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The Martyr Who Married Death
Bhagat Singh never bowed before imperialists
Munish Nagar (munish1107)     Print Article 
Published 2006-05-30 15:42 (KST)   
"If I had to marry as a slave in India, then definitely death would be my bride and my country's martyrs would be guests at my marriage."

The words were said by Bhagat Singh who is widely known as the "Prince of Martyrs" in the history of India's liberation struggle. This young man sacrificed his life at the young age of 23, following in the footsteps of Kartar Singh Sarabha who was just 19 when he attained martyrdom while fighting against imperialism.

Bhagat Singh was born on Sept. 27, 1907 in Layalpur, but his ancestral village was Khatkar Kalan of Punjab (India). Singh's father, Kishan, was a peasant and his mother Vidyavati was a housewife. His uncle Ajit Singh was also a known personality in Punjab because he started the peasant movement -- "Pagri Sambhal Jatta" -- in Punjab with Kishan Singh against the whites who were ruling at that time. Ajit revolted against the British because because they were exploiting the farmers with heavy taxes.

The roots of patriotism ran very deep in the family and Bhagat Singh internalized that spirit from his family members. The Jallianwala massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, in which many innocent unarmed Indians were killed by the English, proved to be a turning point in his life. He came to know that the struggle for liberation can셳 be completed without an armed revolution against the imperialist power. In those days, Punjab was a politically charged state and this provided much inspiration for him.

Singh attended Dayanand Anglo Vedic School, Lahore and then joined the National College, Lahore. He was very intelligent and even his teachers were astonished with his performance. He studied a lot and the impact of Russian literature was clearly seen in his life. He didn't limit his life only to books. The more he read and the more he became inspired to participate in the liberation struggle. Singh was also inspired by Kartar Singh Sarabha that he always kept his photograph in his pocket.

He was so dedicated to his soul's aim "to liberate India" that he rejected the idea of marriage given to him by his grandmother. He ran away and went to Kanpur. There he came into contact with some revolutionaries who were spreading political awareness in India secretly because in those days anti-British activities were banned in the country.

He met great revolutionaries like Chandrashekhar Azad and formed an association to liberate India from the British and spread political consciousness among Indians. The association was known as "Hindustan Socialist Republican Army." Its members printed pamphlets, handouts, posters and they used to distribute this material at night.

In 1927, a commission was sent to India under the leadership of Mr. Simon, which became known as the Simon Commission. Its main objective was to report on political happenings in India, but there was not a single Indian on the commission. It soon became clear that it was merely an eye wash for the Indians. Massive protests followed throughout in the whole country. In Punjab, Lala Lajpat Rai, a famous personality of Punjab and founder of the National College, Lahore, also organized a peace rally and HSRA members also participated. But the police confronted the rally with bamboo sticks and Rai was injured badly by the police and later died.

The HSRA planned to take revenge. Police officer Scotts was responsible for the whole scene at the rally so he became their target. Scotts' murder was planned, but at the time of execution Bhagat Singh and his fellow comrades made a mistake. They killed Saunders instead of Scotts. In order to escape from the police, Singh fled.

The British government was planning to present some bills in the central assembly in New Delhi on April 8, 1929. The HSRA planned to surrender without arms and drop bombs in the assembly to open the deaf ears of the British. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt were chosen to execute the plan.

In April 1929, Singh and Dutt entered the assembly clandestinely and when the session started they dropped two bombs and chanted "Long live revolution!" before surrendering themselves peacefully. The two bombs were not meant to cause any destruction. They were meant for noise only.

Singh and Dutt were sent to jail. In those days, Indian prisoners were not treated properly in jail. So Singh and his comrades revolted against the authorities and went on a hunger strike. At last, the authorities had to bow in front of these fires.

The trial of Singh started and he and his companion said, "We wanted to open the deaf ears of the British so that they can leave our country. We also wanted the government to know that we can also use arms. We are not cowards and we are not terrorists."

Singh received the death sentence and was hanged in Lahore's central jail on March 23, 1931 with his two fellow comrades, Sukhdev and Rajguru. He kept his word to show that he married death and it has been rightly said that death salutes those who welcome it boldly.

Once Bhagat Singh could have escaped from the assembly, but he wanted to prove "It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Munish Nagar

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