As we acknowledge the martyrdom of Sukhdev, Rajguru, and Bhagat Singh on March 23, it is apparent that the inspiring stature of these great freedom fighters continues to hold a lot more prominence in India even 90 years after they were dropped by colonial rulers. This was much in proof at the time of the year-long farmers’ campaign but can also be discerned in many other activities and mobilizations.
In particular, Bhagat Singh has attained several following and prestige among people which is almost uniquely motivating, with no doubts being put forth about his stature and enduring relevance even by those whose ideology differs much from the most fundamental beliefs of the revered freedom warrior. Most of these rebels had a very short life. Bhagat Singh departed this world at the age of 23, Chandra Shekhar Azad at the age of only 25. So it seems almost extraordinary that within such a short life they could accomplish so much as to stimulate several epochs and zillions of people.
Dedicating their life to the freedom of their nation while still in their early teens, these fearless youth had appeared as mature planners by the time they reached their twenties. In the case of Bhagat Singh, it was also his incredible commitment to a serious and proceeding study of revolutions, freedom, and social activities which rendered much to this early maturing. A few minutes before he was taken to the gibbet, he was flipping through a memoir of Lenin and was keen to complete it.
It was at this phase that he and his beloved friend B.K. Dutt agreed against presenting themselves for arrest after another heroic action so that they jointly could use the court and the jail as a way of justifying their movement and efforts to people. Hence it was that the two friends went voluntarily to jail in April 1929.
The plan was that other rebels would continue to accelerate the cause from outside jail. But the planning got disarrayed as in a cycle of raids and police actions most other prominent rebels were also charged and even those working in above-ground organizations withstood a ban. So, the strategies had to be altered and a jailbreak for Bhagat Singh was orchestrated under the direction of Azad. But this too did not come off.
One reason is that there was a last-minute snag in the enactment of the plan. Another rationale is that Bhagat Singh altered his mind, persuaded by then that his outreach to people from jail was having the needed effect. If Bhagat Singh had this intense feeling, it was based on the fact of a total awakening of people stimulated by the surrenders of jailed rebels who were on an endless fast. They were tormented just to approve food but they rejected it. They were whipped repeatedly and restrained of water. When fasting rebels badly required water and were on the edge of fall due to thirst, jail authorities positioned in front of them kettles filled with water stirred with milk.
The notion was that the eager revolutionaries would not be able to save themselves from gulping this milk-mixed water and permit the government to confirm that the protest had stopped with the consumption of milk. But the rebels broke the pots and proceeded their fast!
Thus they could clarify to the nation that their motto was not of unrest but sustained, committed work among farmers, workers, and all victims of injustice with the final aim of building a society exempt from exploitation and mistreatment, a society built on parity and pride of all people and based on inter-faith unity. The relentless undertakings of Bhagat Singh and his colleagues to reach out to people with stirring messages proceeded till their last days. These actions began again despite several tragic phenomena. Chandra Shekhar Azad was deceased fighting the colonial governors in Alfred Park, Allahabad.
These were big disappointments, but they also augmented the story of the great vigor of the rebels who had agreed to dedicate all they had to the freedom of their country. Hence even in their demise and even from behind jail bars the modicum of young rebels overthrew the biggest imperialist authority of the world as they accomplished in motivating millions of people to enroll or assist the freedom movement.