
- In 1929, to protest the formulation of the Defence of India Act, he along with Batukeshwar Dutt bombed the assembly premises where the ordinance was in motion.
- The blast was not meant to harm anyone but further the revolution, both Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt surrendered later.
- A trial started against Bhagat Singh and others accused in July 1929.
- Bhagat Singh had decided to defend himself. Bhagat Singh also led a hunger strike with his association against the discrimination he witnessed between white and native Indian prisoners, and not being treated as political prisoners.
- On the 7th of October 1930, the tribunal submitted a 300- pages long judgement that declared Bhagat Singh and his associates Sukhdev and Rajguru as guilty of the murder of the Assistant Superintendent of Police.
- In 1931, on the 23rd of March, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru faced their punishment while chanting ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ‘Down with British Imperialism.
Upbringing and contribution towards awakening of the youth
- Bhagat Singh was a politically aware child, being born in a family of committed nationalists.
- His uncle Ajit Singh was involved with the peasantry, founded the Bharat Mata Society and spent most of his life in exile, fighting against imperialism.
- Bhagat Singh’s father was an active Congressman who also spent time in British jail.
- Given this background, Bhagat Singh evolved as a political being early in his life and thus participation in the anti-colonial struggle came to him naturally.
- In 1928, Bhagat Singh wrote an article ‘Students and Politics’ in response to some suggestions that students should keep away from politics.
- He says “We concede that the basic duty of the students is to study, so he should not let his attention waver in that regard. But is it not part of the education that the youth should know what the conditions are in their country and be enabled to think of solutions for their improvement?”
- And Bhagat Singh did not prescribe this only for the struggle against British imperialism but any situation where exploitation is palpable.
- In an explicit message from prison, just a few days before his martyrdom in 1931, he exhorted the youth to continue their struggle, even if their exploiters were purely Indian.
- He wrote: “…the struggle in India would continue so long as a handful of exploiters go on exploiting the labour of the common people for their own ends. It matters little whether these exploiters are purely British capitalists, or British and Indians in alliance, or even purely Indians.”
- So, he was clear that the students and the youth, in general, have to be in the vanguard of all struggles, even if the British are gone and Indians are in command.
Naujawan Bharat Sabha
- In 1926, Bhagat Singh and his comrades founded Naujawan Bharat Sabha, a platform from where an overt campaign was possible amongst the students and the youth.
- The colonial government didn’t allow many student unions to exist so the Sabha used to be the student’s platform in Punjab, Western UP and Rajasthan during the 1920s and early 30s.
- The Naujawan Bharat Sabha admitted members who committed themselves to secularism and kept the interests of the country above those of the community.
- The revolutionary ideas Sabha espoused, the ideas of freedom, equality and economic emancipation stirred the youth to an unprecedented degree.
- Its activities led to the founding of youth leagues and Student Unions in several towns throughout India.
- They devised a concerted plan to counter the ongoing communication of our polity and life in general by including the slogans they used.
- The Naujawan Bharat Sabha took a categorical position on the slogans rejecting the common ones used by the Congress like “Allah Akbar,” “Sat Sri Akal” and “Vande Mataram,” which were used to project unity in diversity.
- Bhagat Singh, however, saw them as divisive, as they made Indians conscious of their religious identities. Instead, they raised two slogans: “Inquilab Zindabad” and “Hindustan Zindabad,” hailing the revolution and the country.