23rd March 2021 marks the Shaheed Diwas or Martyrs’ Day every year in India. This day is to celebrate the lives of all those bravehearts who laid down their lives for the service of our country and freedom. The day is observed twice, once on January 30 and another time on March 23.
While on January 30, Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, on March 23, Bravehearts Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru, and Sukhdev Thapar were hanged to death by the British.
History and Significance of Shaheed Diwas
Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev were heroes for people back then and now also. The trio was sentenced to death in the Lahore conspiracy case and ordered to be hanged on 24 March 1931.
Bhagat was a prominent member of the Hindustan Republican Association (HSRA). The HSRA vowed to avenge Lala Lajpat Rai’s death who was protesting against the Simon Commision in Lahore. The superintendent of police, James A. Scott, ordered the police to lathi charge the protesters and personally assaulted Rai, who was injured. Rai died of a heart attack on 17 November 1928.
Singh then conspired with revolutionaries like Shivaram Rajguru, Sukhdev Thapar, and Chandrashekhar Azad to kill Scott. However, in a case of mistaken identity, the plotters shot John P. Saunders, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, as he was leaving the District Police Headquarters in Lahore on 17 December 1928.
On 7 October 1930, the special tribunal delivered its 300-page judgment based on all the evidence and concluded that the participation of Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru in Saunder’s murder was proven. They were sentenced to death by hanging.
Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev were first ordered to hang on 24th March 1931
Notably, the trio was ordered to be hanged on 24th March but the schedule was moved forward by 11 hours, and the three were hanged on 23 March 1931 at 7:30 pm in the Lahore jail. It is reported that no magistrate at the time was willing to supervise Singh’s hanging as was required by law. The execution was supervised instead by an honorary judge, who also signed the three death warrants, as their original warrants had expired.
The jail authorities then broke a hole in the rear wall of the jail, removed the bodies, and secretly cremated the three men under cover of darkness outside Ganda Singh Wala village, and then threw the ashes into the Sutlej river, about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) from Ferozepore.