The month of March is a time when India, during its freedom struggle, witnessed the martyrdom of revolutionaries. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were the three revolutionaries who were hanged by the British raj on March 23 1931. The trio's heroism, courage, and sacrifice still remain symbolic to the nation after nine long decades of martyrdom. Still, their revolutionary vision seems blurry and perhaps not taken seriously by our fellow countrymen. Amidst the rampant rise in communal hate ridden attacks on religious minorities, exploitation of tribals communities and natural resources in the name of development, reiterating their vision via writings is the call of the contemporary time.
Before attaining martyrdom, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru left a crystal clear set of messages through letters written to the Governor of Punjab. On March 20, 1931, they penned a letter titled - ‘No Hanging, Please Shoot Us’. They wrote:
“...The main charge against us was having waged war against HM King George, the King of England.”
Courtesy: Jail Notebook Bhagat Singh
“Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist so long as the Indian toiling masses and their natural resources are being exploited by a handful of parasites. They may be purely British capitalists or mixed British and Indian, or even purely Indian. They may be carrying on their insidious exploitation through mixed or even purely Indian bureaucratic apparatus.”
The exploitation of natural resources by a handful of exploiters (i.e. foreign or Indian) is the grim indication that remains relevant even today.
“No matter if your government tries and succeeds in winning over the leaders of the upper strata of the Indian society through petty concessions and compromises and thereby causing a temporary demoralisation in the main body of the forces. No matter if once again the vanguard of the Indian movement, the revolutionary party finds itself deserted into the thick of the war. No matter if the leaders did not mention in the peace negotiations about the homeless, friendless and penniless female workers who are alleged to be belonging to the vanguard and whom they consider to be the enemies of their utopian non-violent cult.
“...According to the verdict of your court we had waged war and we are therefore war prisoners. And we claim to be treated as such, i.e. we claim to be shot dead instead of being hanged.”
In the name of peace negotiations, the working class being left in the lurch by the mainstream political parties was the character of the ruling class within the freedom movement. The three brave hearts define 'War' between India and the imperial force and at last, declare themselves as 'War Prisoners' so instead of hanging, they demand to be shot dead.
Nine decades back, Bhagat Singh, at the meagre age of 23, questioned the ownership of means of production and wrote: “The struggle of India would continue so long as a handful of exploiters go on exploiting the labour of the common people for their own ends. It matters little whether these exploiters are purely British capitalists, British and Indians in alliance, or even purely Indians.”
Bhagat Singh, in 1927 clearly wrote on methods to counter communal riots. He wrote, “Class consciousness is required to ensure that people do not fight among themselves. It has to be made very clear to the poor, working-class and peasants that their real enemy is capitalism. That is why they have to safeguard themselves from its stranglehold. The rights of all the poor – be they of any caste, colour, religion or region – are the same. Your wellbeing is in overcoming all these differences and remaining united, and striving to take the reigns of power into your hands. With these efforts, you will lose nothing; with these efforts, one day your chains will get cut, and you will have economic independence.”
Without mincing words, Bhagat Singh and his compatriots flaunted their ideological stand and politics, i.e., uncompromising struggle against imperialism, steadfast resistance to communalism and caste oppression, and unbending opposition bourgeois-landlord rule and unshakable faith in Marxism and Socialism as the only alternative before society.