Born on 25th May, 1916 in the village Jaul of Tehri Garhwal, Sriden Suman was the best known of a group of freedom fighters to operate in Tehri. Shridev Suman’s life is a long saga of suffering in the cause of freedom, fighting against the tyranny of the rulers. After his early education in Chamba and Tehri he started teaching at Hindu National School in Dehradun in 1932. Later he passed Bhushan, Prabhakar, Visharad, and Sahitya Ratna examinations in Hindi literature. He became a key organizer and agitator for civil rights in Tehri while serving as an editor and writer for several underground presses.
What distinguished Shridev Suman even as a student was his indomitable patriotism. In 1930 when he was only 14 he participated in the Salt Satyagraha in Dehradun. He was arrested and sentenced to 15 day’s imprisonment. In 1938 he came in contact with Zakir Hussain and Kaka Kalelkar. He was instrumental in the formation of several organizations, from the Himalaya Seva Sangh, to the Himalayan States People’s Federation and Garhdesh Seva Sangh.
He was one of the first proponents of the unity of the entire Uttarakhand. At this convention Shrived Suman brought to the notice of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Vijay Laxmi Pandit the tyrannies inflicted by the rulers of Tehri on the common people. He was invited as a representative of the hill states, to a conference held in February 1939 presided over by Jawaharlal Nehru in Ludhiana.
In 1942 Suman went to see Gandhiji in Wardha to seek his blessing for the Praja Mandal movement. On returning to Tehri he was arrested by the police who had been trailing him. He was barred from entering the state of Tehri and was arrested every time he tried to do so. But Suman had vowed to fight the autocratic regime in Tehri even at the cost of his life. On 27 December 1943, when he was trying to enter the state of Tehri he was stopped at Chamba, arrested and locked up in the Tehri jail on 30 December 1943, and was subjected in inhuman tortures. He was forced to confess to his crimes and apologize but Suman’s was not the spirit to be subdued.
On 21 February 1944 Suman was tried for treason against the state and such was the terror of the ruler that no one came forward to defend him. He was his own defence and refuted all the charges leveled against him. In the prison he was mistreated in all possible manners and on 3 may 1944 Suman launched his historic indefinite fast in protest against the misbehavior of the jail authorities. His condition started deteriorating and by 11 July it had become critical. He was persuaded to end his fast and secure his freedom but he refused to do so. After 87 days’ hunger strike Suman could no longer bear it and breathed his last, a martyr, in the cause of freedom.