March 23, each year, is observed as ‘Martyrs’ Day’ in remembrance of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.
On March 23, 1931, freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar were hanged to death by the British government at the Lahore Jail. This day is observed as ‘Martyrs’ Day’ across India to remember the martyrdom of revolutionaries for the cause of Indian independence.
Their fight to freedom started when national leader Lala Lajpat Rai died of a heart attack in November 1928 after he was lathi-charged on the orders of the Superintendent of Police James A. Scott, Bhagat Singh and his associates then took a vow to avenge his death. While Singh and Rajguru shot an Assistant Superintendent of Police of Lahore, John Saunders, it was a case of mistaken identity.
Singh and Rajguru fled, but Chandrashekhar Azad ended up firing at the police constable Chanan Singh who was pursuing them. The young revolutionaries, who were part of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, were on a run for long and believed that only an armed revolution could bring freedom from colonial rule.
In April 1929, Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw two bombs in the Central Legislative Assembly in order to protest an unjust bill, and even shouted ‘Inquilab Zindabad’. They were given life imprisonment, and other freedom fighters, including Rajguru were arrested from a bomb factory at Lahore. The police linked them to the Saunders murder case, and charged Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and others in this case.
Once they reached jail, they started a hunger strike demanding themselves to be considered political prisoners. They even got a lot of support and sympathy from the public, and several political leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru, met them. Although Singh finally ended his fast after 116 days, he along with Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death, which was widely protested by various people. National leaders requested the government to reduce the sentence to life imprisonment, but they were ordered to be hanged on 24 March 1931.
However, their execution was carried out a day earlier at the Lahore Jail, and the cremation of their mortal remains were kept a secret. The three young men were true martyrs and made the ultimate sacrifice for the motherland’s cause.