86 years ago today, one of India's greatest revolutionary freedom fighter, Bhagat Singh, was given the death penalty by the British colonisers. And though he died young, only 23 years of age, his actions inspired the youth of the nation to fight for the nation's freedom. His execution spurred many to take up the revolutionary path, playing an important role in India's freedom struggle. While many didn't agree with his radical approach Mohammad Ali Jinnah defended his actions. Here's what you should know about him.
1. Bhagat Singh left home for Kanpur when his parents tried to get him married, saying that if he married in slave India, “my bride shall only be death” and joined Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.
2. He along with Sukhdev planned to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai and plotted to kill the Superintendent of Police James Scott in Lahore. However in a case of mistaken identity, John Saunders, the Assistant Superintendent of Police was shot.
3. Although a Sikh by birth, he shaved his beard and cut his hair to avoid being recognised and arrested for the killing. He managed to escape from Lahore to Calcutta.
4. A year later, he and Batukeshwar Dutt threw bombs in the Central Assembly Hall in Delhi, and shouted “Inquilab Zindabad!” He did not resist his arrest at this point.
5. During interrogation, the British came to know about his involvement of in the death of John Saunders a year earlier.
6. At the time of his trial, he didn’t offer any defence, rather used the occasion to propagate the idea of India’s freedom.
7. His death sentence was pronounced on 7 October 1930, which he heard with defiant courage.
8. During his stay in jail, he went on a hunger strike against the policy of better treatment for prisoners of foreign origin.
9. He was sentenced to be hanged on 24 March 1931, but it was brought forward by 11 hours to 23 March 1931 at 7:30 p.m.
10. It is said that no magistrate was willing to supervise the hanging. After the original death warrants expired it was an honorary judge who signed and oversaw the hanging.
11. Legend says, Bhagat Singh marched to the gallows with a smile on his face and his one last act of defiance was shouting "Down with British imperialism."
12. India’s most famous freedom fighter was only 23 years old when he was hanged. His death inspired hundreds to take up the cause of the freedom movement.
Freedom Fighters of India
The freedom of India is result of long and consistent struggle in many parts of the country in different forms. It was neither easy for the country to fight and expel foreign rulers from the country nor easy to unify different princely states, tribes, people fo different languages and cultures in to the idea of one nation. Many people have played significant roles in raising the national movement. Struggles lasted for decades, which finally resulted in independence of the country.
The Role of the Freedom Fighters
The freedom fighters of India played an extensive role in getting independence for the country. The 'Revolt of 1857' was the first war of independence of India. The revolt started as a mutiny by the sepoys of the East India Company. The Muslim and the Hindu sepoys together began this revolt. Rani Lakshmibai, Mangal Pandey, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope were some of the active leaders and freedom fighters who fought in the revolt. Mangal Pandey is considered as the hero in the modern India because he had played a pivotal role in beginning the revolt against the British. Rani Lakshmibai is considered as the symbol of resistance to the British rule and was one of the leading figures of the rebels in 1857.
In 1876, another movement started against the British rule. It was the foundation of the Indian National Congress (INC). Surendranath Banerjee laid the foundation of the party. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Dadabhai Naoroji, Chittaranjan Das and Jawaharlal Nehru were active leaders of the INC. It was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who gave a push to the party and raised the struggle for freedom in a non-violent way. His Non-Cooperation Movement was a great success and a stepping stone for Indian freedom struggle.
While on one side Gandhi was following the ideologies of non-violence and peace, on the other there was a group of youth who wanted to attain independence by hook or by crook. These revolutionaries were quite influential in the nation and inspired many. Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan and Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee were some of the revolutionaries who executed the Kakori conspiracy. Bhagat Singh, Batukeshwar Dutt, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru threw bomb in the assembly house. After the incident, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged to death and are considered as martyrs today. These young men got ignited after the death of Lala Lajpat Rai who died after protesting against the Simon Commission.
Subhash Chandra Bose was also a dynamic leader in the freedom struggle of the country. He founded the Indian National Army (INA) which fought against British rulers from within the country and in exile, with the help of Japan and Axis forces during the World War II. He formed the Forward Bloc, a political extension of Indian National Congress when Mahatma Gandhi did not recognize him as Congress President despite he defeated Alladi Krishna Iyer, Gandhiji's nominee in 1939 Congress election held at Tripuri session.
There were many other freedom fighters who had fought for the nation and sacrificed their lives.
Role after Independence
With the contribution of these freedom fighters and their freedom struggles and movements, India attained independence on 15 August 1947. The hardships they faced and the sacrifices they made (which even include many lives) led to the freedom of the country. Mahatma Gandhi, who is considered to have played a very important role in the struggle, is known as the 'Father of the Nation'. Dr. Rajendra Prasad became the first President of the Republic of India. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of independent India and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became the first Deputy Prime Minister. B. R. Ambedkar became the principle architect of the Constitution of India.
India at Present
It has been almost seven decades since India gained independence and the country has progressed at a faster pace. The nation has been growing economically and socially and is heading towards development. If these freedom fighters had not contributed in the freedom struggle, the current situation of the country would have been different. India, the democratic republic, might not have headed for success. We are independent and free today only because of the efforts and sacrifices made by our country's freedom fighters.
Last Updated on : July 29, 2016