SOHAN SIṄGH JOSH (1898-1892), Akālī-turned-Communist, was born on 22 September 1898 at Chetanpurā in Amritsar district. His father's name was Lāl Siṅgh. Sohan Siṅgh, who entered school rather late, passed the Middle standard examination from Church Mission School, Majīṭhā, and the Matriculation examination from D.A.V. School, Amritsar, then joining the Khālsā College at Amritsar which he had to leave soon after owing to lack of financial support. Search for employment took him to Hublī and later to Bombay where he worked for a short while in a post office assigned to censoring mail in the Gurmukhī script, putting up in a gurdwārā of which he took charge as secretary. Returning to his native village in 1918, he became a school teacher. Sohan Siṅgh who had by now added the epithet 'Josh," meaning "fiery," to his name, jumped into the Gurdwārā Reform movement launched for the liberation of the Sikh shrines from their corrupt custodians. In 1922, he was arrested and sentenced to a year's imprisonment for his anti-British speeches. In March 1923, he was nominated a member of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee and appointed general secretary of the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal. As these organizations were declared unlawful in October 1923, he was again taken into custody, and released only in September 1926 after the enactment of the Sikh Gurdwārās Act under which management of Sikh historical shrines was to be entrusted to a statutorily elected body. His line now became more radical. In April 1928 he took an active part in establishing the Kirtī Kisān Party and in December 1928 he presided over the first All-India Workers and Peasants Conference held at Calcutta. Simultaneously, he was working for the Naujavān Bhārat Sabhā set up by Bhagat Siṅgh and his friends. In February 1929, he was elected its president. He was privy to all revolutionary activity undertaken by the organization as a consequence of which he was arrested in the Meerut conspiracy case in March 1929, serving five years in jail. He was among the pioneers of the Communist movement in the Punjab and was the first member of the party to be elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly on Congress nomination at the 1937 elections. In 1938, he became general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee as well as a member of the All-India Congress Committee. During World War II, he was arrested as a security prisoner and remained in jail for two years, June 1940 to 1 May 1942. Another jail term began when the Communist Party was declared illegal in 1948, after Independence. In 1951, he was elected a member of the central executive of the Communist Party of India. From 1971 to 1975, he served as chairman of the central control committee of the Party.

        Sohan Siṅgh Josh wrote both in English and Punjabi. His writing career began as he associated himself with the rebel Sikh paper, Akālī, brought out by Master Sundar Siṅgh Lyāllpurī in May 1920. In 1925, he collaborated with Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh, a Communist leader trained in Moscow, to bring out the monthly Kirtī. His articles were generally published under assumed names of Rukn ud-Dīn and Svatantra Siṅgh. In later years, he edited the Communist papers Jaṅg i-Azādī and the Navāṅ Zamānā daily. His books in Punjabi include Beṅgālī Sāhit dī Vaṇagī (A Choice of Bengali Literature), translation, 1934 ; Rut Naviāṅ dī Aī (Season now is for the New), a book of poems, 1955 ; Merī Rūs Yātrā (My Russian Journey), 1958; Pañjābī Bolī te Bhāshā Vigiān (Punjabi Language and the Science of Language), 1969; Ikk Inqalāb Ikk Jīvanī ( A Revolution and a Life Story), 1969; Akālī Morchiāṅ dā Itihās (A History of Akālī Campaigns), 1972; Kāmāgāṭā Mārū dā Dukhānt (The Tragic Story of the Komagata Maru), 1976; Bhagat Siṅgh nāl Meriāṅ Mulākātaṅ (My Meetings with Bhagat Siṅgh), 1977. A History of the Hindustan Ghadr Party; in two parts (English), was published in 1977-78. He wrote an incomplete autobiography, two novels and some stories which lie unpublished.

        Sohan Siṅgh Josh died on 29 July 1982 At Amritsar.


  1. Pratāp Siṅgh, Giānī, Gurdwārā Sudhār arthāt Akālī Lahir. Amritsar, 1975
  2. Dilgeer, Harjinder Siṅgh, Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal. Jalandhar, 1978
  3. Ganda Singh, ed., Struggle for Reforms in Sikh Shrines. Amritsar, n.d.

Sant Siṅgh Sekhoṅ