Seeking martyr status for their hero, villagers to go on strike
Nearly 10 villages, including and around Sarabha village, 20 kilometres away from Ludhiana, have threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike starting next month if freedom fighter Kartar Singh Sarabha is not granted a national martyr status.
“The villages have given us their support to fight for the rightful status to our hero, who was a leading luminary of the Ghadar Party and sacrificed his life for the nation at the tender age of 19,” said Dev Sarabha, president of Shaheed Kartar Sarabha Deshbhagat Yaadgaar Committee.
Dev said the committee would hold a meeting with the village representatives on August 3 to decide on the day of the beginning of the hunger strike. “We demand a national martyr status for Kartar Sarabha before August 15,” he added.
If the Punjab government can declare Sarabjit a national martyr, why not Kartar Sarabha, cry the committee members. “It is very unfortunate that the government hastily declared Sarabjit a national martyr following the public and media hype, while it has not done so for Kartar Singh Sarabha even after more than 97 years of his martyrdom, who did far greater service to the nation. This is despite repeated promises,” he added.
Notably, the village annually celebrates Sarabha's martyrdom day that falls on November 16 with great fervour in a well-attended event. At several occasions, CM Parkash Singh Badal has promised to push the Centre into declaring Sarabha a national martyr, but in vain.
Who was Kartar Singh Sarabha?
Born on May 24, 1886, in a farmer family in Sarabha village, Kartar Singh completed his matriculation from Malwa Khalsa High School, Ludhiana. He was the only child in the family and his father, Mangal Singh, died when Kartar was still a child. He went to the United States in 1912 and enrolled in the University of California for a degree in chemistry. There he joined the Ghadar Party founded in 1913 that had Sohan Singh Bhakna as president and Hardyal as secretary. Kartar quit the university and joined Hardyal to run a newspaper named 'Ghadar'. He returned to India in 1914 to struggle for the country's independence. He was executed at Lahore in November 16, 1915, for his role in the Ghadar Conspiracy. In his life, he was a source of inspiration for many young patriots, including Shaheed Bhagat Singh.