Exactly 75 years back, on March 23rd, Bhagat Singh and his colleagues
were hanged by the British government. In September this year also
begins the hundred birth anniversary of the birth of Bhagat Singh.
His birth centenary will be celebrated on Sept.28 2007.
Bhagat Singh and his colleagues were hanged on this day 75 years
back for their uncompromising struggle against the British and the
advocacy of violence as the means of throwing the British out by
the Hindustani Socialist Republican Association. As Bhagat Singh
and his colleagues languished in jail between 1929 and1931 and there
was a massive upsurge against the hanging, M.K.Gandhi and other
Congress leaders were busy collaborating with the British supporting
their punishment. People throughout the country were shocked to
see these young patriotic men in their early twenties being sent
to the gallows. And as they ascended the gallows anti-British slogans
and Inquilab Zindabad (Long Live revolution) rent the air. Bhagat
Singh and his colleagues became an icon for coming generation of
anti-imperialists in the country, just as Che Guvera became in the
The Legend of Bhagat Singh lives on and becomes even more relevant
in this age of imperialist globalization. Bhagat Singh was in every
way a true democratic revolutionary, though not a communist. He
was uncompromisingly anti-British and so despised the collaborationist
approach of the leaders of the Indian National Congress who were
only pleading for crumbs. Unlike the other revolutionaries of Bengal,
who were deeply into Hinduism, Bhagat Singh was to a large extent
anti-feudal — he was against religion and an atheist. In fact his
very first book he wrote was “Why I am an Atheist” and he was one
of the rare revolutionaries who also wrote on the dalit question
and against untouchability. All these writings were done at the
young age before his martyrdom. In spite of all his revolutionary
activities he was a voracious reader. In the three years in jail
even though he faced the death sentence he read extensively making
notes and comments. This has come to light in a recent publication
entitled “Shahid Bhagat Singh’s Jail Notes”. He read extensively
the works of Russell, Marx, Engels, Ingersoll, Tom Paine, Rousseau,
Grele, Upton Sinclair, etc. He also read Lenin and was veering towards
becoming a Marxist towards the last days of his life. Besides these,
Bhagat Singh made systematic studies of text books on law and the
history of political thought from the Greek and Soviet experience
— his main focus of this study being in relation to the role of
the State. He also studied the French Revolution as also the Soviet
revolution. He was initially influenced by the anarchism of Bakunin
but towards the end of his life he shifted closer to Marxism.
In the coming year all will try and take the mantle of Bhagat Singh;
from the revisionists to even the RSS. But who are the true varis
(followers) of Bhagat Singh who have the right to use his name.
Let us look at them all.
The RSS were at that time British collaborators and are to this
day highly feudal and religious. Their views are exactly the opposite
that of Bhagat Singh. Their use of the name of Bhagat Singh, if
at all they do so, is totally fake.
So also for the Congress whose then leader, Gandhi, was directly
responsible for sending Bhagat Singh and his associates to the gallows.
The bulk of the Congress leaders, then and now, have been imperialist
collaborators acting as a ‘safety valve’ to diffuse the people’s
anger against the British. They are also deeply feudal, casteist
and religious. They have nothing in common with the ideals of Bhagat
Singh, so their taking his name is false and hypocritical.
Those who will be most active and in the forefront of these celebrations
will be the revisionist CPI/CPM. Today, both these parties are with
the central government, implementing all their imperialist-dictated
policies. So also in the States where they are in power they are
implementing the same policies. They are vehemently against any
violent opposition to imperialism. They term all violent opposition
as ‘terrorism’ just as the imperialists do. Though they may be atheists
they generally compromise with feudal and casteist thinking. So,
in practice, notwithstanding all their rhetoric and demagogy, they
too are imperialist collaborators. They too are nowhere near the
ideals of Bhagat Singh and have no right to their legacy.
The true claimants to the Bhagat Singh legacy are the Naxalites
or Maoists, as it is only they who believe that the imperialists
can be kicked out only through violent revolution, who are also
atheists, and who are also consistently anti-imperialist and anti-feudal.
Though Bhagat Singh may not have been a Marxist like the Maoists
of today, both have the above common characteristics. Ofcourse given
the flow of time, the Naxalites have gone far ahead of Bhagat Singh,
but they represent similar democratic and revolutionary traditions.
Besides, Bhagat Singh could not properly evolve and develop his
views fully as he was martyred at a very very young age.
But not only the Maoists, all democrats and progressives can in
some way lay claim to the heritage of Bhagat Singh. Let all anti-imperialist
forces in the country come out with huge celebrations of Bhagat
Singh turning them into a gigantic force against the present policies
of imperialist globalization adopted by the comprador rulers of
the country. They may do this both jointly and also independently.
Let the Bhagat Singh celebrations go from the confines of passive
meetings and seminars to agitation and propaganda against the imperialists
and their comprador agents within the country. Let us hit at symbols
of foreign domination and create an massive anti-imperialist awakening
in the country. This alone will be a true tribute to the memory
of Bhagat Singh and his heroic colleagues. While the reactionaries
and revisionists confine themselves to mock functions let the progressives
and revolutionaries take the celebrations to the streets.
Let these celebrations and mass anti-imperialist awakening begin
from March 23 2006 and build up to a rising crescendo of huge countrywide
activities culminating on Sept.28 2007, the birth centenary of Bhagat