Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh, (born September 27, 1907, Lyallpur, western Punjab, India [now in Pakistan —died March 23, 1931, Lahore [now in Pakistan]), revolutionary hero of the Indian independence movement.

 Bhagat Singh attended Dayanand Anglo Vedic High School, which was operated by Arya Samaj (a reform sect of modern Hinduism), and then National College, both located in Lahore. He began to protest British rule in India while still a youth and soon fought for national independence.

 He also worked as a writer and editor in Amritsar for Punjabi- and Urdu-language newspapers espousing Marxist theories. He is credited with popularizing the catchphrase “Inquilab zindabad” (“Long live the revolution”). In 1928 Bhagat Singh plotted with others to kill the police chief responsible for the death of Indian writer and politician Lala Lajpat Rai, one of the founders of National College, during a silent march opposing the Simon Commission. Instead, in a case of mistaken identity, junior officer J.P. Saunders was killed, and Bhagat Singh had to flee Lahore to escape the death penalty.

 In 1929 he and an associate lobbed a bomb at the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi to protest the implementation of the Defence of India Act and then surrendered. He was hanged at the age of 24 for the murder of Saunders.

Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi , in full Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi, née Nehru, (born November 19, 1917, Allahabad, India —died October 31, 1984, New Delhi ), Indian politician who was the first female prime minister of India, serving for three consecutive terms (1966–77) and a fourth term from 1980 until she was assassinated in 1984.

Early Life And Rise To Prominence

Indira Nehru was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, who was one of the chief figures in India’s struggle to achieve independence
from Britain, was a top leader of the powerful and long-dominant Indian National Congress (Congress Party), and was the first prime
minister (1947–64) of independent India. Her grandfather Motilal Nehru was one of the pioneers of the independence movement
and was a close associate of Mohandas (“Mahatma”) Gandhi. She attended, for one year each, Visva-Bharati University
in Shantiniketan (now in Bolpur, West Bengal state) and then the University of Oxford in England. She joined the Congress Party in
In 1942 she married Feroze Gandhi (died 1960), a fellow member of the party. The couple had two children, Sanjay and Rajiv.
However, the two parents were estranged from each other for much of their marriage. Indira’s mother had died in the mid-1930s,
and thereafter she often acted as her father’s hostess for events and accompanied him on his travels.
The Congress Party came to power when her father took office in 1947, and Gandhi became a member of its working committee in
1955. In 1959 she was elected to the largely honorary post of party president. She was made a member of the Rajya Sabha (upper
chamber of the Indian parliament) in 1964, and that year Lal Bahadur Shastri—who had succeeded Nehru as prime minister—
named her minister of information and broadcasting in his government.

First Period As Prime Minister-

On Shastri’s sudden death in January 1966, Gandhi was named leader of the Congress Party—and thus also became prime minister— in a compromise between the party’s right and left wings. Her leadership, however, came under continual challenge from the right wing of the
party, led by former minister of finance Morarji Desai. She won a seat in the 1967 elections to the Lok Sabha (lower chamber of the Indian parliament), but the Congress Party managed to win only a slim majority of seats, and Gandhi had to accept Desai as deputy prime minister. Tensions grew within the party, however, and in 1969 she was expelled from it by Desai and other members of the old guard. Undaunted, Gandhi, joined by a majority of party members, formed a new faction around her called the “New” Congress Party. In the 1971 Lok Sabha elections the New Congress group won a sweeping electoral victory over a coalition of conservative parties. Gandhi strongly supported East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in its secessionist conflict with Pakistan in late 1971, and India’s armed forces achieved a swift and decisive victory over Pakistan that led to the creation of Bangladesh. She became the first government leader to recognize the new country. 

In March 1972, buoyed by the country’s success against Pakistan, Gandhi again led her New Congress Party group to landslide victories in a large number of elections to state legislative assemblies. Shortly afterward, however, her defeated Socialist Party opponent from the 1971 national election charged that she had violated the election laws in that contest. In June 1975 the High Court of Allahabad ruled against her, which meant that she would be deprived of her seat in the parliament and would be required to stay

out of politics for six years. She appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court but did not receive a satisfactory response. Taking matters
into her own hands, she declared a state of emergency throughout India, imprisoned her political opponents, and
assumed emergency powers. Many new laws were enacted that limited personal freedoms. During that period she
also implemented several unpopular policies, including large-scale sterilization as a form of birth control.

Fall From Power And Return To Office –

Public opposition to Gandhi’s two years of emergency rule was vehement and widespread, and after it ended in early 1977, the
released political rivals were determined to oust her and the New Congress Party from power. When long-postponed national
parliamentary elections were held later in 1977, she and her party were soundly defeated, whereupon she left office. The Janata
Party (precursor to the Bharatiya Janata Party) took over the reins of government, with newly recruited member Desai as prime
In early 1978 Gandhi and her supporters completed the split from the Congress Party by forming the Congress (I) Party—the “I”
signifying Indira. She was briefly imprisoned (October 1977 and December 1978) on charges of official corruption. Despite those
setbacks, she won a new seat in the Lok Sabha in November 1978, and her Congress (I) Party began to gather strength. Dissension
within the ruling Janata Party led to the fall of its government in August 1979. When new elections for the Lok Sabha were held in
January 1980, Gandhi and Congress (I) were swept back into power in a landslide victory. Her son Sanjay, who had become her chief
political adviser, also won a seat in the Lok Sabha. All legal cases against Indira, as well as against Sanjay, were withdrawn.
Sanjay Gandhi’s death in an airplane crash in June 1980 eliminated Indira’s chosen successor from the political leadership of India.
After Sanjay’s death, Indira groomed her other son, Rajiv, for the leadership of her party. She adhered to the quasi-socialist policies of
industrial development that had been begun by her father. She established closer relations with the Soviet Union, depending on that
country for support in India’s long-standing conflict with Pakistan.

