“We need you again”: Shaheed Bhagat Singh remembered

The Hindu right wing has been trying to appropriate the Marxist revolutionary for long but without much success

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
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NH Web Desk

“On Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary, Sanghis are busy appropriating communist Bhagat Singh. How about campaigning to rename Chandigarh airport?” wrote Saileena on twitter as social media users wished Bhagat Singh, one of the shining icons of the Indian freedom movement on his 110th birth anniversary.

Born in Banga village of Faisalabad district (previously called Lyallpur) now in Pakistan's Punjab province in 1907 on this day, he was moved by the freedom struggle and the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre that happened when he was just 12 years old. An avid reader and later on a writer, Bhagat Singh was drawn to subjects like socialism, communism among others.

Changing narrative

Retired professor from Jawaharlal Nehru University Chaman Lal wrote in an article: “Bhagat Singh narratives have become highly politicised lately, his writings and ideas based images and narratives are being tried to be superimposed on his real, objective and ideas based images and narratives, as RSS does with all history, but how long? Bhagat Singh is like a burning fire, even in his iconic existence, he does not allow rightist fascists to even touch him and exposes their duplicity and hypocrisy in no time, as it happened in matter of naming Chandigarh airport on his name. Both Punjab and Haryana Governments in 2009 had unanimously urged Central Government to name Chandigarh airport as Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport, however while name chanting RSS tried to name it on little known RSS leader Mangal Sen first and then adopted a conspiratorial silence on the issue.”

The author of Understanding Bhagat Singh further stated in the article: “While Yogi Aditynath is bent upon getting Gorakhpur airport named on Yogi Gorakhnath, Agra airport on Deendyal Upadhyaya and Mughal Sarai railway station as Deen Dyal station, the cat is out of bag on Bhagat Singh. None in RSS wants his name to be perpetuated by naming Chandigarh airport on his name or naming any University on his name, though keeping name chanting on!”

On atheism

Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary essay “Why I am an atheist” is widely read among the youth of the country and it punctures all attempts by the Hindu right wing to appropriate him.

“Open your eyes and see millions of people dying of hunger in slums and huts dirtier than the grim dungeons of prisons; just see the labourers patiently or say apathetically while the rich vampires suck their blood; bring to mind the wastage of human energy that will make a man with a little common sense shiver in horror. Just observe rich nations throwing their surplus produce into the sea instead of distributing it among the needy and deprived. There are palaces of kings built upon the foundations laid with human bones. Let them see all this and say “All is well in God’s Kingdom.” Why so? This is my question. You are silent,” he wrote in the essay before he was hanged in the Lahore jail at the age of 23, along with Shivaram Hari Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar on March 23, 1931.

Arrested in April 1929 for exploding bombs inside the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi along with Batukeshwar Dutt and implicated in the killing of a British police officer in Lahore, he spent two years in jail.

On revolution

During the trail, Dutt was represented by a counsel whereas Bhagat Singh chose to fight his own case with the help of a legal advisor. This is how they explained their understanding of revolution in the Court on June 6, 1929:

By ‘Revolution,’ we mean that the present order of things, which is based on manifest injustice must change. Producers or labourers, in spite of being the most necessary element of society, are robbed by their exploiters of their labour and deprived of their elementary rights. The peasant who grows corn for all, starves with his family; the weaver who supplies the world market with textile fabrics, has not enough to cover his own and his children’s bodies; masons, smiths and carpenters who raise magnificent palaces, live like pariahs in the slums. The capitalists and exploiters, the parasites of society, squander millions on their whims.

On casteism

Bhagat Singh wrote on caste discrimination in a separate article, “… It is often said that untouchables do not keep themselves clean. The reason for this is simple – they are poor. Solve their poverty. The poor from the high caste too do not live any cleaner. … Councils and Assemblies need to push for freedom of untouchables to use schools-colleges, wells and roads. But in a legislative where a lot of fuss is created over issues like religion and bill against child-marriage, how can they muster courage to enrol untouchables among themselves? That’s why we believe that untouchables must have their own elected representatives. They must demand greater rights for themselves.”

Tributes poured in for him on his birth anniversary from political leaders to Bollywood personalities and civil society. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted this morning, “I bow to the brave Shaheed Bhagat Singh on his Jayanti. His greatness and exemplary courage inspires generations of Indians.”

A twitter user wrote: “Happy Birthday Shaheed Bhagat Singh. We need you. India is in crisis again, this time our own people are killing India. We need that revolution again We need you again. Come back if you can.”

Here’s is a collection of birthday wishes to the legendry freedom fighter on his birth anniversary

Earlier this year, the avenging pistol – the epic .32 mm bore Colt automatic pistol of Bhagat Singh – which he had used for killing British officer John Saunders on December 17, 1928 – was put up on display at Border Security Force Museum in Hussainiwala on Indo-Pak border near Ferozepur.

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