The established author, Reginald Massey’s new book, ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh and the Forgotten Indian Martyrs’, was released by Mrs Virendra Sandhu (niece of Bhagat Singh), Mrs Vibha Mehdiretta, Second Secretary (Culture), High Commission of India (Deputy Director, The Nehru Centre, London) and Professor Lord Desai of St Clement Danes (well known economist, Labour politician and a celebrated author), who also chaired the event.
Welcoming the guests, Divya Mathur, founder of Vatayan, briefed the audience about Vatayan’s activities and dedicated this event to veteran journalist the Late Joe Nathan, Editor of Confluence, for his abiding commitment, determination and selfless service. Lalit Mohan Joshi, Director, South Asian Cinema Foundation, briefly but effectively introduced Reginald Massey and his new book.
Mrs Sandhu, who is a renowned author of an authentic biography of her uncle Bhagat Singh and his ancestors, overwhelmed the audience with several anecdotes of Bhagat Singh and his family. Prof Lord Desai spoke briefly on the book and congratulated Reginald Massey for the timely and informative book on Shaheed Singh.
The second session was presented considerable flair and panache by Chaand Chazelle, filmmaker, actor and author. It consisted of poems commemorating Indian martyrs (in English, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu) by well known poets – India Russell, Chaman Lal Chaman, Diana Mavroleon, Dr Hilal Fareed, Sathi Ludhianvi, Ila Kumar Ayub Aulia and Jai Verma.
A soulful musical rendition of Ram Prasad Bismil’s famous patriotic poem, Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamarey dil mei hai, by young and upcoming singer, Uttara Sukanya Joshi, was a high point of the evening and so was the recitation by the 8-year old Neel Doherty, our youngest poet.
Dr Kusum Pant Joshi, social historian, thanked the Big Lottery Fund for partly funding Vatayan’s activities, participating speakers and poets, chief guests and volunteers of Vatayan.
The event was very well attended and the audience included philanthropists, seasoned media personnel and well-known authors and artists.
The evening was a befitting tribute to one of the most influential revolutionaries of India’s independence movement against British colonial rule, Shaheed
Bhagat Singh (28 Sep 1907-23 March 1931), who was hanged aged just 23. His legacy gave further momentum to the freedom struggle and encouraged Indian youth and others to keep the torch of freedom burning bright. Although the sacrifices and efforts of Bhagat Singh and his associates has still to receive due recognition in the annals of recorded history, they are even today a source of inspiration for young and old alike.