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Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina


Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina (1899-1981), was an Indian communist politician and independence activist. He served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the Punjab Legislative Assembly for two terms. In 1962 he contested Member Parliament (MP) election from Taran Taran and defeated by 1990 votes .

Early life

He was born at village Harsha Chhina, Tehsil Ajnala, Amritsar, Punjab, India. Achhar Singh Chhina done his basic studies from Khalsa College Amritsar where he played a pivotal role along with Pratap Singh Kairon former Chief Minister of Punjab. In 1920-1921, the students and teachers of the college registered their protest against the British rule by boycotting the visit of the Prince of Wales to the college.

In 1921 Comrade Chhina and Pratap Singh Kairon went to the USA for further studies. Both joined Berkeley University, California to do Masters in Economics. The same year he joined the Gadar Party in San Francisco and got his first lesson in national politics.
Political career

In 1932 he left America and went to the Soviet Union for further studies on socialism. He returned to India in 1936 and was arrested at Lahore in the same year, and was detained in Lahore Fort for two months.
Fatehwal Murder Case 1938-39

In 1937 British Government ordered Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina to live in his own village (curfew) for the whole year. In March 1938, on completion of his curfew period the communist party organised a conference at Fatehwal village Amritsar, to be headed by Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina and Mohan Singh Batth. However, in this conferecne due to the disturbance created by the police spies and attack on the stage leaders, two spies was killed by the conference attendees. Police registered a criminal Case against Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina and Joginder Singh Chhina along with other 47 persons under section 302 IPC. This case was highlighted throughout country and defense appointed a committee to fight a case. The committee was headed by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and Saifuddin Kitchlew. Police forced Mr. Ram Lal, a police constable, to give false statement in the court that at the time of murder Mr. Chhina was the main person who attacked the victim; however, he refused to give this statement in the court.

Being involved in the Fathehwall Murder Case he had to go underground to escape the clutches of the police.

The case was defended by Advocate Saifuddin Kitchlew along with other leading lawyers where judiciary founded Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina not guilty on all counts and sentenced Joginder Singh Chhina for 20 years against this Case.
Netaji and Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina (Larkin)

Subash Chandra Bose aka Netaji had first met Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina in April 1939 when he was visiting the Gaya district. At that time Chhina was hiding himself from the police as a result of the Fathewall Murder Case. Chhina sought Bose's help and Bose advised him not to give himself up to the Police.

In early June 1940 Subhas Chandra Bose surveyed the world war situation and came to the conclusion that Indian freedom fighters should have first hand knowledge as to what was happening abroad and should join the fight against British. After considering the various means with the Comrades of various organisations and parties he found no other alternative but to travel abroad. Initial detail plan of escape was primarily consulted and discussed with Niranjan Singh Talib, editor "Desh Darpan". Sardar Baldev Singh and the former defence minister Government of India. Talib introduced Achhar Singh Chhina name to execute the plan. The executive committee of Communist Party of Lahore decided that Achhar Singh Chhina whose Soviet name was Larkin, one of the organisers of Kirti in North West Frontier, should meet Subhas Chandra Bose in order to chalk out the detail escape plan. Achhar Singh Chhina visited Calcutta and met Netaji [5]. Bose further explained to Achhar Singh Chhina to approach Comrade Stalin for seeking armed help for India's struggle against Independence, In order to vouch for his intentions to seek Soviet support for India's freedom movement, his speeches should be studied and not the changes in his political principles. [6].For this purpose Achhar Singh Chhina visited the Frontier Province to make arrangements for his escape to Russia.

In June 1940 Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina and Comrade Ram Krishan came to meet Bhagat Ram Talwar in his village in North West Frontier. Bhagat Ram Talwar was member of Forward Bloc and was engaged in secret activities of Kirti Party. They requested him to help Subhas Chandra to reach the border of Soviet Union crossing through the tribal belt of Afghanistan. Bhagat Ram Talwar agree to make arrangements for the stay of Netaji at Peshawar and from there for his escape to Kabul[7]. After making necessary arrangements he returned to Calcutta to bring Netaji to Peshawar, but Bose was arrested for taking part in Black Hole of Calcutta Movement in 1940 and consequently could not avail himself of the opportunity[8].

But Achhar Singh Chhina himself utilized the opportunity and went to the Soviet Union in 1940 by crossing the Hindukush Mountains on foot through Kabul and discussed the possibility of Independence with top Soviet Leaders[9].In December 1940, Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina (Larkin) submitted the thesis "The National Front in India" to Comrade Stalin.

