Shiv Verma
Comrade Shiv Verma.jpg
Verma in 1982
Born(1904-02-09)9 February 1904
Died10 January 1997(1997-01-10) (aged 92)
Other namesPrabhat
OrganizationCommunist Consolidation, Hindustan Socialist Republican Association
Political partyCommunist Party of India (Marxist)

Shiv Verma (Hindi: शिव वर्मा; 9 February 1904 — 10 January 1997) was an Indian marxist revolutionary and a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.

Early life

Shiv Verma was born on 9 February 1904 in Khateli village of Hardoi district in United Provinces. At the age of 17, he participated[1] in the Non-Cooperation Movement.

He was a student of the DAV College of Cawnpore.[2]

Revolutionary activities

Kanpur (then Cawnpore) was the place where the Hindustan Republican Association was formed by Sachindranath Sanyal, Suresh Chandra Bhattacharya and others. People like Vijay Kumar Sinha, Shiv Verma, Jaidev Kapoor, and Surendra Nath Pandey joined the party. Verma's party name was 'Prabhat' (Hindi: प्रभात).[3]

Verma was inclined towards socialism. Vijay Kumar Sinha introduced Verma to the journalist and writer, Radha Mohan Gokul,[4] who became an ideological mentor and inspiration for Verma.[5] Radha Mohan had an extensive collection of books[6] and he encouraged Verma to read and discuss socialism. In 1925, after the Kakori incident, Azad was staying in Jhansi, in seclusion. He came to Kanpur with Kundan Lal Gupt and stayed with Radha Mohan Gokul. This was when Verma and Azad met for the first time.

While studying in DAV College, Kanpur, Verma met Bhagat Singh for the first time in January 1927 when the latter had come to Kanpur for a week to meet all the other revolutionaries of HRA.

Ram Prasad Bismil was going to be hanged on 19 December 1927. A day before, his mother, Moolrani (Hindi: मूलरानी) came to visit him for the last time in Gorakhpur jail. Verma had already reached there. He approached Bismil's mother and requested her to help him meet Bismil to discuss some party matters. Bismil's mother instantly agreed and asked him to pose as Bismil's cousin, Shankar Prasad, and refer to her as 'mausi' (Hindi: मौसी). Since it was the final meeting between mother and son, they were left alone for some time. Bismil's mother then asked him to talk to Verma, referring to him as an HRA member.[7]

It was Verma who recruited Mahavir Singh in June 1928 for HRA activities.

Verma regrouped with Sukhdev and others in Lahore. In November 1928, Verma underwent training in the manufacturing of bombs while staying in Agra near Noori Gate[8] where he rented a house under the fake name - Amir Chand.

In the final verdict of the Kakori conspiracy, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. While he was kept in the Fatehgarh Jail from 1928 to 1929, Verma and Sinha were entrusted with the job of getting Chatterjee's approval for getting him released from jail.[9] On 3 March 1928, after the duo left Fatehgarh Jail, the secret police were on their trail. The duo sensed this and decided to leave immediately. They bought train tickets for Kanpur but the ticket details were soon available to the police. When the train started, two policemen seated themselves in the same compartment where the duo had reserved their seats. They were looking for an opportunity to abscond during the journey. Later, when the train was leaving the Jalalabad station, they jumped out of the train cautiously. The constables hurt themselves in their attempt to follow them and could not give a chase. The duo again evaded arrest at the Kanpur station but now had accepted the fact that, henceforth, they would have to lead the life of fugitives.

Verma was a member of the Central Committee[10] which was formed by the revolutionaries in the ruins of the Feroze Shah Kotla fort of Delhi on September 8 & 9, 1928. He was the organizer of the United Provinces branch. Verma wrote several articles for the paper 'Chand' (Hindi: चाँद).

By the beginning of 1929, it was clear that Viceroy Lord Irwin would use his veto power to pass the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Dispute Bills, despite being rejected in the assembly. Verma was assigned as the leader of a team that would assess the possibility of assassinating Viceroy Irwin. They decided to attempt it when the Viceroy was going to attend a banquet and dinner party held by some I.C.S officers in Delhi. Rajguru was the spotter, Kapoor was supposed to hurl a bomb on Irwin's car and Verma was the backup - in case Kapoor missed. Rajguru noticed that the Viceroy's car was containing three ladies, hence, he didn't give any signal and was later praised by Azad and the other compatriots for avoiding indiscriminate assassinations.[11] They later learned that the Viceroy had proceeded to some other venue and reached the banquet venue later via a different route.

Azad had ordered that after Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt hurled bombs in the assembly, everyone except Shiv Verma and Jaidev Kapoor must leave Delhi while Azad himself will head to Jhansi. Verma went to drop Azad at the station. Azad instructed Verma to take good care of Singh and Dutt as these two were headed on a path of no return.[12] Shiv Verma and Jaidev Kapoor spent a sleepless and dejected night in their Delhi hideout, wondering about the future of their arrested compatriots.


