The Notion of Freedom

bhagat singh

23rd March, 1931! At 7:30pm, the British Government silently hanged three revolutionaries in Lahore Jail. Then through a pit smuggled the dead bodies to Ganda Singh Wala village (now situated in Pakistan). They burnt the corpses and threw the ashes into the river. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged 11 hours earlier than the allotted time.

Those whom the British Government were so cautious about that because of the fear of the citizens of the nation, they hanged the revolutionaries 11 hours earlier, among them the greatest was Bhagat Singh. From childhood, we are reading about our Freedom movement and then in various cultural functions and independence day we keep on mumbling and hailing the names of the revolutionaries, but by completely forgetting the notion that for every revolutionary who fought and died for freedom of our nation the idea of freedom was completely different. Bhagat Singh here stands on the centre because at the age of 23 years when he embraced death with pride, the picture of the desired India, which he wanted to be free from the shackles of colonialists and capitalists, became clear before him and his friends.

Two books written by Bhagat Singh, which should be read by every political activist – ‘Why I am an Atheist’ and ‘Bhagat Singh: on the Path of Liberation’ – are where he wrote in a very clarified manner what is his desired nation and what should be the characteristics of it. From the core of ‘Socialist Foundation, Marxist Ideology’ he questions – “Farmers and mill workers would be told to join the struggle of independence on the basis of what? Only emotion? What are they gaining from this independence? By sacrificing their life in this fight what would they get? What would be the alteration if a Zamindar rules over them instead of Lord Reeding or Tej Bahadur Sapru sits on the throne instead of Lord Irwin? The only freedom struggle for them is revolution – started by the proletariat for the revolution of other proletariat! Other than that, he used to write for a newspaper named “Kirti” using a pseudonym. The newspaper belonged to the “Workers and Peasants Party” which at that time India, used to be an illegal Communist Party’s Frontal Organisation.

Bhagat Singh cultivated himself with the ideology of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and simultaneously he adopted the ideology of Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin. He also wrote several essays and articles in favour of Anarchism. In one of his essays, he wrote “How the world has badly presented the word ‘Anarchism’. For me, the sole task of anarchism is to demolish Religious institutions, God, State and Taking over of Personal Property”. For this reason only, he always used to write about the need of establishment of Revolutionary Communist Parties to fight with the British, and so he worked on to break the culture of nationalism by raising slogans like “Inquilab Zindabad, Samrajyavad Murdabad” (Long Live Freedom, Die Imperialism). From the slogans, he presented to us his nation free from every shackle and only for the people and his idea became different from every political party.

As the member of Hindustan Republican Association, when Bhagat Singh changed the name of the association into Hindustan Socialist Republican Association in the Feroz Shah Kotla meeting, presented information to different members of the association along with the citizens by addressing everyone as “Comrade”, sharply criticised the Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League for spilling poison on the freedom movement in the name of religion, made everyone aware of the impact of struggle based on religion and said everyone to come out of the trap, criticised the way of organisation of Gandhi and the class struggle of Congress, at the age of 23 years explaining his “Inquilab” before the British in Lahore Court, presented the economic picture of British Imperialism before the whole nation, he may be was among the few freedom fighters who explained and understood the history and the future of this nation from a completely materialistic and practical viewpoint.

The reason for which Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt was arrested – bomb blast in the assembly – if we analyse the incident with proper reasons, then it gives us an astounding picture. The workers of Bombay Mill organised a strike and the British government was unable to break or stop the strike. Government could not implement its own law (that is British Law) because they had a positive reason for organising the strike. The owners of the mill started praying before the British to stop the strike. Viceroy himself utilised his Veto Power to pass two bills in the Assembly – Public Safety Bill and Trade Dispute Act using which legally the government would be able to stop the strike and in the coming days, the workers won’t be able to organise any strike, no matter how worse the situation gets. To protest against this bill, Bhagat Singh and friends, selected the day of its passing. That is, here too, Bhagat Singh gave much importance to class politics, and its enemy being the capitalists.

So, today when it is seen, that the present government and its Sangh Parivar is trying to embrace Bhagat Singh, it feels embarrassing. They don’t have their own icons and so they try to select anyone who never were a part of their ideology and protested strongly against them. Bhagat Singh went against every religious party, from the Hindu Mahasabha to the Muslim League, he rejected each and everyone of them because religion divides the revolutionaries of a struggle which finally happened. When Savarkar was apologising to British government, Bhagat Singh wrote to the imperialists that since he is a prisoner of war, so he should not be hanged, rather he should be made to stand before a Canon or before the firing squad. Any religious organisation, especially those belonging to Hindutva ideology, cannot embrace Bhagat Singh because he opposed religion and was a staunch Marxist.

When Bhagat Singh was in jail, many revolutionaries tried to free him from prison. At that time, a message was sent by the Hindu Mahasabha to Yashpal of HSRA. They wanted to help them by giving Rs. 50,000 but to get the money, the HSRA revolutionaries have to kill Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The then member of HSRA, Chandrasekhar Azad denied to accept the proposal by saying that “they are not rented assailants”.

On the death anniversary of Comrade Bhagat Singh, let us unite to march towards the India which he desired. May be, we won’t be able to see the complete independent India which Bhagat Singh dreamt of. But at least, we cannot let the religious institution holders of this nation to take over the legacy of Comrade Bhagat Singh.

From the diary of Comrade Bhagat Singh:

“It is easy to kill individuals but you cannot kill the ideas. Great empires crumbled while the ideas survived”.

Inquilab Zindabad (Long Live Freedom)
Samrajyavad Murdabad (Die Imperialism)

Red Salute to Comrade Bhagat Singh!

Kabir Deb is a published writer and poet. Born in Haflong and completed his Masters on Life Sciences from Assam University. His work has been published from different national and international magazine like Different Truths, Counter Currents, Reviews, Cafe Dissensus, Spillwords magazine and his works rely on political activism.


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