Question – Describe the working profile of the revolutionary movement in the Indian freedom struggle during the 1920s and 1930s with special emphasis on the contribution of Bhagat Singh. – 10 November 2021
Answer – Due to the sudden withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement in the year 1922, misconceptions arose among the people and at the same time questions were raised on the principle of national leadership. As a result, people were moved to other alternatives and thus the revolutionary or extremist ideology was strengthened.
The revolutionary movement is referred to by several important events, such as:
- The Hindustan Republican Association/Army or HRA was formed (1924) by Ramprasad Bismil, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee and Shachindranath Sanyal. Its aim was to start an armed revolution to overthrow the colonial rule.
- Kakori Dacoity Case (1925): The train was robbed to finance the activities of HRA. Many revolutionaries were arrested on this charge and Ramprasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri were hanged.
- Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA), 1928: After the failure of Kakori incident, HSRA was established under the leadership of Chandra Shekhar Azad.
- Chittagong Armory Raid (1930): Surya Sen was attacked in Bengal along with his associates for destroying telephone and telegraph lines and capturing two armories to provide arms to the revolutionaries. In 1934 Surya Sen was arrested and hanged. Under the leadership of Surya Sen, there was wide participation of women like Kalpana Dutt, Pritilata Vedar etc.
Contribution of Bhagat Singh
- He was instrumental in the formation of HSRA and Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha, set up for revolutionary activities.
- Bhagat Singh believed in Marxism, and said that revolution meant the development and organization of a mass movement by revolutionary intellectuals for the interests of the oppressed and oppressed sections of the society. Thus he broadened the meaning and understanding of revolution. Revolution no longer meant only violence. Its first objective was to overthrow imperialism and develop a new socialist social order in which there was no exploitation of the individual by the individual.
He along with Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly in 1929 not to harm anyone but to make people aware of the changed objectives and the need for collective action.
He was against racial discrimination and went on hunger strike along with his prisoner comrades to protest the discriminatory treatment between white and local prisoners. He also demanded that the prisoners be treated like ‘political prisoners’. The prisoners sitting on hunger strike got the support of the whole country and Bhagat Singh became a very popular figure.
He was a completely secular person and considered communalism as the biggest enemy like colonialism. In his essay – ‘Why I am an atheist’, he stressed upon people to be free from the mental bondage of religion and superstition.
Bhagat Singh was hanged along with Rajguru and Sukhdev on 23 March 1931. But despite being martyred at such a young age, he left an indelible mark on the political philosophy of the Indian national movement. Additionally, in the early 1930s, the revolutionary movement weakened; However, it made an extremely important contribution to the freedom struggle. The patriotism, indomitable courage and sacrifice of the revolutionaries aroused the sentiments of the people and helped in the spread of national consciousness.