Dr Gaya Prasad, Jaidev Kapoor, and Shiv Verma were given the task of setting up a bomb factory in Sahranpur. The modus operandi was simple - Dr Gaya Prasad would rent a place to start a dispensary, Verma and Kapoor would be his compounder and dresser, respectively. This plan had worked out successfully previously[13] e.g.: Ferozepur factory-cum-hideout (where Verma pretended to be 'Ram Narayan Kapoor'[14]). This time, they couldn't secure any funds as their primary source, Kashiram (another HSRA revolutionary) failed to turn up with the money. Dr Gaya Prasad then left for Kanpur to arrange some funds while Verma and Kapoor stayed back. Soon, the locals and the police grew suspicious as these two were idle, the doctor was missing and there was no activity resembling a dispensary. This was during May 1929. Every night, Verma and Kapoor went to the terrace and observed the surrounding area. One of their observations was that the police conducted search raids and arrests around 0400 hours, therefore, they took turns and stood guard during the night. After sunrise, they would come down and sleep without any anxiety. On 13 May 1929, they were fast asleep in the courtyard when there was a knock on the door. Shiv Verma woke up and opened the door thinking that it was Dr Gaya Prasad but it turned out to be armed police constables. The DSP, Mathura Dutt Joshi, and the Chief Police Officer marched in while the constables held Verma. Upon being asked about his whereabouts, Verma said that he was Dr Gaya Prasad's relative, he was studying in the Banaras University and was here on a vacation. He denied any knowledge about the gunpowder lying in one of the cupboards. In the adjoining room, they found Jaidev Kapoor along with bombshells and other material. The DSP compelled Verma to open a trunk. Verma opened the trunk, put his hand inside it, produced a bomb and pretended to hurl it towards the DSP. The DSP and most of the constables ran outside the house while the Chief Police Officer hid behind the door and started to observe Verma's moves. To prevent accidents, the bombs and the pins required to trigger them were kept separately. Verma wanted the pins and two revolvers placed in another cupboard, hence, he placed the bomb on the floor and proceeded towards the cupboard. The Chief Officer seized this opportunity, overpowered Verma and called for support. The constables stormed in again and finally, both Kapoor and Verma were handcuffed. Two days later, Dr Gaya Prasad was arrested at the same location when he returned from Kanpur, late in the night.[15]

Both were taken to the police headquarters, imprisoned but treated well to create an impression that the arrested revolutionaries were treated generously. One of the constables confided in Verma that the DSP had told them they were going to raid and arrest opium traders, had the constables any idea about the revolutionaries, they would have allowed them to escape. Verma and Kapoor also learned that the tip-off was given by their HSRA compatriot, Phanindranath Ghosh, who had turned into a witness for the police.

Hunger strike

Shiv Verma, Jaidev Kapoor, and Dr Gaya Prasad were sent to Lahore jail. Over a short period of time, the HSRA revolutionaries arrested at different locations were together in the Lahore jail. Shiv Verma, Jaidev Kapoor, Kishori Lal and all the other HSRA revolutionaries begun hunger strike on 13 July 1929, to express solidarity with Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt, who had already been on a hunger strike for a month. Being lean and thin, Shiv Verma received less beating and thrashing from the police while Bhagat Singh, Mahavir Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and other more sturdy men bore most of the brunt. In the hunger strike, Jatin Das succumbed to the ill-effects of forced feeding while Shiv Verma's condition turned critical.[16]

Lahore conspiracy verdict

The Lahore Conspiracy Case ruling came on 7 October 1930. Shiv Verma was among the revolutionaries who were sentenced to life imprisonment.[17] One day, a senior police inspector ordered Shiv Verma and his associates to vacate their cells. The inspector compassionately allowed Shiv Verma and others to meet Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru for one last time. Shiv Verma's eyes brimmed with tears when leaving. This is when Bhagat Singh remarked "Shiv, it is not the time to be emotional. I will be relieved of all difficulties in a few days; but you all have to undertake a long, difficult journey. I am confident that despite the heavy burden of responsibility, you will not be fatigued in this long campaign and you will not be disheartened enough to give up".[18]


Shiv Verma was then sent to Rajahmundry Jail of Andhra Pradesh where he learned about the deaths of first, Azad and later, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru. He was later deported to the Cellular Jail in Andaman. In 1933, he participated in the hunger strike to protest against the inhuman and unfair treatment meted out to the inmates, especially, the political prisoners.[19] During this hunger strike, his HSRA compatriot, Mahavir Singh, died. The others who died were Mohit Maitra and Manakrishna Nabadas. The British authorities finally relented and agreed to the following demands:

For political prisoners

Gradually, an academic environment grew within the premises of the jail. Prisoners studied political science and history under Satish Pakrashi, Shiv Verma and Bhupal Bose. In 1937, under the leadership of Verma and Hare Krishna Konar the 36-day and final hunger striker was done before the cellular jail was shut down permanently in January 1938. He was repatriated to India in September 1937 but was finally released in 1946.

Later life

In 1948, Verma was elected secretary of the Uttar Pradesh state committee of the Communist Party of India. He was imprisoned several times during the years 1948, 1962 and 1965 when the ruling Indian National Congress took actions against the communist parties. Verma sided with the CPI(M) but gradually faced opposition and humiliation during the internal rift for election tickets.[20] Though Verma got the MP ticket of CPI (M) from Kanpur in 1971 but defeated by his rival independent communist candidate S.M. Banerjee.

He incessantly tried to factually portray the Indian revolutionaries and counter the polarized opinions about them. He became the editor[21] of ‘लोकलहर’ (Loklahar)[22] and ‘Naya Savera’, the mouthpiece of the then Communist Party of India. He was also the editor of a Hindi journal Naya Path.[23] He was a lifelong trustee of the Lucknow Montessori Society started by 'Durga bhabhi'.[24] He also founded the Martyrs Memorial and Freedom Struggle Research Centre, Lucknow.[25][26] He traveled all over the country to collect articles, photographs, etc., of the revolutionaries. He even went to the British Museum, London, in this very connection.


Shiv Verma died on January 10, 1997.[27]


The municipal council of Hardoi has passed a resolution to erect statues of Shiv Verma, Jaidev Kapoor, and Hari Bahadur Shrivastav in the garden (Hindi: शहीद उद्यान) dedicated to Indian revolutionaries.[28]

In the movie The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Kapil Sharma portrayed the role of Shiv Verma.[29]



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