Bhagat Singh's life is one of the supreme ironies of history. He did not believe in the cult of the bomb and the pistol. Yet he was arrested for throwing a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly. And he was hanged in 1931 for killing a police officer with a pistol.
He lived at a time when the cry for freedom was tearing India apart. Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab ho mare dil mein hai—the song that Bhagat Singh and his comrades sang during their trial—gave a voice to the burning desire for freedom in the hearts of all Indians.
Bhagat Singh was a true revolutionary. He was the first to raise the slogan, Inquilab Zindabad which later became the war cry of the struggle for India's independence. To the altar of revolution he brought his youth as incense. He died so that India might live.
He was only 23 when he was hanged. By that time, he had already become a legend. He died as he lived—without any fear. As he himself said, he was "trying to stand like a man with an erect head to the last, even on the gallows."
Many great revolutionaries have now become mere names in history books. But Bhagat Singh still remains a living part of national memory, 70 years after he was hanged.
Kuldip Nayar takes a close look at the man behind the martyr: his heroism and humanity, his dreams and despair.
The Martyr has a lot of exclusive material. It explains, for the first time, why Hans Raj Vohra betrayed Bhagat Singh and his comrades. It also throws new light on Sukhdev who was hanged along with Bhagat Singh.
Kuldip Nayar is among the top political journalists and columnists in the country and has been at the hub of things for over four decades. He has served as India's High Commissioner in London. He is now a member of the Rajya Sabha.
He has been press officer to Govind Ballabh Pant and Lai Bahadur Shastri; Editor and Manager of United News of India (UNI); Resident Editor of The Statesman, New Delhi; The Indian Express. Chandigarh; and Chief of the Express News Service.
Kuldip Nayar has also written a large number of political bestsellers. His books include: Between the Lines. India After Nehru. India: The Critical Years. Distant Neighbours: A Tale of the Subcontinent. The Judgment. In Jail, Report on Afghanistan and India House.
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