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Gadar Party

The following text appears in the Stockton, California Gurdwara Library. Its tone reflects the passionate feelings of Gadar Party members of the time which had led up to Indian independence. Many Gadar members visited, and some even lived at, the Stockton Gurdwara prior to 1930.

Gadar Party, 1913 - 1915

The GADAR or GHADAR PARTY was secular in character. Its aim was to overthrow the British rule by using force and free India from foreign domination. GADAR Party was the popular name of the "Hindi Association of the Pacific Coast" which ran the newspaper "GADAR" which was loved by every Indian. The original party from which "Hindi Association of the Pacific Coast" came into being is the "Hindi Association" which was established in Portland (Oregon) in 1912. GADAR PARTY can be said to have the following as the founding members:


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. Baba Waisakha Singh
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 (etc.)

Gadar Party - Background

The word GADAR or GHADAR means revolt or rebellion. The GADAR Party was a revolt against the British rule in India and it was started and organized by the Indian immigrants to Canada and the United States of America. It was not the result of efforts of any one man or a group. It was the result of the general and natural reaction of the political, social, and economic conditions that prevailed in India in about the year 1904, and on the minds of the brave and courageous of Punjab. They were hard pressed by the adverse economic conditions prevailing in the Punjab at that time to earn their livelihood.

These immigrants were adventurous and hardy people. They worked hard, got good wages and did very well in these new countries. They saw the American people upholding the American Declaration of Independence of 4th of July 1776, establishing the right of freedom and liberty of every human being in the political, social, and economic field. The Indian mind was thus charged with this feeling of freedom and consequently they wanted to get rid of the foreign rule in their own country. This rise in the consciousness of the Indian people was admired by the American people but the Canadian people did not like it because in Canada, the British and the French formed the main bulk of the people.

But in the days of economic depression in the United States the white laborers began to think that the economic depression was mainly due to the inflow of the hard working laboring class of the Asians. So they began to ill treat them. There were riots and the Asians, i.e., Indians, Japanese, Chinese, suffered life and property losses. Whereas the Japanese and Chinese governments worked with the American government to make good the losses of the Japanese and Chinese sufferers respectively, the British India Government did not show any interest. This further strengthened Indian's urge to free their Country from the foreign Yoke.

In 1908, in Seattle (Washington) Mr. Tarak Nath, started a monthly magazine named "Free India" under the management of a Bengali exile Surinder Mohan Bose. This magazine advocated armed rebellion against the British rule in India. Mr. Tarak Nath also formed "East India Association" in 1911. Similarly in Oregon State too, a meeting of the Indians was held at Portland in 1912 at which "The Hindustani Association" was formed and it was also decided there to start an URDU weekly newspaper, "The India."

In Oregon a meeting of the Indians was held in Portland in 1912 at which the Hindustani Association was formed which ultimately turned into GADAR PARTY. Sohn Singh Bhakna and Bhai Udham Singh Kasel were laid off from their jobs and they went to Astoria, Oregon to see their friend Bhai Kesar Singh.

There a branch of the party was opened with Bhai Kesar Singh, Munshi Karim Bakhsh and Shri Munshi Ram as President, Secretary and Treasurer respectively. Only five or six meetings were held when G. D. Kumar, who was to start an Urdu weekly paper "The India", fell sick and the paper could not be started. During this time Lala Tkakar Dass (Dhuri) came to Portland to see Sohan Singh Bhakna and Kanshii Ram and advised them to send for Lala Hardyal and entrust him the work of running the paper and Lala Hardyal also agreed to it. He however, along with Bhai Parmanand reached St. John, Oregon in the last week of March, 1913. A meeting of the Association was called and representatives from other cities were invited to attend. It was decided in the meeting that the Hindustani Association's branches should be Headquartered in San Francisco California. Plans were also made to open branches in other additional cities.

The office Headquarters at San Francisco was to be named as "GADAR ASHRAM" or "UGANTER ASHRAM." And the party to be known as "Hindi Association of the Pacific Coast." The other important decision of the meeting was to use force to overthrow the foreign rule in India. The earlier aims of industrial and agricultural development and education and ending of foreign exploitation in India gave place to one single aim of ending foreign rule through force. At the end of the meeting, the following resolutions were adopted:

1. The organization be named as "Hindi Association of the Pacific Coast;"
2. The aim of the Association will be to end the British rule of India
through violent means and armed rebellion and to establish a Republic based on freedom and equality;
3. The Head office of the Association will be at San Francisco California which is a port and a center of rebels of foreign countries;
4. The Association will publish a weekly paper "The GADAR," in Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, and other languages;
5. The election of the Association will take place annually;

In almost every country there existed a branch or branches of the GADAR PARTY. Whereas in countries, other than those British-ruled, these branches were working openly, in British-ruled countries they worked underground.

Causes of the failure of the Gadar Party:

the causes of the failure of the Gadar Party are many but some of them are as follows:

1. The party was only one and half years old and was not fully established when the first World War broke out in 1914 and the Ghardrites had to declare war against the British rule in India without full preparation.

2. The Gadrites who had hurried homeward from America and other places were under the impression that the conditions in India were ripe for revolution but this was not true. Indian National Congress, Chief Khalsa Diwan (an organization of the Sikhs) Mahatma Gandhi, B. J. Tilak, etc. were in sympathy with the British cause in the war. The Punjabis were getting themselves recruited and fighting on the front. Prayers were performed in Gurdwaras, temples, mosques for the victory of the British.

3. The leaders of the Gadar Party were arrested the very moment they placed their feet on the Indian soil; it broke the backbone of the party.

4. Moreover, the arms and ammunitions which were to be received from outside countries could not reach India just like the supply loaded from San Diego (California) on 'Anlarson' was seized on the way.

5. Mr. Kirpal Singh's admission into the inner committee of Mr. Sarat Chandra Bose, directing the Gadar Party, was a mistake; as it was he who passed on every piece of information of the Gadar party to the British government including the date of rebellion.


Nationalist pride-which sharpened into the militant potency of Ghadar and its futile revolution.
Notes and references:

1. The Ghadar movement was a loosely-knit organization of expatriate Punjabis in North America, with headquarters in San Francisco, which printed revolutionary literature against British rule in India, and attempted to send arms and guerilla soldiers into India for an abortive revolutionary uprising planned for 1915. The movement underwent a revival in the 1920's, with cadres of Punjabis active in various Asian and European countries, in addition to San Francisco. There are relatively few scholarly accounts of the Ghadar party written in the United States, but a number of works are available in India, including these recent studies: A.C. Bose: Indian Revolutionaries Abroad, Bharati Bhawan, Patna, 1971; G.S. Deol: The Role of the Ghadar party in the National Movement, Sterling Publishers, Delhi, 1969; L.P. Mathur: Indian Revolutionary Movement in the United States of America, S. Chand & Co., Delhi, 1970; G.S. Sainsara, et al; Ghadar Party da Itihas (in Panjabi), Des Bhagat Yaad Ghar Committee, Jullundur, 1961; Khushwant Singh and Satindra Singh: Ghadar, 1915: India's first Armed Revolution , R & K Publishing House, Delhi, 1966; and excellent Ph.D. dissertation by Harish K. Puri, The Ghadar Party: A Study in Militant Nationalism, Dept. of Political Science, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, 1975. An overview of the literature is given in Mark Juergensmeyer, "The International Heritage of the Ghadar Party: A Survey of the Sources," in the American journal, Sikh Sansar, Vol. 2, No.1, March 1973, a revised version of which appears in N.G. Barrier and Harbans Singh (eds.), Pujab Past and Present: Essays in Honour of Dr. Ganda Singh, Panjabi University Press, Patiala, 1976.
2. See Emily Brown: Har Dayal: Hindu Revolutionary and Rationalist, The University of Arizona Press, Tuscon, 1975.
3. See Sohan Singh Josh: Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna: Life of the Founder of the Ghadar Party, P.P.H., New Delhi, 1970.
4. A fictional account of Kartar Singh's life has received popular and critical acclaim in the Punjabi, Ik Mian, Do Talwaran ("One Scabbard, Two Swards,") by Nanak Singh, Navyug Publisher, Delhi, 1963. See also Mark Juergernsmeyer, "India's Berkeley Radial," in the Sunday edition of Times of India, March 6, 1977.
5. The cry, ferenghi maro ("destroy the foreigner") frequently appeared in Ghadar literature.
6. See Sri Ram Sharma; Punjab in Ferment in the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, Punjabi University, Department of Punjab Historical Studies, Patiala, 1966; and N. G. Barrier; "Punjab Politics and the Disturbances of 1907." Ph.D. Dissertation, Duke University, Durham, 1966.
7. The Alienation of Land Act allowed the traditional agricultural castes, such as Jats, to retain rights to the land, while disallowing such rights to urban Khatri, Arora and other merchant castes. Lower castes and Untouchables were also excluded, since it was feared that they would be used as a front for upper castes to purchase land. The adverse effect Act was to stabilize caste mobility, and to strengthen the division of society along caste lines. See N. G. Barrier: The Punjab Alienation of Land Bill 1900, Duke University South Asia Series, Durham 1965.

8. The economic and social effect of these disasters, and the continuing problem of moneylenders, described in Sir Malcolm Darling: The Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt, Oxford University Press, London, 1925. A useful summary of the conditions in the Punjab around the turn of the century may be found in chapter 10, "Rural Indebtedness and Peasant Agitation" of Khushwant Singh's History of the Sikhs, Vol II, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1966.

9. The official statistics of the Canadian government show that over 5,000 immigrants from India entered Canada between 1905 and 1908 (2,124 and 2,623, respectively) (cited in R. K. Das, Hindustani Workers on the Pacific Coast, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 1923). Official records in the United States indicate a similar number of immigrants was probably quite a bit greater, allowing for illegal entries. Once scholar has simply doubled the official figures for her own working estimate (Joan M. Jensen, "Federal Policy in the Shaping of Indian Occupation in the United States, 1900-1917", paper delivered at the Western Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, Tempe, Arizona, 1974.

10. Some of the immigrants who worked in the British Columbia lumber mills had had previous acquaintance with the lumber industry in India, in their home area of Hoshiarpur, a Punjab district with abundant forest lands.

11. Estimates are as high as 75% of the immigrant males having served in the army. Conditions of economic and social unrest in the Punjab which encourages immigration also encouraged participation in the army; so it is not surprising that a high number persons would seek both options of opportunity, in sequence.

