Exactly 86 years ago, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru – the three revered figures of the Indian freedom struggle – were executed on March 31, 1931 in Punjab’s Hussainwala (now in Pakistan). The trio were responsible for killing John Saunders, a British police officer. These men were also at the forefront of the ‘Azaadi’ revolution or the independence movement. With their slogans of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ they had literally shook the foundations of british empire by throwing bombs in the central assembly hall of Delhi.
As the nation pays its tribute to these heroes of Indian independence movement on this Shaheed Divas, let us take a look at the present status of the ‘revolution’ which they started in their young days in the present context.
“You can kill people. But you can never kill an idea” is a popular quotation that often does the round in pictures flooding social media on Martyr’s Day. Nevertheless, today people have reduced their notion of freedom movement into a mere lip service. As a country where millions are below the poverty line, development is still a distant dream even after 70 years of independence. The idea of India for which these martyrs paid with their lives is not exactly dead, but is being slowly poisoned by different forces within our own country. These are the same ideologues who are intolerant towards any form of dissent and don’t hesitate to tag people who shout for ‘Azaadi’ from social evils as ‘Anti-Nationals’.
Bhagat Singh was an atheist. His idea of nationalism was the one which was inclusive of all sections of the society. He was against religious slogans like ‘Har Har Mahadev’ and ‘Naare Takbeer’, and opposed the use of religion in the Indian independence movement. Ironically people who beat the trumpets of nationalism today are no less than hypocrites. Often attempting to justify their idea of nationalism which is exclusive of minority community, their voice falls hollow while appointing religious bigots as protectors of constitution.
Bhagat Sigh, in a letter written in Urdu to his brother from Lahore jail where he spent his last moments, writes about the importance of education in building a developed nation. In recent years, the highest budget cut has been gifted to education sector by successive governments.
In today’s Pakistan, fans of Bhagat Singh had to seek protection through the court to celebrate his death anniversary. Even after decades of getting independence, activists have failed in their multiple attempts to rename the chowk in Lahore where he spent his last days on his name due to severe opposition from religious extremists who don’t approve of him being an atheist. Even though name changing drama is not new to today’s India, but the mixing of religion and politics that is spreading like wildfire under the pretext of development is something he was sternly against.
These heroes had a great impact in their deaths as great as in their lives. They taught us to revolt against the ‘wrong’ and fight for our rights. Their teachings of revolutions that we all grew up with has impacted India even after Independence. Many a times, revolutions in independent India have overthrown governments and brought in huge social as well as political changes across the country. Be it the post emergency agitation or the national movement against corruption, their ‘revolution’ was always in our blood.
As the authorities who hold power are on spree to – suppress dissent across universities, stifle dalit and tribal voices in the pretext of Naxalism, wage a war on minorities across the country from Kerala’s classrooms to Jaipur’s restaurants, propagate religious hatredness across the country’s heartlands, threaten journalists and reiterate that building a temple will bring in development, it is upon you to think if it is time for another ‘revolution’ and imagine who is the new ‘British’?
Long live the ‘Revolution’.
(The writer in a born bhakt of Bhagat Singh and his associates who sacrificed their lives so that he could write about them in peace)
Image Credits: www.devianart.com