Bhagat Singh’s proper description is as a revolutionary and anti-imperialist, Farooq Tariq, a member of the Labour Party Pakistan, said on Friday.
Tariq was speaking to a gathering of some 100 people in connection with the 105th birth anniversary celebrations of Bhagat Singh at Diyal Singh Mansion. The celebrations had been organised by Bhagat Singh Memorial Society Pakistan and included a documentary screening, speeches on his life and ideology, and cutting of a cake at Shadman Chowk, the place where Bhagat Singh was hanged on March 23, 1930.
Tariq said some people in India spoke of him as a nationalist or Sikh leader but his struggle was against those who usurp the rights of the peasants and workers. Tariq announced that they would collect donations and build a Bhagat Singh Museum at his ancestral village.
Tariq said it was sad that a group of 32 guests from India including writers, intellectuals, social activists and Singh’s nephew did not get visas in time for the birthday celebrations. “They applied for the visa a month ago. Intelligence agencies personnel from kept asking us about them. We provided them their profiles but to no avail,” Tariq said. “It is sad since it was mostly people who oppose fanatics in India and the occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by India,” Tariq added.
Iqbal Virk, who has possession of Singh’s house and lives in Banga village Jaranwala, ancestral village of Bhagat Singh, was invited as special guest.
Virk said the primary school where legendary Bhagat Singh received his early education was in a dilapidated condition and his class room has just three walls standing.
He said the ground where Bhagat Singh used to play as child has turned into a sewage pond but the people of the village still took pride in Singh’s role for independence.
Playwright Shahid Nadeem said, “The story of Bhagat Singh still continues. Nawab Ahmad Khan, the magistrate who signed the death warrant of Bhagat Singh, was from Kasur. The family expelled Bulleh Shah from Kasur. Nawab Ahmad Khan was killed at the place where Bhagat Singh was hanged. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then prime minister, was awarded a death sentence in the same case.”
Farooq Qaiser, the author of several Punjabi books, said it was wrong to present Bhagat Singh as a “peace commodity.” He said he could not be compared to the Taliban either. “The Taliban took up arms to kill innocent people. Singh did not kill a single innocent person. He threw crackers in the assembly to make the deaf hear,” he said.
Performers from Ajoka Theatre sang folks songs about Singh’s ideology and life between the speeches.
Later, a cake cutting ceremony was arranged at Shadman Chowk. Those gathered to mark his birthday called it Bhagat Singh Chowk.
A message from Indian guests who could not attend the event was read before the audience who termed the celebrations “historic…since Lahore had been the scene of Singh’s struggle.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2012.