“The government which attacks its own innocent subjects has no claim to be called a civilised government. Bear in mind, such a government does not survive long. I declare that the blows struck at me will be the last nails in the coffin of the British rule in India” - Lala Lajpat Rai
Ninety-Two years ago, on March 23, 1931, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar marched to the gallows of Lahore Jail with smiles on their faces and “Inquilab Zindabad” on their lips.
At the time of their execution, Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev Thapar were just 23 years old while Shivaram Rajguru was only 22.
The trio was deeply affected by the brutal death of Lala Lajpat Rai popularly known as the Lion of Punjab who was opposing the Simon Commision’s visit to India to discuss constitutional reforms. He was highly perturbed by the fact that no Indian was included in the commission.
Lala Lajpat Rai was leading a peaceful demonstration against the Simon Commission in Lahore on 30 October 1928, when the British ordered a lathi charge on the unarmed and unsuspecting crowd.
“The Government which attacks its own innocent subjects has no claim to be called a civilised government. Bear in mind, such a government does not survive long. I declare that the blows struck at me will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India, ” Lala Lajpat Rai
Lala Lajpat Rai was gravely injured in the unprovoked attack on the procession by the authorities. He suffered serious head injuries and eventually died of a heart attack on 17 November 1928.
To avenge the killing of Lal Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh formed the Naujawan Sabha which decided to kill James Scott the Superintendent of Police who had ordered his men to lathi-charge protesters leading to the death of Lala Lajpat Rai.
In December 1928, Bhagat Singh and Rajguru, laid a trap to kill the British senior police superintendent, James Scott but by mistake shot dead John Saunders 21-year-old British police officer.
They had planned for all eventualities but their plans misfired when Saunders unexpectedly came out of the police station riding a motorcycle. He was felled by a single bullet fired from across the street by Rajguru, who was an ace marksman. Saunders died on the spot in Lahore, Punjab which is now a part of Pakistan.
Bhagat Singh and his associates were subsequently arrested when they deliberately showered leaflets from the gallery on the legislators in the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi. The British authorities wanted to prove a point because Bhagat Singh and his associates were gaining public sympathy, so they hanged the trio for the murder of J.P. Saunders. Little did they realize that their fierce nationalism and sacrifice would inspire a great number of people to join and support the freedom movement.
As we pay homage to our martyrs today, let us correct and teach the authentic history of India that has been defaced by invaders and by the colonial British Raj. Let us also vow to respect all our martyrs and fallen soldiers past, present and future, and their brave families, not just on one day but every day.
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Freedom of the Nation came at a great sacrifice but preserving our national interest and security comes at an even greater cost. Let us not forget those who protect the nation even at the cost of their supreme sacrifice. Let us play our respective roles of responsible citizens who contribute to nation-building and its harmony in the spirit of “Nation Above All”.
I pay my homage by penning a few lines of homage to these Brave Sons of Mother India.
Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar,
Names etched in glorious history that shook the British Raj,
Marched to the gallows with smiles on their face,
Love and sacrifice for the nation they bravely embraced.
Their youthful years belied their fervent zeal,
To their nation, their purpose, their ideal,
They rallied the masses to join the fight,
Their sacrifice echoed with resounding might.
They fought for the freedom of their beloved land,
Against ruthless colonial power and their bloodied hands,
With a fearless spirit and unwavering stand,
Their legacy lives on, an eternal sublime brand.
Their spirits and ideas remain, an eternal breath,
Their words forever echo, conquering death.
“They may kill me, but they cannot kill my ideas,
They can crush my body, but they will not be able to crush my spirit.”
“Zindagi Toh Apne Damm Par Jiyi Jaati Hai,
Doosro Ke Kandho Pe Toh Sirf Janaaze Uthaaye Jaate Hain”
Their courage and valour, a testament to our shared pride,
Their legacy, a shining example of the nation’s stride,
Their contribution to our independence, we’ll never forget,
Their sacrifice, a reminder of our duty, to protect and respect.