Ghadar Party

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Ghadar Party
Founded 1913
Dissolved 1919
Preceded by Pacific Coast Hindustan Association
Ideology Revolutionary Socialism
Indian Nationalism
Colours Red, Saffron and Green

The Ghadar Party was an organization founded by Punjabi Indians,[1] in the United States and Canada with the aim to liberate India from British rule. Key members included lala Har Dayal, Sohan Singh Bhakna, Kartar Singh Sarabha, and Rashbehari Bose.

After the outbreak of World War I, Ghadar party members returned to Punjab to agitate for rebellion alongside the Babbar Akali Movement. In 1915 they conducted revolutionary activities in central Punjab and attempted to organize uprisings, but their attempts were crushed by the British Government.[1] After the conclusion of the war, the party in America split into Communist and Anti-Communist factions. The party was formally dissolved in 1948.[1]

Etymology[edit]

Ghadar is an Urdu word derived from Arabic which means "revolt" or "rebellion." As Kartar Singh Sarabha, one of the founders of the party, wrote in the first issue: "Today there begins 'Ghadar' in foreign lands, but in our country's tongue, a war against the British Raj. What is our name? Ghadar. What is our work? Ghadar. Where will be the Revolution? In India. The time will soon come when rifles and blood will take the place of pens and ink." The name of the organization was primarily spelled "Gadar Party" or "Ghadr Party" by its members.

Background[edit]

The economic downturn in India during the early nineteenth[dubious ] century witnessed a high level of emigration. Some of these emigrants settled in North America. These included Punjabis as well as people from other parts of India. The Canadian government decided to curtail this influx with a series of laws, which were aimed at limiting the entry of South Asians into the country and restricting the political rights of those already in the country. The Punjabi community had hitherto been an important loyal force for the British Empire and the community had expected, equal welcome and rights from the British and Commonwealth governments as extended to British and white immigrants. These laws fed growing discontent, protests and anti-colonial sentiments within the community. Faced with increasingly difficult situations, the community began organising itself into political groups. A large number of Punjabis also moved to the United States, but they encountered similar political and social problems.[2]

RasBihari Bose on request from Vishnu Ganesh Pingle, an American trained Ghadr, who met Bose at Benares and requested him to take up the leadership of the coming revolution. But before accepting the responsibility, he sent Sachin Sanyal to the Punjab to assess the situation. Sachin returned very optimistic.,[1][3] in the United States and Canada with the aim to liberate India from British rule. The movement began with a group of immigrants known as the Hindustani Workers of the Pacific Coast.[1]

Ghadar di Gunj, an early Ghadarite compilation of nationalist and socialist literature, was banned in India in 1913.

The Ghadar Party, initially the Pacific Coast Hindustan Association, was formed in 1913 in the United States under the leadership of Har Dayal,Sant Baba Wasakha Singh Dadehar, Baba Jawala Singh, Santokh Singh and Sohan Singh Bhakna as its president. The members of the party were Indian immigrants, largely from Punjab.[2] Many of its members were students at University of California at Berkeley including Dayal, Tarak Nath Das, Maulavi Barkatullah,Harnam Singh Tundilat, Kartar Singh Sarabha and V.G. Pingle. The party quickly gained support from Indian expatriates, especially in the United States, Canada and Asia.

The Ghadar Newspaper[edit]

Ghadar Newspaper (Urdu) Vol. 1, No. 22, March 24, 1914

The party was built around the weekly paper The Ghadar, which carried the caption on the masthead: Angrezi Raj Ka Dushman (an enemy of the British rule). "Wanted brave soldiers", the Ghadar declared, "to stir up rebellion in India. Pay-death; Price-martyrdom; Pension-liberty; Field of battle-India". The ideology of the party was strongly secular. In the words of Sohan Singh Bhakna, who later became a major peasant leader of the Punjab: "We were not Sikhs or Punjabis. Our religion was patriotism". The first issue of The Ghadar, was published from San Francisco on November 1, 1913.

Following the voyage of the Komagata Maru in 1914, a direct challenge to Canadian racist anti-Indian immigration laws, several thousand Indians resident in the USA sold their business and homes ready to drive the British from India. However, Hardayal had fled to Europe concerned that the US authorities would hand him over to the British. Sohan Singh Bhakna was already in British hands, and the leadership fell to Ram Chandra. Following the entry of Canada into World War I, the organization was centered in the USA and received substantial funding from the German government. They had a very militant tone, as illustrated by this quote from Harnam Singh:

No pundits or mullahs do we need

The party rose to prominence in the second decade of the 20th century, and grew in strength owing to Indian discontent over World War I and the lack of political reforms.

Ghadar activists undertook what the British described as political terrorism, but what was revolution to most Indians.[citation needed] Ghadar activists were responsible for bombs planted on government property.

In 1917 some of their leaders were arrested and put on trial in the Hindu German Conspiracy Trial in which their paper was quoted.

The Ghadar party commanded a loyal following the province of Punjab[citation needed], but many of its most prominent activists were forced into exile to Canada and the United States. It ceased to play an active role in Indian politics after 1919. The party had active members in other countries such as Mexico, Japan, China, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Malaya, Indo-China and Eastern and Southern Africa.

Founder members[edit]

  1. Sohan Singh Bhakna (President)
  2. Kesar Singh (Vice President)
  3. Lala Hardyal (General Secretary & Editor, Urdu Gadar)
  4. Kartar Singh Sarabha (Editor, Punjabi Gadar)
  5. Baba Jawala Singh (Vice President)
  6. Sant Baba Wasakha Singh Dadehar
  7. Balwant Singh
  8. Pt. Kanshi Ram (Treasurer)
  9. Harnam Singh Tundilat
  10. G. D. Verma
  11. Lala Thaker Das (Dhuri) (Vice Secretary)
  12. Munshi Ram (Organizing Secretary)
  13. Bhai Parmanand
  14. Nidhan Singh Chugha
  15. Santokh Singh
  16. Master Udham Singh
  17. Baba Harnam Singh (Kari Sari)
  18. Karim Bakhsh
  19. Amar Chand
  20. Rehmat Ali
  21. V. G. Pingle
  22. Sant Baba Wasakha Singh
  23. Maulavi Barkatullah
  24. Harnam Singh Saini
  25. Tarak Nath Das
  26. Pandurang Sadashiv Khankhoje
  27. Ganda Singh Phangureh
  28. Bhai Randhir Singh
  29. Karim Bux

In popular media[edit]

A character in the World War II thriller The Tenth Unknown by author Jvalant Nalin Sampat is a member of the Ghadar Party and is involved in the Ghadar Mutiny.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Ghadr (Sikh political organization)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Strachan 2001, p. 795
  3. ^ http://www.hindujagruti.org/articles/90.html#5
  • Strachan, Hew (2001), The First World War. Volume I: To Arms, Oxford University Press. USA, ISBN 0-19-926191-1 .

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]