Should Bhagat Singh be called a ‘revolutionary terrorist'?


Should Bhagat Singh be called a ‘revolutionary terrorist'?


There has been a lot of uproar in the Parliament over the book that refers Bhagat Singh as ‘revolutionary terrorist.’ Delhi University took it upon them to stop the sale and distribution of the Hindi version of the famous book by noted historian Bipan Chandra and his colleagues, Aditya Mukherjee, K. N. Panikkar, Sucheta Mahajan, and Mridula Mukherjee.

In their book, India’s Struggle for Independence, published in the year 1988 Chapter 20 is titled Bhagat Singh, Surya Sen and the Revolutionary Terrorists. It is to be noted that since 25 years the book has been prescribed in major Universities across India and has been referred to as the best amongst the books written on Indian National Movement.

There was hubbub in the parliament and they sought to remove the reference of Bhagat Singh as ‘terrorist’ from the books but Delhi University instead banned the book. While the word has difference connotation in today’s preview, in erstwhile days of uprising, it was a term that went well along with revolutionary fighters as well for they stood against the rule of the state.

No, he was one of the greatest freedom fighters and revolutionary socialist!

1. A different meaning: The term ‘terrorist’ is used differently in today’s context. We have assigned the term to those who create mayhem and chaos in the country, torcher people and kill mercilessly. This is what terrorist stands for in today’s context. The meaning was always the same but the usage of the word for a revolutionary freedom fighter is wrong. He was fighting for his rights to live freely in his own nation and not taking over someone else’s. He should be referred to as the revolutionary ‘hero’ and not ‘terrorist.’

2. Nationalist: One can either be a nationalist or a terrorist and never both at the same time. Bhagat Singh as we all know was the brave freedom fighter who led the movement despite odds of being brutally punished by the British Raj. He not only sacrificed his life but also inspired thousands to follow their instincts to fight injustice and atrocities with bravery and fearlessness. He was martyred, sacrificed his life for the better cause of the nation. Mentioning him as terrorist, of any type, is an accusation which should be deleted from the book.

3. Insult to injury: Calling sacrifices of the freedom fighters as terrorism is a blow to the dignity of the nation’s pride. It will add insult to the injury of the kin of the freedom fighters who got martyred in the revolution against treachery and slavery. We have always been taught to feel proud of the freedom fighters who fought for giving us a free India at the cost of their lives. Referring to them as terrorists in textbooks meant to educate students is a serious issue.

4. Wrong in many ways: Bhagat Singh has been our ideal hero ever since we were introduced to History at secondary school level. We know him for his ideologies and perceptive thoughts as well as aggressive actions, just what the country was in need of at that hour. Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Surya Sen and others were termed ‘revolutionary terrorists’, the Chittagong Movement is termed a ‘terrorist act’ and the killing of British police officer John Sanders is called ‘act of terrorism.’ It makes us think whether history was written in Indian context or as a part of pleasing the erstwhile rulers. These terms are controversial and false and must be removed immediately.

5. Revolutionary socialist: Bipan Chandra himself seems to have realized the error of his words later on when he referred to Bhagat Singh as “one of the greatest freedom fighters and revolutionary socialist” in his later writing, Why I am An Atheist in 2006. It is also said that he supported the deletion of the word ‘terrorist’ from the book when later asked about it.

Yes, the time has changed and so has the perception of the word

1. Different meanings: The word is not used in the same context as we use it today. It is simply meant for the fearless practitioners of the freedom movement in the aggressive way rather than the soft and non-violent way which doesn’t seem to be making much or an impact on the colonialists. It is not used in the book to criticize the trio who fought bravely and were martyred. It is used synonymously with revolutionary. Radical political philosophy and its adherents have often been coined with the same term by different authors worldwide.

2. Different views: Bhagat Singh’s group had a radical view on the National Movement. They were opposed to the view of Nehru and Gandhi and believed in the use of guns and bombs to terrorize the British to leave our country. Such attacks on British officers were aggressively carried out by many revolutionaries across the nation. The revolutionaries were executed but without any fear of their lives they continued with their ideology. Their ideology was practical and not of terrorism. The fight was for rights and not of plunder.

3. High esteem: Bipan Chandra and his fellow historians are known to hold Shaheed Bhagat Singh and his group in high esteem. There are works by these historians that talk high of freedom fighters and their ideologies and visions. They have never ever criticized these martyrs and the terms being talked about are also never used in bad lights or in a negative way to defame them. There is no need to start uproar on this context unless the political parties are playing the bad old game of claiming as they did with Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

4. Literary meaning: “Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is defined as the use of unauthorized violence, or threatened use of violence, in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological aim. The authority at that time was that of the British which means the group was using violence against the British rulers and they were just in doing that. There is no harm in using the term in this context unless people mingle it with the present day connotation of terrorism.


Bhagat Singh was an ideologist, a revolutionary who fought for the better future of our countrymen. He did terrorize the traitors who were exploiting Indians by their atrocities and not willing to leave just by the mere peaceful protests of Gandhi ji and his people. There is no defaming of Bhagat Singh in the books which makes it clear that the historians were not wrong. The word has a different meaning today and it could be deleted from the books to prevent any further imbroglio unless there is claiming intentions by political parties.
Post your comment