“One day an innocent boy of three was out for a walk with his father and an elderly man. Chatting they walked on and went beyond the village. The elders were walking along the edge of a field. Not hearing the footsteps of the boy, the father looked back. The boy was sitting on the ground and seemed to be planting something. The father became curious.
“What are you doing?” said he.
Look, father, I shall grow guns all over the field”, was the innocent reply of the boy. Both the elders were struck with wonder at the little boy’s words. The boy was Bhagat Singh who later fought like a hero for India’s freedom and sacrificed his life.”
Bhagat Singh was born in a Sikh family of farmers in the village of Banga of Layalpur district of the then Punjab on September 27th of 1907. His family stood for patriotism, reforms and freedom of the country. His grandfather Arjun Singh was attracted to Arya Samaj, a reformist movement of Hinduism, and took keen interest in the proceedings of the Indian National Congress. Bhagat Singh’s father Kishen Singh and Uncle Ajit Singh were members of Ghadar Party founded in the US to root out British rule from India. Both his father and uncle were jailed for alleged anti-British activities. Ajit Singh had 22 cases against him and was forced to flee to Iran. Thereafter, he went to Turkey, Austria, Germany and finally to Brazil to escape Kalapani punishment for his revolutionary activities in India.
Young Bhagat Singh was brought up in a politically charged state of Punjab which was left with a seething memory of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre wherein more than 400 innocent people were killed mercilessly and thousands, injured (1919). He was so moved by the episode that he went to this spot to collect soil from the park of Jallianwala (Bagh) in his lunch box, sanctified by the blood of the innocent and kept it as a memento for life; he was then just fourteen years old.
He was studying at the National College founded by Lala Lajpatrai, a great revolutionary leader and reformist. To avoid early marriage, he ran away from home and became a member of the youth organization, Noujawan Bharat Sabha.
He met Chandra Shekhar Sharma (Azad), BK Dutt and other revolutionaries there. They used to print handouts and newspapers in secret and spread political awareness in India through Urdu, Punjabi and English language. These were the banned activities in India at that time and punishable with
Anti-British feelings were spreading; Indians wanted a proper representation in running the administration of their country to which British reciprocated only on paper. Noticing the spread of restlessness, the British Government appointed a commission under the leadership of Sir John Simon in 1928 to report on political happenings. There was not a single Indian member in this commission and all the political parties decided to boycott the commission when it planned to visit major cities of India.
In Lahore, Lala Lajpatrai and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya decided to protest to the commission in open. It was a silent protest march, yet the police chief Scott had banned meetings and processions. Thousands joined without giving room for any untoward incident. Even then, Scott got Lala Lajpatrai beaten severely with a lathi on the head several times that caused the untimely death of the great leader.
Bhagat Singh, an eye witness to the morbid scene, vowed to take revenge and with the help of Azad, Rajguru and Sukhadev plotted to kill Scott. Unfortunately he killed Saunders, a junior officer—by a mistaken identity. He had to flee from Lahore to escape death punishment.
Instead of finding the root cause for discontent among the Indians, the British Government took more repressive measures. Under the Defence of India Act, it gave more power to the police to arrest persons to stop processions with suspicious movements and actions. The act, brought in the council, was defeated by one vote. Even then, it was to be passed in the form of an ordinance in the ‘interest of the public.’ No doubt, the British were keen to arrest all the leaders who opposed its arbitrary actions and Bhagat Singh, who was in hiding, volunteered to throw a bomb in the central assembly hall where the meeting to pass the ordinance was being held. It was a carefully laid out plot, not to cause death or injury but to draw the attention of the government that the modes of its suppression could no more be tolerated. It was agreed that Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt would court arrest after throwing the bomb.
Bhagat Singh and Dutt threw handouts and bombed in the corridor not to cause injury and courted arrest after shouting slogans Inquilab Zindabad (Long Live, Revolution!)
The killers of Saunders were meanwhile identified by the treachery of Bhagat Singh’s friends who became “Approvers” Bhagat Singh thought the court would be a proper venue to get publicity for the cause of freedom and did not want to disown the crime. There he gave a fiery statement giving reasons for killing which was symbolic of freedom struggle. He wanted to be shot like a soldier and not die at the gallows. But, his plea was rejected and he was hanged on the 23rd March, 1931. He was then just 24.
Bhagat Singh became a legendary hero for the masses. Innumerable songs were composed about him and the youth throughout the country made him their ideal. He became a symbol of bravery and a goal to free India.