12. These indications of the immigrants' initial prosperity came from old interviews, cited in Harish Puri, "The Ghadar Party: A Study in Militant Nationalism," Ph.D. dissertation in Political Science, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, 1975, p. 39.

13. These, and other incidents, are summarized in R. K. Dass: op. cit., and A. C. Bose; Indian Revolutionaries Abroad, Bharati Bhawan, Patna, 1971.

14. Harish Puri has raised an interesting argument regarding the motivation for Canadian exclusion against the Punjabis. According to Puri (op. cit., pp. 50-51), the Punjabis were excluded among other reasons, because their residency in Canada would be used for anti-British purposes. Puri marshals two pieces of evidence indicating this fear among the British: a statement Colonel Swayne, seriously discussed by the British India office, which claimed that "dissatisfaction at unfair treatment of Indians in Vancouver is certain to be exploited for the purpose of harshly than Japanese and Chinese. Puri may be correct; but the fact of racial an economic prejudice against the immigrant community made the exclusionary restrictions possible.

15. A series of newspapers began to be published of newspapers began to be published in British Columbia about this time, 1907-1909, with names such as Free Hindustan, Aryan, and Swadesh Sewak; microfilmed copies of some of the issues are on file at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. The dominant themes of the newspaper are nationalist and anti-British, but some articles reflect the local concerns of the immigrant community, especially regarding immigration laws and economic problems.

16. Tarak Nath Das came to the United states in 1906 as a student a the University of California, Berkeley, but soon went to Canada to agitate for nationalist causes among the immigrant community in British Columbia before returning to the United States via Washington and Oregon, where he continued to be involved in nationalist organization. Tarak Nath Das survived the difficulties that the Ghadar party later encountered, and later in his life became a distinguished professor of Indian Philosophy at Columbia University, New York.

17. There is still a Gurudwa in Stockton, although most of the Punjabi immigrants have shifted further north in the San Joaquin valley of California, where they have recently erected a handsome new Gurudwara near the city of Marysville.

18. One of the immigrant farmers, Jawala Singh, had become so wealthy through the production of potatoes that he was called "the potato king." The San Joaquin valley of California is remarkably similar in climate and demography to the irrigated areas of the Punjab; so the immigrant Pujabis had a familiarity with farming techniques which gave them an advantage over the American settlers of the newly irrigated areas of the San Joaquin valley. The Pujabis' use of skillful techniques, their ability to work hard and save their earnings, are described in Bruce LaBrack, "Occupational Specialization of California Sikhs: The Interplay of Culture and Economics," a paper presented at the Fifth Punjab Studies Conference, Berkeley, California, March 21-23, 1975.

19. The prohibition against owning land not only dampened the economic development of many of their savings. Some of the money used to support the Ghadar party come from the immigrant farmers who might otherwise have used it to purchase land, or invent in equipment.

20. It is these events that begin most accounts of the Ghadar "Party", which restrict their time span to the years of 1913 through 1917. In one regards Ghadar as a movement, in a more general way, the history would begin in 1907, when the first nationalist meetings occurred, and continue at least into the 1930's.

21. Quite a few life histories of Ghadar members exist, many of them collected for the composite history written by Gurcharan Singh Sainsara, op. cit., and which are now on file in the Desh Bhagat Yaadgaar in Jullundur City, Punjab. This is not, however, a representative sampling; but the life-histories do indicate that the immigrants were motivated by the problems at home as well as the opportunities abroad.

22. There is no Act formally entitled "Asiatic Exclusion Act." The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1924 is often called the Oriental (or Asiatic) Exclusion Act; but G.B. Lal is probably referring to the Alien Land Law of 1913, which restricted Asian immigrants' rights to own land.

23. Brown, Emily; Har Dayal: Hindu Revolutionary and Rationalist, University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1975, p. 141. Ghadar and other publications of the Ghadar movement which are extant or have been translated by the U.S. government and introduced as evidence during the trial of U.S.A. vs. Franz Bopp (now in the U.S. archives in San Bruno, California), are almost exclusively concerned with nationalist and anti-British issues. The link between the concerns of the immigrant community and the nationalism of the Ghadar movement is to be found in the life-histories of the participants (e.g. Sohan Singh Bhakna, op. cit., Sainsara, op. cit., the unpublished autobiographical account of the Ghadar movement by D. Chenchiah, on file in the Desh Bhagat, Yaadgaar, Prithvi Singh Azad's Kranti Path Ka Pathik, and Nand Singh Sihra's article in Modern Review, August 1913, " Indians in Canada: A Pitiable Account of Their Hardships by One Who Comes from the Place and
Knows Them")

24. The ship, Kamagata Maru, was chartered by a group of Punjab immigrants in an attempt to circumvent a devious Canadian regulation which denied entry to any immigrant who did not arrive on a vessel sailing directly form the immigrant's homeland; at the time, no such ship sailed from India. The Komagata Maru was not allowed to land anyways; and this incident was directly responsible for new converts to the Ghadar cause, and greatly encouraged the movement. Two books have recently been published: Sohan Singh Josh: The Tragedy of Komagata Maru, People's Publishing House, New Delhi, 1975; and Ted Ferguson: A White Man's Country: And Exercise in Canadian Prejudice, Doubleday Canada Ltd., Toronto, 1975.

25. The attempted Ghadar uprising in 1915 benefited by World War I in two ways: it hoped that the British army would be so distracted by the War that they would not be able to control the anticipated uprising; and, more directly, the Ghadarites received support from the British enemies, the German's in the form of money, advice, and some arms.

26. "United States vs. Bhagat Singh Thind, Feb. 19. 1923" in: Supreme Court Reporter Vol. 43, No.10.

27. Officially titled "The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1924," the so-called "Asiatic Exclusion Act" applied to Chinese and Japanese, as well as South Asians, and not fully repealed until the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

28. There was also an active attempt to link the Ghadar cause with America's tradition of independence; pictures of Washington and Lincoln appeared in the Ghadar papers, and in the 1920's new Ghadar newspaper was entitled "The United States of India."

29. The relationship between the immigrant community and the White Americans might explain the disintegration of the Ghadar movement, as well as the rise of it. According to Professor Bruce LaBrack of the University of the Pacific, California, who has studied the immigrant community, hostility towards the immigrant community helps it to band together in a nationalist identity, as we have described; but as that hostility wanes, and the community is more accepted into society, then more parochial identities emerge, and the relationships within the immigrant community are more fissiparous. And in fact, the tensions between Jats and non-Jats, and between doaba Punjabis and those from Ludhiana, Ferozepur and Amritsar.

30. Puri, Harish: op. cit.

31. See Sohan Singh Bhakna's autobiography: Jeewan Sangram, Yuvak Kendar Parkashan, Jullundur, 1967.

32. At least one, Mangoo Ram, was from a Scheduled Caste (Chamar); he later became a leader of the Ad Dharm movement on his return to Inida. Many of the laborers in the fields in California were of higher castes, and would not have engaged in such occupations in India.

33. G.B. Lal, a colleague of Har Dayal, said that, "most of the members of the Party did not understand Har Dayal's finer teachings, only the nationalism" (interview with G.B. Lal, April, 1973).

34. The relationship of former Ghadarites to the Punjab Communist Party is described in Tilak Raj Chadha's "Punjab's Red and White Communists: Scramble for Funds from America," Thought, June 14, 1952. The international connections are described by Gail Omvedt in "Armed Struggle in India: The Ghadar Party," Frontier, November 9, 1974 and November 16, 1974.

35. It is not fair to describe the factional disputes within the Ghadar organization as Hindu versus Sikh; nonetheless, the death of Ram Chandra removed the last Hindu intellectual of significance from the movement's leadership.

36. The Singh Sabha and the Gurudwara Reform Movement are evidences of this identity consciousness.

37. There were, no doubt, many kind and gracious White Americans who did accept the new Punjabi immigrants with generosity. Unfortunately, there were a significant number of others to create a climate of uneasiness about the presence of the new immigrants. The popular press wrote about "The turbaned tide" from India; and at the very extreme was hate-literature, such as the tract, The White Man, which contained articles such as the "The Hindu: The Filth of Asia." Even in recent years, the immigrants Punjabis in California are sometimes called ragheads."

38. It was in South Africa, in 1893-1915, that Gandhi: Satyagraha in South Africa, translated by V. G. Desai, Navajivan Trust, Ahmedabad, first published in 1928.

39. The motivation for the murder of Ram Chandra has never been settled, but the event occurred in the context of the U.S. government trial against Ghadar for its complicity with the Germans (U.S. vs. Franz Bopp, et al.), which exacerbated the existing factional tensions within the movement. See the interview with Mrs. Chandra on file in the Ghadar collection of the South Asia Library Service, University of California, Berkeley, and also Bhagwan Singh's Brief Sketch of Life Lived, issued by the Department of Public Relations, Government of Punjab, 1948.

40. Dilip Singh Saund won the elections, and became the first person of Asian ancestry to sit in the U.S. House of Representatives. See D.S. Saund: congressman from India, E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1960.

41. The most promising of new research on the immigrant community is that of Professor Bruce LaBrack of Callison College, University of Pacific, Stockton. LaBrack has compiled an extensive bibliography on the immigrant community. "The East Indian Experience in America," which is serialized in the journal Sikh Sansar (Redwood City, California, 1976-77 issues). LaBrack's own anthropological study of the community awaits publication. Prior to LaBrack, the most comprehensive research on the community was undertaken by Professor Harold Jacoby, also of the University of Pacific.

42. One such pamphlet was Hindustan ate Ireland, a translation of speech by the President of the Irish Republic.

43. Interview with Mrs. Ram Chandra, Ghadar Collection, South Asia Library Service, University of California, Berkeley, 1973.

44. One would suspect this to be the case, since the patterns of Indian immigration were roughly similar to those of other Asian communities; see Sucheng Chan, "Overseas Sikhs in the Context of Asian Migration," in Mark Jergensmeyer and N.G. Barrier (eds.): Sikh Studies: Working Papers of the 1976 Summer Conference, Berkeley Religious Studies Series, 1978.

45. A summary of the legislation to exclude Chinese is given in Thomas W. Chinn (ed.): A History of Chinese in California: A Syllabus, Chinese Historical Society of America, San Francisco, 1969, pp. 23-30.

46. H. Mark Lai, "China Politics and the U.S. Chinese Communities," in Emma Gee (ed.): Counterpoint: Perspectives on Asian America, Los Angeles, 1976, p. 154.

