Martyr's Day 2021: What happened today 90-years ago?

Siliguri, India: India's way to freedom was rife with tears, sweat, and bloodshed. After over 200-years of torture, humiliation, and injustice came to a grinding halt in the year 1947 when the British formally handed the nation over to her people. But the journey was anything but a happy one. 

Martyr's day 2021 is among the six other martyr's days celebrated in India every year. Known as Saheed Diwas in Hindi, the first one is celebrated on January 30th to mark the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi who was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. 

January 30th is followed by Martyr's day celebration on 23rd March, 19th May, 21st October, 17th November, and 19th November, marking the sacrifice of different individuals and groups on India's struggle towards attaining the democratic status and of freedom. 

Today's Martyr's day marks the brutal crackdown of the British government on three young Indian revolutionists who raised their voices against the oppressive regimes of British India. 

Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru, and Sukhdev Thapar were publicly hanged by the UK authorities for protesting against the regime. 

In December 1928, Bhagat Sing and his associate Shivaram Raiguru fatally shot a British Police officer named John Saunders in Lahore of British India.

Sing and Raiguru, the two socialist revolutionaries wanted to take revenge from British police who they thought had killed popular Indian Independence movement leader Lala Lajpat Rai, of lathi charge. 

But the police who lathi-charged Lajpat Rai, who died of a heart attack days later, was named James Scott whom Sing and Raiguri originally intended to assassinate.

Not identifying the person, Singh shot dead Saunders, who was on probation at that time. 

Raiguri shot Johan Stuart when he was leaving the police station on a motorcycle, and after he fell on the ground, Bhagat Singh emerged from a hide and fired several rounds of bullets on the policemen. Saunder's postmortem showed some eight bullets killing him. 

Meanwhile, another associate of Sing and Raiguru, named Chandra Shekhar Azad shot dead an Indian police officer working under the British regime, because he was after Sing and Raiguru. 

Bhagat Sing and Shivaram Raiguri having fled from the region, days later issued posters, publicly announcing avenging Lala Lajpat Rai's death.

But according to reports, they had altered the name of their originally intended target to the one they had mistakenly shot that is John Saunders. Their own named were pseudonyms in the posters. Sing was on the run again.

After a year, in 1929 Sing resurfaced again. This time he and his aide  Batukeshwar Dutt, set off improvised explosive devices in the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi, where the legislators gathered.

They showered leaflets from above. It was a protest against the Defence of India Act and then they surrendered.

The arrest soon bought Sing's complicated case of killing John Saunders to the public purview.

The final days

Sing's last protest was against the torturous prison conditions for Indians under the British, in which he participated with Jatin Das, who was on a hunger strike. The days following his conviction gained him much public sympathy. 

The protest ended with Jatin Das's death in prison of starvation for 63 days. Singh, 23,  Raiguru, 23, and Sukhdev Thapar, 23 were convicted and hanged in March 1931. 

Bhagat sing reportedly denied clemency from the British, which his family and some well-wishers wanted him to pursue. 

Despite a life ahead of him, Bhagat Sing demanded that the Britsh be true to the convictions levied against him of waging a war against the regime and that he be killed by a firing squad instead of being hanged. 

Sing left behind a legacy of fearless, daredevilry, and rebellious stance against the oppressive British Indian regime that went on to fuel the next generations of anti-British movements. 

India pays homage on Martyr's Day

Marking the Martyr's day, Indian Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi on Tuesday paid tribute to Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru. 

"Salute to the revolutionaries of Independence, Martyrs Veer Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru on Martyrdom Day. The sacrifice of these great sons of mother India will remain an inspiration for every generation of the country. Jai Hind! #ShaheedDiwas," the Prime Minister wrote on Twitter (in Hindi).

Some famous quotes by Bhagat Singh

  1. "Bombs and pistols don't make a revolution. The sword of revolution is sharpened on the whetting stone of ideas"
  2. "Labour is the real sustainer of society"
  3. "People get accustomed to the established order of things and tremble at the idea of change. It is this lethargic spirit that needs to be replaced by the revolutionary spirit"
  4. "They may kill me, but they cannot kill my ideas. They can crush my body, but they will not be able to crush my spirit" 
  5. "Revolution is an inalienable right of mankind. Freedom is an imperishable birthright of all"
  6. "I am such a lunatic that I am free even in jail"
  7. "I am full of ambition and hope and charm of life. But I can renounce everything at the time of need'
  8. "If the deaf have to hear, the sound has to be very loud"
  9. "Merciless criticism and independent thinking are two traits of revolutionary thinking. Lovers, lunatics, and poets are made of the same stuff"

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