Shaheed Bhagat Singh - The true martyr
Whose death anniversary should be celebrated as Martyrs' day?
kucchh aarzoo nahin hai, hai aarzoo to bas ye
Rakhde koi zara si khaak-e-watan kafan mein
-- Ashfhaqulla Khan
“.....Bhagat Singh’s lawyer, PranNath Mehta managed to meet him two hours before the hanging on the grounds of enquiring about his last wish. Bhagat Singh who was pacing up and down his cell like a caged lion welcomed Mehta with a broad smile and asked him if he had brought him the book he had asked for: 'The Revolutionary Lenin'. Bhagat Singh had sent Mehta a message asking him to bring the book because its review in a newspaper had impressed him. When Mehtagave him the book, he was very happy and began reading it immediately as though conscious that he did not have much time left. Mehta asked him if he had any message for the nation. Without taking his eyes off the book, Bhagat Singh said: Just the two messages- "Down with imperialism!" and "Long Live Revolution"
When Mehta asked him how he felt, he replied,'Happy, as always'. And when he asked if there was anything else he desired he said, "Yes, I want to be born again in the same country so that I can serve it again". Then Bhagat Singh asked Mehta to thank Pandit Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose because both of them hadshown great interest in his case.
After meeting Bhagat Singh, Mehta met Rajguru whose last words to him were, 'We shall meet soon.' While Sukhdev simply reminded Mehta to take back a carom board, that Mehta had given him a few months earlier, from the jailor.Soon after Mehta's departure, the authorities told the three revolutionaries that the time of hanging was being advanced by 11 hours. Instead of six the nextmorning, they were to be executed at 7 p.m. the same day. Bhagat Singh had barely finished a few pages of the book. "Won't you allow me to even finish one chapter?" he asked.
The three young revolutionaries were moved out of their cells to prepare them for the hanging. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru locked arms and strode behind the sentries and broke into their favourite freedom song: 'Mai rang de mera basanti chola....'(Mother, prepare my clothes for martyrdom).The three men were weighed one by one- and asked to take their last bath. They were then dressed in black robes. Their faces were left uncovered. The warden whispered into Bhagat Singh's ears to pray to wahe guru. "All my life I have never prayed. As a matter of fact I have many times abused god for the miseries of the poor. If i were to ask now for his forgiveness he will say hereis a coward who seeks forgiveness because his end has come", declined Bhagat Singhwith a smile.
Dusk fell as the other prisoners waited to hear the sound of footsteps in the passage outside their cells.Nobody had come that way for more than two hours,not even the warden to recheck the locks. When the jail gong struck 6 they heard muffled voices in the distance accompanied by the thud of heavy boots and faint snatchesof a familiar song "sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai" and then sounds of "inquilab zindabad!" and "hindusatan azad ho" rent in the air. Shouts of "Long live revolution " and "down with imperialism" echoed in the corridors of Lahore central jail.
The scaffold was old, but the hefty hangman was not. The three men sentenced to death stood on separate wooden planks, with a deep ditch running below them. Bhagat Singh stood in the centre. He wanted to fulfill his mother's last wish and so he shouted "Long live revolution!" from the scaffold.The noose was tightened around the necks of the three young men. Their hands and feet were tied. They kissed the rope that looped their necks. Then the hangman asked who would go first. Sukhdev said he would. The hangman pulled the ropes one by one and kicked the rafters from under their feet, the bodies remained hanging from the scaffold for a long time.......”
#’WITHOUT FEAR , The life & trial of Bhagat Singh’
This episode is just a small evidence of how these young fearless souls were committed to the freedom of India till they breathed their last and lightened the lamp of struggle with the fuel of their martyrdom. They gave us reasons to feel proud, reasons to instill the pristine patriotism in ourselves. But what followed on was something that the nation had never expected; the whole nation had put eyes on a guy who was later to be called the 'father of the nation'....but his actions were in no way fatherly at that point of time in the history...because if they were, he wouldn't have let a man of the age of his grandson be hanged to death in what was a mere philosophical battle.
M.K.Gandhi was not in favour of the hunger strike that Bhagat Singh and his comrades did to protest against the inhumane and discriminatory treatment being given to them in jails.And Gandhi didn't share the enthusiasm the hunger strike had generated in the country. What should have been an epic moment in the history that revolutionaries adopted a peaceful method of protest, didn't go down well with Gandhi....what were the reasons? Was he afraid that the revolutionaries would become the favourites of the people and his non-violence principle would no longer be his copyright?Was he insecure?
Why did Gandhi hesitate to support those who were in no way less committed than him in the struggle for freedom? At stake were three lives, not a philosophical treatise. The situation had long passed the stage of wrong or right, moral or immoral.It demanded action, and all Gandhi preferred was inaction. All that was left was three corpses between his settlement with the British.Lord Irwin, in his autobiography FULLNESS OF DAYS wrote: "If the young man was hanged, said Gandhi, there was likelihood that he would becomea national martyr"
The reason Gandhi's Dandi yatra was so successful was because the 'Lahore conspiracy case' and the bravery and valour of the revolutionaries had charged up the atmosphere and revived the feelings of nationalism which were lying dormant among the masses for almost a decade.It was these revolutionaries who made the pitch on which Gandhi bowled his dandi-yatra-googly. And Gandhi didn't put any effort to save these young souls who devoted their life selflessly for their motherland, our motherland.
Bhagat Singh became martyr at an age at which Gandhi was fine-tuning his English accent, learning French, and taking violin and dance lessons at London during his time !!!(#My experiments with truth).
So who is the true martyr?
P.S.- I am a big fan of Gandhi’s ideology, his views on Gram Swaraj, women and Dalit empowerment, sustainable development but the true martyr of this nation is Bhagat Singh and not Gandhiji.