47. See Kingsley K. Lyu, "Korean Nationalist Activities in Hawaii and America, 1901-1945" in Gee: op. cit.

Source: The Ghadar Syndrome: Nationalism in an Immigrant Community
By Mark Juergernsmeyer. Published in Punjab Journal of Politics V.1, No. 1, October 1977). Department of Political Science Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

Harnam Singh Tundilat
Ghadriite Harnam Singh Tundilat (1882-1962)

   Ghadriite Harnam Singh Tundilat (1882-1962), a Ghadr revolutionary was born, 11 March 1882, the son of Gurdit Singh, a farmer of modest means, of Kotla Naudh Singh, in Hoshiarpur district of the Punjab. He learnt to read Gurmukhi in the village Dharamsala and joined the Indian army as he grew up. On 12 July 1906, he emigrated to Canada and then to California in the United States of America in December 1909.

    There he worked in a lumber mill at Bridalville, Oregon. He attended a meeting of Indian immigrants at Portland in the beginning of 1912 which lead to the formation of Hindustani Workers of the Pacific Coast, later renamed Hindi Association of the Pacific Coast, but popularly known as the Ghadr Party. The first meeting of the association was held on March 3, 1913, he was made a member of the central executive. Meanwhile, it had been decided to launch a weekly paper, Ghadr literally rebellion, to be published in Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi and other Indian languages. The first issue of the Ghadr in Urdu appeared on November 1, 1913, and its Punjabi edition followed in January 1914. To begin with, Lala Hardayal was its editor, with Kartar Singh Sarabha and Raghubir Dayal as assistant editors. Later, Harnam Singh, with a few others, was also invited to join the editorial board. He wrote verse in Punjabi and contributed to the poems burning with patriotic fervor. He also acted as a bodyguard to Lala Hardayal, the party general secretary.

     With the expulsion of Lala Hardayal from America in April 1914, party work at the Yugantar Ashram, its headquarters in San Francisco, was redistributed. Harnam Singh was made editor of the Ghadr, with four others, to assist him. Talk of an impending war between Great Britain and Germany was in the air, and the programme of the Ghard Party was directed towards a planned rebellion in India, as the British got involved in Europe. While Udham Singh Kasel started imparting military training to party volunteers and Kartar Singh Sarabha went to the eastern coast to brain as a filter-cum-aircraft mechanic, Harnam Singh learnt bomb making from an American friend. During an experiment on July 5, 1914, his left hand was blown and as a result of which his arm had to be amputated well above the wrist. He was given by his comrades the new name of Tundilat, The armless Lord. The epithet contained an ironic allusion to Sir Henry Hardinge, governor-general of India (1844-48) at the time of the first Anglo-Sikh war, who was called by the Punjabis Tundilat because of his having lost a limb during the Napoleonic Wars.

     Upon the outbreak of World War 1 on 25 July 1914, the Ghadr Party directed its members and sympathizers to return to India forthwith Harnam Singh came via Colombo and arrived in the Punjab on December 24, 1914. Disguised as a holy man in ochre robes, he roamed the Doaba villages preaching the message of Ghadr. He also contacted, at the behest of the party, troops in Rawalpindi, Bannu, Nowshera and Peshawar cantonments. The plan for a military and general rising on February 21, 1915, later advanced to February 19, 1915, having tailed owning to betrayal by a police agent smuggled into the party cadre, Harnam Singh Tundilat along with Kartar Singh Sarabha and Jagat Singh of Sursingh escaped to the North-West Frontier Province to seek temporary refuge in Afghanistan and plan afresh.

     But receiving no support from that government, they turned back and arrived on March 2, 1915, at Wilsonpur, a remount farm in Chakk No. 105 in Shahpur (Sargodha) district, to stay with one Rajindar Singh, a military pensioner and an acquaintance of Jagat Singh, himself an ex-soldier. Rajindar Singh however, betrayed them to the police through Risaldar Ganda Singh of Gandivand, who held charge of a remount farm. All three were arrested and taken to Lahore Central Jail, where they were tried in what is known as the First Lahore Conspiracy case. The trial by a special tribunal under the Defencc of India Act 1914 began on 26 April 1915 and the judgment was delivered on September 13, 1915. Harmam Singh Tundilat was one of the twenty-four sentenced to death with forfeiture of property.

     The Ghadr leaders refused to file an appeal, but the Viceroy on his own commuted the death penalty into life imprisonment in the case of seventeen of them, inducing Harnam Singh. He served six years in the Andamans and nine years in other jails in Madras, Pune, Bombay and Montgomery. On September 15, 1930, he was released on medical grounds. He served another term in jail from 1941to 1945. At the time of inter-communal turbulence in 1947, he helped Muslim residents of his village and the surrounding area to evacuate to refugee camps. He died on September 18, 1962 after a brief illness.

     Harman Singh was a revolutionary poet and writer of prose of considerable merit. Three collections of his poems have been published Harnam Lafairan, Kurltl SudSIar and Harnam Sandesh. His prose works to include Sacheha Sauda, Akhlaq te Mazhab, both in Punjabi, and Mazhab aur Insaniat, in Urdu.





Baba Harnam Singh Tundilat


            (The following account was written by Baba Harnam Singh Tundilat in November, 1953 at the request of Gurcharan Singh Sainsra while he was busy preparing the History of the Ghadar Party upto 1917.  The account was revised by him on 29th January, 1959 and corrections of dates and some additions were made.  We present to the readers this first hand account of the formation and early history of the Ghadar Party.)


The Formation of the Ghadar Party

            It was in the very early years of the twentieth century that Swami Ram Tirath and Swami Vivekananada had gone to America.  Swami Veivekananand was invited to represent the Hindu religion at the Conference of Religions.  Swami Ram Tirath had gone on his own to preach the philosophy of Vedanta.  In 1904-05, Swami Ram Tirath published his articles about America in the Indian newspapers.  There were very few newspapers in those days and most of them were weeklies.  The readers got some idea of & lt; st1:country-region>America by reading these comments.  The first Indians migrated to Canada in 1904-05.  I left my home on 11 May, 1906 enroute to Canada.  I took a ship from Hong Kong on 26th June and reached Vancouver on 12th July, 1906.  There were 52 Punjabi passengers in this ship.  This was the first ship carrying such a large number of Indians to Canada.&nbs p; Earlier, the ships carried usually a complement of 10-12 Indians.  Later in 1907, many ships carried as many as 700 Indians and at least one ship carried 900 Indians to Vancouver.

            Most of the people going to North America were unlettered.  Less than 5% of the whole lot knew some Urdu or Gurmukhi.  Those knowing English were few and far between.  All these people went there to do labour.  During this period a few Indians also reached there to pursue studies.  Many of them, unable to pay college and university fees, joined the ranks of workers.  An unskilled labourer could earn a wage of two and a half dollars a day in those days.  (The dollar was equal to Rs. Three, one anna and six pi es).  All these manual workers had absolutely no notion of politics.  However, a few of them did resort to religious propaganda.

            Because of their ignorance they did not have any knowledge of the political system of the United States of America.  However all of them were impressed with the democratic state of governance in Canada and the United States.  The slavery of the Indian and the personal freedom of the Americans appeared to them as different as day and night.  Even the most ill-informed and illiterate of the Indians could see it for themselves.  Those who could read Urdu or Gurmukhi would su bscribe to papers in these languages from India.  The English knowing read the local papers.  Thus a study of the newspapers and the experience of day to day life in North America gave birth to political consciousness in the labourers.  This is also my personal experience.

            In 1909, the Canadian government, under instructions from the Government of India, stopped the entry of Indians into Canada.  The Indians in Canada were upset by this decision and a sentiment of hurt developed in them.  The people struggled a lot but nothing came of their efforts.  The government of the United States did not take such a step; therefore the Indians made a bee-line for the United States till 1914 when the government of America also banned the entry of Indian labour in the United States and refused them permission to alight from ships.


Lala Har Dayal M. A.

            Lala Har Dayal M. A. was a Kayastha from Delhi.  He passed the I. C. S. examination but due to physical shortcomings and inability to pass the horse-riding test, he could not join the service.  His visit to England brought him face to face with the slavery of the Indians and his inability to get a job further led to the development in him of an anti-government sentiment.  His fiery writings in the Indian press made him a persona non grata and he had to leave India.  His sojourn abroad led hi m finally into America in 1911.  While in America, he continued contributing articles to Indian newspapers. In this way, the Urdu reading Indians in America came to know him well.

            Towards the end of 1907, Sardar Ajit Singh, Sufi Amba Parshad and Lala Thakur Dass of Patiala and some other patriots escaped from India and reached Europe via Iran.  (Sufi Amba Parshad was arrested in Iran and hanged).  From amongst them Lala Thakur Dass and Rishi Kesh went to America.  They came to stay with Pandit Kanshi Ram of Ambala in the town of St. John in Oregon State.  In 1911, the American workers attacked the Punjabi workers of St. John Mill and looted their belongings.  The Punjabis were very few in numbers.  A few more such incidents were reported from other places in America.  At a few places Punjabi labourers faced the American workers squarely and tasted victory also.  These incidents left a deep impact on all Indian workers.  We were a group of ten to fifteen Punjabis living at Bridal Veil which was at a distance of 30 miles from the abode of Pandit Kanshi Ram.&nbs p; ; We used to meet almost every week, but certainly twice a month, in Portland on Sundays.  Two miles further away from St. John, in the town on Linton in Washington State Baba Sohan Singh stayed with another group of Punjabis.  In those days Mr. Guru Datt Kumar (Dev Samaji) lived in the city of Seattle in Washington state.  He preached his faith amongst the Americans.  He visited all the above towns and in association with locals, he formed an organization called the “Hindustani Association.”  In 1912, Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna was elected president of this association.  The main purpose of this association was to preach character-building in Indians and ensure cooperation amongst them.  As a Dev Samaji, Mr. Guru Datt Kumar was also against drinking and consuming animal flesh.  This association could not ender itself to Punjabi labourers.  The long indisposition of Guru Dutt Kumar (who was the secretary of this association) due to a stomach ailment led to the collapse of this association.  Exactly at this time Pandit Thakur Dass proposed calling Lala Har Dayal who was teaching Sanskrit at the University of California at that time.  1912 was coming to an end.  He was assigned th e du ty of calling Lala Har Dayal.  After a good deal of correspondence, he was able to confirm to his colleagues that Lala Har Dayal would reach Portland on Christmas Day (25th December, 1912).  Due to heavy snowfall the lumber mills were usually closed for twenty to thirty days leaving the labourers free to do anything.  The news of the impending arrival of Har Dayal spread a wave of excitement amongst the people who were familiar with his name.  But he could not reach on the specified date.  All of us were disappointed but Lala Thakur Dass informed that he had promised to come later.  The snow melted and the factor ies restarted and everybody got busy in his work.

