By Shamsul Islam / National Herald India
Today, March 23 is the 86th anniversary of the martyrdom of three great revolutionaries, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. They were hanged for the crime of trying to overthrow the alien British rule in India. The colonial rulers thought that with the physical elimination of these freedom fighters, their ideas and dreams of a democratic-secular and egalitarian independent India would also die. The British were patently wrong as these revolutionaries and their ideals continued to be an integral part of the Indian people’s collective memory.
On the anniversary of their martyrdom, while recalling that it was the British who hanged them, we should not overlook the fact that there were organisations like Hindu Mahasabha, RSS and Muslim League in pre-1947 India, which not only remained alien to the ideals of these revolutionaries but also maintained a criminal silence on their hanging.
Shockingly, RSS which claims to be the sole repository of Indian nationalism and patriotism, and which kept aloof consciously from the anti-colonial struggle, has lately been making all out efforts to own Bhagat Singh as its hero too. It displays his photos in its public meetings but also twists facts as per its polarising agenda. For instance, when Valentine’s Day is celebrated in India on February 14, it comes out every year with sensational messages on social media that this day should be mourned as black day instead as it was on this day that Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged. It shows not only disregard of facts but also farcical love for revolutionaries by the RSS. They were hanged on March 23, 1931.
There is ample proof available in the documents of the RSS that establish the reality that the RSS denounced movements led by revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekar Azad and their associates. Here is a passage from Bunch of Thoughts—collection of speeches and writings of second RSS sarsanghchalak MS Golwalkar— treated as a holy book by the RSS cadres—decrying the whole tradition of martyrs:
“There is no doubt that such men who embrace martyrdom are great heroes and their philosophy too is pre-eminently manly. They are far above the average men who meekly submit to fate and remain in fear and inaction. All the same, such persons are not held up as ideals in our society. We have not looked upon their martyrdom as the highest point of greatness to which men should aspire. For, after all, they failed in achieving their ideal, and failure implies some fatal flaw in them.”
Golwalkar goes on to tell the RSS cadres that only those people should be adored who have been successful in their lives. “It is obvious that those who were failures in life must have had some serious drawback in them. How can one, who is defeated, give light and lead others to success?”
Thus, according to Golwalkar’s philosophy of life, since Bhagat Singh and his companions did not succeed in achieving their goal, they did not deserve any respect too. According to his formula the British rulers would be the natural object of worship as they won and were able to kill revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh. It is difficult to find a statement more insulting and denigrating to the martyrs of the Indian freedom movement than this.
It will be shocking for any Indian who loves and respects these martyrs of the freedom movement to know what RSS and its founder Dr KB Hedgewar felt about them. According to Hedgewar’s biography published by the RSS, “Patriotism is not only going to prison. It is not correct to be carried away by such superficial patriotism. He used to urge that while remaining prepared to die for the country when the time came, it is very necessary to have a desire to live while organising for the freedom of the country.”
What Golwalkar thought of the people sacrificing their lot for the country is obvious from the following statement as well. He had the temerity to ask the great revolutionaries who wished to lay down their lives for the freedom of the motherland the following question as if he was representing the British masters:
“But one should think whether complete national interest is accomplished by that? Sacrifice does not lead to increase in the thinking of the society of giving all for the interest of the nation. It is borne by the experience up to now that this fire in the heart is unbearable to the common people.”
Perhaps this was the reason that RSS produced no freedom fighter, let alone a martyr, against the colonial rule. Unfortunately, there is not a single line challenging, exposing, criticising or confronting the inhuman rule of the British masters in the entire literature of the RSS from 1925 to 1947. It seems it had only one task to accomplish and that was to fracture the united freedom struggle of the people of India. The democratic-secular India must challenge this evil appropriation of its heroes by the Hindutva gang. We should not allow this communal gang to kill Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev once again.
This article first appeared in nationalheraldindia.com