Book Title: Life and Legend of Bhagat Singh: A Pictorial Volume
Author: Chaman Lal
A primer on Bhagat Singh is always welcome and retired professor Chaman Lal’s latest book, pictorial in nature, is a welcome addition to the various books on the icon, whose birth anniversary falls on September 28. Apart from Bhagat Singh’s life, it sheds light on those associated with him as well.
‘Life and Legend of Bhagat Singh’ begins with the family’s deep connection with the freedom struggle, especially his uncle Ajit Singh, who spearheaded the Pagdi Sambhal Jatta movement. The author paints a picture of Bhagat Singh’s childhood, and how he always had a weak physique but a tough outlook. It recounts the popular anecdote about “sowing guns” in the field, how he went to Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar to pay homage to the martyrs and brought back a jar of blood-soaked soil. There are descriptions about his initiation into the freedom movement with protests at the time of the gurdwara reform movement, and then the non-cooperation movement. He finally etched out his own path, joining the Hindustan Republican Association.
What sets the volume apart is its pictorial quality. It encapsulates rare family photographs, those of the personal belongings of Bhagat Singh (like the shoes and watch he gave to Jaidev Kapoor prior to the Assembly bombing), the khaki shirt he wore on the day of the bombing, letters by the revolutionaries, documents pertaining to their cases, as also personal letters and posters. A large part of the photo gallery is of newspaper clippings — local, national and international. Several pages are dedicated to news reports published in The Tribune.
The biography is based on sources such as writings by Bhagat Singh’s family members, including two siblings, and interviews of his kin, comrades as well as other revolutionaries kept safe in the archival records of regional and national institutions.
The short but epochal journey of Bhagat Singh and his comrades is an inspiring chapter in the history of India. This book tries to gently remind one of that rich past. Lest we forget.