            On 25th March, 1913, at 5.00 P. M. while I was working at my machine I received a telephone call from Pandit Kanshi Ram from St. John.  He told me that Lala Har Dayal and Bhai Parmanand had reached St. John and asked me to take the six o’ clock train from Bridal Veil and reach St. John.  I reached St. John at 9.00 P. M. and was ushered into the presence of Lala Har Dayal and Bhai Parmanand.  At night we held discussions with the two newly arrived compatriots.  Lala Har Dayal was of the opinion that we should bring out Ghadar newspapers in America and start anti-British propaganda amongst the Indians in America.  The preparations for the Ghadar in India should start from America.  On the other hand Bhai Parmanand expressed his opinion that students from India should be called to America and helped to educate themselves.  None of the comrades present there agreed to the suggestion of Bhai P a rmanand.  All of us were unanimous in our acceptance of the proposal of Lala Har Dayal.  The next morning Bhai Parmanand left by train for New York en-route to India.  Lala Har Dayal agreed to meet friends in Bridal Veil along with comrades from St. John and Portland.  It was decided that we would visit every factory on one or the other Sunday and talk to Indians there explaining the proposal.  It was also decided to make an appeal for help to raise Ghadar.  The first meeting was help in Bridal Veil where around 1500 In di ans worked.  After a brief speech by Lala Har Dayal all the workers present there enrolled as members and offered different amounts as subscription.  In this way the first branch of the party was formed in Bridal Veil.  Lala Har Dayal proposed that for every Branch a secretary and a treasurer should be elected to perform different functions.  I was elected secretary and Bhai Amar Singh Kotla Naudh Singh was elected treasurer.  He also proposed that volunteers may be recruited for work in the headquarters of the party.  The volunteers would work without any remuneration and would be stationed at the headquarters at San Francisco from where the paper would be brought out.  The party headquarter would be called the Ghadar Ashram.  He was hopefulof the help of some American friends there who would support us in our fight against the British government.  He also informed that the volunteers who would work at the newspaper office will not be able to go back to India because their name would be on the black list of the C. I. D. of India.  Balwant Singh of Sanghwal village in Jalandhar district offered his name as a volunteer.  Lala Har Dayal informed us that the volunteers would be called up as when needed.  This brought to a close the formation of the first branch of the party in the state of Oregon.  It was decided to hold the next meeting at Linton at the residence of Baba Sohan Singh which could be attended by friends from Portland City and Linton.

            As agreed the meeting was help at Linton in the first week of April, 1913.  There again Lala Har Dayal made a brief speech and called for the formation of the party.  He appealed to all Indians to join in the effort.  His appeal found instant acceptance.  A party branch was formed here.  Pandit Kanshi Ram was elected secretary and Lala Thakur Dass as treasurer.

            In a similar fashion on the next Sunday in the second week of April the party branch was formed at Wina and in the third week at Astoria.  Almost all Indians at these places joined the party and contributed to the funds.  They also agreed to make regular contributions.  From these three of four centers we got so many members and volunteers and financial help that it became possible to bring out both the Urdu and Gurmukhi editions.

            In Astoria, the representatives of the three branches were present.  Lala Har Dayal was happy at this successful turnout and proposed that party office bearers be elected.  Baba Sohan Singh was elected President unanimously and Bhai Kesar Singh Thathgarh, Vice President.  Lala Har Dayal was elected General Secretary and Pandit Kanshi Ram of Maruli, district Ambala was elected treasurer.  The young Udham Singh (who later achieved martyrdom) of Kasel, district Amritsar was elected secretary of Wina branch and Karim Baksh of Hoshiarpur of Astoria branch.

            The following aims and objects of the party were also established.  1) To bring out a paper in Hindustani languages for the propaganda of the American party.  2) To establish branches in other countries.  3) To train comrades in America and to send them to India in a clandestine fashion to organize secret branches of the party in India and      4) To organize patriotic propaganda in the armed forces and to win them over to the party progamme of a Ghadar like insurrection.

            During his tour of Oregon, Lala Har Dayal mentioned about other comrades working in the fields and orchards of California who were prepared to help this mission wholeheartedly.  The following names are worth mentioning: Bhair Rur Singh and Bhai Chanan Singh of Chuharchak, Pandit Jagat Ram of Haryana, district Hoshiarpur, Kartar Singh Sarabha and Kartar Singh “Dukki” of Latala, district Ludhiana.

            After necessary consultations, Lala Har Dayal returned to California promising to bring out the paper from San Francisco.  We all started waiting for the publication of the paper.  The months of June, July, August, etc. went by but the paper did not come out.  Many friends, on the basis of their earlier experience, were convinced that, like other scholarly patriots, Lala Har Dayal knew only how to collect subscriptions and lacked the will for practical activity.  Letters were addressed to Lalaji.  He replied that due to his illn ess, he could not attend to the publication of the paper.  He advised us to call up Sardar Ajit Singh for this work.  The comrades from Oregon and Washington states put their heads together and decided that the treatment of Lalaji may be financed by the party and he was offered 25 dollars per month for his expenses.  This plan was put into operation and Lalaji was duly informed.  A young man by the name of Raghbar Dayal Gupta (belonging to an affluent family of U. P.) was sent from Bridal Veil to San Francisco to look after him.  Lala Har Dayal, with the cooperation of Kartar Singh Sarabha took out the fist issue of the Ghadar in S e ptember and it was received by post.  A litho press had been arranged in the meantime.  After a few weeks, the Gurmukhi edition of the paper was also brought out.  The demand for the newspaper far exceeded the supply.  When we demanded additional copies, Lalaji informed that the Hand machine could not print more.  He proposed the purchased of a second hand electric machine which was available for 2200 dollars.  The money was arranged from Oregon and Washington state branches.  But the machine was purchased for 1100 dollars.  The Ghadar newspape r was not a priced publication but “patriotism” was mentioned as the price desired from everyone.  The newspaper was published weekly in Urdu and Gurmukhi and circulated in Canada, American and many other countries.  In the first few weeks its copies also reached addresses in India.  Later when the CID became alert, issues of the newspaper were sent in sealed envelopes and by other secret methods.  The publication of the Ghadar caused sleepless nights to the British government, the imperial government in India and other places where British imperialism reigned.  They made elabo ra te plans to restrict the circulation of the paper.  All entry points in India were directed to scrutinize all mail coming from America and preparations were set afoot to stop the publication of the paper from San Francisco.

            Lala Thakur Dass of St. John pointed out to an ominous danger to the members and the President.  There was every likelihood that Lala Har Dayal could be abducted or even murdered.  The active members therefore decided that a worker may be detailed permanently to look after the security of Lala Har Dayal.  All of them proposed my name for this job.  I received a letter written by Sohan Singh Bhakna in his own hand directing me to go to San Francisco and to ensure the security of Lala Har Dayal.  I was warned to be extremely alert.& lt; SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">  Since I was the first one to volunteer, I was chosen for this assignment.  On the receipt of the command of the president, I left my job and reached San Francisco on first of November to take up my new assignment.

            When I knocked at the gate of the house at 36, Hill Street at seven in the morning, Lala Har Dayal, Raghbar Dayal Gupta and Kartar Singh Sarabha were still asleep.  I knocked for quite sometime and then the gate was opened by a handsome youngman of about 18 who had not sprouted a beard or a moustache so far.  I asked him: Are you Kartar Singh?  He replied “yes” and we both embraced each other.  I went inside and said “Bande Matram” to Lala Har Dayal and Raghbar Dayal while they were still in their beds.

            The press machine was installed at No. 5, Wood Street.  A white American had been employed at half a dollar an hour to operate the machine and teach Kartar Singh to handle it.  Kartar Singh had learnt to operate the Litho press and the electric machine.  The calligraphy of the Urdu paper was done by Lala Raghbar Dayal.  The Gurmukhi translation was done by Kartar Singh.  I had very little to do because my services were needed only when Lala Har Dayal moved out.  I also started working in the press to fill up the need of ma npower.  Since I had earlier worked on a number of machines, I was quick to learn the operation of the press machine.  We were faced with the problem of relieving the white American from the job since we thought he was being paid very highly for the job performed by him.  Our own people were ready to work on this machine at a wage of 25 to 30 cents per hour.  I wrote to the President and sent Amar Singh Chauhan of St. John to take it up.  On his arrival we relieved the white American and thus the entire work of the press was undertaken by patriotic Indian volunteers.  It is unfortunate that this youngman, Amar Singh Chauhan, upon the failure of the Ghadar uprising, became an app r over and a prosecution witness and in order to save his own skin, gave evidence which led to the hanging of many comrades.  He belonged to Nawanshahr Doaba town.

            On November 20th, 1912, a young Indian patriot threw a bomb at Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy of India.  To commemorate this occasion, Lala Har Dayal pre-dated the issue dated 22nd November to 20th November and wrote an article entitled “Philosophy of the Bomb.”  The next issue carried the date of 27th November and all future issues were published at a week’s interval in relation to the issue of 20th November.

            It is important to relate here that in spite of the democratic structure of the party, Lala Har Dayal was exclusively responsible for the policy of the Ghadar newspaper.

            In November and December, 1913, Basant Singh from Ludhiana and Kartar Singh “Dukki” of Latala came to work in the electric press.  Lala Har Dayal proposed that all the volunteers employed in the electric press should bear their own expenses and when they had used all their savings, they may take up jobs again and other volunteers may take their place.  Having worked for a month and a half in the press, I found this proposal to be very faulty.  Then in consultation with Har Dayal, I wrote a letter to Bhai Sohan Singh requesting him to have all the expenses on food etc. incurred by the volunteers defrayed from party treasury.  ; ; I also proposed payment of a token sum of two dollars per month for pocket expenses.  Since my proposal was backed with full details, the president took no time in taking a decision and this became effective from January, 1914.

