Sukhdev Thapar was an Indian revolutionary. He was hanged along with Bhagat Singh and Shivaram Hari Rajguru by the British Authorities on 23 March 1931 at the age of 23.
Early Life of Sukhdev Thapar
Sukhdev Thapar was born on 15 May 1907 in Ludhiana, Punjab, British India. His parents are Ramlal Thapar and Ralli Devi. He was brought up by his uncle Lala Achintram after the death of his father.
From his early age, he had the spirit of revolutionary. When he was in school, he refused to salute the British officers who visited his school.
It was the arrest of his uncle that drove him to revolutionary activities for freedom from colonial rule.
Sukhdev entered the Naujawan Bharat Seva, started by Bhagat Singh in 1926. The two became close friends and associates.
Sukhdev was a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). He organized revolutionary cells in Punjab and other states of North India. He was the chief of the Punjab unit of HSRA.
Sukhdev participated in many revolutionary activities including a prison strike in 1929. He is known for his assaults in the Lahore Conspiracy Case (1929-30).
Sukhdev was involved in the assassination of J.P. Saunders, Deputy Superintendent of Police, on 17 December 1928 along with Bhagat Singh and Rajguru.
Lahore Conspiracy Case and Assassination of Saunders
In the Lahore Conspiracy Case of 1929, Sukhdev was the prime accuse. Hamilton Harding, Senior Superintendent of Police, filed the first information report (FIR) in the court of R.S. Pandit, the special magistrate in April 1929, mentions Sukhdev as the prime suspect of this conspiracy. He was described as Swami alias villager, son of Ram Lal, caste Thapar Khatri.
Sukhdev took part in the assassination of J.P. Saunders, a British police officer, at Lahore on 17 December 1928, along with Bhagat Singh and Rajguru.
The assassination was to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai. Lala Lajpat Rai was died a fortnight after being hit by police while on a march protesting the Simon Commission.
On 23 March 1931, Thapar along with Bhagat Singh and Shivaram Rajguru was hanged in Lahore jail. Their bodies were secretly cremated at Husainiwala at the banks of the Sutlej river in the Ferozepur, Punjab.
Reactions to the Executions
The execution of the three was widely reported in the press. The New York Times reported:
A reign of terror in the city of Cawnpore in the United Provinces and an attack on Mahatma Gandhi by a youth outside Karachi were among the answers of the Indian extremists today to the hanging of Bhagat Singh and two fellow-assassins.
B. R. Ambedkar, writing in an article in his newspaper Janata, criticized the British government for its decision to go forward with the executions, despite strong popular support for the revolutionists. He felt that the decision to execute the trio was not taken in the true spirit of justice, but was driven by the Labour Party-led British government’s fear of reaction from the Conservative Party and a need to satisfy public opinion in England.
Legacy of Sukhdev Thapar
National Martyrs Memorial is located at a place where Sukhdev, along with Bhagat Singh and Rajguru, were cremated. A Martyrs’ Day (Shaheed Diwas) is observed on March 23 in their memory. Tributes and homage are paid at the memorial.
Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, an integral college of the University of Delhi, was established in August 1987, is named in memory of Sukhdev.
Amar Shaheed Sukhdev Thapar Inter-State Bus Terminal is the main bus stand of Ludhiana city, the birthplace of Sukhdev.
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