All Indians whether in twentieth century or twenty first century know the supreme sacrifice made by three great and selfless patriots of integrated India – Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar who were hanged to death by the British rulers in Lahore jail (presently in Pakistan) on 23 March in 1931. For the sacrifice made by the great persons for our independence we are enjoying our lives in a free country.
Anyway, unfortunately, Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar were killed by the British rulers on the same day as mentioned already but their dates of birth were different. Bhagat Singh was born on 28 September 1907 at Banga village, Jaranwala Tehsil in Lyallpur district of Punjab presently in Pakistan. Sukhdev Thapar was born on 15 May 1907 in Ludhiana, Punjab. Shivaram Hari Rajguru popularly known as Rajguru was born on 24 August 1908 at Khed located at the bank of river Bheema near Poona.
They were hanged for the killing of John P Saunders, a British police officer. It may be mentioned that any sort of killing is undesirable but during British rule in India they (British) treated Indians with imperialistic attitude, the reason is obvious as British came thousands mile away with the attitude of exploiting our resources including human resources. Because of the independence movement and sacrifice made by then Indians also post the effect of the Second World War; they left India by partitioning then India based on religion. Same British did not rule Eritrea (a country located in North-east Africa) for more than a decade. As I worked as senior faculty in Eritrea so I know in this regard in depth.
A few points about the killing of John P Saunders by Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev may be mentioned here. In 1928, the British Government set up a commission headed by John Simon to report about the political situation in India. The political parties of India boycotted the Commission and in many places protests erupted because the Commission did not include a single Indian as a member. When the Commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai led a non-violent march in protest and the protesters uttered “Simon go-back”. Then the superintendent of police, James A. Scott, ordered the police (most of the police personnel were Indian) to lathi (baton) charge among the protesters and it is believed that Scott personally assaulted Lala Lajpat and later on Lajpat died. This incident created severe anger among Indians. As a sequel, Bhagat Singh and Shivaram Rajguru killed Assistant Superintendent of Police John Saunders on 17 December 1927. They were supported in this act by Sukhdev Thapar and Chandrashekhar Azad. However, their original target was not Saunders but James Scott who ordered lathi-charge. Because of the slow pace of the legal proceedings, a special tribunal, consisting of Justice J Coldstream, Justice Agha Hyder and Justice G.C. Hilton was set up on the directives of the Viceroy, Lord Irwin on 1 May, 1930. The tribunal delivered its 300-page judgement on October 7, 1930. The tribunal confirmed the involvement of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru for killing Saunders and on 23 March 1931, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged in Lahore Jail.
Before their death, they chanted, ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ‘Down with British Imperialism’. A famous quote of Bhagat Singh is, “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”. At the time of execution, Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev Thapar were just 23 years old and Shivaram Rajguru was only 22.
On the auspicious occasion of the birthday of Bhagat Singh on 28 September 2021, I offer my great salute to this great patriot. Also my great salute to Shivaram Hari Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar