Kirti Kisan Sabha
A Workers and Peasants Society 1928
A sabha, i.e. society or party, of the kirtis (workers) and kisans (peasants), fostered and, to some extent, funded by the Ghadr Party, was established on 12 April 1928 with a view to organizing small agriculturists and industrial workers and other low-paid urban labour, for revolutionary activity. The Sabha owed its origin to the Kirti movement started by Bhai Santokh Singh (d. 1927), a Ghadr leader who had spent two years in Moscow "studying Soviet methods of village propaganda." Initially, he laid out secret plans to prepare the masses for action. He then started propaganda through the press. To this end, he launched a monthly magazine in Punjabi, the Kirti, the first issue of which was published from Amritsar in February 1926. The journal became the mouthpiece of the Kirti Kisan Sabha. Bhai Santokh Singh was helped in his work, which was first carried on secretly, by Bhag Singh Canadian, who was co-founder with Santokh Singh of the Kirti, Karam Singh Chima, Baba Vasakha Singh and Kartar Singh of Latala.
They were joined by Santa Singh of Gandivind, also trained in Soviet methods of rural agitation, and Dasaundha Singh and Gajjan Singh who had taken an active part in Soviet propaganda in China and had been deported to India in March 1928. A little later came Harjap Singh, according to governmet papers a "notorious" Ghadr emissary, under whose direction the Sabha suddenly changed its tactics and emerged into the open with a definite constitution and programme. It was in furtherance of this new policy that an openly inflammatory Gurmukhi weekly Mazdur Kisan was also started.
The first Kirti Kisan conference, presided over by Professor Chhabil Das of the National School of Politics, was held on 28-30 September 1928 at Lyallpur. Among the 12 resolutions adopted was one declaring complete independence for the country as the goal and rejecting the recommendations of the Nehru Committee which had limited it to dominion status. The Sabha held another conference (13 October 1928) in Meerut which provided the authorities a pretext to launch the Meerut Communist conspiracy case and arrest many of the workers. The 1929 annual session of the Sabha was held at Lahore during the Christmas week. Throughout this period the Kirti continued to disseminate Communist thought and preach the creed of revolt against British imperialism. Every issue of the paper was proscribed and prosecution launched against its dummy editors and the press at which it was printed.
The Kirti Kisan conference held on 4 March 1931 at Anandpur Sahib on the occasion of the Hold Mohalla festival called upon workers and peasants to set up units of the Sabha in the villages. The Irwin-Gandhi Pact (1931), which failed to secure release of the youth involved in cases of violence, and the hanging (23 March) of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were subjected to severe censure at the annual session of the Sabha convened at Karachi on 29 March, sharing the pandal with the Naujavan Bharat Sabha.
The Kirti Kisan Sabha was declared unlawful under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908, vide notification No. 12467SB, dated 10 September 1934. The Sabha ceased to exist thereafter but the movement assumed other names and continued with the task it had taken upon itself.