109 years ago today, one of India’s greatest revolutionary freedom fighter, Bhagat Singh was born. And though he died young, only 23 years of age, his actions inspired the youth of the nation to fight for the nation’s freedom. His execution spurred many to take up the revolutionary path, playing an important role in India’s freedom struggle. While many didn’t agree with his radical approach Mohammad Ali Jinnah defended his actions. Here’s what you should know about him.
1. Bhagat Singh left home for Kanpur when his parents tried to get him married, saying that if he married in slave India, “my bride shall only be death” and joined Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.
2. He along with Sukhdev planned to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai and plotted to kill the Superintendent of Police James Scott in Lahore. However in a case of mistaken identity, John Saunders, the Assistant Superintendent of Police was shot.
3. Although a Sikh by birth, he shaved his beard and cut his hair to avoid being recognised and arrested for the killing. He managed to escape from Lahore to Calcutta.
4. A year later, he and Batukeshwar Dutt threw bombs in the Central Assembly Hall in Delhi, and shouted “Inquilab Zindabad!” He did not resist his arrest at this point.
5. During interrogation, the British came to know about his involvement of in the death of John Saunders a year earlier.
6. At the time of his trial, he didn’t offer any defence, rather used the occasion to propagate the idea of India’s freedom.
7. His death sentence was pronounced on 7 October 1930, which he heard with defiant courage.
8. During his stay in jail, he went on a hunger strike against the policy of better treatment for prisoners of foreign origin.
9. He was sentenced to be hanged on 24 March 1931, but it was brought forward by 11 hours to 23 March 1931 at 7:30 p.m.
10. It is said that no magistrate was willing to supervise the hanging. After the original death warrants expired it was an honorary judge who signed and oversaw the hanging.
11. Legend says, Bhagat Singh marched to the gallows with a smile on his face and his one last act of defiance was shouting “Down with British imperialism.”
12. India’s most famous freedom fighter was only 23 years old when he was hanged. His death inspired hundreds to take up the cause of the freedom movement.