In 2002, a small article was published in newspaper which described the poor condition of late revolutionary Sukhdev’s family which is managing its day to day living by selling lottery tickets. Had the great patriot Sukhdev paid a big price by giving up his life for nation that today his family is living in dire situations? There isn’t any government’s monetary help to them nor has any NGO shown any support towards this poor family of Sukhdev who once fought for freedom along with Bhagat Singh and Azad. After reading this article, I was compelled to know the story of Sukhdev who was betrayed by history as well as our nation. Whatever history we have read in our school days about freedom struggle is not even 1% of the actual facts recorded in pages of history.
History has glorified Gandhi and Nehru but didn’t give due to the brave hearts like Sukhdev who changed the course of armed revolution through his strategic mind set by planning the assassination of ruthless officer Saunders and undergoing hunger strike to protest against the inhuman treatment given to patriots in jail.
Born in Ludhiana, Sukhdev Thapar was brought up his uncle Lala Achintram. Sukhdev was a close associate, friend and a senior member of Hindustan Republican Association. Right from his childhood, Sukhdev had taken vow to sacrifice his life for nation and his fervour was so great that he never married and gave up his life at ripe age of 23. It was Sukhdev who planned the assassination to kill British Police officer Scott who was responsible for death of senior patriot Lala Lajpat Rai. Bhagat Singh and Rajguru executed the plan by killing the British officer only to realize that it was not Scott, but Saunders. Even Saunders was equally responsible for killing of Lalaji and thus it was eventually avenged by Bhagat Singh, Azad and Rajguru.
When Government was planning to pass the Trade dispute bill and Public Safety Bill, it was Bhagat Singh who planned to hurl bombs at legislative assembly to protest against the bills. Though Bhagat was keen to execute the plan, Azad disapproved the plan. For Azad, Bhagat’s life was very valuable for HRA. When Sukhdev came to know that Bhagat Singh wasn’t participating in the mission, he scolded Bhagat Singh severely. Sukhdev knew that no one could execute the plan better than Bhagat Singh. Finally Bhagat Singh somehow convinced Azad to go in assembly and hurl bombs to protest against the bill. Sukhdev’s eyes were soaked in tears because he suspected Bhagat Singh’s dedication towards nation and was blaming himself for pushing his friend towards the doors of death. After Bhagat Singh’s arrest, Sukhdev handled the day to day activities of HRA until a mole in the party gave the clue about the whereabouts of HRA’s location and its members.
Sukhdev was miserably beaten up in jail by British police but he never succumbed to the torture. He equally participated in hunger strike along with Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and all other members of HRA. Later, Jaigopal a member of HRA turned traitor and revealed all the details and plans of the party. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death. On 23rd March 1931, Sukhdev marched to the gallows along with Rajguru and Bhagat Singh. Though Nation had sent a massive petition through letters to pardon the death sentence of these 3 heroes, but the brutal government didn’t pay any heed to the mercy plea. The bodies of these brave hearts were secretly smuggled out of jail and cremated on the banks of river Satluj.
There was a twist to the story in the Lahore conspiracy case in which it was revealed that it was Sukhdev who revealed all the details to the police because he couldn’t bear the torture of police. This false allegation was made by Hansraj Vohra, a lesser known member of HRA. According to sources, it was Yashpal who was secret mole in the party and was responsible for passing information to police. It is so sad to know that such false, insulting allegations were made against this selfless patriot who died along with Bhagat Singh. What an irony that even after sacrificing his life, Sukhdev was suspected as a traitor? Had Sukhdev turned a traitor then he should have been spared by the British?
In 2002, director Rajkumar Santoshi made a biopic – Legend of Bhagat Singh which was based on Bhagat. The movie also featured the story of Sukhdev Thapar which was brilliantly played by actor Sushant Singh. Sadly there is no full-fledged biopic on Sukhdev.
Today the memories of Sukhdev, Bhagat Singh and Rajguru are fading away from the minds of youngsters. It is high time that the stories of these great heroes should be passed to the coming generation. Hope this article serves as a story teller to narrate the story of a forgotten hero named ‘Sukhdev’.