            Lala Har Dayal would sometimes publish political poems which he managed to receive from here and there.  Kartar Singh Sarabha translated Urdu verse into Gurmukhi.  He tried his hand at writing poetry in Punjabi for the Gurmukhi edition but he found that he did not have the gift for poetry.  Among the Urdu poems published I remember one which was published earlier in the weekly Aftab of Delhi.  It commemorated the return of Bal Gangadhar Tilak after his six years in exile.  The editor of Aftab, Syed Haider Raza was sentenced to three years imprisonment for writ ing an inflammatory article in his paper.  I also remember another poem which was written by a Delhi poet Lala Ganeshi Dass “Khasta.”

            The Urdu newspapers and magazines of that time carried a number of political poems but the Gurmukhi papers did not publish any poems in Punjabi.  There was till that time no tradition of writing political poetry in Punjabi.  After Kartar Singh’s poor effort, I thought of trying my hand at Punjabi poetry.  Luckily I succeeded in writing good political poetry.  Let me explain why I succeeded.


         Life in the Army and the Urge to Write Poetry

            I had studied up to fifth class in the village school and my education came to an end when I was hardly thirteen years of age.  There was a Nirmala Sant in our village.  He liked to recite Heer of Waris Shah and Quissas of Puran Bhagat, Shah Behram etc.  In his company many young men from the village got interested in reading these quissas.  I was also interested in singing since my childhood.  I started learning Gurmukhi in pursuance of my interest.  In the company of the Sant I became an avid teacher.  Due to financial difficult ies of my family, I followed other friends of the village and joined the army in 1902 when I was only eighteen.  I continued reading these ballads in the army also.  I also improved my knowledge of Urdu and Gurmukhi.  I started writing poetry in Punjabi and without any help from any source, I undertook writing the story of Shah Bahram in Punjabi verse.  I made some improvisations in the tale and prepared a book of some 250 to 300 pages.

            In 1904, in Noshehra cantonment, a Sikh sepoy of Jalandhar district shot dead his Sikh subedar who hailed from Hoshiarpur district.  He was led to this act because of some injustice suffered by him at the hands of the subedar.  Since I was always a votary of justice and truth, I viewed his act as a brave example inspired by a sense of justice.  While the army man was undergoing Court Martial proceedings, I developed friendly relations with him and told him that if he was hanged for his act, I would write his tale of bravery in Punjabi verse and get it published.  The sepoy was sentenced to death and hanged in Noshehra Cantt.& ;nbs p; In order to keep my promise, I wrote the entire story in verse employing Korda Chhand, Sawayya and Kabit.  However I could not collect funds for its publication.

            A whole year (1905) passed without any success.  I was given the duty of distributing mail in the platoon and for a few months I was also employed for teaching Punjabi and Urdu to other soldiers.  While distributing mail, I came across two Urdu weeklies Army News of Ludhiana and Akhbar-e-Aam of Lahore which were subscribed to by a Jamadar and a clerk. The Akhbar-e-Aam contained articles by Swami Ram Tirath about his experiences in America and the life of people there.  I came to learn that in America an ordinary worker earned six to seven rupees a day.  But I still did not know how I could reach American and how I could collect the money for the journey.

            A soldier from out company had left the army a year earlier.  He had gone to Kuala Lumpur (Malaya) and joined the police.  He wrote to a friend in the company that he was employed at Rs. 15 per month and advised him to resign his job and join him.  A soldier was paid Rs. 9 per month in the army.  He also informed that there was a country further away called America and the way to that land was open.  The wages are fabulous but the fare is rupees three hundred.  A friend of mine was cashiered from the army at about this time.  He also declared that he would leave for China and would write to me from there.  A little earlier, Amar Singh, another person from my village, had also left for Singapore and was employed as a watchman at the shop of a Chinese merchant.  He also spoke of going to America.  I also started dreaming about America but I did not have the fare and knew no way to arrange it.

            As already related, my friend had left the army and joined the police force of the Hunan Syndicate Railway.  In a letter he wrote of his desire to go to America and in the second one he called me over.  It was 10th of February, 1906 and a general parade was organized in Rawalpindi Cantt.  All soldiers were ordered to join the parade.  Orderlies and post office workers, who were not required to join normal parades, were also required to attend this parade.  I had not participated in any parade for one and a half year.  I stood at my position in the first section of the first company in second or third column.  The inspecting Captain found fault with my posture and hauled me up in the office to explain my position.  This order brought a complete change in me.  I took the excuse that I was suffering from the ravage of “heat” and fell down.  The earth was wet on account of rainfall.  My clothes and the rifle were both soiled.  I was escorted on the orders of an Indian officer to the hospital for medication.  I decided to leave my job in the army and I told the Havildar that the barrel of the gun had been soiled and he could clean it up.  I shall not carry this gun from now onwards.  The havildar was bewildered by my reply.

            When the soldiers returned to the barracks after the parade, I told my subedar that I did not wish to continue and requested him to take me to the office for getting my name struck of the rolls.  He refused to accompany me.  I told him that I knew the way to office and if he did not take me along, I shall go by myself.  The subedar major who belonged to a Dogra family of Hoshiarpur, when apprised of my intentions, tried to hold me back and greed to raise my rank from Sepoy to Lance Naik immediately.  I had earlier passed the test and was ranked number one.  But I informed the subedar major that I would not stay in th e army even if I was offered the rank of subedar major.  As the rules stood then, any armyman could not leave the unit of his own accord before serving for at least three years.  I had already served for three years and two months.  Therefore, much against his will, the commanding officer had to discharge me from the army.  The same day, after settlement of my accounts, I took a midnight train for my village.  I waited for the letter from my friend which arrived some two months after I left the army.  He informed me that the passport for travel to Canada and America could be obtained in Hong Kong and regular shipping lines were available which gladly took Indians as passengers.  The total fare from India to Canada would be around rupees three hundred.

            After the receipt of this letter I prevailed upon two of my friends also to accompany me on the journey and for my fare I arranged three hundred and fifty rupees from a moneylender on the security of my brother.  It was also ensured that none apart from my elder brother knew about the details of the journey so that neither the family nor the village folk could create any obstructions as it was considered that traveling so far was tantamount to destruction of home and hearth.

            All the three of us left our village on 11 May 1906 stealthily at night.  We took the rail to Calcutta and took a British ship to Hong Kong. The third class fare was rupees thirty-five which included “third class” food also.  But most Indian travelers, afraid of being served food prohibited by religion, took their rations along.  But we did not do so.  We had no taboos and my views had undergone change in the last few years.  I had been liberated of much of superstition and religious cant.  Before joining the army, I had already read books like Panth Prakash, Suraj Prkash and the lifestory of the sixth Guru Hargobind.

            At Hong Kong we had to stay for a few days waiting for a suitable passage.  The ship that I took from Hong Kong had 52 Punjabi passengers.  Before this such a large number of Indians had never traveled in a single ship.  Barring four or five persons, most of the travelers were from the districts of Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur.  So far almost a hundred Indians had reached Canada and America.  Those who reached North American countries wrote to their friends and relatives and the flow of Punjabis to Canada increased and between 1905 and 1908 around ten thousand Indians had reached America and Canada and most of them were Punjabis from the districts of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana and Ferozepur.  More than 98 percent of them came from peasantry.

The Birth of Nationalism and National Consciousness

            Out of the total number of 10,000 Indians mentioned above hardly one percent knew Urdu.  And those knowing English of educated up to F. A. (Faculty of Arts – equivalent to Senior Secondary education lever – Ed) would not number more than five in a thousand.  And hardly one in ten thousand would be having any political consciousness or an awareness of the need for national independence.  Though I gained political consciousness in America but in the earlier period of my stay there, in the first three or four years, I did not come across any person whom I can call as my political teacher.  I did meet , though, a few persons devoting their energies to character building and preaching religious reformation.  It is not to assert that I had in any way acquired desired political consciousness.  I was as politically conscious as my other comrades..


Source: “Heritage,” Jalandhara, No. 4, 1996, pg. 5-18


Kartar Singh Sarabha (link to photo) Kartar Singh Sarabha

by Bhagat Singh        go to Kartar Singh's poetry

Originally published in GADAR, a Newsletter of the Gadar Memorial Center, 5 Wood Street, San Francisco, CA 94117 November/December 1992

(This is part I of an article translated from a Punjabi originally written by Sardar Bhagat Singh. Kartar Singh Sarabha began his involvement in the Gadar Party in San Francisco in 1912. Part II will be published in the next issue)[I got from Ved Prakash Vatuk from Gadar Heritage Foundation, Berkeley. Part 2 was never published.--T.S.Sibia]

Revolutionary Kartar Singh, the great devotee of Bellona, the goddess of war, was not even twenty years old when he sacrificed himself on the altar of goddess of freedom. He appeared like a storm from somewhere, ignited the flame of revolution and tried to wake up the sleeping Bellona. He blazed the holy yajna of revolution and became himself an offering for the same. Who was he? From what world did he suddenly appear? And where did he go? We were awestruck. Such courage, self-confidence, and dedication is rarely found. Few persons have been born in India who can be called revolutionary in true sense of the word. Kartar Singh's name comes at the top among these few. Revolution lived in his veins. There was only one aim of his life, only one desire, only one hope - all that held meaning in his life was revolution.

Kartar Singh was born in Sarabha, a village in district Ludhiana, in 1896. He was the only son of his parents. He was still very young when his father died. His grandfather brought him up with great care. After passing the ninth grade, he went to Orissa to live with his uncle. He completed his high school and began college while there. It was the year 1910-1911, when he had the opportunity to read a lot of books outside the narrow range of school or college text books. This was also the time of nationalist movement. It was this political environment that aroused the feeling of patriotism in him. It was then that he decided that he must travel to America.

The family did not have any opposition to that. He arrived in San Francisco in 1912. Having arrived in the "free nation" his tender heart was subjected to blows and humiliation at every step. He would be very upset when he heard himself being called a damn Hindu or black man by the whites. At every step he felt his country's dignity and respect in jeopardy. With the constant memory of home, he also visualized India - helpless and in chains. His tender heart began to harden gradually and his determination to sacrifice his life for the freedom of country began to become firm.

It was impossible for him to remain calm. The question began to haunt him. How would the country become free if peaceful means failed. Without wasting much time in thinking, he began to organize Indian laborers. Passion for freedom began to grow in them. He would sit with a worker for hours and explain to him how death is thousand times preferable to life of slavery filled with humiliation. Many persons joined him when the work progressed. A special meeting of these people took place in May 1912. A few selected Indians attended that meeting. All of them took vow to dedicate their mind, body and wealth for the freedom of their country. Meantime the exiled Punjabi patriot Bhagwan Singh reached there. Meetings began to take place in a great number.

