June 14, 2024

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Kartar Singh Sarabha whom the British considered the most dangerous revolutionary

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BY-Vinay arya

This was the era when the mothers of the country were not giving birth to children but to revolutionaries. During this period, a child was growing up, his name was Kartar Singh Sarabha, but this story is not just that, in this story there is freedom movement, there is sacrifice and along with it is Arya Samaj.

On May 24, 1896, a child was born to father Mangal Singh and mother Sahib Kaur in a Jat Sikh family in Sarabha district of Ludhiana. Named the child Kartar Singh. His father passed away in his childhood and his grandfather brought him up. When I was 10 years old, I saw a movement in Punjab, the Pagdi Sambhal movement. In which there was a refusal to bow down before the British. But Kartar was bright in studies and passed his matriculation examination from high school with good marks. There was no shortage in the house. It was a well-off family. He was the only heir, so when Kartar turned 16, his grandfather sent him to the University of California, Berkeley to study chemistry. 

The director of upcoming Punjabi film Sarabha, based on the life of freedom  fighter Kartar Singh Sarabha, says Punjab's history is full legends worth  retelling : The Tribune India

First of all, Kartar faced discrimination as soon as he reached San Francisco when he was asked questions in the immigration department for which a 16-year-old boy was not prepared. On reaching there an incident changed his life forever. When Kartar saw that Indians were being asked derogatory questions. While migrants coming from other regions and countries were being given clearance. When asked the reason for this, he was told that the Indian was a slave. Therefore they are second class citizens.

Secondly, one day the owner of the house where he used to live was decorating the entire house. When Sarabha asked her the reason for decorating the house, the landlady told that her country got independence on this day, that is why she was celebrating this day by decorating the house. After this incident, Sarabha’s soul started screaming, can’t we celebrate such a day? These were just some of the incidents that awakened the dreams of independence in Sarabha’s eyes and started questioning the existence of the British Raj in India.

Sarabha Film - Sarabha Film added a new photo.

The year was 1912, when a big conference of Indian people was held in Portland, America. Many Indians including Harnam Singh, Sohan Singh Bhakna came to participate in this conference. During this time, Lala Hardayal, influenced by the ideology of Arya Samaj and a great disciple of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, gave his speech there. Sarabha was very impressed after hearing this. This was the period in India when the youth of the country were very upset with the moderate policies of the Congress, they started feeling that freedom cannot be achieved without taking up arms.

Then the ongoing campaign for independence gained momentum. The soldiers of Arya Samaj laid the foundation of the Gadar movement on foreign soil. This was the first movement of its kind whose foundation was laid abroad. Here, Indian students were actively participating in the meetings of this movement. The only objective of the Gadar Party was the independence of India by any means. Here their only slogan was “To call for the freedom of the country, by all means.”

In a way, it was a declaration of armed struggle by Arya Samaj workers against imperialism and a movement demanding complete independence of India. Kartar Singh participated enthusiastically and the party put him in charge of bringing out a Punjabi language edition of its mouthpiece. Apart from Punjabi, Gadar was published in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati and Pashto and was sent to Indians all over the world. As soon as the atrocities being committed by the British were mentioned in the newspaper, it sparked revolutionary thoughts among the NRIs.

Soon, the First World War broke out and Ghadar Party members decided that it was time to mobilize the countrymen by changing its location. As the British were busy defending themselves in the World War, another war against the British was declared in the edition of Gadar on August 5, 1914, and its copies were distributed among Indians around the world, especially in British cantonments. It started being distributed among Indian soldiers. The Gadar Party had become so big that its news started appearing in English newspapers.

Remembering the Ghadar Party — Jamhoor

Ghadar Party workers started returning to their country from abroad. Only 18 year old Kartar Singh Sarabha ji also came to India with Satyen Sen and Vishnu Ganesh Pingle on 15 September 1914 and he met Jatin Mukherjee of Yugantar in Kolkata. Mukherjee put him in touch with Rash Bihari Bose. Kartar Singh met Bose in Banaras and informed him about the arrival of 20,000 more Gadar members and the plan for revolution.

This was the biggest clarion call of the revolution launched by Arya Samaj against the British. But unfortunately, the British got wind of the revolutionaries’ plan and launched a massive operation to catch the revolutionaries. Many Gadar members started being arrested at the ports. But they could not stop Kartar Singh from going ahead with his plan. Kartar Singh went to Punjab to make preparations to make Punjab the main place of revolution.

The Sarabha saga : The Tribune India

Apart from this, Kartar focused on converting Indian soldiers serving in the British Army in Meerut, Agra, Banaras, Allahabad, Ambala, Lahore and Rawalpindi and involving them in the movement, as well as a small store of weapons in Ludhiana. Also established a manufacturing unit. Along with Rash Bihari Bose and other senior leaders, the date of rebellion was fixed as February 21, 1915 and plans were made to attack the cantonments of Mian Mir and Firozpur and rebellion in Ambala. But unfortunately for Mother India, here also a traitor betrayed her a day before the rebellion and many revolutionaries were arrested. But somehow Kartar Singh managed to escape from the British.

Kartar was strong-willed, desirous of seeing the sun of independence, and refused to back down from his intentions. And on March 2, 1915, he made a very bold last attempt to instigate the Indian soldiers of 22 Cavalry at Chak No. 5 in Sargodha and spark the rebellion. But this time, Risaldar Ganda Singh of 22 Cavalry arrested him. He was tried along with other Gadar members in Lahore in a case called Lahore Conspiracy. The verdict was announced in September, 1915. The death sentences of 10 Ghadar members were commuted to death and 17 were sent to lifelong exile in the Andaman Cellular Jail.

Long before the Quit India Movement, the Ghadar Party united against the  British

A 19 year old young man when the judge asked him whether he should be hanged or given life imprisonment? So see the courage of Sarabha, the answer of that Mahavir young man was that I would prefer to be hanged instead of life imprisonment so that I can take life again and fight for the freedom of Mother India.

On this the judge said, what if you are born a girl?

Then Sarabha’s answer was that I will give birth to ten Sarabhas so that the foundation of British rule can be uprooted. The judge, while pronouncing his sentence, described him as the most dangerous of all the rebels and said that since he was extremely proud of the crimes he had committed, he did not deserve any mercy and should be sentenced to death.

Grandfather came to Lahore jail to meet Chirag who was alone in the house. He said, “Kartar Singh, we still do not believe that the country will benefit from your sacrifice, why are you wasting your life? In his reply, Kartar Singh reminded his grandfather of some relatives who had died of cholera, plague or other diseases. And then asked, do you want your grandson to die from such a painful disease? Isn’t this death a thousand times better than that?

On November 16, 1915, Kartar Singh walked with a smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eyes, singing a patriotic song written by him. Sardar Kartar Singh Sarabha was hanged to death at the age of 19. The Ghadri Party or movement could not be successful, but who knew that Sardar Kartar Singh Sarabha would become the source of inspiration for Bhagat Singh and create a wave of revolution again on 23 March 1931 in this Lahore jail. Arya Samaj will always cherish the memory of its great leader, immortal martyr Kartar Singh Sarabha. We pay our respects to him on his death anniversary.

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