Shaheed Diwas or Martyrs’ Day is observed in India on 23rd March every year to pay homage to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the country.
The day marks the anniversary of the execution of three Indian freedom fighters- Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru in 1931.
How is Shaheed Diwas observed?
On this day, people in India observe a two-minute silence to remember the sacrifice of the three freedom fighters and all the other martyrs who laid down their lives for the nation.
The President, the Vice-President, and the Prime Minister of India pay tribute to these martyrs at their respective memorials in Delhi.
Why were the freedom fighters hanged ?
Following the assassination of Lala Lajpat Rai in November 1928, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, and others promised vengeance. Rai was a significant leader in India's liberation struggle, inspiring many young Indians to join the fight for independence.
In order to teach the Britishers a lesson, the three freedom fighters planned to execute James A Scott. Scott was the Superintendent of Police during British rule and was infamous for his cruelty.
The three freedom fighters intended to execute James A Scott in order to teach the British a lesson. During British rule, Scott was the Superintendent of Police and was notorious for his cruelty.
Scott had ordered the police to lathi-charge protesters and had personally assaulted Rai, causing life-threatening injuries. The plan was to send a message to the British forces that Indians will not back down.
However, it was John P Saunders, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, who was killed by mistake. The three freedom fighters were charged and subsequently hanged for the murder of Saunders.
Bhagat Singh's popularity rivalled that of Mahatma Gandhi
The executions were reported widely by the press, especially as they took place on the eve of the annual convention of the Congress party in Karachi.
Four years after Singh's hanging, the Director of the Intelligence Bureau, Sir Horace Williamson, wrote: "His photograph was on sale in every city and township and for a time rivalled in popularity even that of Mr Gandhi himself".
The three martyrs' contribution to the freedom struggle has continued to inspire generations to fight for their rights.
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