Ghadar Party

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Ghadar Party
President Sohan Singh Bhakna
Founder Kartar Singh Sarabha
Founded 1913
Dissolved 1919
Preceded by Pacific Coast Hindustan Association
Ideology Indian independence movement
Colours Red, Saffron and Green

The Ghadar Party (Punjabi: ਗ਼ਦਰ ਪਾਰਟੀ) was an Indian revolutionary organisation primarily founded by Punjabis,[1] The party was multi-ethnic and had Sikh , Hindu and Muslim leaders. The party had its headquarters San Francisco. Key members included Bhai Parmanand, Sohan Singh Bhakna, Har Dayal, Mohammad Iqbal Shedai, Kartar Singh Sarabha, Abdul Hafiz Mohamed Barakatullah, Sulaman Choudhary, Aamir Choudhary, Rashbehari Bose and Gulab Kaur.

After the outbreak of World War I, Ghadar party members returned to Punjab to agitate for rebellion alongside the Babbar Akali Movement.[citation needed] In 1915 they conducted revolutionary activities in central Punjab and organised uprisings. Their presence challenged the hold of the British Empire; police surveillance in Punjabi villages increased in an attempt to crush the rebellion. The party is known for setting the foundation for future Indian revolutionary movements and served as a stepping stone for independence. Though predominantly Sikh, the party included members and leaders of many religions, demonstrating an plularistic and democratic attitude towards all Indians.[1] After the conclusion of the war, the party in the United States was fractured into a Communist and an Anti-Communist faction. The party was formally dissolved in 1948.[1]


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 organisation was primarily spelled "Gadar Party" or "Ghadr Party" by its members.


The economic downturn in India during the early twentieth[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, East Africa 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 [Guru Nanak Jhaj] in 1914, a direct challenge to Canadian anti-Indian immigration laws, several thousand Indians resident in the United States 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 organisation was centred 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.[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. Kartar Singh Sarabha (Editor, Punjabi Gadar)
  4. Baba Jawala Singh (Vice-President)
  5. Sant Baba Wasakha Singh Dadehar
  6. Balwant Singh (Ghadarite)
  7. Pt. Kanshi Ram (Treasurer)
  8. Harnam Singh Tundilat
  9. G. D. Verma
  10. Lala Thaker Das (Dhuri) (Vice Secretary)
  11. Munshi Ram (Organizing Secretary)
  12. Bhai Parmanand
  13. Nidhan Singh Chugha
  14. Santokh Singh (Ghadarite)
  15. Master Udham Singh
  16. Baba Chattar Singh Ahluwalia (Jethuwal)
  17. Baba Harnam Singh (Kari Sari)
  18. Mangu Ram Mugowalia[4][5]
  19. Karim Bakhsh
  20. Amar Chand
  21. Rehmat Ali (Ghadarite)
  22. V. G. Pingle
  23. Sant Baba Wasakha Singh
  24. Maulavi Barkatullah
  25. Harnam Singh Saini
  26. Tarak Nath Das
  27. Pandurang Sadashiv Khankhoje
  28. Ganda Singh Phangureh
  29. Bhai Randhir Singh
  30. Karim Bux
  31. Baba Prithvi Singh Azad
  32. Wadhawa singh warwal & sons (Rana singh & Bhana singh)

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]


  • Strachan, Hew (2001), The First World War. Volume I: To Arms, Oxford University Press. USA, ISBN 0-19-926191-1 .

Further reading[edit]

Ajmer Singh - Gadari Babe Kaun San -

External links[edit]