The day Vidyavati gave birth to her son in the quaint little village of Banga was also the day her husband, Kishan Singh, and his two brothers were released from jail. The trio where were serving term for taking part in the Indian independence movement.
Bhagat Singh's Mother
No one who heard the little child’s first cries that day would have imagined that he would grow up to be the legend the nation so fondly remembers today as the great revolutionary Bhagat Singh.
Bhagat's Sings Father, Grand Father and Uncle
Bhagat Singh was born on 28 September 1907 into a family that had been involved in revolutionary activities against the British Raj. This would go on to prove just how true he was to his name in the coming years. Bhagat means ‘bhakt’ or ‘devotee’. From an early age Bhagat was devoted to the cause of his motherland and her freedom.
Bhagat Singh's Primary School
Bhagat, no stranger to the independence movement or the plight of the country, was greatly influenced by his grandfather, Arjun Singh. Arjun Singh was an ardent follower of Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s Hindu reformist movement, Arya Samaj. He instilled values like love for ones motherland and a desire for freedom from the tyrannical British Raj in little Bhagat’s mind. He refused to let his grandson attend the Khalsa High School in Lahore like the other Sikh boys of his age. Arjun Singh didn’t approve of the school officials' loyalty to the British authorities and he definitely didn’t want his grandson to learn any of that. He instead enrolled Bhagat in the Dayanand Anglo Vedic High School, an Arya Samaji institution.
As A Kid Bhagat Singh Sowing Guns To Fight British Raj
A born revolutionary, even as a child, running around the fields playing with his friends Bhagat mused about growing guns in the fields so he could fight the British with them. He even scoffed at the idea of getting married saying that anybody could get married but, him? He would free India.
Young Bhagat Singh Collecting Blood Soaked Mud From Jallianwala Baug
Then the fateful day arrived, jolting even the most ignorant from their slumber and opening their eyes. The barbaric act, killing of hundreds gathered for a peaceful meeting at the Jallianwala Bagh. The incident disturbed a 12 year-old Bhagat enough to make him skip school the day after and visit the Bagh. There he collected mud soaked in blood of innocent men, women children, in a bottle and took the bottle home. He worshiped that bottle of mud every day after that.
As a teenager Bhagat Singh devoured books on European revolutionary movements and was very impressed and attracted to anarchist and Marxist ideologies. A bright and talented student Bhagat joined the National College in Lahore in 1923.
National College in Lahore
Being a gifted actor he raked in praises for his performances in ‘Rana Pratap’, ‘Samrat Chandragupta’and ‘Bharata-durdasha’ from his teachers and fellow classmates. So passionate was he towards the cause of freedom and so deep was his understanding of the plight of his people that he also won an essay competition set by the Punjab Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, writing on the problems in the Punjab.
He was a great orator and no one could put to words the woes of the nation like he could. He could inspire the masses with his words which is also one of the reasons he was so famous among both his countrymen and his fellow party workers alike. He used his skills to write and edit for a number of papers in Urdu and Punjabi published from Amritsar, and briefly for Veer Arjun newspaper published from Delhi. He also contributed to Kirti, the journal of the Kirti Kisan Party.
Non Cooperation Movement
The calling off of the non-cooperation by Mahatam Gandhi served two purposes One, Bhagat Singh became disillusioned with Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence and second, after witnessing the Hindu–Muslim riots that broke out after Gandhi disbanded the Non-Cooperation Movement. Bhagat began to question religious ideologies. He dropped his religious beliefs after that, since he believed religion hindered the revolutionaries' struggle for independence. He became an atheist.
Bhagat Singh joined the Hindustan Republican Association and quickly rose through the ranks. Proving himself to be a capable member of the organization. Even the name of the organisation was changed to Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) at his insistence. True to his word and his believes he left his home and ran away to escape an early marriage. He still had a lot to do for his motherland and he couldn't be encumbered with the responsibility of raising a family.
Simon Go Back
The tragic death of Lala Lajpat Rai was another turning point in Bhagat Singh’s life. The independence movement was in full heat. The Simon Commission was set up to look into the state of Indian constitutional affairs. It left the Indian public outraged and insulted that the Commission which was to determine the future of India, did not include a single Indian member in it.
