On March 23, 1931, the British hanged Bhagat Singh, but in 2019, his thoughts are being killed, feels the martyr's nephew Major General (Retd) Sheonan Singh.
Son of Ranbir Singh, Bhagat Singh's younger brother, the Army veteran was speaking on the 88th martyrdom day of the freedom fighter at Delhi Archives on Saturday.
"He wanted people to read about his thoughts that he had put to words. Bhagat Singh will be happy even if one person can make his own opinion, if some original thinker, who can speak his mind, is born. Those who make their views by watching television and following social media are not the original thinkers," he said.
His another nephew Abhay Sandhu, who was also present, echoed: "We are not even thinking about his ideologies. Bhagat Singh wanted an equal society with little difference between rich and poor, but after 71 years of independence, the gap is increasing. His fight was not against the British, but the system that is still continuing like the Indian Penal Code made in 1860. Young India should come forward to change the system."
Giving an example, Major General (Retd) Singh said capitalists are there in the US, China, Russia and India. "In a democracy like India, capitalists control the country, while in communism, the state controls the capitalists. I'm not saying that we should be communists, but we should understand that the democracy is doling out our interests to the capitalists. So do we need to give democracy a rethink? If so, are we doing so? If we are, what are the conclusions we have reached. We should not follow any system blindly. We, as a nation, need to consider, what is happening to the democracy…is religion deciding the political meaning," he asked, adding questioning doesn't make one anti-national.
"Patriotism and revolution are not ornaments that you wear. Revolution is to bring change by accommodating more people. Revolution is not forcing anyone to keep beard or go to mosque or build Ram temple, it is to bring in a thought that most people agree to and try to bring a change in the system that doesn't work. Patriotism is not patting one's own back."
He went on to say that in 1920, Bhagat Singh had written that it was shameful that in the 20th century "we are talking about religion, caste, creed and complexion of a person". "But even after 100 years, … today the scenario is that we are encouraging these things all the more. It's sad that after around a century of his death the situation is worse".
He said religion and politics are not same. "If you mix religion with politics, the country will not move ahead. Why can't we try to leave religion aside for some time? My faith is private affair. Why should I force my beliefs on others," he said.
Asked about Kashmir issue, the Army veteran said it was part of India. "Problem is Pakistan. If you want to solve Kashmir, solve the problem of Pakistan. We want Kashmir to be part of us, how can we hate Kashmiris? They are not fighting. In 1948, Kashmiris supported us. It's the British legacy of pide and rule across the country. Unless this pision is stopped, the problem will not be solved. Why Kashmiris are being beaten up? We want them to stay here, but we beat them up. I spent 12 years in Kashmir. They want peace and development, but there is no infrastructure. Can't we think about their well-being."