I was reminded of Shaheed Diwas today morning through a newspaper ad on behalf of our Prime Minister by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Later in the day I witnessed garlanding of Bhagat Singh Statue at Gandhinagar, Hyderabad. I am happy that great freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh (1907–23 March 1931) of Banga Village, Punjab, Sukhdev Thapar (15 May 1907–23 March 1931) of Ludhiana Punjab and Shivram Rajguru (24 August 1908–23 March 1931) of Pune, Bombay Province are remembered by observing Shaheed Diwas. Today I am reminded of their short life and their struggle for our freedom and independence and their hanging by the British Government, 86 years ago on 23rd March 1931. All three were around 24 years when they were hanged to death. This article is to pay homage to these great heroes of our freedom struggle.
We tend to forget many freedom fighters, their struggles and sacrifices and to respect them. It becomes the duty of the Government and the Schools to remind us of these great freedom fighters and to respect and honor them. And this is also the duty of print and electronic media and some bloggers like me. This would enhance our love for our Nation and to strive for its unity and peace.
Here is a brief narrative of these freedom fighters. Bhagat Singh together with his companions strongly believed that only active struggle and ways of extremism and not passive struggle as sermonized by Mahatma Gandhi and his disciples could lead India to independence.
When the British Government implemented an Act to suppress freedom struggle, it gave the British Police a free hand to carry out arrests without any permissions. In order to protest against this Act, Bhagat Singh and his friends carried out a plan to use low intensity bomb inside the Assembly Hall and at the same time ensure that there are no deaths. Immediately after the bombing, Bhagat Singh and his friends voluntarily surrendered. They were charged with attempt to murder and sentenced to 14 years life in 1929.
Further investigation by the Police led to discovery of other members, some of who turned into informants and helped police to connect Bhagat Singh with an alleged murder of a British Officer, John Saunders. Singh was again arrested and sent to another jail where he faced discrimination between British and Indian prisoners and that led to his protest in the form of hunger strike against the discrimination.
In the meantime, the ongoing investigation of framing Bhagat Singh for the alleged murder of the British Officer in the past was hastened by the Viceroy, Irwin in 1930. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru & Sukhdev were sentenced to death and the execution date was fixed to 24th March 1931. The Congress and Gandhi made some attempts to save the lives but that went in vain. Gandhi finally came to an agreement in the Gandhi-Irwin pact which gave the British the go-ahead with execution of Bhagat Singh and his friends.
On 17th March, a telegram was sent to Home Department preponing the execution date to 23rd March and these three freedom fighters were hanged to death at 7.30pm on 23rd March 1931. Their bodies were cremated at the banks of River Sutlej.
The execution was a great blow to the sentiments of our countrymen who in turn were deeply moved and held demonstrations all over the country. There were many who blamed Mahatma Gandhi for not saving Bhagat Singh and held hartals in protest against the Mahatma. The sacrifice of these freedom fighters did not go in vain. Inspired by these heroes countless people joined the freedom struggle and finally we got Independence.