By Biswaraj Patnaik in Puri, September 29, 2017: Most young people don’t seem to care about Sahid Bhagat Singh’s 110th birth anniversary today. Bhagat was nearly forgotten for long except for some movie reminders across time. Bhagat Singh was hanged along with fellow freedom fighters Sukhdev and Rajguru on 23 March 1930.

The British authorities had booked them for killing an assistant superintendent of police and hurling bombs in the Parliament to avenge the merciless killing of Lala Lajpat Rai.

Lately in the new millennium, some sense and wisdom dawned upon the Indians, and they began observing the martyr’s day on 23 March, mostly without the frontline youth groups across the country. However, no one celebrates the birthday of Bhagat Singh on 28 September, let alone ethereal youth groups. Yet politicians talk of patriotism and‘nation building’ by making personal sacrifices.

Modi administration has done precious little to keep Bhagat Singh and his fellow martyrs in public memory. But he has not named one major road or a people’s institution after the martyrs; not one in Gujarat too. His ‘man kibaat’ on radio hardly contains Bhagat Singh in the content to inspirepeople.

Some least known facts about the great martyr:

• When his parents had finalised his marriage, Bhagat Singh left home for Kanpur, saying, “in slave India, my bride shall only suffer hell.” He joined the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.
• Along with Sukhdev, he planned to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai and plotted successfully to kill the Superintendent of Police James Scott in Lahore. But in a case of mistaken identity, John Saunders, the Assistant Superintendent of Police was shot.
• Although a Sikh, he shaved his beard and cut his hair to avoid being recognised. He managed to escape to Calcutta.
• 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.
• During interrogation, the British came to know about his involvement of in the death of John Saunders a year earlier.
• During trial, he didn’t offer any defence.
• His death sentence was pronounced on 7 October 1930, which he heard with defiant courage.
• While in jail, he went on a hunger strike against for better treatment to prisoners of foreign origin.
• He was to be hanged on 24 March 1931 at 6:30 am; but the hanging was over 11 hours earlier by 23 March at 7:30 p.m.
• No magistrate was willing to supervise the hanging. The original death warrants expired. At last, an honorary judge signed and oversaw the hanging.
• 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.”
• India’s most famous freedom fighter was killed when he was only 23 years old.

Indians must know about some unsung patriots and martyrs that have made India more illustrious than it would have been without their contribution.

The last Mughal Emperor of India Bahadur Shah Zafar (Abu Zafar Nassurdin Siddique Muhammad Bahadur Shah Zafar) was a great freedom fighter largely involved in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. As the leader of the Sepoys, he had first provoked the army for the ‘Sepoy mutiny’ against the British. Following his involvement in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the British exiled him to Rangoon in British-controlled Burma, after convicting him on conspiracy charges. He died there in a prison cell in Rangoon, Burma.

The trial, which was a consequence of the Sepoy Mutiny and lasted for 41 days, had 19 hearings, 21 witnesses and over a hundred documents in Persian and Urdu, with their English translations, were produced in the court. At first the trial was suggested to be held at Calcutta, the place where Directors of East India Company used to their sittings in connection with their commercial pursuits.

But instead, Red Fort in Delhi was selected for the trial. It was the first case to be tried at the Red Fort.

Zafar was tried and found guilty on four counts:

• Aiding and abetting the mutinies of the troops
• Encouraging and assisting divers persons in waging war against the British Government
• Assuming the sovereignty of Hindoostan
• Causing and being accessory to the murder of the Christians.

Hakim Ahsanullah Khan, Zafar’s most trusted confidant and both his Prime Minister and personal physician, had insisted that Zafar not involve himself in the rebellion and surrender himself to the British. But when Zafar ultimately did this, Hakim Ahsanullah Khan betrayed him by providing evidence against him at the trial in return for a pardon for himself. The British promised not to hang him. But he would be deported to remain live.

At 4 AM on 7 October 1858, Zafar along with his wives, two remaining sons began his journey towards Rangoon in bullock carts escorted by 9th Lancers under command of Lieutenant Ommaney.

The occupying forces entered the Red Fort and stole anything that was valuable. Ancient objects, jewels, books and other cultural items were taken which can be found in various museums in Britain. For example, the Crown of Bahadur Shah II is a part of the Royal Collection in London.

To prepare for his death Davies commanded for the collection of lime and bricks and a spot was selected at the “back of Zafar’s enclosure” for his burial. Zafar died on Friday, 7 November 1862 at 5 am. Zafar was buried at 4 pm near the Shwe Degon Pagoda at 6 Ziwaka Road, near the intersection with Shwe Degon Pagoda road, Yangon. The shrine of Bahadur Shah Zafar Dargah was built there after recovery of its tomb on 16 February 1991. Davies commenting on Zafar, described his life to be “very uncertain”.

All the same, the Modi administration takes great pride in changing the most loved heritage name of ‘Mughal Sarai’ to something anti-Islam that people can’t identify at all or feel comfortable.

The other forgotten Indian patriot of British origin is Annie Besant. She turned an activist who fought for‘Indian Self-rule’. During the First World War, she campaigned for the Freedom of India and helped in the formation of the ‘Home Rule League’. She was elected as the President of the Congress and got extremely involved in the Indian Politics. She was also a Woman’s Rights Activist. She kept campaigning and fighting against her own country for the establishment of democracy in India until her death in 1933.

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of