Assused No. 1 Sukh Dev
As proved in Lahore Conspiracy Case.
The evidence regarding the activities of Sukh Dev prior to August, 1928, when the main conspiracy was hatched, is, for the most part, that of Jai Gopal and Hans Raj Vohra, both of whom claim to have been recruited by him in his own secret society. There is a certain amount of corroboration even as regards this earlier period which shows that Sukh Dev was at that time engaged in a revolutionary conspiracy.
For instance Kanhaya Lal (P.W.61), the owner of the Gowalmandi house, Lahore taken by Jai Gopal in 1927 Identified Sukh Dev at a magisterial parade, though in the special Magistrate’s Court he failed to do so. This identification may not be very reliable one. Similar is the case with
Sundar Dass (P.W.65), the owner of the Lachman Gali house, Lahore, who also identified Sukh Dev at a magisterial parade but not in Court.
Next, there is the confession of Mahabir Singh, accused, to the effect that, it was at the instance of Sukh Dev alias villager alias Swami that he joined the Bharat Motor Company in order to learn motoring which fact in itself is well proved by other evidence such as that of Dina Nath
(P.W.50) and Kundan Lal (P.W.51). Similarly Gya Parshad in his confession has stated that when he came to Lahore in July 1928 he was met at the railway station by villager alias Sukh Dev whom Sheo Verma had already introduced to him at Cawnpore as a member of the revolutionary society and that it was Sukh Dev who arranged for his accommodation in Lahore
and subsequently for the opening of a pharmacy by him at Ferozepur. The opening of the pharmacy at Ferozepur is fully proved by other evidence, including that of Diwan Chand (P.W.200) and Gajju Ram (P.W.295), and Gya Parshad’s confession may, therefore, be fully trusted on this point. These pieces of evidence read with the statement of Jai Gopal and Hans Raj Vohra, indicate that Sukh Dev was interesting himself in a revolutionary party prior to August*, 1928 and that he was engaged in obtaining recruits for that party and in finding appropriate work for his recruits. The visits of Jai Gopal and Hans Raj Vohra to Rawalpindi at the beginning of 1928 which they have ascribed to Sukh Dev’s instructions are fully proved by the evidence of numerous Rawalpindi witnesses of whom at this point it suffices to mentioned Gian Chand (P.W.134), Hori Lal (P.W.137), Kharak Singh Head Constable (P.W.139), Gurdial Singh (P.W.141), Tulsi Ram (P.W.143), Brij Bhushan (P.W.257), Dharam Vir (P.W.258) and Gopal Krishan (P.W. 259). There is , however, no witness who has identified Sukh Dev during his alleged visits to Rawalpindi but the statement of the approvers on this point coupled with the corroborative evidence concerning the purchase of air pistols (Fazal Abbas, (P.W.140) and Gurdial Singh (P.W.141 ) sufficiently prove this fact. )
Coming now to the Delhi meeting held in September 1928, there is the evidence of the two approvers, Phonindra Nath Ghosh and Man Mohan Bannerji that Sukh Dev was present there. The only corroborating witness of this meeting is Bara Singh Chaukidar (P.W.420) and he was able at a magisterial parade held the 10th November, 1929, by Chaudri Mushtaq Ahmed (P.W.33) to pick out Sukh Dev, though he subsequently failed to pick him out in the Special Magistrate’s Court.
The testimony of these two approvers, however, is sufficient to prove the point having regard to the part which Sukh Dev subsequently took in the operations of the party from which it is evident that he was one of the members of the Central Committee.
Sukh Dev’s connection with the Punjab National Bank raid and with the murder of Mr. Saunders is proved by the evidence of Jai Gopal and Hans Raj Vohra, coupled with the corroborative evidence that he was frequenting the Mozang House where these two plots were hatched.
Mahabir Singh in his confession has mentioned Sukh Dev as having frequented that house and he has also ascribed to Sukh Dev the instructions which led him to take the house on rent on the 9th November, 1928. In addition Sukh Dev has been identified at magisterial parades and also in Court by Hussain Baksh (P.W.64), Bura (P.W.72), Budhu, (P.W.73) and Fakir Chand (P.W.86) as frequenting the Mozang House.
Further, the confession of Mahabir Singh not only proves that Sukh Dev frequented the Mozang House but actually corroborates the evidence given by Jai Gopal to the effect that Sukh Dev was one of the persons who joined in the meeting at which the murder of Mr. Scott was planned.
