The murder of a leader respected by millions of people at the unworthy hands of an ordinary police official . . . was an insult to the nation, It was, the bounden duty of young men of India to efface it . .
(Poster put up by the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, after Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad and Rajguru avenged the death of Lala Lajpat Rai by killing Saunders at Lahore , 17/12/1928)
It is ironical when I see right wingers appropriate legends such as Shaheed Bhagat Singh on his martyrdom day, for, if they care to dig what he stood for, they would find themselves precisely the architects of the order he wished to overthrow.
These revolutionaries were no ordinary gentlemen. Bhagat Singh died at the age of 23, but his writings as part of the HSRA, Naujwan Sabha, or while he was in jail were extraordinary. His understanding of the national movement, the decline after the sudden withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement, the need for acts of individual heroism and a carefully calibrated approach towards carving out a communist ideology can easily rival the moderate leaders of the movement.
Perhaps there are some chapters that we need to rewrite on why India needed such heroic men for its cause. It is rightly said that these men gave us back our manhood. That the Britishers were rattled, they knew that it was not going to be business as usual, and that their days were numbered. If only we had listened to these men earlier, perhaps the ‘Quit India’ or ‘Do or Die’ slogans need not have waited 13 years after that fateful day on 23rd March’1931.
These revolutionaries should not be reduced to commemorations, ceremonies or statues. Remembered one day, forgotten the next. They should be read and their ideas be given new dimensions. If we see a society, completely opposite on the lines envisioned by these legends, we shall work towards carving out an alternate one. That I believe, can be the real tribute to the ‘Sons of India’.
Bhagat Singh used to say:
Oye Pippli deya patteya oye, kaadi Khadkhad Khadkhad layi ae,
Puraane patte chhad gaye saare, hun rut naveya di aayi ae
( O leaf of the Peepal tree, why do u flutter and make so much noise.
The days of the old are gone, the age of the young is here)
Let’s not romanticize them. Understand them. Long Live Revolution.