Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for the nation 75 years ago. Chaman Lal suggests that the martyrdom day of this freedom fighter, who strongly opposed untouchability and communalism, should be observed as ‘Anti-Imperialism Day’ and his birth anniversary should be celebrated as ‘National Youth Day’
Bhagat SinghBhagat Singh was just 23 years and a few months when he was hanged by British colonialists on March 23, 1931. By the time Bhagat Singh went to the gallows, he had entered the hearts and minds of all Indians, some of whom later became Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. With the publication of Bhagat Singh’s writings largely after 1947 and more in the last few decades of twentieth century (complete documents in Hindi are now available in one volume), the martyr became known as a revolutionary socialist thinker as well.
This year not only happens to be Bhagat Singh’s 75th year of martyrdom but will also mark the beginning of his birth centenary year on September 28. Bhagat Singh was born on September 28, 1907, in Lyallpur Banga. His ancestral village, however, is Khatkarkalan near Banga in Nawanshahar district. Bhagat Singh spent most of his childhood in Pakistan’s Punjab, particularly Lahore. He was also martyred in Lahore.
Bhagat Singh is revered not only in India but also in Pakistan and Bangladesh, while people in countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka also respect this great revolutionary from India.
Even in international arena, if Mahatma Gandhi has become a symbol of Indian non-violent struggle for freedom, Bhagat Singh’s name comes close to great revolutionaries like Che Guvera, Simon Bolivar and Nelson Mandela.
There is a need to propagate Bhagat Singh’s ideas by translating his documents in all Indian languages. A picture of Bhagat Singh should be hung in Parliament. His writings against communalism and untouchability could be introduced in school curricula. This freedom fighter is a symbol of unity for the people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and his ideas can be a beacon of light for them.
It is suggested that Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom day should be observed as "Anti-Colonialism/Anti-Imperialism Day" in the subcontinent. It should be observed in a big way at Lahore by Indians and Pakistanis jointly. The main function should be held at Lahore Jail on March 23 at 7 pm, when 75 years ago he along with two other patriots Rajguru and Sukddev were hanged by the British. Artists, activists and writers of both countries should hold a weeklong event, which could include seminars, street and stage plays and film shows. This would help revive the memories of the martyrs and spread their ideas among the youth
In fact, it is felt that Pakistan should enter into a healthy competition with India in claiming the legacy of Bhagat Singh. Bhagat Singh was born, brought up and educated in Pakistan. He had his revolutionary training in National College at Lahore. His activities in India include holding a meeting of revolutionaries at Delhi in September 1928 and dropping a bomb on the Central Assembly in Delhi, apart from spending sometime in Kanpur or some other places. The joint legacy of Bhagat Singh can help both countries come closer, at least culturally.
The birthday of Bhagat Singh (September 28) should be declared as "National Youth Day". The ideas of the martyr would enthuse the youth, who are the builders of the free nation.
This freedom fighter no longer remains an individual. Historical personalities become symbols of ideas and movements. Bhagat Singh has emerged as a symbol of the most radical nationalist movement against imperialism and colonialism. He represents the highest ideals of Indian revolutionary movement.
Bhagat Singh is one among many national heroes, whom Dalits and minorities — who form a large chunk of the Indian society—are ready to accept as their hero because of his radical views on untouchability and communalism. Along with Dr Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh also has an appeal for Dalits of this nation.
In the context of misuse or overexposure of religion by some fascist fundamentalist groups in our society, Bhagat Singh’s ideas on religion or atheism can work as an antidote to counter such pernicious views
All democratic and nationalist Indians should unite on this occasion and by focusing on Bhagat Singh’s ideas, build a powerful resistance movement against a much more dangerous neo-colonial onslaught, more powerful than the old colonialist British empire.