On 23 March, 1931 in Lahore central Jail..
The three young revolutionaries were moved out of their cells to prepare them for the hanging. BHAGAT SINGH, SUKHDEV THAPAR and SHIVARAM RAJGURU locked arms and strode behind the sentries and broke into their favourite freedom song:
Kabhi woh din bhi ayega
Ke jab azad hum honge
Yeh apni hi zamin hogi
Yeh apna aasman hoga
Shahidon ki chitaon par
Lagenge har baar mele
Watan par marne walon ka
Yahi nam-o-nishan hoga.
(Someday that day will come when we are free/ This will be our land and our sky/ People will gather in the grounds where once/ martyr’s pyres were lit/ A tribute to all those who/ Gave their lives for their land.)
The three men were weighed – they all had gained weight -and asked to take their last bath. They were then dressed in black robes. Their faces were left uncovered. Jail warden Charat Singh whispered into Bhagat Singh’s ears to pray to Wahe Guru. Bhagat replied
‘All my life I have never prayed. As a matter of fact, I have many a times abused God for the miseries of the poor. If I were to ask now for His forgiveness, He will say, “Here is a coward who seeks forgiveness because his end has come”, declining with a smile.
Dusk fell as the prisoners waited to hear the sound of footsteps in the passage outside their cells. When the jail gong struck six they heard muffled voices in the distance accompanied by the thud of heavy boots and faint snatches of a familiar song, ‘SARFAROSHI KI TAMANNA AB HAMARE DIL ME HEIN…’ And then sounds of ‘INQUILAB ZINDABAD!’ and ‘HINDUSTAN AZAD HO!’ rent the air. The prisoners began to sing ‘MAI RANG DE MERA BASANTI CHOLA..’ (Mother prepare my clothes for martyrdom) and fervently shouted ‘LONG LIVE REVOLUTION’ and ‘DOWN WITH IMPERIALISM!’ their urgent voices resounding through the corridors of Lahore Central Jail.
The three men to be sentenced to death stood on separate wooden planks, with a deep ditch running below them. Bhagat Singh stood in the centre. He wanted to fulfil his mother's last wish and shout ‘LONG LIVE REVOLUTION’ from the scaffold.
The noose was tightened around the necks of the three young revolutionaries. Their hands and feet were tied. They kissed the rope that looped their necks. Then the hangman asked who would go first. Sukhdev said that he would. The hangman pulled the ropes one by one and kicked the rafters from under their feet.
The bodies remained hanging from the scaffold for a long time. Finally they were brought down and examined by a doctor. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were pronounced dead. One jail officer was so moved by the courage of the young revolutionaries that he refused the order to identify the dead. He was suspended on the spot. A junior officer did the job instead. Two British officers, one of them the superintendent of the jail, certified the deaths.
These are excerpts from the book “WITHOUT FEAR, THE LIFE AND TRIAL OF BHAGAT SINGH” written by renowned journalist and author – KULDIP NAYAR.
These three great martyrs of our land started their journey (Rajguru joined the duo in Hindustan Republican Association) together, fought together, faced conviction together and was hanged together. Camaraderie has a whole new meaning for these immortal souls.
Let me finish this one with the last words of Bhagat Singh to our countrymen in his letter to his brother Kultar written in a Urdu couplet, "Khush raho ahle watan hum to safar karte hain. (Goodbye, dear countrymen, we proceed on a journey.)