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Bhagat Singh

Context:

A photograph of Bhagat Singh in Punjab Chief Minister’s office has run into a controversy.

Relevance:

GS I- History

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. Who is Bhagat Singh?
  2. Why has Bhagat Singh’s photo been put up at CM Bhagwant Mann’s office?
  3. What is the objection to Bhagat Singh’s photograph installed at CM’s office?

Who is Bhagat Singh?

Background:

  • In 1907, Bhagat Singh was born into a Sikh family in Lyallpur District, Pakistan.
  • Singh was lured to the Indian independence movement from a young age since his family members were participating in the struggle for independence.
  • He disobeyed the British government as a child by destroying textbooks that it advised.
  • He first backed Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • Bhagat Singh converted to revolutionary nationalism after Gandhi withdrew the campaign in the aftermath of the Chauri Chaura tragedy.
  • The Jallianwala Bagh massacre (1919) and the violence against unarmed Akali protestors at Nankana Sahib had a profound impact on him (1921).
  • Inspired by leftist writings he read widely, Singh was an atheist and against capitalism.

Revolutionary activities:

  • In Kanpur in 1924, he joined the Hindustan Republican Association, which had been founded a year before by Sachindranath Sanyal.
  • Bhagat Singh returned to Lahore in 1925, and within a year, he and his colleagues founded the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, a militant youth organisation.
  • Along with Sukhdev, Chandrashekhar Azad, and others, he was a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) in 1928.
  • Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev also founded the Lahore Students Union to encourage students to engage in open, lawful work.
  • He was involved in revolutionary actions such as the
    • Lahore Conspiracy case and
    • the 1929 Central Assembly Bombing case.
  • Along with Rajguru, Sukhdev, and others, Bhagat Singh was arrested and charged in the Saunders murder case.
  • The three was sentenced to be hanged on March 24, 1931, however the sentence was carried out at the Lahore Jail a day early.
  • In honour of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev, the 23rd of March is honoured as ‘Martyrs’ Day,’ or ‘Shaheed Diwas,’ or ‘Sarvodaya Day.’

Political ideology:

His azaadi independence did not stop with the expulsion of the British; he also demanded azaadi freedom from poverty, untouchability, communal warfare, and all forms of discrimination and exploitation.

Why has Bhagat Singh’s photo been put up at CM Bhagwant Mann’s office?

  • Even before the Punjab poll results were declared, AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and the party’s chief ministerial face, Bhagwant Mann, had announced that if the party came to power, the photos of Bhagat Singh and Dr BR Ambedkar would adorn the walls of government offices, moving away from the tradition of putting the chief minister’s photos.
  • Mann has been an ardent follower of Bhagat Singh, who was hanged by the British on March 23, 1931 in Lahore when he was just 23, along with his companions Sukhdev and Rajguru.
  • Mann says that he dreams of creating an egalitarian Punjab that Bhagat Singh had dreamt of and sacrificed his life for.

What is the objection to Bhagat Singh’s photograph installed at CM’s office?

  • According to researchers, the photo installed is “not an authentic photograph” of the freedom fighter but merely “an imagination”.
  • Chaman Lal, honorary advisor to Delhi’s Bhagat Singh Resource Centre and the author of several books on the freedom fighter, says, “We have clarified many times that Bhagat Singh never wore any basanti or kesari turban. It is all imagination. We have only four original photographs of him. In one picture, he is sitting with open hair in jail, another shows him in a hat and two others show him in a white turban.
  • All other pictures showing him in yellow or orange turbans or even with a weapon in his hand are products of imagination. Political parties should talk about his ideology and discuss it with youths instead of using his name for their own benefits. Paintings created with imagination should never be used for official purposes.”

-Source: Indian Express

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September 2022
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