Kartar Singh Sarabha was born into a Sikh family at village Sarabha in the district of Ludhiana, Punjab in British India,on 24 May 1896. His father’s name was Sardar Mangal Singh.His mother’s name was sahib kaur. He was still very young when his father died.His grandfather brought him up with great care.After receiving his own village, Kartar Singh entered the Malwa Khalsa High school at Ludhiana for his matriculation. He was in tenth class when he went to live with his uncle in Orissa where, after finishing high school, he joined college. When he was fifteen, his parents put him on board a ship for America to work there. The ship landed at the American port of San Francisco in January 1912. The American Immigration officer put Indians through rigorous questioning while people of other countries were allowed to pass after slight checks. Kartar Singh asked one of the passengers about this type of behaviour. He told him, “Indians are the citizens of a slave country. As such, they are treated badly.” This incident had a great effect on Sarabha.
In 1914, Indians worked in foreign countries either as indentured labourers or soldiers fighting for the consolidation of British rule or extending the boundaries of the British Empire. Kartar enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), for a degree in chemistry. and also took up the work of picking fruit in orchards. He frequently talked to other Indians about getting his country freed.
Kirpal Singh, a police informer (‘mole’) in the ranks of the Ghadar Party had a large number of members arrested on February 19 and informed the Government of the planned revolt. The Government disarmed the native soldiers due to which the revolt failed.
After the failure of the revolution-, the members who had escaped arrest decided to leave India . Kartar Singh, Harnam Singh Tundilat, Jagat Singh etc. were asked to go to Afghanistan and they did make a move towards that area. But his conscience did not permit him to run away when all his comrades had been held. On 2 March 1915, He came back with two friends and went over to Chak No. 5 in Sargodha where there was a military stud and started propagating rebellion amongst the armymen. Risaldar Ganda Singh had Kartar Singh, Harnam Singh Tundilat, and Jagit Singh, arrested from Chak No. 5, district Lyallpur.
He soon became the symbol of martyrdom and many were influenced from his bravery and sacrifice. Bhagat Singh, another great revolutionary of Indian freedom, regarded Kartar Singh as his guru, friend and brother. A statue of him was erected in Ludhiana, and Punjabi novelist Nanak Singh wrote a novel called Ikk Mian Do Talwaran based on his life. The judges during his trial were impressed by his intellectual skills, but nevertheless he was sentenced to death by hanging. He wrote a popular song which he would sing and it is said that he died singing it:
“ਸੇਵਾ ਦੇਸ਼ ਦੀ ਜਿੰਦੜੀਅੇ ਬੜੀ ਔਖੀ,
ਗੱਲਾਂ ਕਰਨੀਆਂ ਢੇਰ ਸੁਖੱਲੀਆਂ ਨੇ,
ਜਿੰਨੇ ਦੇਸ਼ ਦੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਚ ਪੈਰ ਪਾਇਆ,
ਓਹਨਾ ਲੱਖ ਮੁਸੀਬਤਾਂ ਝੱਲੀਆਂ ਨੇ.”
Serving ones country is very difficult
It is so easy to talk
Anyone who walked on that path
Must endure millions of calamities.
The judgement in respect of 63 arrested Gadharites was pronounced on 13 September 1915, at the Central Jail, Lahore. In this first conspiracy case of 1914–15, 24 Gadarites were sentenced to death. Kartar Singh was one of them.
The court observed that Kartar Singh was the most dangerous of all the rebels. “He is very proud of the crimes committed by him. He does not deserve mercy and should be sentenced to death”. Kartar Singh was hanged in the Central Jail of Lahore on 16 November 1915, aged 19.