During the early 1980s Indira Gandhi was faced with threats to the political integrity of India. Several states sought a larger measure
of independence from the central government, and Sikh separatists in Punjab state used violence to assert their demands for
an autonomous state. In 1982 a large number of Sikhs, led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, occupied and fortified the Harmandir
Sahib (Golden Temple) complex at Amritsar, the Sikhs’ holiest shrine. Tensions between the government and the Sikhs escalated, and
in June 1984 Gandhi ordered the Indian army to attack and oust the separatists from the complex. Some buildings in the shrine were
badly damaged in the fighting, and at least 450 Sikhs were killed (Sikh estimates of the death toll were considerably higher). Five
months later Gandhi was killed in her garden in New Delhi in a fusillade of bullets fired by two of her own Sikh bodyguards in
revenge for the attack in Amritsar. She was succeeded as prime minister by her son Rajiv, who served until 1989.

Khudiram Bose

Khudiram Bose (December 3, 1889 – August 11, 1908) was one of the youngest martyrs in India’s struggle for Independence. He along with Prafulla Chaki plotted the assassination of British Magistrate Kingsford. He was later arrested and put to death.

At the time of Khudiram Bose’s hanging, only two Bengalis were present. One of them was Upendranath Sen and the other was Kshetranath Bandyopadhyay. Upendranath Sen was then the correspondent for a local Bengali newspaper. I recently came across a short piece in Bengali which was written by the reporter then. Here is a translated version of the same. In Muzaffarpur, we had a small community of lawyers who used to catch up every Saturday and casually discuss a variety of issues.

On 1st May, we heard police has arrested a Bengali student in a small station called Pusa, around 24 miles from Muzaffarpur. And that the student has been taken straight to the Englishman’s clubhouse where District Magistrate Mr Woodman is noting down his confession. Next day Mr Woodman asked for all Bengali lawyers to his court. When we reached the courtroom we found a Bengali lad of 15/16 years with a bright lighted up face smiling mildly at us. From Mr Woodman’s description, we understood that the boy’s name was Khudiram Bose from Midnapore. The magistrate’s face was visibly agitated as he read out what this young chap has done. We decided to present Khudiram’s case under the leadership of Kalidas Basu. On the appointed in a packed courtroom after hearing the disposition of 3 or 4 witnesses and some cross-questioning, death sentence was awarded to Khudiram.

Upon hearing the verdict Khudiram asked for a pencil and paper to draw how the bomb looked like, as he thought few present in the courtroom had a clear idea of what that object was, but that request wasn’t granted. Rather being disinterested, he nudged the constable guarding him to take him out of the courtroom. We then appealed to high court to explore a remote chance if the death sentence could be changed to a life sentence. Initially, Khudiram was not much interested as he felt it is much better to die rather than being imprisoned for life. But after some persuasion by Kalidas Babu, he agreed. In the high court, Narendranath Basu made a passionate appeal but to no effect. 11th August was the date finalized for carrying out the sentencing. We forwarded an application to be present on the day. Mr Woodman ordered only 2 Bengalis could be present; I and Kshetranath Bandyopadhyay got the permission. I was then the reporter for a local Bengali newspaper. 12 individuals were permitted inside to carry off the body and 12 additional individuals could follow the procession which needed to follow a predefined path to the cremation. The time was fixed at 6 AM. I packed the car with the cot and other necessary items needed for the ‘final journey’ and reached the jail main gate at 5 AM. On the way noticed that the roads leading to the jail were full of local people.

Upon entering the premises through the second iron facade noticed that the stage has been set up on a platform to the right. After a few moments, saw Khudiram entering the premises accompanied by guards; rather he was leading them. He briefly looked at me and smiled. On the stage, his hands were tied to the back. A green cap was pulled down his and the knot was firmly tied around his neck. While all this was going on Khudiram was standing still and erect, without ever moving from his position.
Mr Woodman waved his handkerchief upon checking the watch. A guard pulled the handle and Khudiram disappeared below the wooden pedestal. The rope above quivered for a few seconds and then everything was still. We proceeded for cremation following the path as previously designated by authorities. Both sides of the road were guarded by police beyond whom thousands of common men and women had assembled to pay their last respects.

Flowers were showered from either side. While preparing the lifeless body for cremation, noticed that the head has been disjointed from the spine. My heart became overwhelmed in agony and pain upon observing this. Friends arranged Khudiram on the pyre covered with flowers; only the bright face remained exposed. It didn’t take much time for the body to be reduced to ashes. While putting down the fire with water few of the embers hit me but the mental pain was too excruciating to have felt that physical pain. We went to take bath in the river and the police went away. We tried to lessen the burden on our heavy hearts by chanting Vande Mataram. And came back home with a tin container filled with the holy ashes for Kalidas Babu, which was subsequently lost amid all the destruction of the earthquake.’ It isn’t easy to sacrifice one’s youth and well-being for the greater well-being of the country and society. It isn’t easy to be Khudiram.

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