27 September 1907
Legendary revolutionary Bhagat Singh was born.
On 27 September 1907, ‘Shaheed’ Bhagat Singh, one of the greatest Indian revolutionary leaders was born in Lyallpur district, Punjab in present-day Pakistan.
“They may kill me but they cannot kill my ideas. They can crush my body, but they will not be able to crush my spirit.” – Bhagat Singh
- Bhagat Singh was born into a Sikh family steeped in nationalism in West Punjab, British India. His parents were Kishan Singh and Vidyavati Kaur.
- He was educated at the D.A.V. High School and the National College, both in Lahore.
- He grew up in an atmosphere which moulded him towards nationalistic ideals and patriotism. His father and uncle were involved in the freedom struggle.
- When in school, he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom movement and openly defied the British by burning government textbooks.
- He also supported the Congress Party and the non-cooperation movement. But when Gandhi withdrew the movement after the Chauri Chaura incident, he was drawn towards the revolutionary movement.
- He was particularly affected by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre (1919) and the violence against unarmed Akali protestors at Nankana Sahib (1921).
- He read extensively many European authors and was particularly inspired by Marxist and leftist writings.
- He considered himself an atheist and was also against capitalism.
- Bhagat Singh’s parents wanted to get him married when he was pursuing his BA. But he refused saying that if he was to be married in slave-India, his bride would only be death.
- He founded the Naujawan Bharat Sabha in 1926 to promote revolution against British rule by rallying workers and peasant youth. He was the organisation’s secretary.
- He also founded the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) in 1928 along with Chandrasekhar Azad, Sukhdev Thapar and others.
- When Lala Lajpat Rai died of injuries sustained in a police lathi charge in 1928. Bhagat Singh and his associates vowed to avenge the death. They wanted to kill the Superintendent of Police responsible for Lajpat Rai’s death, James Scott, but in a case of mistaken identity, they shot and killed J P Saunders, an Assistant Superintendent of Police. After that, Bhagat Singh fled from Lahore and changed his appearance by shaving off his beard and cutting his hair, which he had hitherto maintained as a Sikh by birth.
- On April 8, 1929, Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb in the Central Assembly amidst shouts of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ (long live the revolution). They also threw pamphlets around which talked about their revolution. Their intention was not to hurt anyone but to spread word of the revolution against British imperialism. They then courted arrest for they wanted a platform to proclaim their nationalistic ideas.
- Bhagat Singh along with his associates of the HSRA were arrested and tried in the Lahore Conspiracy Case. The case of the assassination of Saunders also came up during interrogation, and was a part of the Lahore Conspiracy Case. The trial started in July 1929.
- While in jail, the revolutionaries went on a hunger strike to protest against the shoddy treatment of political prisoners. This fast drew a lot of public attention and support for the young revolutionaries. Bhagat Singh broke his fast upon the request of his father and the Congress leadership after 116 days.
- The one-sided trial was a blot in the name of British justice and Bhagat Singh along with Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death.
- Despite nation-wide protests, the sentences were duly carried out on 23 March 1931 in the Lahore Central Jail. It is said that Bhagat Singh embraced death with a smiling face and shouts of ‘Down with British Imperialism’.
- This hanging was widely condemned and it propelled many youngsters across the country towards the freedom movement. Bhagat Singh was given the title ‘Shaheed’ or martyr after his death. He was only 23 years old when he was executed.
- Though there were many young Indians who died in the revolutionary war against the British, Bhagat Singh’s name shines brightly among them.
- He is a legendary leader and even today, evokes a strong sense of pride and nationalism among Indians.
Also on This Day
1833: Social reformer Raja Rammohan Roy passed away in England. 1925: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was formed.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.
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