Bhagat Ram Talwar accompanied Subhas Chandra Bose to Kabul and started establishing contact with the Soviet and German embassies in Kabul. Subhas Bose lived incognito and was busy in drawing the detail plan of work. In Kabul his Russian contact did not work out well. Bhagat Ram introduced himself to the German diplomats as Rahamat Khan and also met Alberto Quaroni, the Italian representative in Kabul. Bose tried to enter the Soviet Union twice, but couldn't succeed. After six weeks stay Subhas Bose left Kabul with an Italian passport in the name of Orlando Mazzato with the Soviet transit visa. He reached Berlin via Tashkent and MOSCOW.
Achhar Singh Chhina and International Politics

In 1942. The CPI was officially against the Quit India movement. When Hitler attacked his erstwhile ally, the Soviet Union, in 1941, the fight against Nazism overnight became a People's War for all communists. Achhar Singh Chhina [known as 'Larkin' in Soviet Union] was actively involved in international politics. He worked closely with CPI to develop a directive of CPI, and carried that directive from the Soviet Union to India with the full knowledge of the British authorities. In India, it meant communists had to isolate themselves from the mainstream of national life and politics and see British rule as a friendly force since the communists' "fatherland", Soviet Russia, was an ally of Britain. A critical decision affecting the strategic and the tactical line of the party was thus taken defying national interests at the behest of a foreign power, whose orders determined the positions and actions of the CPI.

While crossing the Hindukush he was arrested by British government at Gilgit and was brought back to Lahore where he was locked up in Lahore Fort Cell. After staying for 4 months in Lahore Fort, he was transferred to the Campbell pore Jail from where he was released on 1 May 1942.
President of the Punjab Kisan Sabha

In 1942 he was elected as President of the All India Kisan Sabha - Punjab and held this position for seven years. It was in that capacity that he organized the Harsha Chhina Moga Morcha in 1946, as a result of which he was detained in Lahore jail for three months [10]. He also held a post of Secretary of the Punjab Communist Party.
Harsha Chhina Mogha Morcha 1946-47

In 1946, under the leadership of the Communist party 'Mogha Morcha of Harsha Chhina' was launched. Comrade Acchar Singh Chhina, Sohan Singh Josh, Purran Singh, Mohan Singh Batth, Jagbir Singh Chhina, and Gurdial Singh Dhillon organised this Morcha against the ruling party, as a result of which Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina, Sohan Singh Josh and Gurdial Singh Dhillon was arrested along with 950 protestors and detained in Lahore jail for three months.

Due to this movement, all political parties negotiated with the ruling government to give farming water to the agriculturalists as per the agreement.
After Independence

In 1948 after India independence he went underground but was arrested in 1950 and detained in Ambala jail. While he was in jail, he was elected from Ajnala as a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly (MLA) in 1952. In 1957 he was again elected from Ajnala as a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly (MLA) and remained its member till 1962.He was a founder of 'Naveen Janta Public school' which was taken over by the Punjab Government later and the name of the school was changed to "Comrade Achhar Singh Chhina Senior Secondary School".
Positions held

1. President of the Kisan Sabha Punjab
2. Secretary of the Punjab Communist Party
3. Member Punjab Legislative Assembly - Ajnala (1952-1957)
4. Member of the Legislative assembly - Ajnala (1957-1962)
5. Member of the Ghadar Party Martyrs Memorial (Desh Bhagat Yaadgar), Punjab
6. Member Gadhar Party San Francisco (1922)
7. Founder of Naveen Vidhya Mandir, School
References

* Mridula "Peasants in India's Non-Violent Revolution: Practice and Theory" (India) 2004 p 227
* Bipan Chandra "The Indian Left: Critical Appraisals" ( India) 1983 p447
* Sohan Singh Josh "My Tryst with Secularism: An Autobiography" (India) 1991 p294
* Bhagwan Josh "Communist Movement in Punjab, 1926-47" (India) 1979 p221
* Gurbachan Singh Mangat "The Tiger Strikes: An Unwritten Chapter of Netaji's Life History" (India) 1986 p13
* Ralhan, O. P "Encyclopaedia of Political Parties" (India) 1997
* Dept. of Political Science, Guru Nanak Dev University "Punjab Journal of Politics" (India) 16 March 2007 p73
* All India Reporter–1940 p218
* Dept. of Political Science, Guru Nanak Dev University "Punjab Journal of Politics" (India) 16 March 2007 p95
* Verinder Grover "Political System in India" (India) 1989 p624
* Sisir Kumar " Netaji and India's Freedom: Proceedings of the International Netaji Seminar ... (India) 1975 p153
* Subodh Chandra Sen Gupta "India Wrests Freedom" (India) 1982 p256
* Mihir Bose "The Lost Hero: A Biography of Subhas Bose" (India) 1982 p142
* Subodh Markandeya "Subhas Chandra Bose: Netaji's Passage to Immortality" 1990 p 141
* Sohan Singh Josh "Hindustan Gadar Party: A Short History" (India) 1978 p199
* Jan Kuhlmann "Subhas Chandra Bose und die Indienpolitik der Achsenmächte" 2003 Page 120
* Bhattacharya "The Colonial State and the Communist Party of India, 1942-45: a Reappraisal" South Asia Research.1995; 15: 48-77
* "Subhas Chandra Bose: conspiracy to join the Axis Powers" statements by Achhar Singh Chhina, Harmindar Singh Sodhi and Bhagat Ram, (India) Jul 1937-Nov 1943 p113
* Punjab State Election Result http://www.eci.gov.in/SR_KeyHighLights/SE_1957/StatRep_Punjab_1957.pdf

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