Bhagat Singh: A Hero in Pakistan, Too

Remembering Shaheed Bhagat Singh on his birth anniversary

Updated
World
2 min read
Pakistani daily <i>Dawn</i> reports on how Bhagat Singh was remembered on the eve of his 84th death anniversary. This despite attempts to erase him from the country’s collective memory.
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(This article was originally published on 28 September 2016 and has been republished to mark Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary .)

Bhagat Singh was the angry young man of the Indian Freedom Struggle. We read about him in our school history books and three back-to-back movies were released in 2002.

<i>Rang De Basanti</i> (2006) was the only “Superhit” film on Bhagat Singh. It raked in
US$ 14 million and won the National Award for Best Popular Film. Ajay
Devgn-starrer <i>The Legend of Bhagat Singh</i> was a dud at the box office but bagged two National Awards. &nbsp;  <!--EndFragment-->
Rang De Basanti (2006) was the only “Superhit” film on Bhagat Singh. It raked in US$ 14 million and won the National Award for Best Popular Film. Ajay Devgn-starrer The Legend of Bhagat Singh was a dud at the box office but bagged two National Awards.  

Bhagat Singh was executed along with Sukhdev and Rajguru after they shot dead a British military officer John Saunders. The trio mistook Saunders to be JA Scott, a police officer who was believed to have struck Lala Lajpat Rai a fatal blow in October 1928.

(Photo Courtesy: <a href="http://twitter.com/talkwithmaddy">Twitter.com/TalkWithMaddy</a>)
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter.com/TalkWithMaddy)

Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary appeal transcends generations and borders, too. Pakistan daily Dawn reports how he was remembered on the eve of his death anniversary in an interactive dialogue held in Farid Town in the city of Sahiwal, where Punjabi is the primary spoken language.

Students, theatre volunteers and cultural activists were part of this session, where one young lady noted how Punjabi youth in Pakistan were not familiar with the legend of Bhagat Singh.

Our history books are silent on this subject and he was mostly dubbed as Sikh hero of India in our state-oriented syllabus.

–A participant to Dawn

A 24-year old student was quoted as having never heard of him

This is the first time I am being introduced to the great revolutionary and I feel that I have missed this important chapter of our history.

–Abdul Muqadam to Dawn

Pak civil rights activists and organisations like the Bhagat Singh Foundation, however, are doing their bit. Candle light vigils have been organised in the past. But proposals to rename Lahore’s Shadman Chowk have been opposed by several extremist groups including Jammat-ud-Dawa.

Bhagat Singh: A Hero in Pakistan, Too

What could further tilt Pakistan’s theological debate in favour of Bhagat Singh is the historical fact that its founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah in 1929 famously defended the freedom fighter, just days before he was hanged to death at 23.

(This story was first published on 23 March 2015. It is being reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary.)

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