Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bhagat Singh is Dead

It looks as if the powers that be in India have achieved what the colonial rulers failed to do. The British rulers tried to kill the spirit of Bhagat Singh and his comrades and failed. They only killed them. We have killed the memory of this heroic bunch of men.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. It has passed almost unnoticed. No official functions to mark the occasion. No commemorative postage stamp, no portrait or statue to honour them and remember with gratitude the ‘supreme sacrifice’ of a band of young men committed to the cause of freedom.

Another occasion is close at hand and plans don’t seem to be afoot to celebrate that either. Next year is the 150th anniversary of the First War of Indian Independence. We were taught about it in the terms in which the British colonial historians referred to it – the Sepoy Mutiny. (sipaayi dange in Kannada, the language in which I had my school education). The name itself tried to trivialise the great uprising that resulted from a spontaneous upsurge of nationalist and anti colonial feelings. Since it had its origins in the colonial army, it was easy for them to refer to it as a mutiny, a mere a matter of discipline and quell it.

Wonder why this neglect of these historic occasions and their anniversaries? Is the revolutionary spirit passé? Is the idea of people thinking and who might be inspired by these events and stand up to authority too subversive for the people who hold power and who they hold it for?

This neglect and relegation of these heroes and the heroic events sound all the more intriguing since not too long ago the self styled nationalist forces tried to usurp the legacy of Bhagat Singh and hijack his memory by highlighting his nationalism and down playing his revolutionary and humanist ideology. They tried to portray him as a hot-blooded nationalist, long on action and short on ideology, and use his memory for their own designs. But then, there were people who revered the memory of this heroic young man and samples of his writings surfaced which made his sympathy for the working classes and the fact that his ideology was based solidly on these sympathies became crystal clear. Thus the kidnap attempt failed!

I have to give credit where it is due. These thoughts were triggered when I heard of a recent talk given on this subject and a gist of it.


  1. Beautifully penned, and I hate to admit it, but I am accused of not having any idea it was the 75th anniversary. Yeah, we Indians tend ot remember heroes of World War 2 but not those who did something for us.

    Beautifully penned.


  2. Aawww, a great post. Perhaps we are too busy to worry about history and even realise that it is actually dangerous to forget the past. incidentally, British schools and even modern day Britsh hitorians talk about 'Sepoy Mutiny' and not about the 'First war of indian Independence.

  3. Hey,

    Came here from Suyog's blog.

    Thanks for the reminder. We can do something commemorative, can't we? Why dont we all put up a banner declaring this fact on each of our blogs? That would be a little contribution which we all could do.

    If you are good with photoshop etc., you can make up a small banner and send it to us and we can all put it up and also write a post about it.


    Do drop in on my blog when you get time.


  4. Hey.

    Nice post. I was struck by your mention of a lack of postage stamps. That really is a pity. But if it would make you feel better, I dug up a couple of stamps for you.

    Check out these indain postages of Bhagat Singh & Jatin das :-




  5. Aw! I did not make myself clear. I have stamps of Bhagat Singh with me. I meant that there are no stamps planned for these anniversaries.

    I have not worked on photoshop and I do not know how to put up a banner on the blog. Lemme explore.

    It is a great idea though.

    Thanks for visiting me and will visit you soon.

  6. Hi! Do u have stamps of Bhagat Singh (other thatn the one on Indianpost.com? If you do...I would love to have scanned images of them, if it isn't much of a hassle to u. Saumya.kkini@gmail.com

    Great post

  7. Prabhu1:21 pm

    In the recent years only Bollywood seems to have remembered Bhagat Singh and his friends. They made two or three movies in a quick succession.

  8. I read just a couple of weeks ago in a publication about this history book that speaks about the "Operation Trojan Horse" project inside the jails. The book says Bhagat, Sukhdev and Rajguru were not hanged to death, but they were only in an unconscious state. Then behind the jail, some relative of Saunders' shot them to death. I was shocked to read that. God knows what is the truth....

  9. gaurav9:19 pm

    its a good news for anil kumar banglore that the indian goverment is issuing a commemorative stamp on all the three personalities including bhagat singh on the ocassion of 100th anniversery of shahid bhagat singh as per some news through ptc channel. but not heared from other news channel and not read in indian newspaper so u amy also try to wake up the postal department i am also doing the same job.