Part 2

Intensive teaching became the name. Work was increased. The file was prepared. Then the need for a paper was felt. A paper named Gadar was launched. Its first issue was published in November 1913. Kartar Singh was also a member of its editorial board. His pen was very powerful. Members of the editorial board printed the paper on a hand press. Kartar Singh was a carefree young man who loved revolution. Whenever he was tired running the press, he would sing:

Serving ones country is very difficult
It is so easy to talk
Anyone who walked on that path
Must endure millions of calamities.

The dedication with which Kartar Singh worked gave courage to all others. Whether anyone else knew how to make India free or not, whether anyone else ever thought about it or not, Kartar Singh had given a lot of thought. In the meantime he joined an institute in New York to learn how to fly a plane and began his mission there wholeheartedly.

In September 1914 Kamagata Maru ship had to return without unloading its human cargo after its passenger suffered indescribable tortures at the hand of the imperialist whites. So Kartar Singh along with Kranti Priya Gupta and an American anarchist named Jack went to Japan. He met Baba Gurdit Singh in Kobe and held consultations with him.

From Yugantar Ashram, San Francisco, copies of Gadar, Ghadar di gunji and many other publications were printed and distributed regularly. Propaganda was increasing every day. Enthusiasm kept in the air. In a public meeting held in Stockton in February 1914, Indian freedom flag was unfurled. Oaths for freedom and equality were taken. Kartar Singh was one of the main speakers in this meeting. All the people present there declared that they would all their had earned money to the struggle for countrys freedom. Suddenly the news from Europe came that the World War I had started. They were overjoyed. In a one voice they sang "Let's return to wage a war for the country", which became the last words and orders.

Kartar Singh forcefully advocated for returning to India. Then he himself sailed for Colombo (Sri Lanka). In those people returning from America and going to Punjab were quite often safely. But Kartar Singh did. He dedicated himself to the Party wholeheartedly. They lacked organization. Somehow that was created. In December young Maratha revolutionary Vishnu Ganesh Pingle also reached India. Through their efforts Shachindra Nath Sanyal and Ras Behari also came to Punjab. Kartar Singh was everywhere - if there was a secret meeting in Moga, he was there, next day, message was to be spread among the students in Lahore, he would be the first to be there. Next, the efforts were being made to have an alliance with Ferozepur Cantonments soldiers or there was a need to go to Calcutta for acquiring the arms. He would go everywhere. But there was no money. For that Kartar Singh suggested armed robbery. Many of his colleagues were dumb-founded at the suggestion. He asked them not to worry, told them that even Bhai Parmanand is in favor of robberies. He was given the job to confirm this assertion. Next day he told his colleagues that he had asked him and had his consent. He could not bear the thought that due to the lack of finances, there should be a delay in launching a revolution.

One day, they went to a village for the purpose of carrying out a robbery. Kartar Singh was their leader. While robbery was in progress, there was a beautiful young woman in the house. Seeing her a heinous thought came in the mind of a sinner. He forcefully grabbed the woman by the hand. The woman shrieked out of fear. Kartar Singh immediately took out his pistol, reach that person, and place the pistol on his forehead, disarmed him and shouted, "You wretched man, your crime is very serious, you should be punished to die for that. But the circumstances force us to forgive you. But you fall on the feet of this woman, ask her forgiveness by saying, my sister, forgive me please. Then forgiveness for this fall of mine, If they forgive you, we will let you remain alive, otherwise you shall be shot dead." He obliged. The matter had not gone too far.

Seeing this, eyes of the mother and her daughter were filled with tears. In an affectionate tone the mother said to Kartar Singh, "Son, you seem in such a heinous work? Kartar Singh was deeply moved. He said, "Mother, we are not doing this because of greed for money. In money for arms. How else can we get that? Mother, we have been forced to do this for the great goal (of Indias freedom)." It was a very painfully moving scene. The mother spoke again, "We have to marry this girl away. It would be nice if you could leave some for that." Kartar Singh placed all the money before the mother and said, "Take whatever you want." The mother took some money, placed the rest in the bag of Kartar Singh and gave him blessings, "Go, my son, may you succeed in your mission." This episode shows that even when Kartar Singh was involved in such a dangerous job as robbery, his heart remained pure filled with pious thoughts and emotions.

Preparation was made for revolt to take place in February 1915. In the first week (of Feb. 1915) he along with Pingle and some other friends went to Agra, Kanpur, Allahabad, Lucknow, Meerut and other places to meet people and consult them about the coming revolt. Finally the day for which they waited so long was drawing near. February 21, 1915 was the day fixed for launching the revolt all over India. All preparations were being made according to that. But at the same time a rat was sitting at the root of the tree of their hopes branches was nibbling at it. Four or five days before (the appointed date) it was suspected that every thing would be ruined because of the betrayal by Kirpal Singh. Because of that suspicion Kartar Singh asked Rash Behari Bose to change the date of the revolt to February 19 instead of 21. Even after doing that Kirpal Singh came to know this. The result of the presence of one traitor within the revolutionary group was dangerous and grave. Ras Behari Bose and Kartar Singh had no real way to keep their plans secret. The misfortune of India can be the only reason for all this.

Kartar Singh reached Ferozepur with his fifty or sixty colleagues according to the place. He met with his friend soldier Havaldar and talked to him about the revolt. But Kirpal Singh had already spoiled everything. Indian soldiers were disarmed. Arrests were made on a mass scale. Havaldar refused to help. Efforts of Kartar Singh were unsuccessful. He went to Lahore disappointed. The pace of arrests all over Punjab was quickened. Friends began to leave them. In this situation Ras Behari Bose lay in a house in Lahore in depression. Kartar Singh too came there and lay down on another cot with his back toward Ras Behari Bose. They did not say a word to each other, but silently understood that agony of each others heart. How can we even imagine what they were going through. Our destiny remained to hit out heads against the gate. But we could not have the means to try our destiny.

Their only desire was that the way would prolong and they arrived in barrack number 5 near Sargodha and talked about the revolt again. There they were caught. They were chained. Fearless revolutionary Kartar Singh was brought to Lahore (police) Station. He told the police chief there, "Mr. Tomkin, how about some food??" He was so full of life. Friends and foes were equally impressed with his mesmerizing personality - happy to see him. He was happy at the time of his arrest. He often said, "Let me be given a title of revolutionary after I die bravely with courage. Let people remember me as revolutionary Kartar Singh." The trial proceeded. He was only eighteen and a half at that time. He was the youngest defendant. But the judge wrote about him, "he is one of the most dangerous among the defendants. During his stay in America and then in India there is not a single part of this conspiracy in which he has not played an important role."

One day his turn came to testify. He admitted everything. He kept delivering his revolutionary testimony. The judge kept looking at him pressing his pen between his teeth. He did not write a single word. Later he said only this much, "Kartar Singh, as yet your testimony has now been recorded. Please give your testimony lead to? Eye-witnesses tell us that Kartar Singh replied to the judge in a carefree tone, "you can only hang me, what more can you do? We are not afraid of that." That concluded the court proceedings for the day. The next day again began with the testimony of Kartar Singh. Many judges thought the day before that Kartar Singh was speaking on the instructions of Bhai Permanent. They were unable to reach the depth of revolutionary Kartar Singhs heart. Kartar Singhs testimony was more forceful, more vigorous and like the previous day it admitted everything. In the end he said, "What sentence will I receive for my crime? Life-sentence or death/. I would prefer death, so that I could be born again - as long as the India does not become free I would be born again and again - and would be hanged for my country. This is the only last wish I have."

Judges were very impressed by his bravery. But like an enemy with big heart they did not call his bravery as bravery but remembered him with shameless words. Not only they showered abuses on Kartar Singh, but gave him the sentence to be hanged. He smiled and thanked the judges.

Kartar Singh was locked in his death cell. His grandfather came to see him. He said, "Kartar Singh, people for whom you are giving your life use abusive language for your. It does no also seem that the country will benefit from death. Kartar Singh asked him very softly, "Dadaji, where is (such and such) relative of ours?"
"He died in plague."
"And the other one?"
"He died of cholera."
"So you want that Kartar Singh should be lying on his bed for months suffering with some sickness and die! Is this death not thousand times better than that?" His grandfather was speechless.

Today, again the question arises. What good did his sacrifice do? For what did he give his life? The answer to that is very clear. He died for the country. His ideal was simple to die fighting in the service of his nation. He wanted nothing more. He wanted to remain unknown even in his death.

The case lasted for a year and a half. On November 16, 1915 he was hanged. That day too he was happy as always. His weight too increased. He embraced the hanging rope with the words, "Victory to Mother India."

Lala Har Dyal (1884-1939)

L. Har Dayal was born in a Mathur family on October 14, 1884 in Delhi. His mother was a pious lady. His father Shri Gauri Dayal Mathur was a scholar of Persian and Urdu.

L. Har Dayal was actuated by zeal for public welfare from his very boyhood. As a student he led a band of workers from Lahore to help the earthquake victims of Kangra in the beginning of the century.

L. Har Dayal was blessed with a photographic memory.

He was always first in his class. In one year he did M.A. in English and broke past records. He passed M.A. in History next year. He was awarded State Scholarship in 1905 besides two other scholarships for higher studies in England.

In England Shyamji Krishna Verma, a great Indian sociologist and revolutionary, influenced L. Har Dayal, Vir Savarkar and Bhai Parmanand, brave sons of India. The arrests of S. Ajit Singh and L. Lajpat Rai moved him so much that he returned his scholarship money and discontinued his studies.

He was known for his high character, simplicity, nobility and intellectuality. Due to the high spirit of renunciation, self denial and altruism L. Har Dayal was held in high esteem by all. He was a sincere man who had the courage to live according to his convictions.

He kept two objects before him - knowledge and service. Being a polyglot he knew so many languages that one can't even imagine. He intended to devote himseld for the uplift of morals and civic education of his people. He established "World Fellowship of Faiths" in London.
L. Har Dayal, Bhai Jwala Singh and others instituted six Guru Gobind Singh Scholarships for higher education at Berkeley in U.S.A.

In 1911, he joined Stanford University (U.S.A.) as a lecturer in Indian Philosophy. He was awarded Doctorate for his thesis "Bodhisatva Doctrine" in 1932.

