River Comics celebrates Bhagat Singh’s birthday with the release of Bhagat Singh, our six-issue motion comic that retells the tale of his life in breathtaking digital art that is enhanced with engaging voice-overs and sound effects. To give you some insight into this great man during his 112th birthday celebration, here are some details you may not know about him and his world.

Who Was Bhagat Singh?

Bhagat Singh (1907-1931) was an Indian socialist revolutionary who opposed the British occupation of India. Today, his reputation in his homeland stands among its elite proponents for revolution.

Like the stories of other social revolutionaries across the ages, the tale of Bhagat Singh is one in which violence was not committed for its own value. Rather, his goal was to draw the attention of the oppressor and the oppressed. Although Singh apparently intended to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai (one of India’s most well-liked nationalists of the day), he knew that independence would only happen when the Indian public demanded it by consensus. In fact, this consensus was reached decades later in 1947.

What Was Occuring in India During His Time?

Britain’s occupation of India began in 1793, under the administration of the East India Company—a British corporation that traded internationally. In 1858, under the British Raj, the administration of certain provinces in India was transferred from the East India Company to the British Crown. These were provinces that were added to British rule by treaty or conquest.

Discontentment with British rule (regarded as a scourge by Indians living in the affected provinces) eventually triggered the Independence Movement, which began in 1857. In 1928, the story of Bhagat Singh intertwined with the Movement, when he and his associate, Shivaram Rajguru, shot and killed British police officer John Saunders in Lahore, India. Singh and Rajguru mistook Saunders for British police superintendent James Scott, who they believed killed Rai.

Why Did He Die?

As a member of the Indian Independence Movement, Singh was executed at just 23 years old for his role in the shooting death of Saunders. At the time, Lahore was a city in what was known as “British India”—a nationalistic name that reflected the control Britain exerted over the storied Eastern nation for many hundreds of years.

Singh escaped capture for the shooting until he resurfaced in 1929. Again working with an associate, he detonated two explosives at the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi. This was done to capture legislators’ attention, who were then showered with Independence Movement leaflets from overhead. After completing his plan, Singh submitted to arrest without incident. Despite an outpouring of public sympathy, he was convicted and hanged. He died in 1931.

Violence for Peace: Honoring the True Nature of Bhagat Singh on His Birthday

Would independence have succeeded without Bhagat Singh? No one can say for sure, but one thing seems certain: the selective violence that Singh committed was done to galvanize peace. He surely knew that he, too, would have a high chance of perishing if he let himself be taken into custody. It is this act, in particular, that demonstrates his selflessness for the cause of independence, and ultimately bestows upon him recognition as an icon and not an iconoclast.

Download Our App to Get the Whole Story

For our subscribers in India and elsewhere, Bhagat Singh’s birthday is a day to celebrate. To see his story as an action-packed motion comic, download the free River Comics app.