This fact may, therefore, be taken as well proved. After the murder both Jai Gopal and Hans Raj Vohra on different occasions were told by Sukh Dev that Bhagat Singh and Shivram Rajguru had left Lahore for Cawnpore and this act receives corroboration not only from the evidence of Railway officials namely, Ram Saran Dass (P.W.114), Hari Chand (P.W. 115), Niaz Din (P.W. 116) and Tej Singh (P.W.117) but also from the confession of Prem Dutt who repeats a story of Bhagat Singh that he traveled in a second class compartment on the third day after the Saunders murder. This is additional proof of Sukh Dev’s complicity in the murder as it indicates murders after the event. That Sukh Dev took the Kirpa Ram Street house in Mohalla Jaure Mori, Lahore, on the 5th December 1928, under the name of Devi Dass and subsequently lived in that house, is well proved by the evidence of Jai Gopal coupled with that of Ghota Mal (P.W.62) and Bansi Lal (P.W.315), the former being the owner of the house and the latter the man by whom the rent deed (Ex. P.B.G) was written out. Both these men identified Sukh Dev at a magisterial parade and also in Court. This is the house to which, according to Jai Gopal’s evidence, the Lahore members of the party moved from the Mozang Quarters about the end of December when the Saunders murderers had left Lahore.
The visits of Sukh Dev to the house of Gya Parshad at Ferozepur are proved by Jai Gopal, Corroborated by Diwan Chand (P.W.200) and Gajju Ram (P.W.295), both of whom have identified him at a magisterial parade as well as in Court. The identification by Diwan Chand is not entirely satisfactory because he has described Sukh Dev by the appellation of Bhai Sahib which was the name given not to Sukh Dev but to Mahabir Singh. The identification by Gujju Ram, however, is quite satisfactory and this man was a very convincing witness. Sukh Dev’s presence at Amritsar is proved by Ram Sahai (P.W.1978), who picked him out at a magisterial parade and also in Court as having taken on rent from him under the name of Sunder Dass, the house in Mughal Bazar. This corroborates Jai Gopal on the point of Sukh Dev frequenting that house. Sukh Dev’s visits to Kishori Lal and Prem Dutt at the Guru Dutt Bhawan were proved by Prem Dutt’s confession as well as by the witnesses Pran Nath (P.W.224), and Bakhshish Rai (P.W.457), both of whom identified Sukh Dev in a satisfactory manner. The visit of Sukh Dev to Jai Gopal at Chikarkot is amply proved by Jai Gopal’s evidence corroborated by that of Balak Ram Station Master (P.W.162), who is related to Sukh Dev.
Sukh Dev’s connection with the bomb making at Agra is proved by Jai Gopal’s evidence that Sukh Dev told him that a bomb factory of the party existed at Agra, this information being given on the 14th April, 1929, when Jai Gopal returned from Kohat by the full and detailed evidence of Phonindra Nath Ghosh regarding the bomb manufacture which went on at Agra from the 14th February onwards coupled with that of Lalit Kumar Mukherji on the same subject; and by the corroborative evidence of Gya Parshad’s confession that Sukh Dev alias villager used to come to the Nai Ki mandi house at Agra. (Gainda Lal, P.W. 237 who identified Sukh Dev at a magisterial parade as having frequented the Nuri Gate house at Agra, was not very reliable in his identification and his evidence may be disregarded.) Phonindra Nath Ghosh had said that it was Sukh Dev who brought and sent bomb shells from Lahore to Agra and in this connection the corroborative evidence that the Sukh Dev was getting bomb shells made by various molders on the Branderth road, Lahore, which evidence will be mentioned later, must be taken as a corroboration of Phonindra Nath Ghosh’s testimony on this point.
Finally, there is the fact proved by Mr. Peel (P.W.178) that Sukh Dev gave information on the 2nd may 1929, about the Hing Ki Mandi house at Agra, a search of which house on that date led (see Ex. P. E.g/ 1) to the discovery of chemical stains on the floor and wall of that house and on various small articles found therein, which stains are proved by the report of the Chemical Examiner (Ex. C.1/5) to have been stains of picric acid, arsenic and sulphuric acids. It may be said in view of the foregoing facts that Sukh Dev is proved to have taken part in the bomb making activities at Agra.
Sukh Dev’s connection with the plan to rescue Jogesh Chander Chatterjee is mentioned by Phonindra Nath Ghosh in his evidence where he sates that Sukh Dev was one of the members of the Central Committee who discussed his plan at Agra on the 14th February but he was not one of the rescue party, and there is no direct corroboration of the statement of Phonindra Nath Ghosh on this point. It is not stated by Phonindra Nath Ghosh that Sukh Dev was a member of the meeting which planned to throw a bomb in the assembly hall, Delhi, but that Sukh Dev knew of this project is sufficiently evident from a letter Ex.P.137, which is proved to have been written by Bhagat Singh and which from its tenor must be taken to refer to the carrying out of that particular project. This letter is convincingly proved by the evidence of the Handwriting Expert, Mr. Scott (P.W.423) to be in Bhagat Singh’s handwriting and its contents complied with the fact that it was recovered during the raid on the Kashmir Building.
