Today the 15th May 2015 is the 108th Birth Anniversary of the Indian Freedom fighter and Shaheed Sukhdev Thaper, who has braved the gallows along with Sgaheed Bhagat Singh and Shivaram Rajguru.
Sukhdev Thapar is an Indian revolutionary who was born on 15th May 1907 in the Chaura Bazar area called Nau Ghara, Ludhiana. His father was Sh. Ram Lal and Mother was Smt. Ralli Devi. Sukhdev is best known as an accomplice of Bhagat Singh and Shivaram Rajguru in the killing of a British police officer in 1928 in order to take revenge for the death of veteran leader Lala Lajpat Rai. All three were hanged in Lahore Central Jail on March 23, 1931 in the evening at 7.33 pm. The dead bodies were secretly taken away by breaking the back walls of the jail and were secretly burnt on the banks of River Satluj near Firozepur about 50 miles away from Lahore. The bodies were cut into pieces to make the burial quick.
Sukhdev was an active member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. He, along with Bhagat Singh, Comrade Ram Chandra and Bhagwati Charan Vohra started Naujawan Bharat Sabha in Lahore. The main aims of this organisation is to activate youth in the freedom struggle, inculcate a rational, scientific attitude, fight colonialism and end the practice of untouchability. Sukhdev also participated in the 1929 Prison hunger strike to protest against the inhuman treatment meted out to the inmates.
His letter to Mahatma Gandhi, written just prior to his hanging, protesting against the latter's disapproval of revolutionary tactics, throws light on the disparities between the two major schools of thought among Indian freedom fighters. This relatively baseless contention does not detract from the tremendous courage, patriotism and self-sacrifice of Sukhdev. In a letter to Mahatma Gandhi, prior to the hanging on March 23, 1931, he says, “The three prisoners of the Lahore conspiracy case who have been awarded capital punishment and who have incidentally gained great popularity in the country are not everything in the revolutionary party. In fact, the country will not gain as much by the change of their sentences as it would by their being hanged.”
Sukhdev was a fearless man of exceptional integrity, who cared about the smallest needs of his party and its members. Comrade Shiv Verma, who was awarded life imprisonment in the Lahore Conspiracy Case, writes about Sukhdev’s character in his memoirs, Sansmrityiaan, which is preserved by the National Archives, Delhi, “In reality, Bhagat was the political mentor of the Punjab party, Sukhdev was the organiser who built its edifice brick by brick.” “Not much has been written about him. Despite the availability of original documents pertaining to that age, no one has seriously undertaken their writing. Truth has been a casualty and many details about the lives of revolutionaries like Sukhdev continue to be unknown. Sukhdev was, in fact, the prime accused in the Lahore Conspiracy Case. Being the Punjab chief of HSRA, he was the man behind the Saunders’ murder and assembly bomb drop plot.”
The less known facts of Sukhdev are given in the Lahore Conspiracy Case judgment which states, “Sukhdev may be said to be the brains to the conspiracy while Bhagat Singh was its right arm. Sukhdev was an organizer and zealous in recruiting members and finding work suitable to the capacity of each. He was backward in taking part himself in acts of violence, but he must be nonetheless held responsible for those acts to the execution of which his brains and organizing power made important contribution.”
Unfortunately, Sukhdev has not been given prominence in the freedom struggle in which he has faced the gallows with his head held up.