Patriots >The Revolutionaries > Bhagat Singh
Bhagat Singh (1907-1931)
Bhagat Singh was born to Kishan Singh and Vidya Vati at Banga in the Lyallpur district of the West Punjab in 1907 (exact date of birth is not known). Kishan Singh was the eldest of the three sons of Arjan Singh and Jai Kaur, the two others being Ajit Singh and Swaran Singh . The former had been deported to Mandalay along with Lala Lajpat Rai under the infamous Regulation III of 1818 on the charge of seditious activities caused by the iniquitous Colonisation Bill of 1908.

Bhagat Singh was the second of the five children (four sons and a daughter ) of Kishan Singh, the others bing Jagat Singh ( died young ), Amar Kaur, Kulbir Singh, Kultar Singh and Rajinder Singh. They were a family of Sikh Jat peasant proprietors, known in the Ilaqa for their self- sacrificing nature. They associated themselves with all reform movements, Arya Samaj and Sing Sabha alike.

On completion of his primary education at the village school in Banga, Bhagat Singh was sent to the D.A.V. High school, and then to the D.A.V. College at Lahore. Here he came under the influence of two teachers, Bhai Parmanand and Jai Chand Vidyalankar, two veteran nationalists, who left their impress on the plastic mind of Bhagat Singh. He became the leader of the student community and founded the college students union. He even joined the Indian National Congress but, finding it supine and ineffective, left it.

The execution of the Ghadarite Kartar Singh Saraba in 1915, the Rowlatt Act and the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy of 1919 made Lahore a storm-centre of agitation. Bhagat Singh responded to the non-cooperation call of Gandhi, left the D.A.V. College and later joined the National College founded by Lala Lajpat Rai, from where he graduated in 1923.

From 1923 to the time of his execution in 1931, Bhagat Singh dedicated himself to the liberation of his motherland. In 1923 he associated himself with the Akalis and Babbar Akalis, who had organised Morcha at Guru Ka Bagh. The same year he joined the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association and was very soon elected as the general secretary of its central committee. He was entrusted with the task of co-ordinating the inter-provincial activities of the Association.

In 1925 he founded the Nav Jawan Bharat Sabha at Lahore to inculcate a spirit of revolution among the youth. He came in touch with other revolutionaries like Sukhdev, Yashpal, Bhagwati Charan, Chandra Shekhar Azad, B.K. Datt, Surindra Nath Pandaya, Jatindra Nath Das and others, who were also working among the youth. Das taught how to make crude bombs.

In 1926 Bhagat Singh planned with Kundan Lal and Azad to rescue the prisoners of the Kakori Case, but the plan fell through. On the Dussehra Day of 1926, a bomb exploded in Lahore. Bhagat Singh was arrested and prosecuted, for want of sufficient evidence he was discharged. In 1928 the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association decided to open a network of branches in the Punjab under the leadership of Bhagat Singh.

When the all-white Simon Commission landed in Bombay on 3 February 1928, the Congress gave a call of black flag demonstration against it. A mammoth procession led by Lala Lajpat Rai greeted it with black flags at the time of its arrival at Lahore. It was lathicharged by the police and Lala too was not spared. It was too outrageous an insult to be left unavenged. The Lala succumbed to the injury a few months later.

Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Azad decided to kill Mr. Scott, believed to be responsible for the lathi blows given to the revered Lala. Taking him for Scott, they shot at Saunders, a police head constable,

on 17 December 1928 and killed him. Bhagat Singh escaped from Lahore and came to Calcutta where he opened a branch of his party.

The party now entrusted Bhagat Singh and B.K. Datt to throw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi in order to demonstrate to the alien rulers the utter disgust and disaffection of the Indians against their autocratic rule. On April 8, 1929 they threw a bomb when the Central Assembly was in session, and later offered themselves for arrest shouting ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ (Long Live Revolution). Bhagat Singh and B.K. Datt were arrested, and later Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were tried, and hanged in Lahore Central Jail on 23 March 1931 at about 7.30 in the evening. Their corpses were not handed over to their relatives but were cremated by the police at the dead of night on the banks of the river Satlej, near Ferozepur.

Justly remembered as ‘Shahid-I-azam’ by his grateful countrymen for making the supreme sacrifice,
Bhagat Singh infused life into the youth and became their hero. It “has increased our power for winning freedom for which Bhagat Singh and his comrades have died”, said Mahatma Gandhi. “Their magnificent courage and sacrifice has been an inspiration to the youth of India”, said Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then President of the Indian National Congress, in his tribute. They died so that India may live.

An ardent nationalist and freedom-loving patriot, Bhagat Singh was, however, not an anarchist. “It is my firm belief,” he said, “that the country will not profit by bombs and pistols-mere throwing of bombs is not only futile but it is often harmful, although it may be permissible in certain circumstances”. He justified the use of force only when “it is used in the furtherance of a legitimate cause”.

Besides being a nationalist to his core, Bhagat Singh was a socialist and a republican. “Labour is the real sustainer of society. The sovereignty of the people is the ultimate destiny of workers. For these ideals and for this faith we shall welcome any suffering to which we may be condemned”. This brings out Bhagat Singh not as a mere terrorist, which his prosecutors laboured to make out. He was a socialist, a democrat- all in one.

An example of Bhagat Singh’s shrewdness and resourcefulness can be given from an episode in the Contributor’s life. Bhagat Singh was in jail and the Contributor (Prithvi Singh Azad) had gone underground in Gujarat, with a big price on his head announced by the British rulers. The police and the C.I.D. tried to fish out some information about Azad from Bhagat Singh, and Bhagat Singh wanted the same from them. In this battle of wits, Bhagat Singh gathered that Azad was in Gujarat.

Through the help of Bhai Parmanand and Dhanwantri, Azad was traced ‘somewhere’ in Gujarat, and a meeting was also arranged between Prithvi Singh and Dhanwantri and Chandra Shekhar in a park in Lucknow where later Chandra Shekhar Azad fell a martyr to police bullets. An automatic pistol was presented to Prithvi Singh and he was asked to proceed to Russia on his own resources to learn the staging of a Bolshevik type of revolution in India.

It was Bhagat Singh’s conviction that India could be liberated from slavery of the British by means of a sort of Bolshevik Revolution in India. Bhagat Singh had read communist literature, particularly Marx’s ‘Das Capital’ and also the ‘Communist Manifesto’.

Bhagat Singh was the first Indian revolutionary to start the slogan of Inquilab Zindabad, which later became the war cry of Indian Independence struggle.
Bhagat Singh edited the Urdu paper Kirti from Amristar. He also edited the Akali at Amristar. He was a good journalist and for some time contributed to the Arjun (Delhi) and Pratap (Kanpur) under the pseudonym of ‘Balwant Singh’.

Author : Prithvi Singh Azad