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The Revolutionary Life of Shaheed Bhagat Singh

Jan 29, 2023

The Revolutionary Life of Shaheed Bhagat Singh

Obviously, you have heard of Bhagat Singh and his courage. However, do you know what kind of revolutionary he was? What inspired him? Why did Mahatma Gandhi not support Bhagat Singh? You can read the answers to all these questions in this blog.  

We all know that Bhagat Singh was a charismatic revolutionary and freedom fighter known for his courage in fighting against the British in India. He was executed by the British at the age of 23 for his activities in the Indian Freedom Movement. The life of Bhagat Singh is essential to know for your UPSC-GS preparation.  

Let's begin with his early life. 

Bhagat Singh's Early Life 

Bhagat Singh was born on 27 September 1907 in Lyallpur, western Punjab. Lyallpur now falls under the territory of Pakistan. He attended Dayanand Anglo Vedic High School located in Lahore. Arya Samaj, a reform sect of Hinduism, operated the school.  

Bhagat Singh was drawn to the freedom struggle from a very young age because his family members were actively involved in the Indian Independence Movement. 

His father, Kishan Singh and his uncle Ajit Singh were actively engaged in progressive politics. They participated in the agitation around the Canal Colonization Bill in 1907 and later in the Ghadar Movement from 1914 to 1915. 

After finishing school, he joined the National College in Lahore in 1923. The National College was established in 1921 by Lala Lajpat Rai in response to Mahatma Gandhi's non-cooperation movement that urged Indian students to boycott establishments subsidized by the British government.

Now let us discuss how Bhagat Singh entered the world of the Indian Independence movement.  

Bhagat Singh and the Indian Freedom Movement

Bhagat Singh's family was a significant reason why he was drawn to the freedom movement from a young age. He wholeheartedly supported Mahatma Gandhi and the Non-Cooperation Movement during his initial years. He turned to revolutionary nationalism only when Gandhiji withdrew the movement after the police fired upon a large group of protesters in the Chauri Chaura incident.   

The mindless killings by the British in the Chauri Chaura incident affected him deeply. Similar incidents included events such as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919 and the Nankana Sahib massacre in 1921.  

He joined the Hindustan Republican Association in 1924 and became very close with Chandrashekar Azad, one of the main organizers of the association. He founded the Naujawan Bharat Sabha in 1924. The Sabha aimed to gather the peasants and farmers and encourage revolution. 

Also read: Women Freedom Fighters of India

To further his cause, he contacted the 'Workers and Peasants Party', which published a monthly magazine called Kirti in Punjabi. Bhagat Singh worked on the magazine editorial board for the following year. 

Sometime later, he joined Chandrashekhar Azad, Sukhdev and a couple others to form the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). This was when his association with revolutionaries truly began. 

Bhagat Singh's Entry into Armed Revolution

During his time at the HSRA, he was introduced to armed revolution and the philosophy of bombs. His first arrest was in 1927 when the police caught him on charges of association with the Kakori case accused. 

He had published an article in Kirti magazine titled, 'Introduction to the Heroes of Kakori' under one of his famous pseudonyms, Vidrohi or Rebel. His writing became a huge nationwide sensation, leading to his arrest. The Kakori case was a Train Robbery organized by the Hindustan Republican Association. 

Also read: How to prepare for history?

Bhagat Singh was actively involved in the Lahore Conspiracy as well. Here's what happened. 

In 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai was heavily injured during a protest against the Simon Commission in Lahore under a lathi charge ordered by the superintendent of police James Scott. Afterwards, he succumbed to his injuries and died. 

Deeply distressed by the death of their dear leader, Bhagat Singh and his associates decided to avenge the death of their beloved leader, Lala Lajpat Rai. However, they made a mistake during the assassination attempt and killed another police officer, J.P. Saunders. This led to a series of trials in court, and it was named the Lahore Conspiracy Case. 

After the incident, Bhagat Singh and his friends fled from Lahore and hid from the police to avoid arrest. 

Mahatma Gandhi disapproved of Bhagat Singh's actions. Although he blamed the British government for provoking the wrath of the revolutionaries, he also pointed out that the method of revenge chosen by Bhagat Singh and his associates was wrong and that such acts of violence could only lead to perdition. 

On the other hand, Jawaharlal Nehru said the following words after Bhagat Singh's death. 

"Bhagat Singh did not become popular because of his act of terrorism but because he seemed to vindicate, for the moment, the honour of Lala Lajpat Rai and, through him, of the nation. He became a symbol, the act was forgotten, the symbol remained, and within a few months, each town and village of Punjab, and to a lesser extent in the rest of northern India, resounded with his name. Innumerable songs grew about him, and the man's popularity was amazing."

In addition, Bhagat Singh was actively involved in the Central Assembly Bombing. Here are the details of the case. 

On 8 April 1929, Bhagat Singh and his close associate Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb into the Central Assembly in Delhi. Sir John Simon, head of the infamous Simon Commission, was present at the assembly. The freedom fighters also dropped red leaflets from the Visitors' Galleries which bore the message, 'it takes a loud noise to make the deaf hear' from Hindustan Socialist Republican Army. 

After the incident, both revolutionaries surrendered. They wanted to 'make the deaf hear' and warn the government to change its ways. During the protest, they shouted 'Inquilab Zindabad', a famous slogan among the youth and other freedom fighters.   

By this time, Bhagat Singh was also linked to the murder of J.P. Saunders and both Singh and Dutt were imprisoned for life. 

The Death and Trial of Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh's trial for the murder of Saunders and the Assembly Bombing Case began in July 1929. 

The trial was biased against the young revolutionaries, and afterwards, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were sentenced to death. Those three were ordered to be hanged on 24 March 1931; however, the government preponed the sentence. After the hanging, their mortal remains were cremated in secret. 

The execution of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru took place on the eve of the annual convention of the Congress party in Karachi and was widely reported by the press. Mahatma Gandhi faced black flag demonstrations by angry youth. 

Also read: Contribution of tribals to the freedom struggle of India

After Bhagat Singh's Death, Martyrs' Day is observed on 23 March every year as a tribute to the freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru. That day is also celebrated as Shaheed Diwas or Sarvodaya Day. 

During his time in Lahore Central Jail, Bhagat Singh wrote an essay titled 'Why I am an Athiest' and was published as a short book. It became hugely popular. It was published as a response to his friends who asked him if his disbelief in God was because of his pride or vanity. 

Hanged at the young age of 23 years, Bhagat Singh accomplished more in his life and did more for the nation than many of us ever will. His name and his story are symbols of courage for every Indian today. 

Bhagat Singh's life is an important story that every aspiring IAS officer should know. Bhagat Singh is an essential element in the story of India's freedom movement. Knowing his story will help you answer questions in the Prelims and enhance the critical points you make in your Mains answers.  

Also read: Approach for GS Paper-I for Prelims Exam

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