New Delhi, Jun 15: Sardar Bhagat Singh comes from a well-known family from the district of Faisalabad formerly known as Lyallpur in Pakistan. His ancestors were Khalsa Sardars who, under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, helped in the spread of the Sikh Kingdom against the turbulent Pathans on the west and the dangerous English on the east. For helping the Sikh rulers with life and blood, this family was rewarded with considerable land.
Bhagat Singh’s grandfather, Sardar Arjun Singh was a man of strong feelings for social reforms as well as freedom of India. He was a big landlord, who choose to oppose the British, and that nationalism in a way came down to Bhagat. In his family he often told stories of his own grandfather Fateh Singh who had helped Muslim tenants to get land rights and later unlike other big land owners, refused an offer to get more land by entering into a deal with the British. This happened at the time of the great struggle for independence in 1857. Refusing the offer Fateh Singh said that the teaching of Guru Gobind is that as a principle we should stand with the struggle for justice.
Arjun Singh carried this tradition further and provided conducive conditions for his three sons to join freedom struggle and reform movements. He set high standards for good relationships with farm workers. He provided free medicare to the needy and encouraged his wife Jay Kaur also to do so. At a time when education of girls was frowned upon, he gave the name ‘Vidyawati’ to his eldest daughter in law (mother of Bhagat Singh). He encouraged his daughters-in-law to carry out various constructive activities to help villagers like educating girls and providing a helping hand to the needy. He along with his wife and other family members supported the upbringing of about 22 orphan children, most of whom later contributed to the freedom movement with dedication.
At the time of the thread ceremony of his two grandsons Jagat Singh and Bhagat Singh, Arjun Singh said, “I dedicate them to the freedom struggle of the nation.”
Though more than 80 years old, he was still strong and used to take a keen interest in the proceedings of the Lahore Conspiracy Case. He was full of nationalist spirit. His brothers Bahadur Dilbagh Singh and others, through their services to the Government, have rich and were prosperous and men of rank and title.
But Sardar Arjun Singh chose another path which inevitably leads to poverty and obscurity. The grandmother of Sardar Bhagat Singh, Sm. Jaikaur, is a typical old woman of a Hindu family. It is she who has brought up all her sons and grandsons. She is a very brave lady; still, she talks of Sufi Amba Prasad, one of the pioneer nationalists of India, who used to visit them. Once the police came to arrest Sufi Sahib while he was in the house of Sardar Arjun Singh. But the brave lady saved him by a clever trick.
Arjun Singh had three sons, Kishan Singh (father of Bhagat Singh), Ajit Singh and Swarna Singh all of whom were noted for their nationalism and integrity. All the three brothers are known throughout Punjab for their sincere love of the country. Their patriotism has stood the severest test of imprisonment, banishment, and poverty.
No less inspiring for Bhagat Singh was his uncle Ajit Singh, In cooperation with other leading freedom fighters like Sufi Ambaprasad, Lala Hardayal and Lala Lajpat Rai, he quickly took forward many initiatives like farmers’ movement against unjust taxes and publication of inspiring literature.
Though quite rich, Ajit Singh forsook the comforts of a home-life and began to organize the Punjab for political emancipation. At this time, ie, about 1904 and 1905, the partition of Bengal came as Godsend. The violent and continued agitation in Bengal over this act of Lord Curzon had reverberations in the distant Punjab where Lala Lajpat Rai, Sardar Ajit Singh and Sufi Amba Prasad-a great friend of Ajit Singh-began to rouse up the country by eloquent speeches.
In this agitation Sardar Kishen Singh, the eldest of the brothers and father of Sardar Bhagat Singh, and Swarn Singh the youngest, took a legitimate share. Though Sardar Kishen Singh did not figure brilliantly on the platform, his services to the cause of the regeneration of the country were more solid. Both the father and the uncles of Bhagat Singh, with the willing consent of the grandfather, contributed generously to the national fund.
The year 1907 saw for the first time in the history of modern India the application of the arbitrary Regulation III of 1818, which has since then rendered so much service to the British Government in India. Both Bengal and Punjab were the scenes of the application of this drastic measure, and Sardar Ajit Singh and Lala Lajpat Rai were recipients of this honor.
Bhagat Singh joined the DAV School, Lahore where he learned English, Urdu and Sanskrit.
When not yet fourteen, Bhagat Singh’s enthusiasm for the service of the country brought him into touch with some revolutionary organizations in Punjab.
It was partly to avoid police scrutiny, partly to find out a new field of activity that Bhagat Singh left Punjab and went to reside at Cawnpore. Here he came into touch with Sj. Ganesh Shanker Vidyarthi and the two formed a life-long friendship. This was a turning point in his life, as since then he became part and parcel of a well-organized revolutionary party in India. Henceforth his life was part of a story of the revolutionary movement in India and it now behooves us to give some-account of this revolutionary organization to which Bhagat Singh dedicated his heart and soul.
The Appendix of the banned book carries a Copy of the written statement filed by Bhagat Singh and BK Dutt in the Court of the Sessions Judge, Delhi, in the Assembly Bomb Case.
Story first published: Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 8:55 [IST]