Simon Lala Lajpat Rai
Lala Lajpat Rai who was leading a non-violent protest against the Simon Commission when the Commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, got grievously injured when the police under orders from James A. Scott, lathi charged on the unsuspecting crowd. Lalaji died on 17 November 1928.
John P. Saunders
Singh vowed to take revenge for Lalaji’s murder and joined other revolutionaries, Shivaram Rajguru, Sukhdev Thapar and Chandrashekhar Azad, in a plot to kill Scott. However, in a case of mistaken identity Bhagat Singh and Rajguru shot Assistant Superintendent of Police John P. Saunders on 17 December 1928.
Although Bhagat Singh and Rajguru managed to escape after killing Saunders, all thanks to Chandrashekhar Azad’s unwavering aim, the police were still on the lookout for Singh and Rajguru. It is then that Sukhdev, Bhagat Singh’s best friend, called on Durgawati Devi’s assistance. Bhagat Singh dressed in western attire and carrying Devi's sleeping child passed off as Durga Devi’s husband while Rajguru carried their luggage and pretended to be their servant. Interestingly it is also Bhagat Singh’s this avatar as a ‘saheeb’ with short hair, a neatly cropped moustache and a smart hat tipped slightly to the right that comes rushing to mind when we think of him. Inspired by a French anarchist who had bombed the French Chamber of Deputies Bhagat Singh came up with the idea of throwing explosives inside the Central Legislative Assembly to protest the Defence of India Act 1915 which gave the police a free hand.
Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev Executed
Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw two bombs inside the assembly on 8 April 1929. As the smoke from the blast filled the Hall the duo threw leaflets while chanting the slogan "Inquilab Zindabad!" (Long Live the Revolution) a phrase Bhagat Singh had coined himself. The leaflets that they threw claimed that the act was done to oppose the Trade Disputes and the Public Safety Bill being presented in the Central Assembly and the death of Lala Lajapath Rai. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt were charged with attempt to murder. While Dutt was defended by Asaf Ali, Singh defended himself in the court during the trial. Their appeal however was turned down and they were sentenced to 14 years life imprisonment.
It was then that the police discovered the Lahore bomb factory. This discovery led to the arrest of other members of HSRA, out of which seven turned informants. Thus, betrayed by his own, the police connected Bhagat Singh to the murder of Saunders with the help of the HSRA members turned informants. Singh was sent to the Mianwali jail from the Delhi jail. During his time in the jail he witnessed the glaring discrimination between European and Indian prisoners. He demanded that all prisoners be treated equally. He coined the term “political prisoner” and led other prisoners in a hunger strike to protest against this discrimination. The Government tried everything to break the strike, from placing water pitchers filled with milk, so that the prisoners will be forced to drink when thirsty and not water, to force feeding through a tube. But none of the government’s tricks would suffice to break the revolutionaries’ morale. The valiant revolutionaries continued their strike.
But the issue came to a head only when Jatindra Nath Das died on 13 September 1929 after a 63-day hunger strike. After the death of Das, Motilal Nehru moved a successful adjournment motion in the Central Assembly as a censure against the inhumane treatment of the Lahore prisoners. Bhagat Singh finally ended his, never heard of before, 116-day hunger strike on 5 October 1929. Then came the grim day of 7 October 1930 when Bhagat Singh and his friends, Sukhdev and Rajguru were sentenced to death for the murder of John P. Saunders.
The way the death sentence of the three brave crusaders of freedom was carried out is still a controversy. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged to death 11 hours prior to the original time their sentenced was to be carried out. Their hanging was scheduled on 24 March 1931 but they were hanged on 23 March 1931 at 7:30 pm in Lahore jail. The jail authorities then broke the rear wall of the jail and secretly cremated the three martyrs under cover of darkness outside Ganda Singh Wala village, and then threw their ashes into the Sutlej River.
Even after fighting so valiantly and sacrificing his life at the young age of 23 for the freedom of this country, Bhagat Singh is still not represented as a martyr in government records. Responding to an inquiry under Right to Information Act the Home Ministry said that it possesses no record to prove that Bhagat Singh has been declared a martyr. There might be no record to prove him a martyr but that doesn’t take away from his greatness and try as we may we can never really forget the cries of
Our Tshirts as a Tribute To Legendary Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad and Rajguru