THE Punjab government has declared a public holiday on November 16 as a tribute to Kartar Singh Sarabha, a leading member of the Ghadar movement, but appears to have forgotten the six other freedom fighters hanged with him at the Lahore Central Jail on November 16, 1915.
The seven martyrs were hanged to death for hatching a conspiracy against the British Empire by being part of the ‘Ghadar mutiny’ of 1915.
The orders issued by the state government, to observe the 100th anniversary of their deaths, makes no mention of the six others — Surain Singh (Sr), Surain Singh (Jr), Jagtar Singh, Harnam Singh Sialkoti, Bakshish Singh and Vishnu Ganesh Pingle.
The government orders, issued by chief secretary Punjab Sarvesh Kausal, clearly state: “The public holiday is being declared in Punjab to observe the martyrdom day of Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha on November 16 and thus all offices, boards, corporations and educational institutes will remain closed”.
Barring Vishnu Ganesh Pingle, who was from Telegaon in Maharashtra, the rest of the men hailed from Punjab. While Kartar Sarabha was from Sarabha village, Surain Singh snr, Surain Singh jnr and Bakshish Singh were from Gilwali village in Amritsar.
Jagtar Singh hailed from Sur Singh village in Amritsar while Harnam Singh Sialkoti was from Goraya. The duo had been declared co-accused with Sarabha and hanged till death. Bakshish Singh and Pingle were companions of Sarabha. Pingle had started an armed revolt against the British and was arrested with explosives in March 1915.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Gurbhajan Singh Gill, former president of Punjab Sahitya Akademi and noted Punjabi litterateur recently honored with the Shiromani Punjabi poet award, said: “It is a good gesture by the government to declare a holiday as a tribute to the Ghadar martyrs but then it should be in memory of all of them. It is the government’s duty to state clear facts and flag the name of the six other martyrs who were hanged to death in Lahore along with Sarabha. All of them sacrificed their lives for India’s independence”.
Chaman Lal, former professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and researcher on Shaheed Bhagat Singh said, “Generally, the names of these seven martyrs are always taken together as they were executed in Lahore jail”.
Despite repeated attempts, Harcharan Singh Bains, national affairs and media advisor to CM; Maheshinder Singh Grewal, advisor to CM cum Akali Dal spokesperson and Education Minister Daljeet Singh Cheema, also a SAD spokesperson, did not respond to calls and messages.