Shivraam Raajguru ! Sukhdev Thaapar ! Sardaar Bhagat Singh ! Three names which stirred the entire nation when the three youths bearing these names climbed the gallows with smiles on their lips on 23rd March, 1931. Their sacrifice for the motherland created a storm, the storm of patriotism in the hearts of millions of Indians who got ready to tie cerements on their foreheads and come out of their homes fearlessly to join the struggle for independence from the colonial rule.
All three – Raajguru, Sukhdev and Bhagat Singh were barely 23-24 years old but their level of maturity was above that of several ones much older to them in age. They had a clear agenda before their eyes, a clear vision for the future of the nation and a very strong will not to care for own life when striving for a noble cause, a great goal.
And in the dark hours of the fateful night that had come exactly 85 years ago, these daredevils embraced death when the British government executed them, brushing aside its own rules and laws. But every drop of their blood gave birth to thousands like them and the day came after 16 years when their motherland became free from the shackles of slavery.
Decades passed. Old generations walked into sunset and got replaced by new ones. Jitendra Mathur who was born after almost four decades of their sacrifice, read about them in the books and kept on trying to visualize those great youths filled with the passion to do something worthwhile for the nation, to sacrifice everything for Mother India. As I grew up, I discussed about them (and other patriots like them) with my buddies and elders. And the bitter truth that became known to me that most of the people did not give a damn for these martyrs or their sacrifice. The freedom that was gained through the toil, perspiration and blood of the patriots had been taken for granted by those who were born in free India.
In my school and college days and during my C.A. course (done from Kolkata), whenever I talked anything about the martyrs, the only outcome was the mockery of myself by the listeners. I was termed as ‘impractical’, ‘idiot’ and even ‘lunatic’. Years later, the same thing was shown in a Hindi movie – Rang De Basanti (2006).
On 23.03.2007, when the World Cup Cricket tournament was in progress in the West Indies, India lost her final league match to Sri Lanka and got ousted from the tournament. I found the mourning of that loss on almost all the TV channels and that mourning went on for hours and hours. During that lamentation for losing a Cricket match, no TV channel bothered to remember the martyrs who had laid down their lives for the country 76 years ago. Cricket was in everybody’s mind, the great sons of the motherland were forgotten.
The things are still almost the same and regretfully, advancing more and more in the wrong direction. Vested interest and luxuries of life are getting precedence over everything else including the patriotic sentiment. I am pained to see that to a lot of youths, not only the patriotism but the whole history of the Indian freedom struggle appears as FAALTU (useless). ‘Those died in the hands of British. So what ! How’s that important for me ? Why should I know all this ? What will I gain out of knowing about them, their deeds and their period ?’ This is exactly the approach visible (at least to me). Moral values have taken a back seat. Character-building has become outdated. Patriotism is lost somewhere in the ocean of life.
A few years ago, Sheila R., a US based Indian, wrote a blog – ‘Take me back through your time machine!’ through which she asked the readers – ‘If you could travel anywhere in time, where would you go and why ?’. I replied that I I would like to go back to the pre-independence period in India (1920s-1930s) and get associated with the great leaders like Gandhi, Subhash and Bhagat Singh because of my will to live in the period when patriotism and moral values were the order of the day. If only any such time machine were there, taking me to that era when the fragrance of patriotism filled the air !
On this 86th martyrdom day of those bravehearts, I ask my fellow countrymen just one thing -‘They were so great that they could sacrifice their lives for the motherland without any hitch. Are we so mean that we can’t even remember them and feel grateful to them ?’
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