Sohan Singh Bhakna

Born in January, 1870 at village Khutral Khurd, District Amritsar, Sohan Singh was the only son of Sardar Karam Singh, a well-to-do peasant who died when Sohan Singh was hardly a year old. As there was no school in the village, Sohal Singh received his early education at the local Gurudwara. When he was eleven a primary school was opened in the village. When he completed his primary education from here, he had already grown too old, so that he did not pursue his studies any further.He migrated to the U.S.A. about the year 1907 and joined the Punjabi immigrants in California. In course of time the miseries and hardships suffered by Indians in America made him an ardent nationalist. Driven to desperation by the attitude of foreign governments and desiring of seize the opportunity presented by the war, Sohan Singh, Lala Hardayal, Pt. Kanshi Ram and few others put heads together and founder the Pacific Coast Hindi Association. Sohan Singh was elected its first President. The same association later came to be known as the Ghadar Party.As desired by the Party, Sohan Singh left America even before the World War broke out and returned to India as the head of the band of revolutionaries by the ship Namsang following the Komagata Maru. He reached Calcutta in October, 1914 but was arrested immediately. He was then tried and sentenced to death in the First Lahore Conspiracy Case. Later, on appeal to the High court the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was released after 16 years.In jail he went on hunger strike in 1929 in sympathy with Bhagat Singh and his comrades. When Bhagat Singh tried to dissuade him on account of his old age, he said, "What if the body looks old, the revolutionary in me is not old". Such was the spirit he retained right till his death.When he stepped out of prison he again plunged into political activity. His first concern was to get the Ghadar prisoners released. Even so his main interest henceforward lay in the welfare of peasants and he participated in several Kisan Morchas. This brought him closer to the Communist Party of India. When the Second World War started, he was arrested and sent to jail at the Deoli Camp (Rajasthan). In 1943 he was released along with other detainee of his party.For the next twenty-five years of his life, he continued working for the Kisan Sabha and the Communist Party of India. At one time he was President of the All-India Kisan Sabha. He was so popular among its members that the Kisan Sabha decided to honor him by holding a conference at his village Bhakna Kalan from 2nd to 4th April 1943. It was sheer coincidence that Babaji had been released a day earlier.