• 03-Jun-2023


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Sohan Lal Pathak was born on 07 January 1883 to Pandit Chanda Ram, at Patti, in the Amritsar district of present-day Punjab. Sohan Lal was a meritorious student who received numerous scholarships and honours in his local school. However, the financial situation at home compelled him to drop out of middle school and pursue a job at the Irrigation Department. After a brief stint at this job, he left it and enrolled at the Normal Training School at Lahore. On completion of his course, he began working as a school teacher.

While he was still in Lahore, Sohan Lal Pathak began to be influenced by the rising nationalistic feelings and beliefs that were sweeping the country. The ‘Revolutionary Uprisings’ across the world left a profound psychological impact on him, and he reached out to other national figures like Lala Lajpat Rai and others to show his solidarity with the revolutionaries in India. Meanwhile, on his work front, he was advised by his school Headmaster to break ties with the revolutionaries who were fighting for the country’s freedom from British rule. He overlooked this order, and in defiance, he quit his job in 1908 to join the fight for national freedom. Initially, he worked as the Joint Editor of Lajpat Rai's Urdu periodical, ‘Bande Matram’. Later on, he joined Lala Hardyal’s classes in Lahore, that were aimed at mentoring and infusing the youth with the verve to revolt and fight against the British authorities.

On his home front, Sohan Lal lost both his wife and child under tragic circumstances, and post this traumatic period he left India for Siam (present-day Thailand). From Siam, he moved on to America, and it was here that he reconnected with Lal Hardyal who was the founder of the Ghadar Party. The aim of the Ghadar party was to organize a revolt against the British Government in India. Sohan Lal lost no time in becoming an active worker of this party. When the party began sending groups of revolutionaries to India, Sohan Lal took the initiative of raising a revolt amongst the Indian soldiers of the British army stationed in Burma, Malaysia, and Singapore. The movement built up, and in 1915, the fearless revolt by the Indian soldiers based in Singapore was brutally dealt with by the British. Despite this, Sohan Lal Pathak remained undaunted.

He travelled to Burma to spread his ideals of freedom. His fearless and relentless attitude caught the attention of the British administration. They launched a manhunt to nab him. On one occasion, he was addressing a group of Indian soldiers when he was informed that the police were coming to arrest him. He quickly escaped into the forest and hid in a village. A search operation was launched right away to apprehend this supposedly dangerous and fearless revolutionary. It was difficult to catch him because he spoke the local language and walked freely in the countryside dressed as a native. Finally, an informer from amongst the villagers tipped off the British about his hiding place in the village. Sohan Lal was arrested in August 1915 in Memyo (Burma) and detained in Mandalay Fort.

It is said that the Governor of Burma was eager to meet the man who was inciting the soldiers to revolt against the Government in his own backyard. According to reports, when the Governor told Sohan Lal that his life would be spared if he made a formal apology for his wrongful acts, Sohal Lal bravely retorted and said that it was the British Government that needed to apologise and not him.

Although Rash Behari Bose, a prominent revolutionary leader and lawyer, had come from Calcutta to defend him, Sohan Lal was found guilty and sentenced to death by the Burma High Court. Sohan Lal Pathak, one of the Ghadar Party's most prominent leaders, was hanged at Mandalay jail on 10 February 1916 for stirring up nationalistic sentiments and thereby inciting revolt against British rule.