Singing in the face of death


After the events of November 1928, when Lala Lajpat Rai died due to serious injuries at the hands of British policemen when leading a non violent protest against the Simon Commission, the British Police Force in Punjab anticipated reasonably serious repercussions, especially given the fact that the group of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru and Chandrashekar Azad had openly proclaimed that they would extract revenge from Scott, the Sr Superintendent of Police, Lahore division.

And as declared, when Bhagat Singh and Rajguru took up the responsibility of killing Scott, the plan misfired to the extent that instead of Scott, they killed Saunders, the Asst Superintendent of Police. Additionally, while they anticipated the police to engage with them in a gun battle, only one constable chased them and was killed in the process.

After successfully eluding police efforts to capture him, Bhagat Singh alongwith Batukeshwar Dutt managed to get into the Central Legislative Assembly and throw two bombs and leaflets in the assembly hall. They then surrendered peacefully to the police as a mark of peaceful protest against the actions of the British Govt with regard to the Simon Commission and the killing of Lala Lajpat Rai.

The fearlessness of the duo managed to stoke patriotic fervor within the whole of the subcontinent. Their legendary status was further compounded by the fact that they undertook a 116 day fast when in prison demanding for equal rights and fair treatment to all prisoners irrespective of their crimes or political leanings.

The police in the meantime had gathered sufficient evidence against them and the trial at the Special Tribunal resulted in the death penalty for them. At the tender age of 23, Bhagat Singh was going to give up his life in the service of the nation, in the pursuit of that ever elusive freedom from British clutches. This was the stuff that legends were made of.

When in jail, the duo took it upon themselves to improve the lot of all the prisoners. They demanded for books and writing material so that any prisoner who was interested in literary pursuits could be satisified. Even under extreme duress, they did not succumb to the blatant injustice meted out to the prisoners. When they were beaten up by the wardens, they just resorted to loudly singing patriotic songs. Popular legend has that the poem of “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” was penned by Ram Prasad Bismil during his stay in jail.  The British jail authorities were completely lost as to how to bring this group under their control.

And finally on 23 March, 1931, when it was time for the group to face the gallows, the extreme serenity on Bhagat Singh’s face and the fact that he greeted the hangman’s noose singing the poem “Sarfaroshi ki tamanna” made the policemen and judge who were present there, a little uncomfortable.

Such was the aura of Bhagat Singh…


While this story is based on true incidents which occurred in India between 1927 and 1930, the same has been embellished with a reasonable amount of fiction. Any mistakes thereof are unintentional and should be forgiven.


This post is written as part of a Writing Prompt by Three Word Wednesday where the post had to compulsorily include the words – anticipation, fearless, serene and therefore these words have been specifically highlighted.


Image courtesy:

11 thoughts on “Singing in the face of death

  1. wow I am not familiar with this history living in Canada. We have studied British, Canadian and American History, but most of the twenties and thirties history we studied was focused on North America, except for the origins and the start of the second world war. I have some history to look up now.

      • @Sheilagh, first of all welcome to the blog and if you read more of some of the stories that I have written you will notice quite a few ones where I have mixed fiction with historical facts, more so, around facts surrounding the Indian Independence struggle. Read and enjoy…

    • @Kalpana, that’s good, then you would have surely enjoyed the stories with Indian history as the background

  2. People who studied in India would have definitely read a Chapter on Bhagat Singh in their Hindi texts, apart from History of course. To think of the sheer courage and perseverance with which they lead the nation, is just mind blowing.

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