Of the three men arrested in that building Jai Gopal had returned from Kohat only one day before the raid and the wording of the letter is such that it could not have been addressed to a subordinate member of the party such as Jai Gopal and similarly it could not have been addressed to Kishori Lal Rattan because it refers amongst other matters, to a third person named Mast Ram Shastri which is one of the aliases of Kishori Lal Rattan. It is reasonable conclusion, therefore, that the third man arrested in that house, namely Sukh Dev was the man to whom this letter had been addressed and, moreover, it was clearly written by one leader of the Party to another leader who was also the close friend and confidant of the writer, a relationship which could apply to Bhagat Singh and Sukh Dev.
Sukh Dev’s presence at Delhi on the days proceeding the throwing of the bomb in the Assembly Hall, is not, however established, the witness on this point being Mussamat Mukandi (P.W.169), Banwari Lal (P.W.170) and Harman Singh (P.W.171). Banwari Lal’s identification of Sukh Dev was satisfactory, but he himself was not a very convincing witness. Harnam Singh’s identification was not satisfactory, nor was he a convincing witness. Mussamat Mukandi though a convincing witness, did not identify Sukh Dev satisfactorily having been unable to pick him
out in Court, though she had previously picked him out in magisterial parade.
The matter which is proved most clearly of all against Sukh Dev is his connection with the bomb factory in the Kashmir Building. This is proved not only by the evidence of Jai Gopal who visited that Bomb Factory and was himself arrested there; by Prem Dutt’s confession that Dyal alias Sukh Dev had five bomb shells with him on one occasion when he came to the Guru Dutt Bhawan and that subsequently bomb making formulae were given to him by Sukh Dev in order to be copied, the note books containing these copies being subsequently found in Kashmir Building when the raid was made; by Sukh Dev’s own arrest in the Kashmir Building. One live bomb and eight bomb shells and numerous chemicals and apparatus being found there at the time, which facts are amply proved by the statements of Khan Sahib Niaz Ahmed Khan (P.W.23), Chaudri Shab ud Din, Sub-Inspector (P.W.32), Khan Bhadur Syed Budhe Shah (P.W.321), Bashir Baksh (P.W.99) and Said Ahmad Shah (P.W.411) and the attempt which Sukh Dev made to use the loaded revolver, Ex.P.122, on that occasion which this same witnesses prove; and, finally, there is the full and convincing evidence which has been given by the moulders and carpenters of the Brandert Road, Lahore, through whom Sukh Dev had arranged for the making of bomb shells and through the information given by one of whom to Nur Shah Constable (P.W.132) the bomb factory in question became known to the police.
The names of these witnesses, who had identified Sukh Dev at magisterial parades and in Court as having come to them for purposes connected with the making of the bomb shells are Siraj Din son of Nur Din (P.W.126), Feroz Din (P.W.127), Siraj Din son of Allaha Ditta (P.W.128) and Ghulam Rasul (P.W.129). These identifications were all satisfactory and there can be no reasonable doubt of the veracity of these witnesses who fully prove Sukh Dev’s activity in connection with the manufacture of bombs in Lahore from February to April, 1929.
To sum up against Sukh Dev, he is proved to have been recruiting members of the revolutionary party in 1927, 1928, to have been present at Delhi meeting in September, 1928 and to have been
appointed a member of the Central Committee at that time and also head of the revolutionary orgainsation in the Punjab, to have been privy to the plots to raid the Punjab National Bank and to murder Mr. Scott, though not taking part in the murder himself, to have been privy to the attention of Bhagat Singh to throw a bomb in the assembly Hall at Delhi; to have assisted in the bomb making activities at Agra; to have been the principal organizer of the bomb factory in Kashmir building Lahore; and, finally, to have visited, in the interest of the party, Amritsar, Ferozepur and the North West Frontier Province. Sukh Dev may be said to have been the brains to the conspiracy while Bhagat Singh was its right arm. Sukh Dev was an organizer and zealous in recruiting new members and in finding work for the suitable to the capacity of the
each. He was backward in taking part himself in acts of violence but he must be held nonetheless to be responsible for those acts to the execution of which his brains and organizing power made important contribution.
(With thanks from book "The Hanging of Bhagat Singh - Complete judgment, and other Documents" edited by Prof. Malwinderjit Singh Waraich and Dr. Gurdev Singh Sidhu, published by Unistar Books Pvt. Ltd, S.C.O 26-27, Sector 34 A Chandigarh, Total pages 244)