KIRTĪ KISĀN SABHĀ, a sabhā, i.e. society or party, of the kirtīs (workers) and kīsāns (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 Sabhā owed its origin to the Kirtī movement started by Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh (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 Kirtī, the first issue of which was published from Amritsar in February 1926.The journal became the mouthpiece of the Kirtī Kīsān Sabhā. Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh was helped in his work, which was first carried on secretly, by Bhāg Siṅgh Canadīan, who was co-founder with Santokh Siṅgh of the Kirtī, Karam Siṅgh Chīmā, Bābā Vasākhā Siṅgh and Kartār Siṅgh of Latālā. They were joined by Santā Siṅgh of Gaṇḍiviṇḍ, also trained in Soviet methods of rural agitation, and Dasaundhā Siṅgh and Gajjaṇ Siṅgh who had taken an active part in Soviet propaganda in China and had been deported to India in March 1928. A little later came Harjāp Siṅgh, according to government papers a "notorious" Ghadr emissary, under whose direction the Sabhā 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 Gurmukhī weekly Mazdūr Kīsān was also started.
The first Kirtī Kisān conference, presided over by Professor Chhabīl Dās 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 Nehrū Committee which had limited it to dominion status. The Sabhā 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 Sabhā was held at Lahore during the Christmas week. Throughout this period the Kirtī continued to disseminate Communist thought and preach the creed of revolt against British imperialism. Every issue of the paper was prescribed and prosecution launched against its dummy editors and the press at which it was printed. The Kirtī Kisān conference held on 4 March 1931 at Anandpur Sāhib on the occasion of the Holā Mohallā festival called upon workers and peasants to set up units of the Sabhā in the villages. The Irwin Gāndhī Pact (1931), which failed to secure release of the youth involved in cases of violence, and the hanging (23 March) of Bhagat Siṅgh, Rājgurū and Sukhdev were subjected to severe censure at the annual session of the Sabhā convened at Karāchī on 29 March, sharing the paṇḍāl with the Naujavān Bhārat Sabhā.
The Kirtī Kisān Sabhā was declared unlawful under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908, vide notification No. 12467SB, dated 10 September 1934. The Sabhā ceased to exist thereafter but the movement assumed other names and continued with the task it had taken upon itself.
Sohan Siṅgh Josh