Vishav Bharti , OhmyNews
In memory of the Indian hero on the 99th anniversary of his birth
Age 23 and-a-half; such a brief lifespan! Not even long enough to ask, "what is life?"
But he was a legend. He not only understood life but explained it to the coming generations. Bhagat Singh, a young Indian revolutionary, was one of India's earliest Marxists, and became the symbol of resistance to British imperialism.
Martyred 75 years ago, his biography brings silent tears to millions of people in India.
Bhagat Singh was born on Sept. 28, 1907, into a family of freedom fighters in the village of Khatkar Kalan in Punjab, the same year his uncle Ajit Singh was exiled by the Raj for anti-imperialist protests.
Bhagat Singh was just 12 when in the Jaliawala Bagh in Amritsar imperial forces massacred more than one thousand innocents, including women and children. Young Bhagat Singh was deeply touched by this atrocity.
Next year, with fire in his heart to liberate the country from the jaws of imperialism, he burnt his schoolbooks (which were prescribed by the imperial government) and became an active member of the Non-Cooperation Movement, started by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920.
He had great hopes that Gandhi would bring freedom to India, but was disappointed when Gandhi called off the revolts following the Chauri Chaura riot in 1922, in which 15 policemen were hacked to death and a police station set on fire.
In his teenage years, Bhagat Singh started studying at the National College in Lahore and, in 1924, he left home to avoid a forced marriage and became a member of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha ("Youth Society of India").
Later he joined the Hindustan Republican Socialist Association (HRSA).
At that time oppression by the imperial government was at its peak, the British attacked a peaceful demonstration in Lahore, killing the famous leader Lala Lajpat Rai.
Singh joined with other revolutionaries, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev, in a plot to kill the police chief who had murdered Lal Lajpat Rai. However, Bhagat Singh killed the wrong man by mistake, J.P. Saunders, a Deputy Superintendent of Police. This made Singh and his comrades living legends in the Indian freedom struggle.
Imperial forces searched for him and his comrades relentlessly but they blended in with their people like "fish and water" and remained beyond the reach of the imperial police.
Then HRSA targeted the national assembly with a bomb attack, where the imperial government was planning to pass an anti-poor "public safety bill." The motive of HRSA was not to kill anybody but to tell the metaphorically "deaf" imperialists that the Indian masses were against this act.
So they dropped the bomb onto the corridors of the assembly and simultaneously released a shower of leaflets that stated "it takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear." Finally, Bhagat Singh and his comrade Batukeshwar Dutt gave themselves up for arrest.
When dropping the bomb, Bhagat Singh chanted the slogan, "Inquilab Zindabad," "long live the revolution," which became the buzzword against oppression. Even after six decades of independence, people in India chant this slogan with the same enthusiasm, with raised fists.
He [Bhagat Singh] had visualized that if, "by sacrificing my life, I am able to spread the slogan 'Inquilab Zindabad' all over the country, I shall consider myself to be fully rewarded… Today I can very well hear crores of my countrymen shouting the slogan, even while I am confined behind the thick walls of my death cell…I trust this slogan would continue to inspire our liberation struggle against imperialism." This is what Bhagat Singh said in his last meeting with his comrade Jaidev Kapoor in Lahore Central Jail, a few days before his martyrdom.
But this "revolution," according to these rebels, was not the act of bomb and pistol, as propagandized by its opponents.
"By 'Revolution' we mean 'the present order of things which is based on manifest injustice must change' and, instead, a system 'in which the sovereignty of the proletariat should be recognized and world federation should redeem humanity from bondage to Capitalism and the misery of imperial wars," Bhagat Singh stated.
In the "Delhi Assembly Bomb Case" Bhagat Singh was sentenced to life imprisonment, and for the murder of J.P.Saunders he received the death sentence, along with his two comrades, Sukhdev and Rajguru.
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the whole of India was mourning this judgment while, at the same time, Congress leaders were busy making an agreement with the establishment.
Bhagat Singh was not only a revolutionary but, to his last breath, also a great reader and thinker. He maintained a notebook of 404 pages and kept notes and quotes from the books he read in jail. On the night he was taken to the gallows he was studying the biography of Lenin.
Anticipating an uprising against the judgment, the imperial government hanged Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev at midnight, March 23, 1931, instead of March 24, the date officially fixed for the hanging. Jail officials smuggled their corpses from a back exit of the jail for cremation on the bank of the river Satluj.
Though British imperialists hanged Bhagat Singh, they could not kill his ideas. The British Raj ended almost six decades ago, but Bhagat Singh still lives in the hearts of his people. They are singing epic songs for Bhagat Singh on the beginning of his 99th birthday from September 28 and pledging to challenge oppression.