Bhai Parmanand who was then in U.S.A., introduced L. Har Dayal to the Panjabee immigrants in America, who had an urge to free their country from the British domination. The leadership of L. Har Dayal gave strength to the movement. Consequently the Hindustan Ghadar Party was founded in Yugantar Ashram at San Francisco in Nov., 1913 with Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna as president, L. Har Dayal as secretary and Pt Kanshi Ram as treasurer. It was secularism married to revolutionary movement based on the principles of Liberty-Equality, Fraternity and Justice. It had its Punjab base mainly. The tremendous energies of L. Har Dayal found an appropriate outlet in the activities of the Ghadar Party. He had the marvellous spiritual power to turn ordinary men into heroes and martyrs by the thousand. Whoever came in his contact was bewitched and magnetised by his wonderful ability and erudition.

Sir Michael O' Dwyer admits, "The Gadar movement was by far the most serious attempt to subvert British rule in India". The Rowlatt Report confirms the above view.

The British Government considered L. Har Dayal as the fountain-head of revolutionary movement and pressed the United States Government to deport him. L. Har Dayal was arrested on March 23, 1914 but he reached Switzerland Via Turkey. Before leaving America he issued a strongly worded statement to the press to bring out the subservience of the United States administration to the British Government.

At the outbreak of First World War, Indian Independence Committee was founded in Berlin in the middle of 1915 with L. Har Dayal and Sh. B.N. Chattopadhayay as its leading figures..

He died in Philadelphia on March 4, 1939 while on a Lecture tour of America.

His Views Changed

His views had now undergone a complete change. He began to look down upon everything Hindu and admired every thing Western. He advised the British to convert the empire into the British-oriental-African commonwealth in future.

Source: Baba Prithvi Singh, L. Har Dayal Birth Centenary Celebrations Committee, Jalandhar 1987, pg. 36.

Source: L. Har Dayal Birth Centenary Celebrations Committee, Jalandhar 1987.

Additional Source: Brown, Emily C. Har Dayal, Hindu Revolutionary and rationalist. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press. C. 1975

Additional Source: "Hindu And Sikh Conspiracies" pp.183-189 O'Dwyer, Michael, Sir India as I knew it, 1885-1925. 2nd Ed. London, Constable & Company Ltd.

Publications By Lala Har Dayal

Dayal, Har Twelve Religions and Modern Life. [Edgware (middlsex) Eng., Modern culture institute 1938 Document]

Dayal, Har Hints for self-culture [London, Watts & co. 1934]

Dayal, Har Forty-four months in Germany and Turkey, February 1915 to October 1918. [London, P.S. King & son, ltd., 1920]

Dayal, Har Thoughts on Education: reprint of articles originally published in 1908 [New Delhi: Vivek Swadhyaya Mandal: Distributors, Rajdhani Granthagar, 1969]

Dayal, Har The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature [Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass 1970]

Dayal, Har Marx comes to India: earliest Indian biographies of Karl Marx, by Lal Hardyal and Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai

Dayal, Har Letters of Lala Har Dayal [Dharmavira, Publication: Ambala Cantt., Indian Book Agency 1970]

Dayal, Har Vyaktitva-vikasa: sangharsha aura saphalata [Nayi Dilli: Kitaba Ghara, 1997]

Dayal, Har Mazduron Ka Paighambar Karl Marks [Lahaur: Lajpat Ra'e aind Sanz, 1939]

Dayal, Har Writings of Lala Hardayal [Benares: Swarag Pub. House, 1923]

Dayal, Har Hints for Self-culture [Bombay: Jaico, 1961]

Dayal, Har Swei-vikas da marg [Chandigarh, India: Lokgeet Parakasan, 1999]

Dayal, Har Atma Nirmana, athava, Visvabandhutva aura buddhivada [Dehali: Bharati Sahitya Mandira, 1950]


Other Publications By or About Lala Har Dayal
Available at the Gadar Party Collection at UC Berkeley (Bancroft Library)

Barry, John Daniel Sidelights on India. Forward by Har Dayal. San Francisco: [s.n], 1912. Reprinted from The Bulletin, San Francisco 1912. 15 p. (photocopy)

Dayal, Har Barabari Da Arth. [San Francisco: Hindustan Gadar Party, 193?]. 8 p. (Panjabi)

Dayal, Har Gulami Di Zaihir [Ik Tavarikhi Lekh]. San Francisco: Hindustan Gadar Press, 1918. 16 p.

Dayal, Har The Indian Peasant. [San Francisco]: Hindustan Gadar Party, [s.d] 4 p. (Panjabi)

Dayal, Har Nim Hakim Khatara Jan, Navan Zamana, Naven Zamanen De Naven Adarshya. San Francisco: Gadar Press, 1914. 47 p. (Panjabi)

Dayal, Har Shabash. San Francisco: Hindustan Gadar Party, 1913. 4 p. (Urdu) (photocopy)

Dayal, Har "'Social Conquest of the Hindu Race' and 'Meaning of Equality'." San Francisco: Hindustan Gadar Party, [s.d], 8 p.

Lal, Gobind Behari "A Note for the U.C. Gadar Study Project" Unpublished manuscript, San Francisco, 1973. 9 p.

Dayal, Har "The Future of the British in Asia---II" The New Statesman, March 29, 1919, p. 573-575.

Hardayal, Har Lala Samajak Fateh, Hindu Kaum di Samjak Taskhir. [s.l.: s.n., s.d.] (Panjabi)

Lucas, Edward. "Hardayal's Feat of Memory.."

Dr. Bhagwain Singh Gyanee Pritam (link to photo)


It was in the village of Wring, the P.O. Sirhall now Mohenpur, District Amritsar, Punjab, that I was born at about 4 AM on July 27th, 1882. My father was Shri Sarmukh Singh and mother, Srimati Har Kaur. My childhood and adolescence were spent like most village youths playing, learning and assuming certain responsibilities. I am the only surviving adult of nine children, the 3rd in line with the two elder sisters and five brothers who all died early in life & a younger sister who did not survive childbirth.

Our village of about 150 people, though small in size, had two distinctions which other villages within a radius of a couple of miles did not possess. One was a primary school, the other, a liquor store. My main or formal education was under the guidance of my paternal Grandfather, Baba Rattan Singh who was a Hakim, as my father was also. He taught me Sikh History, Punjabi Literature and familiarized me with our Religio-political Traditions. Also I attended the Primary School where I learned Urdu. We had reached the middle of the primer one morning, the lesson was “Huq keh mat dar baskar chaldo.” “Tell the truth fearlessly, rest at that, and keep on going.” After noon recess that day, I was late for class. When asked the reason why, I answered: - “Mianji Jhanda, I was playing cards with other boys and lost sense of time.” For this I was severely punished, I had told the truth, without fear, was content and kept on going for school saw me no more.

Click here to Continue ...


Dr. Bhagwain Singh started active work in 1907-08 in India. When a warrant was issued for his arrest, he left India and traveled covering Burma, Siam, Malay Straits, Java, Sumarata, Borneo, and Singapore - everywhere preaching nationalism. In Hong Kong, he was a priest at the central Sikh temple from March 1910-1913. He worked in the army. Except for a few subedaras, the entire army and officers were ready to take up the cause for Indian independence. In May 1913, he found himself organizing Indians in British Columbia Canada. Within two months, he was arrested and was released on a two thousand dollar bond, and within five months he was deported.

This is what historian Harish K.Puri on page 58 in his book Ghadar Movement wrote: "The arrival of Gyani Bhagwan Singh in Vancouver in the early months of 1913 give a real spurt to a revolutionary political movement in Canada. Bhagwan Singh had been a sikh priest in the Gurudwaras at Perak in the Federated Malay States and at Hong Kong, and was an 'orator' of great merit. He was the first man to deliver vigorous revolutionary diatribes against the British rule, both from the 'pulpit' and in open religio-social congregations of the immigrants. He had been considerably influenced by the revolutionary nationalist thinking of his time through his speeches in the Sunday congregations, punctuated with quotations from the scriptures, he alluded to the sikh history of crusades and the war poetry of the tenth Guru. He embellished these with his own passionate poetical compositions and asked his people to adopt the Revolutionary Nationalist salutation-Bande Mataram - and filled his audience with revolutionary ideas.

He was externed from Canada within three months of his arrival. The special tribunal in Lahore Conspiracy Case Judgment, rightly observed that Vancouver became the first centre of seditious propaganda among Indians, until it was eclipsed by that of California with the launching of Ghadar Movement." (This was extracted from the judgment, Lahore Conspiracy Case, Home Political A, Proceedings, October 1915,No.91) Also it was Bhagwan Singh who pursued Maulvi Barak Tullah to accompany him to USA to work for the Ghadar Party. When Lala Hardyal was forced to leave USA, Bhagwan Singh and Barak Tullah filled in as president and vice-president of the Ghadar Party. As a president Bhagwan Singh traveled through Japan, north and South China, Korea, Manchuria, and the Philippines. When America entered the war he was among the first ones to be arrested and his bail had been set at $25,000, the highest amount of any. The trial lasted six months but Bhagwan Singh stayed in jail allowing others their liberty. There is much more untold story about my grandfather and all I'm asking is giving him a due recognition at every phase befitting the subject 90th Anniversary of Ghadar Movement.

Contribution thanks to S.P.Singh (Grandson)



Bela Singh, a staff member of the Vancouver branch of the Immigration of Canada visited India and while coming back, managed to bring Bhai Bhagwan Singh with him in June, 1913. Bhai Bhagwan Singh served as a priest in Penang Sikh Temple (The first Sikh Temple built outside of India) for some time. This temple committee was under the control of British Government of Malaya. Then he left for Hong Kong and served in the Hong Kong Sikh Temple for about three years. He was well educated, orator and gifted poet.

Among his own contrymen, Bela Singh was considered a traitor. He had his own group of East Indians to work as informers for him. Some people were afraid of him. Some others needed his help to get their friends and relatives waiting at Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai to come to Canada. His immiediate boss was William Hopkinson, an Anglo-Indian (English father and Indian mother). He was born in India, therefore, he could speak a bit of Punjabi and Urdu.

Bela Singh’s ulterior motive was to use Bhagwan Singh against the authorities of the Sikh Temple, Vancouver, he could not get along. His gang members were collecting money monthly from those, who were helped by William Hopkinson and Bela Singh.

