Bhagat Singh has been celebrated with a group from the Indian Workers’ Association and the Asian Rationalist Society (Britain) performing a play about his life and achievements. I went to The Drum in Aston to see a film followed by a talk and discussion in which Bhagat Singh’s nephew and nearset living relative, Professor Jagmohan Singh spoke.
I had the privilege of meeting Professor Singh a few day earlier. He clearly embraces Bhagat Singh’s life as a freedom fighter against the injustices of a brutal, oppressive colonial power, and his socialist convictions. The film was very much in the Bollywood tradition with the cast breaking into song and dance routines. Even as Bhagat and his two colleagues approached the gallows we were treated to heroic music and lyrics. Still it communicated a story unknown to many. It was a story which to me transcended a place and time when governments continue imperialist practices and place market forces before equality. Jagmoham Singh was dissatisfied with the presentation however emphassing the omission of important facts. Where were the Muslim freedom fighters who supported Bhagat Singh? This is an important point at a time when among the Indian community stories of enforced conversions to Islam are rife when there are many instances where people form different faiths stood shoulder to shoulder. There are further examples coming from the events of 1857 which are also being celebrated on the 150th anniversary.
Professor Singh told me about the association of Bhagat Singh with Lahore and of the connection with Charles Bradlaugh MP who worked closely with Annie Besant and were supporters of India’s freedom struggles. There is a Charles Bradlaugh Hall in Lahore today. There is clearly much to more to research here and I was very glad to have learned a little of this man’s life and work.