Hampstead-London, 26 March. Vatayan Poetry on South Bank organised a special event to commemorate Shaheed Bhagat Singh at Keats House in Hampstead. The established author, Reginald Massey’s new book, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and the Forgotten Indian Martyrs,was launched by Mrs Virendra Sandhu (niece of Bhagat Singh), Mrs Vibha Mehdiretta, Second Secretary (Culture),High Commission of India and Deputy Director, The Nehru Centre, London and Professor Lord Desai of St Clement Danes the well known economist, Labour politician and 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 the veteran journalist the late Joe Nathan, Editor of Confluence, for his commitment, determination and selfless service. Lalit Mohan Joshi, Director, South Asian Cinema Foundation, gave a short speech introducing Reginald Massey and his new book. Mrs. Virendra Sandhu, who is a renowned author of a biography of her uncle Bhagat Singh and his ancestors, captivated 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 with 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.
In her Vote of Thanks, 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 have still to receive due recognition in the annals of recorded history, they are even today a source of inspiration for young and old alike.
Vatyan: poetry on South Bank