Roshan Singh (22 January 1892, Shahjahanpur district – 19 December 1927, Allahabad) was an Indian revolutionary who was previously sentenced in the Bareilly shooting case during Non Cooperation Movement of 1921-22. After release from Bareilly Central Jail, he joined the Hindustan Republican Association in 1924. Although he had not taken part in the Kakori conspiracy, yet he was arrested and confined to capital punishment of death sentence by the then British Government.
Roshan Singh was born to Kaushalyani Devi and Jangi ram Singh on 22 Jan 1892 in a Thakur family of Navada village. This small village is situated in Shahjahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. He was a sharp shooter and good wrestler. He had been associated with the Arya Samaj of Shahjahanpur for a long time. When the U.P. Government imposed a ban on Indian National Congress Volunteer Corps in November 1921, it was decided to oppose the decision of government from all corners of the country. Thakur Roshan Singh led the troop of aggressive volunteers sent from Shahjahanpur district to the Bareilly region. Police opened a fire to stop the procession and Roshan Singh was arrested along with other protesters. A case was filed and he was sent for two years’ rigorous imprisonment in the Central Jail of Bareilly.
Since he hailed from Shahjahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh, a region famous for its coarse & rough language, his stay in the jail prompted the Jailer to behave rudely with him, saying people like him deserved such harsh treatment. For Roshan Singh, this was too much and he decided then in jail itself to take revenge against the inhuman behavior of the British Government. As soon as he was released from Bareilly jail, he went straight to Shahjahanpur and met Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil in the premises of the Arya Samaj. Bismil was already in search of some sharp shooters for his revolutionary party. He immediately enrolled Thakur Roshan Singh in his newly established organisation and allotted him the task of teaching shooting to the youngsters enrolling into the party.
The Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) was struggling hard in collecting the funds. The richest sector of society was not prepared to pay even a single ruppee to the young organisation. Although they were paying to the Congress and Swaraj Party with open hands. Then Thakur Roshan Singh suggested Ram Prasad Bismil to steal money from the richer sector of society through armed terror. Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil gave it a new term as an Action. It was a code word of the party.
On 25 December 1924, (in the night of Christmas Day) a house of Baldeo Prasad was attacked in the night by the Action-Men of HRA in the leadership of Thakur Roshan Singh. Baldeo was a money lender and sugar king. In this they could get Rupees 4000 and good stock of arnaments. Mohan Lal – a wrestler of the village – challenged the persons and opened a fire. Thakur Roshan Singh, who was a sharp shooter, killed him in a single shot and grabbed his rifle.
Although Thakur Roshan Singh had not participated in Kakori train robbery even then he was caught, tried and sentenced to death for the murder of Mohan Lal. When the judgement was delivered and Judge announced five years punishment under section 121(A) and 120(B) of I.P.C., Roshan Singh could understand the English words “five years”. He was going to abuse the judge for not punishing him up to the standard of Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil, in the meantime Vishnu Sharan Dublish whispered in his ear – “Thakur Sahib! You have also been punished in the same grade as Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil”. Hearing these words from Dublish Thakur Roshan Singh sprang up from his chair, embraced Ram Prasad Bismil and joyfully said – “Oye Pandit! Did you like to go alone to the gallows? But this Thakur is not going to spare you any way. He will accompany you too”.
Thakur Roshan Singh had written to his cousin Hukam Singh from the condemned cell of Malaka/Naini Jail of Allahabad – “The life of a man is the best creature of God and I have proved this by sacrificing it for cause of its creature. I am the first man of my native village Nabada who has glorified all of you my brothers and sisters. Why to repent for this mortal human body, it was to be finished any day. I am happy that I could devote more and more time to meditate in the last moments. I know the man who dies in the way of his duty or Dharma gets salvation for ever. You need not worry for my death. I am going to sleep peacefully in the lap of God.”
Thakur Roshan Singh sacrificed for the betterment of a common man but his spouse and children got nothing as a reward for that. After his death, his spouse and family had to face social and economic hardship including problems in finding a matrimonial match for his daughters. If anyone who was ready to marry her then a police officer would threaten members of his family by saying, “if you marry Roshan’s daughter then I will announce you as a traitor”. His village Nabada is still as backward as it was in the period of British India. Nothing to the mark has been done by the India government for the rural development. Farmers are still deprived of their basic needs of the daily routine.