A Class-Fellow's Tribute
Ganpat Rai B .A. (National)
Many things crowd my memory when I reflect upon the events of 50 years back that culminated in the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh , Sukh Dev and Raj Guru on the evening of March 23 1931. No body could have ever thought that the Government of the day will stoop so low as to dispose of after executionthe bodies of these martyrs in such a shabby way it did .Bhagat Singh represented the spirit of the resurgent youth. He wanted the Country to wake, arise and fight with a resolute heart. Personal pain and physical persecution could not deter him from the path he had chosen when he was rather raw and young. He wanted to fight the alien rulers with all the might he could muster.
He was no believer in the tricks of worldly casuistry. He felt rather stifling the atmosphere prevailing at the time. Communal riots coupled with arson and murders and their aftermath had plagued the political life of the land he love so much. With view to start a relentless battle against the reactionary forces of communalism. He along with the students and the teachers of the National High School and the National College founded at Lahore a truly secular and revolutionary organisation Which came to be known as Nau Jawan Bharat Sabha The Sabha was non-communal.Its members were forbidden to join any organisation which smacked of communalism.
(The writer was General Secretary when he was arrested on June 14,1930 and convicted under section 124 A).
With view to bringing together members of different communities that inhabit this land , Sabha used to arrange inter communal dinners which were joined by all alike. Besides this , dramatic performances were arranged to awaken the dormant feelings of people. I vividly remember the scene when a drama most probably ''Mewar Patan' (the fall of Mewar) was enacted at Gujranwala at the time of Punjab Provincial Political Conference presided over by S.Sardul Singh Caveesher. Mrs Sarojini Naidu was present at that time. She appreciated the superb acting of Bhagat Singh-as Rana Pratap-so much that when the play ended she got down from the stage and not only patted Bhagat Singh on the back , but gave him a warm , motherly embrace.
After undergoing through many prolonged hardships he had come to realise that his revolt agalnst the Government of the day was destined to get momentum because a strong and honest conscience , having courage to assert itself is a thing which cannot be suppressed . The public opinion and even the opposing forces shall have to reckon with the views he had expressed so daringly with all the courage and emphasis at the command.
The three years that he spent in the National College were a formative period in the life of Bhagat Singh. Acharya Jugal Kishore, Bhai Parmanand, Prof . A .C Mehta and other professors were instrumental in shaping his life . He was a keen student of history particularly the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution Lives of Garibaldi , Mazzini and Lenin as also the struggle for freedom launched by Irish Republican Army had their impact on him. He somehow got hold of Savarkar's War of Indian Independence which was banned at the time .
During the .annual session of the Congress at Lahore in 1929 the book was published in 2 parts . He read many times "My Fight for Irish Freedom" written by Dar. Breen . Perhaps very few people know that in 1924 or 1925 he wrote an essay on ' The Future of Hindi in Punjab · This essay was adjudged the best at the Simla session of Sahitya Sammelan and he was awarded a prize for it . Incidentally, I may add that some years back, an editor of a Hindi Daily declined to publish this essay in his paper on the round that it could not have been written by Bhagat Singh about 65 years back . So prophetic were the views< expressed therein.
With a view to avenging , Lala Lajpat Rai ' s death , the Hidustant Socialist Republican Party organised meticulously and shot dead the police officer responsible for giving lathi blows to the great leader . At that time and even some time after for the purpose of discrediting the party and its enthusiastic young workers , it was given out that Saunders was shot dead by mistake because the person who gave lathi blows was another police officer named Scott .
To remove the wrong impression, I , in December, 1930 enquired from B .K . Dutt who had been all along with Bhagat Singh and was at that time in the old Central Jail Multan, where I had been transferred , from Attock Camp jail. He told me in no uncertain words that it was Saunders who gave fatal lathi blows to Lala Lajpat Rai and we being certain shot him dead . There could be no question of our mistaking the identity of the police officer concerned ' .
In the words of a famous French Philosopher and thinker Romain Rolland,. Bhagat Singh beckoned his countrymen:
"He cannot know the delight of being free. It is worthwhile paying for it with so much danger, and suffering and even death. To be free, to feel that every mind about you-yes, even the knave's is free, is a delicious pleasure which it is impossible to express: it is as though your soul were soaring the infinite air . It could not live otherwise''. (Joan Christophe In Paris page 274 : Editor)
BRITISH INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS ( In their report , dated the 26th of March , 1931)
"Bhagat Singh and his companions are bound to provide the test for many fiery sermons in the days to come''. :