The Man who inspired Bhagat Singh

Ritu was getting ready for school.

Daddy, we are celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav at our school tomorrow.

Great! What all you will be doing?” Her Dad replied. 

Well! We will be remembering our heroes.”

And who are they?

Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh…”

Her father interrupted “They are heroes but what about superheroes?

You mean batman, spiderman. Did they also contribute to our struggle for independence? “

Her father gave a wry smile and said, “They didn’t exist at that time.”

“Then who were the superheroes for our independence?

“By superheroes, I mean the heroes of the heroes. All the names that you took are heroes for us and we are proud of them. But there are people as well who were heroes for them too.”

“Like…”

“Like Kartar Singh Sarabha. He was a hero adored by Bhagat Singh.”

“Do you know about him?”

“A little bit…he was from Punjab who went to the USA for studies where the fire of independence was ignited in him. He was associated with a club of Indian students at Berkeley. He was agitated by the treatment of immigrants from India received in the United States.”

Hmm… quite similar to Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa.”

“ Yes. But he chose a way different path. In 1913, he joined the Gadar Party operating from the USA and was engaged in the publishing of the paper ‘Ghadar’. This paper was sent to Indians living throughout the world convincing them to support the freedom movement.”

1916 – Ghadar Party members assemble at Stockton Gurudwara
Image: Wikimedia

“Quite interesting. I never knew about this. They went about the freedom struggle in a very strategic manner.”

“Much more strategic than we can think about. When World War I broke out and the British were engaged in the war, the leaders of the Ghadar Party published the “Decision of Declaration of War” against the British. Thousands of copies of this paper were distributed across the world. Kartar Singh Sarabha also reached Calcutta and tried to collaborate with influential people in India for coherent efforts. He also met Ras Bihari Bose here. A well-planned revolt was about to take place. But...”

But?

Some members of the Ghadar party were informers of the police. He was betrayed by his people.”

So Kartar Singh was caught,” Ritu asked.

“He could have easily escaped to Afghanistan. But he along with two of his friends decided against running away when some of their compatriots were caught. He carried on his work in India and was arrested after some time.”

“It’s quite similar to Bhagat Singh.”

“So you can see the similarity with another hero. There is more to come. When he was being tried on the charge of sedition, Sarabha was un-apologetic. He iterated it was his duty to get Indians to rebel against the British. The judge was astounded to see such a young boy behaving with such brilliant flamboyance. He advised Sarabha to modify his statement. However, the revolutionary refused. He said.

‘Why should I? If I had more lives than one, it would have been a great honor to me to sacrifice each of them for my country.’

The judge awarded him capital punishment and he along with fellow revolutionary Vishnu Ganesh Pingle was hanged to death at the tender age of 19. As fate would have it, Bhagat Singh too was hanged 16 years later in 1931. ”

Photographs of ten Ghadar members who were hanged in India by the British after the attempted revolution in 1915.
Image: Wikipedia

Ritu was silent. A whirlpool of emotions that can never take the form of words swirled within her. Dad looked at the watch and said, “You are getting late for school now. “

A day later, when it was Ritu’s turn to present her speech in school, she began with a strange boldness in her voice and immense belief in her heart,

“Revolutionaries are special souls. They make us learn that there is nothing more important in life than your purpose. And if the purpose desires the supreme sacrifice, so be it. Here is my life! Here is everything I have ever had and will ever have! And they put all at stake so that their ultimate goal prevails. They die but the purpose lives on. Their journey ends. But their tales kindle courage in the generation to come. One such soul….one such purpose-driven soul was Kartar Singh Sarabha. Kartar Singh Sarabha…the man who inspired Bhagat Singh and I will tell you today how…….”

~Sarabjeet Singh Dhingra~

Sarabjeet is an avid user of fountain pens. He loves driving, diving and dreaming. He can make most terrible jokes sound funny….and vice versa! Tallest among us in height, spirit and enthusiasm, he assures there is not single dull moment when we are around him. A child at heart, a seeker at soul and a believer at attaining goals, he can be found at sarabjeet.dhingra@gmail.com.

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