Bhagat Singh made a grand reentry into the Indian Parliament this morning. Almost 80 years after he dropped the bomb in the Central Assembly Hall to “make the deaf hear,” the martyr came home to a warm and well-deserved welcome.
Heartening it was to see that he looked tall and turbaned, and every inch himself. The visit was, however, different from his last when, on April 8, 1929, he stormed Parliament to accomplish a revolutionary mission. At that time, he was sporting a hat to conceal his identity.
But today when President Pratibha Patil unveiled Bhagat Singh’s statue in courtyard number 5, his appearance was in consistence with his cultural identity. The turban and the smile were both in place.
Completing the picture were Bhagat’s family members, who were special invitees to the historic occasion that witnessed salutations from country’s top brass, including Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and leader of the opposition L.K. Advani, among others.
The CPM was, however, conspicuous by its absence on the day that many thought should have arrived sometime sooner. “This, for us, is a historic moment that marks grand repetition of history after 80 years when Bhagat Singh first entered Parliament. We would have loved to see this day arrive earlier than 61 years of freedom. But that does not take away from it the happiness we feel. We were, however, hoping to see CPM MPs around. They were part of the movement that ensured Bhagat Singh his rightful place in the Parliament,” said Kiranjit Singh, son of Bhagat’s brother Kultar Singh.
Also present were martyr’s nephews Abhay Sandhu and Zorawar Singh and his niece Verinder Sandhu, who has recently chronicled Bhagat’s life in her book, “Yugdrishta Bhagat Singh aur unke Mrityunjaya Purkhe.” “This day is precious for the nation,” Verinder told The Tribune, especially thanking sports minister M.S. Gill for the installation of the statue.
It was Gill who initiated the proposal one-and-a-half years ago to mark Bhagat Singh’s birth centenary. Gill also fought to ensure that the statue sported a turban and not a hat, which Bhagat wore only twice in life and both times to hide identity. “Today I feel seven feet tall. For me, this is much more than winning an Olympic gold. Bhagat Singh is special to the youth of India, and he lives in each one of our hearts,” Gill said.
The only man who did little talking today was Ram Sutar, the creator of 18-foot bronze statue of Bhagat Singh. As the sculptor behind the gigantic Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament complex and the Ranjit Singh statue in Amritsar’s Ram Bagh, Sutar could afford to let art do the talking. He was happy that his new creation would now share space with Indira Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose.
Interesting also is the fact that Bhagat’s statue is one among the only four to be donated by the Lok Sabha Secretariat; the other three being of Rabindra Nath Tagore, Vivekananda, and Aurbindo Ghosh.