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Punjab CM declares public holiday on March 23 on occasion of Martyr’s Day

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

Chandigarh: Days after taking oath as Punjab chief minister, Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday declared holiday on Shaheed Diwas (Martyr’s Day) on March 23 in the state. Shaheed Diwas is observed on March 23 to pay tribute to freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru. The three young freedom fighters were hanged at the Lahore Central Jail in Lahore, now in Pakistan, on March 23, 1931.

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Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has urged people of the state to visit Khatkar Kalan, the native village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, to pay tributes to the freedom fighter. Khatkar Kalan is the Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar district.

Punjab State Assembly today passed a resolution to install statues of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Babasaheb Ambedkar in the Assembly.

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After the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) decimated the Congress and the SAD-BSP combine and won 92 of the 117 Assembly seats on March 10, Mann had said that no government office will display photographs of the chief minister and instead, photos of Bhagat Singh and BR Ambedkar will be put on walls in government offices.

Earlier on March 19, Mann had held his first Cabinet meet and had approved filling up 25,000 vacant posts in various state departments, including 10,000 in the police force.

Mann announced the decision in a video message and said that the process of advertisement and notification for these jobs would be initiated within a month. He said the jobs will be given on merit.

The chief minister said 10,000 jobs will be given in the Punjab Police and the rest in various other departments, boards and corporations.

There will be no discrimination, no “sifarish” (recommendation) and no bribe, Mann added.

What is Martyrs’ Day?

March 23 is observed as Shaheed Diwas or Martyrs’ Day in India. The day commemorates the hanging of India’s three freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivaram Rajguru. The three young freedom fighters, who believed in the ideology of making some noise to wake up the slumbering British rulers, were hanged by the colonialists on March 23, 1931 in Lahore Jail.

Leader of the trio and one of the most revered young voices from Punjab was Bhagat Singh, who was born on September 28, 1907 in Lyallpur, Punjab. Together with his companions Rajguru, Sukhdev, Azad, and Gopal, Singh fought against the British.

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The group was deeply affected by the assassination of Lala Lajpat Rai. A lawyer by profession, Rai led a non-violent protest against the Simon Commission when it visited Lahore on October 30, 1928. The British Raj police reverted with lethal force, carrying out a lathi-charge. It was during this lathi charge that Singh witnessed a brutal attack on Rai, who suffered serious injuries in the police assault and eventually died on November 17, 1928, of a heart attack.

Sukhdev, born on May 15 1907 in Ludhiana, came in contact with Singh in 1921 when he was a student of National College. He joined the underground revolutionary organisation, Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), which included Singh, Rajguru and Chandrashekhar Azad. The association declared itself socialist in 1928.

Singh and his partners decided to strike back at the British in their own way. In 1928, they planned to kill the police chief responsible for the death of Rai, one of the founders of National College, during a silent march opposing the Simon Commission. However, they failed to identify their target and junior officer J.P. Saunders was killed. Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev had to flee Lahore to escape the death penalty.

In 1929, he and an associate threw a bomb at the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi to protest the implementation of the Defence of India Act by cheering the slogan of “Inquillab Zindabad (long live the revolution)”. Besides being a freedom fighter, Singh also worked as a writer and editor in Amritsar for Punjabi and Urdu language newspapers that talked about Marxist theories.

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