Early Life and Patriotism
On 27th of September 1907 in Banga village of Lyallpur District (present day Faisalabad in Pakistan) in Punjab, a boy was born to Vidyavati and Kishan Singh Sandhu. He was the 2nd child in the family which later had 5 more, expanding the number to 7 in total. He was named Bhagat Singh. His schooling had started in Banga village itself. However, after a few years he was admitted into Dayanand Anglo-Vedic School. After schooling, he went to National College in Lahore from 1923 which was established by Lala Lajpat Rai.
Bhagat Singh had a very charismatic personality and was high in energy and patriotism from a young age. His virtue of patriotism can be traced back to his father Kishan Singh and uncle Ajit Singh, who were freedom fighters themselves. They actively participated in agitations and protests like the Ghadar movement and others against British Rule. Thus, strong patriotic feelings for India were inherited by Bhagat Singh. This was reflected for the first time when he was just around 3 years old. At that age, he was found to be trying to plant guns in the field so that people of his village can have more weapons to fight against the tyrants and oppressors.
1926 Lahore Bombings and Arrest:
In October 1926, bombings took place in Lahore. Earlier that year, Bhagat Singh had formed a Naujawan Bharat Sabha to get rid of the British Rule, which was a socialist party. His influence among the youth was quite high. Hence, in 1927 on the grounds of suspicion, he was captured. He underwent torture for five weeks. But the British gained nothing useful. So, he was released.
Story of Bhagat Singh by NMehta Productions
Will, Wits and Vengeance:
In 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai led a protest against the Simon Commission. This protest was met with Lathi (Baton) charge. Due to the lathi charge, many including Lala Lajpat Rai were badly injured. Succumbing to the injuries and a heart attack, a prominent figure in Indian Freedom Movement, Lala Lajpat Rai lost his life shortly after. This incident ignited the souls of Indian revolutionaries’ and freedom fighters’ souls on fire, including that of Bhagat Singh which proved to be a tipping point in his actions against the tyrant rulers thereafter. Without wasting much time, Bhagat Singh along with Sukhdev, Rajguru, and Chandrashekhar Azad from HRA (Hindustan Republican Army) rigged up a plan to assassinate Police Superintendent James Scott who had ordered the Lathi charge on the protestors, to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai and restore the respect of Bharat. Following this, they strategically stood around the police headquarters in Lahore. However, instead of James Scott, his assistant John Saunders came out. Considering him to be Scott, Bhagat Singh and his accomplices opened fire and killed Saunders. Also, a Head Constable was killed who was trying to capture Bhagat Singh and others. The team of assassins escaped. They reached a safe house as planned and from there with help of HSRA (Hidustan Socialist Republican Army) member’s wife Durgavati Devi’s (also known as Durga Bhabhi) help left Lahore.
Legislative Assembly Bombings:
After this escape, Bhagat Singh used his charm and dramatization skills, influenced many people and delivered very crucial news like the death of Ram Prasad Bismil due to Kakori conspiracy. By the time, Viceroy had enacted a couple of bills - Public Safety Bill and Trade Dispute Act - using his special powers, which were rejected earlier in the Assembly. Singh being influenced by the act of a French Anarchist Auguste Vaillant, who had bombed the Chamber of Deputies in Paris in 1929, planned to take similar actions. Batukeshwar Dutt joined hands with him, and they reached the Central Legislative Assembly chamber on 8th April 1929. From the public gallery, they threw a couple of low intensity bombs. Their intentions were clear. Bombs were not designed to kill but to gain attention and send a strong message while surrendering themselves so as to get in court where they can then convey their message. Unfortunately, a couple of assembly members were injured. Singh and Dutt were arrested while chanting ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ (meaning Long Live the Revolution).
Non-Violence Movement was gaining ground during that time under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The actions of Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt, hence, were ridiculed strongly by the general public and even local press. However, Singh and Dutt were proud of it. After a while, they responded to this criticism with the following.
We hold human life sacred beyond words. We are neither perpetrators of dastardly outrages ... nor are we 'lunatics' as the Tribune of Lahore and some others would have it believed ... Force when aggressively applied is 'violence' and is, therefore, morally unjustifiable, but when it is used in the furtherance of a legitimate cause, it has its moral justification.
— Shahid Bhagat Singh
Shortly after in June 1929, the trials began. While Dutt was represented by an advocate, Bhagat Singh chose to defend himself. After highly disputed testimonies. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt were sentenced to life imprisonment.
HSRA and Raids:
In the same year, HSRA (Hidustan Socialist Republican Army) had developed a couple of bomb making units - one in Lahore and the other in Saharanpur. Lahore’s bomb factory came to notice of the Britishers, who then raided it and many HSRA members including Sukhdev and Kishori Lal were arrested. Some of them snitched on HSRA and gave information about Saunders’ killing. This helped police to connect the dots. With this, police opened a case against Bhagat Singh and associates with substantial evidences regarding the murder of Saunders and Chanan Singh (Head Constable). His life sentence was placed on hold and he was transferred to Central Jail Mianwali.
From Negative to Positive Popularity:
In that prison, prisoners were discriminated against based on their ethnicity. Indian prisoners were treated badly and were given food which wasn’t even prepared properly or sufficiently for that matter. Hence, Bhagat Singh raised his voice against the authorities and went on hunger strike. This incident was taken note of by the press, like The Tribune, and the image of Bhagat Singh and his associates started to change for the better. Authorities tried to break it by hook or crook but they couldn’t. The strike was going strong but trials were slow, and with each passing day Bhagat Singh and his colleagues were gaining more popularity.
The Final Days:
Viceroy Lord Irwin was on vacation to Shimla during that time. But because of this challenging situation that had arisen, he had to cut it short and return to duty. And so he did. As soon as he returned, he managed to start the hearings for Saunders’ killing immediately. Singh was still on strike and had gotten so weak that he had to be carried to the court. After long trials, plenty of amendments and testimonies later, Shivaram Rajguru, Sukhdev Thapar and Bhagat Singh were given death sentenced on 24th March 1931. However, due to the uproar and these prisoners’ growing popularity, it was pre-poned and they were hanged on 23rd March 1931 at 7.30 in the evening.
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