Remembering the Shaheed-e-Azam

Tribune correspondent Aakanksha N Bhardwaj and photojournalist Malkiat Singh highlight Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh’s thoughts, sacrifices and life’s journey on his 113th birth anniversary, which falls on September 28

Remembering the  Shaheed-e-Azam

A statue of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh outside the Museum and Memorial named after him at his village — Khatkar Kalan — in Nawanshahr.

‘Hawaaon mein rahengi mere khyalon ki bijlian, ye musht-e-khak hai fani, rahe rahe, na rahe’ (physical existence does not matter, the life will be finished, but my ideas will remain forever). Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh would often recite lines, which stand true even today. He even used these lines in the last letter to his brother to console him.

The martyr was born on September 28, 1907, at Banga Chak No. 105 G, Jarranwala, district Lyallpur (now in Pakistan), and died at the age of 23. Even after years, the revolutionary remains an inspiration.

On his birthday, we take a look at the Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Museum and Memorial, that was inaugurated on March 23, 2018. It comprises 10 galleries — Operational Gallery, Punjab Timeline Gallery, Family Tree, Rise of Revolutionaries, Magic Lantern, Assembly Bombing, Poster Gallery, Jail Gallery, Children Gallery, and Execution Gallery.

One of the main attractions is a huge hall replicated as the Jallianwala Bagh. The massacre has been depicted through blood-stained life-size fallen statues. In Punjab timeline gallery, several movements that were started in Punjab and inspired Bhagat Singh have been explained. There is another attraction, in which one can listen to a six-minute interview of Bhagat Singh’s mother that was broadcast in the ’60s, where she talks about his life. The valiant action of Bhagat Singh of first throwing the pamphlets and then bombing of the Assembly is also shown. The moment one enters, sensors fitted on the floor leads to a shower of re-printed leaflets, sound of slogans of Inquilab Zindabad with a huge rumbling. The trial room is abuzz with the narration of eminent voice-over artiste Shammi Narang. The last part of the gallery shows the execution of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev in a dark room, controlled through a remote device.

Avenging Lala Lajpat Rai's death: This model depicts the shooting of British official that was planned by Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) members Shaheed Bhagat Singh along with Chandrashekhar Azad and Rajguru in broad daylight in front of the police headquarters in Lahore at 4 pm on December 17, 1928. The person who was shot was JP Saunders, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Lahore, who took part in the lathicharge, where Lala Lajpat Rai had succumbed to death. So, HSRA had planned to avenge this by killing the official.

Escape from lahore: Since the British suspected Bhagat Singh’s hand in JP Saunders case, HSRA realised that it was important for him to escape from Lahore to continue working for the freedom struggle. His escape was planned from Lahore to Calcutta along with Durga Bhabhi and Rajguru. This model depicts the scene of his escape at Lahore station with Shaheed Bhagat Singh with Durga Bhabhi carrying a child in disguise and Rajguru posing as their servant.

Facsimile representation of

an empty case of the hand grenade used by Bhagat Singh and his fellow revolutionaries.

revolutionary in jail: Shaheed Bhagat Singh photographed at Lahore railway police station during his first arrest (May 29-July 4, 1927) in connection with Lahore Dasehra bomb case (October 25, 1926) with Gopal Singh Panna, DSP, CID Lahore.

Cap of Sukhdev: It is believed that Sukhdev worn this cap during his lifetime.

What influenced him: The gallery depicts various movements that influenced the martyr as a child. Punjab and its freedom fighters played a significant role in contributing to fight for freedom across the nation and world. Important events, such as the first (1845-46) and the second Anglo- Sikh wars (1848-49), the First War of Independence (1857), the Kuka Movement (1857-1872) later formed the base for early 20th Century events such as the Ghadar Movement (1905-1915), Komagata Maru (1914) and the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (1919), had a deep impact on Bhagat Singh’s mind.

A leaf from history: The Tribune dated March 25, 1931, carrying the news of the execution of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.

The heroes were hanged at Central Jail, Lahore, on March 23, 1931. Prof Jagmohan Singh, martyr’s nephew, said the memories of the trio, which included blood stained remains of the martyrs, were kept with the newspaper that carried the news of the execution of the bravehearts, because of which the newspaper was in this condition.

Sowing rifles! In 1911, Bhagat Singh’s father and his friend Mehta Anand Kishor took him to a farm. While playing with the soil, Bhagat Singh started making tiny heaps and fixing small sticks into it. When Mehta asked him what he was doing, Bhagat Singh replied, he was sowing rifles.

This pic of Bhagat Singh was clicked at a studio in Lahore in 1919.

The pen was used by the judge to write the death sentence of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. The name of the manufacturer, The Latem Hinks Wells and Co, United Kingdom, is also inscribed on the broken nib of the original pen.

Bhagat Singh left DAV School Lahore in 1921 when he was in Class X and joined the National College Lahore.

What shaped him: Personal belongings of Sardar Ajit Singh, Punjab’s freedom fighter and Bhagat Singh’s uncle, who served as a source of inspiration during his childhood.

What he read

Bhagat Singh left DAV School, Lahore, in 1921, when he was in Class X and joined the National College, Lahore. Initially, his command over English was weak, while he excelled in history and politics. With perseverance, he mastered the language, possibly realising it as an essential requirement to counter argue and fight against the British Raj. The books that were most popular among college students, include ‘My struggle for Irish Freedom’ by Den O Bren, biographies ‘Mazzini’ and ‘Garibaldi’ and ‘History of French Revolution,’ among others.

Shaheed Bhagat Singh as journalist

A wall of the museum tells about the journey of Bhagat Singh as a journalist. He first worked at ‘Pratap’ in Kanpur and then with ‘Kirti’ journal in Punjab. During his escape to Delhi to flee police attention, he found a job in ‘Vir Arjun’ newspaper. He used several pen names, including Balwant Singh, Vidrohi and BS Sidhu. He is known to have written in four languages — Hindi, English, Punjabi and Urdu.

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