17/08/2013 20:45:57  TOI

NEW DELHI: He may rule a million hearts, his supreme sacrifice inspiring many a revolution, but in government records Bhagat Singh is not a martyr. In a reply to an RTI query, the home ministry has said it has no record to show whether Bhagat Singh has been declared a martyr.
Now, the legendary freedom fighter’s grandnephew, Yadavendra Singh, is planning to launch a campaign to get Bhagat Singh declared a martyr. According to Yadavendra, in April the home ministry had been asked in an RTI query as to when Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were declared martyrs and, if not, what was the government doing to get them the tag.

In May, the home ministry’s public information officer Shamlal Mohan replied that the ministry had no record to show whether the trio had been declared martyrs. The reply also said it had no information on what the government was doing about it.

With this reply in hand, Yadavendra has approached the MHA to press for declaring Bhagat Singh and others who laid down their lives for the country’s freedom as martyrs. “I have been trying to meet the home secretary and have sought an appointment. But the home ministry has not responded positively as yet. I am now planning to meet President Pranab Mukherjee with families of Rajguru and Sukhdev.

“I am hopeful he will be receptive to such an idea. After all the country already calls Bhagat Singh ‘Shaheed’, it’s only a matter of putting it on record,” says Yadavendra, who adds that if the President does not agree, he would launch a nationwide campaign for the same. “Families of several freedom fighters are with us on this,” he says.

File:Bhagat Singh 1922.jpg

Bhagat Singh in prison. circa 1927.

MHA sources, however, say there is no system or policy in place to declare those who died in freedom struggle as martyrs. “No one has ever been declared a martyr by the home ministry. There is no such policy. Only defence ministry does so for armed forces men,” said a home ministry official.

In fact, personnel from paramilitary forces, which function under the home ministry, are not declared martyrs even though they fight as bravely and suffer great casualties combating Naxalites and militants. The death of 20 uniformed men in the Kedarnath chopper crash in June is a cruel example of this irony. The chopper had five IAF men and 15 ITBP personnel on board. While the IAF men were honoured as martyrs, ITBP personnel were declared dead.


A rare historical photograph of students and staff of National College, Lahore, which was started by Lala Lajpat Rai. Bhagat Singh can be seen standing fourth from the right


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