Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s role in India’s independence movement is beyond any debate, and many a movie and book has rightly venerated him as a revolutionary and a thinker.
Do we celebrate him as a revolutionary thinker though?
As politicians sing paeans to the young man’s martyrdom and the cookie-cutter ‘freedom-fighter’ trope, seldom do we celebrate what the man stood for, his beliefs, his writings in his diaries and his proto-journalistic leanings.
This was a man who read Lenin before being led to the gallows, his last moments before being hanged in a Lahore jail on March 23, 1931.
Singh wrote under many pseudonyms, for security reasons of course, but this very reason has caused his radical journalistic work to be lost in the history pages somewhere.
In the context of current day journalism, Singh’s work takes on even more poignancy as communalism, whether practised facetiously by talking heads on television or in a grotesque manner by gangs in gullies, has dominated mainstream discourse in the country.
Singh’s journalism and espousal of atheism, with the need to practice religion as a private affair, assumes greater significance and relevance in modern-day India.
Singh’s writing would be right to be included in our education syllabi, as we need to revisit the idea of freedom from the young man who died so that we may enjoy it.
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