Bhagat Singh ( 1907- 1931) lived at a time when India’s freedom struggle was beginning to flag and when Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent, passively resistant approach to partial liberation was beginning to test the patience of the people. The youth of India was inspired by Bhagat Singh’s call to arms and enthused by the defiance and dare-devilry of the army wing of the Hindustan Socialist Republican association to which he and his comrades, Sukhdev and Rajguru, belonged. His call, Inquilab Zindabad! became the war-cry of the fight for freedom.
When Bhagat Singh was executed by the British after a sham trial for his involvement in the Lahore Conspiracy Case at the age of twenty-three, he was glorified by the Indians as a martyr – for his youth, his heroism, and his steadfast courage in the face of certain death. It was only many years later – after Independence in 1947– that his jail writings came to light. Today, it is these works that set Bhagat Singh apart from the many revolutionaries who laid down their lives for India. They reveal him as not just a passionate freedom-fighter who believed in the cult of the bomb but a widely-read intellectual inspired by the writings of, among others, Marx, Lenin, Bertrand Russell and Victor Hugo; a revolutionary whose vision did not end with the ouster of the British, but who looked further, towards a secular, socialist India.
In this book, Nayar takes a close look at the man behind the martyr: his beliefs, his intellectual leanings, his dreams and his despair. This book explains for the first time why Hans Raj Vohra turned approver and betrayed Bhagat Singh and throws new light on Sukhdev, whose loyalties have been questioned by some historians. But most of all it puts in perspective Bhagat Singh’s use of violence, so strongly condemned by Gandhi and many others as being extremist. Erudite and engaging, this book is a fascinating portrait of one of India’s greatest freedom fighter and a man of rare intellectual honesty.
About the Author
Noted journalist, author, diplomat and parliamentarian, Kuldip Nayar was born in Sialkot in 1924. He studied at Murray College in Sialkot and procured an LL.B from Law College in Lahore before joining the Medill School of Journalism in Northwestern University, Evanston. He served as press information officer to Govind Ballabh Pant and Lal Bahadur Shastri, as high commissioner to the UK, and as a member of the Rajya Sabha, besides holding important positions in several news agencies and newspaper offices like UNI, PIB, The Statesman and the Indian Express. He was a correspondent of The Times, London, for twenty-five years. His syndicated column, which appears in over eighty publications around the world, is widely read and he is the author of several books including Scoop! Inside Stories from the Partition to the Present; Between the Lines; Distant Neighbours: A Tale of the Subcontinent; India after Nehru and India House.