The last letter Bhagat Singh wrote was to his comrades on 22 March 1931, a day before his execution. Some of Bhagat Singh’s comrades thought that he could still be saved from the gallows by helping him escape from the jail. While appreciating his comrades’ concern, Bhagat Singh underlines the significance of his own execution for the country, which indicates his farsightedness and political maturity.
(Originally in Urdu.)
It is natural that the desire to live should be in me as well, I don’t want to hide it. But I can stay alive on one condition that I don’t wish to live in imprisonment or with any binding.
My name has become a symbol of Hindustani revolution, and the ideals and sacrifices of the revolutionary party have lifted me very high – so high that I can certainly not be higher in the condition of being alive.
Today my weaknesses are not visible to the people. If I escape the noose, they will become evident and the symbol of revolution will be tarnished, or possibly be obliterated. But to go to the gallows with courage will make Hindustani mothers aspire to have children who are like Bhagat Singh and the number of those who will sacrifice their lives for the country will go up so much that it will not be possible for imperialistic powers or all the demoniac powers to contain the revolution.
And yes, one thought occurs to me even today – that I have not been able to fulfil even one thousandth parts of the aspirations that were in my heart to do something for my country and humanity. If I could have stayed alive and free, then I may have got the opportunity to accomplish those and I would have fulfilled my desires. Apart from this, no temptation to escape the noose has ever come to me. Who can be more fortunate than me? These days, I feel very proud of myself. Now I await the final test with great eagerness. I pray that it should draw closer.
About the book:
Sporting a sharp handlebar moustache, his hat askew, Shaheed Bhagat Singh has been lionised in Indian imagination as one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Independence movement. Convicted and hanged by the British in 1931 for his role in killing a colonial police officer in the Lahore Conspiracy Case, he became a martyr at the young age of twenty-three, leaving behind an inspiring legacy. Tales of Bhagat Singh’s heroism and bravery are part of popular folklore, as it were – how he exploded bombs at the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi and showered leaflets on the legislators before surrendering himself to the authorities, or how he led Indian political prisoners in a hunger strike demanding better conditions in jail. The Bhagat Singh Reader brings into prominence his less widely known intellectual output. It presents in a single volume a collection of his writings and thoughts: from his letters, telegrams and notices to articles that chalk out his subversive and progressive ideas, and his mails from prison to the colonial administration and judiciary. His forty-three sketches of Indian freedom fighters throw light on the larger picture of the independence struggle. This is a book that reveals Bhagat Singh the man and the thinker, the Marxist and the idealist.
About the author:
Chaman Lal is professor (retired) and former chairperson of the Centre of Indian Languages at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is honorary advisor, Bhagat Singh Archives & Resource Centre, Delhi Archives, and fellow of Panjab University, Chandigarh.