Bhai Bhagwan Singh stayed with Bela Singh for some time. Then he began attending congregations in the Sikh Temple but refused to inform the activities of the authorities of the Khalsa Diwan Society. After sometime Bhai Bhagwan Singh realized the ulterior motive of Bela Singh and walked out. He made some speeches and Khalsa Diwan Society liked his sermons and passed a resolution to offer him a job of priest. Bela Singh and Hopkinson became furious.

They got him arrested on the charges that he traveled on the false passport under a false name. The Khalsa Diwan Society got him released on bail. They appealed for Habeus Corpus on his behalf.

Malcolm Reid, the Inspector of Immigration Department, Vancouver and William Hopkinson were distant cousins. Both of them were deadly against Bhai Bhagwan Singh because instead of becoming an informer he joined the Khalsa Diwan Society. They were ready to deport him at any cost. They feared that if on the basis of habeus corpus, he stays in Canada, the Department of Immigration will be insulted. They hatched a plot. William Hopkinson and Bela hid themselves in the dark and sent their man in the temple to ask Bhai Bhagwan Singh to come out because one of his friends was waiting outside. As soon as he came out, the immigration men jumped on him, tied his legs and arms, threw him in a boat at the middle of the night.

When Malcolm Reid was asked why did he not wait for the habeus corpus proceedings, he replied, “The Immigration Department has orders from Ottowa and need not be bound by the telegraphic order of habeus corpus by justice Morrison of the Supreme Court.”

Bhai Bhagwan Singh was deported on November 19, 1913. He left his ship in Japan and came back to U.S.A. after a few months

(There are two different stories about his arrest and deportation)



There was another reason for quick deportation of Bhai Bhagwan Singh. The only Punjabi paper  “The Sansar” was owned and controlled by Dr. Sundar Singh and Kartar Singh Akali (Hundal). One or two pages were edited by Dr. Sundar Singhand Punjabi part of the paper was edited by Kartar Singh.

They did not have any capital and financial assistance coming from donations and subscription. One day, after the congregation Bhai Bhagwan Singh brought up a point that the paper did not represent the community point of view, therefore, the financial assistance should be stopped. This point brought a clash between Dr. Sundar Singh, Kartar Singh on one side and Khalsa Diwan Society on the other.

The following issue of the paper came out very aggressively against the authorities of the Khalsa Diwan Society and The Guru Nanak Mining and Trust Company Ltd. The whole Sikh community became furious and sopped financial assistance. The case was registered in the law court about the ownership of the paper.

Now William Hopkinson and Bela Singh found an opportunity to create another friction in the community. The immigration as well as editors of the paper had one common cause to get rid of Bhai Bhagwan Singh. They joined against Khalsa Diwan Society.

Source: Canadian Sikhs (Part 1) and Komagatu Maru Massacre by Kesar Singh. 1st Edition. 1989 Pgs. 110-111


Chicago, Ill., September 3, 1919. Hon. W. B. Wilson, Secretary of Labor,Washington D.C.

Dear Sir and Brother: -

            This will introduce to you Mr. Bhagwan Singh, one of our Hindu brothers in danger of deportation on account of his activities in the interest of his fellows in India.

            You will recall resolutions unanimously adopted by the Chicago Federation of Labor and sent to you under date of July 22nd, also resolutions adopted by the A. F. of L. and presented to you by President Gompers. Also your letter of July 24th (No. 5465/1) in reply to our resolution and setting forth four paragraphs, concluding that the matter would receive your careful consideration when the records come up for final consideration.

            Therefore, would you kindly give the brother and his delegation sent by the Pacific coast Hindustani Association an early hearing in order that they may lay the true facts before you. I might further add that we have made an investigation and secured a report from San Francisco from which the sentiment is fast developing amongst the trade unionists of this city that the English government has been allowed too much latitude in this country in prosecuting and persecuting these unfortunate people.

            Thanking you ion advance for the consideration of this request, and with our best wishes for the Department of Labor, and yourself, we beg to remain,

                                                                                         Most respectfully,                                                                                          CHICAGO FEDERATION OF LABOR,                                                                                          (Signed) Secretary.

P.S. Enclosed find clipping of resolution referred to in this letter.


Link to Letters Written by The Indian Nationalist

Publications of Dr. Bhagwan S. Gyanee Pritam

The Art of Living 
Science of Perpetual Youth
The Ideal of Friendship
Humanology Notes (12 Lessons)
Paths to Perfection
Why Men Fail
Mysteries & Functions of the Subconscious Mind
Love, Marriage and Divorce
The Greatest Enemy of Man
Yoga Exercises - Ancient and Modern
Foods that Make or Break You
Creative Wisdom ( 25 Lessons)
Self Culture (25 Lessons)
Hindu Prayer Card
English Translation of Sanscrit Prayer (Hand Painted)
Dr. Gyanese’s Food Chart
IndiaYoga as a Philosophy and a Science
The Glands: Wonder Working Centers of the Body    

Mahomed Barakatullah  (link to photo)

This paper differs from the others described in this chapter in that it was published by a Mohomedan for Mahomedans, while all the others are Hindu publications. It was started in Tokio, Japan, early in 1910, by Mahomed Barakatullah, to whose previous activities in New York reference is made in Chapter IX (see pages 218 and 221). Barakatullah was born about 1864, the son of Munshi Shaikh Kadratullah, a Bhopal State servant who died about 1876. Barakatullah, who was a very clever youth, left home about 1883 and was employed as a tutor in Khandwa and later in Bombay. After some years he went to England, and was in Liverpool in 1895. Here he made the acquaintance of Sirdar Nasrullah Khan of Kabul, brother of the present Amir, and he is said to have arranged to supply the Amir through him with information regarding English affairs and to have sent a weekly news-letter to the Amir's agent at Karachi from 1896 to 1898. In 1897 he was in London and attended meetings of the Muslim Patriotic League. Barakatullah went to America about 1903, and, as mentioned in the passage cited above left in February, 1909, for Japan, having been appointed Professor of Hindustani in the University of Tokio.

The tone of the Islamic Fraternity was not at first particularly objectionable though from the beginning it advocated a rather militant pan- Islamism. In June, 1911, Barakatullah left Tokio to visit Constantinople and Cairo. He arrived at Petrograd on July 5th, and the same day sent a letter to Krishnavarma in Paris requesting him to communicate with him. He returned to Tokio in October 1911, and resumed the publication of his paper. He had left it in the hands of a German named F. Schroeder and a Japanese named U. Hatano, but they failed to bring out the August number, and he started again with the issue dated September. In this number a writer calling himself "Plaindealer" refers to a great pan-Islamic Alliance that may be formed some day, including Afghanistan which he calls "the future Japan of Central Asia." All that is required is a leader, and that leader, he says, "will arise in Central Asia, probably in Afghanistan," whereupon, "the firing of an Afghan gun will give the signal for the rising of all Islam as soon as she is ready and willing to open her gates for believers to fight under the green banner of the prophet, or under her own."

Most of the December, 1911, number was devoted to a description of the formal conversation to Islam of three Japanese, U. Hatano (the young man who undertook to edit the paper in Barakatullah's absence), his wife, and her father, whose name is given as Baron Kentaro Hiki. This was described as the first conversation to Islam in Japan; the ceremony took place at Barakatullah's house and was performed by him, and he appeared to regard it as the fore-runner of a great Japanese conversation. In 1912, the editor became at once more fluent in his use of the English language and more anti-British in his tone. The March number contains an article on "The Situation in the Balkans," in the course of which the editor, after quoting a passage from the Spectator, says "A Roman poet who lived two hundred years before Christ described the Anglo-Saxons of his time as the seawolves whose home was the ocean, whose friend was the storm and who lived on the pillage of the world. Two thousand years have elapsed since, and yet the predatory instinct of the race is not softened. If anything at all has been added to it, it is the refinement of the hypocrisy which sharpens the edge of brutality."

Owing to the strong anti-British attitude adopted by Barakatullah the entry of the paper into India was prohibited under the Sea Customs Act on 6th July, 1912, and the character of the paper having been brought to the notice of the authorities it was suppressed by the Japanese Government in October, 1912.

In September, 1912, copies of a paper called El Islam began to appear in India. This paper, which was reported in the Islamic Fraternity to have been started in January, 1912, purported to be devoted to the work of the Islamic religion. The nominal editor was the Japanese convert mentioned above, who now called himself by the half Mahomedan name of Hasan U. Hatano. El Islam, however, began to appear regularly only after the suppression of the Islamic Fraternity, and it soon became apparent that Barakatullah was simply using it to continue his political propaganda. The importation of this paper into India was accordingly prohibited in the same way on 22nd March, 1913.

In June 1913 copies were received in India from the Far East of a pamphlet in Urdu entitled "The Sword is the last resort." It was lithographed, and the handwriting, like the style, closely resembled Barakatullah's. The pamphlet refers to the alleged atrocities in the Balkan war and other misfortunes of Islam. The blame for all these evils is laid on England. Mahomedans are enjoined to form secret societies and endeavour to annihilate the oppressive English who are robbing and plundering in India. They should endeavour to destroy the feeling of fear of the English which is "a spider's web woven with deceit." Those Indian spies who are faithful to the English should be picked out and killed, and the burning alive of 5,000 Muslim women should be avenged by setting fire to 50,000 English homes. The writer goes on to say that, "the English have spread the organisation of the Criminal Investigation Department far and wide. The mullahs in mosques, pujaris in temples, prostitutes, street hawkers, shop- keepers, teachers are now connected with the Criminal Investigation Department." Indians should, therefore, make the work of Criminal Investigation Department as dangerous as possible. In view of the European situation, and especially of the possibility of a war between England and Germany, Indians should make preparations now for an armed rising.

On 31st March, 1914, Barakatullah's appointment in the University of Tokio was terminated by the Japanese authorities, and this was followed by the appearance in India in May of another similar lithographed Urdu leaflet called Feringhi ka Fareb (The deceit of the English). It surpassed in violence Barakatullah's previous productions, and was modeled more on the style of the publications of the Ghadr party of San Francisco with whom Barakatullah now threw in his lot. (See page 239)

Source: Political Trouble in India 1907-1917 Kerr, James Campbell. Calcutta, 1917. Chapter IX - "The Press" pgs. 132-135


Baba Gurmukh Singh Lalton (link to photo)

Arrested on return from Canada on board the Komagata Maru Ship. Awarded life-imprisonment and actively participated in the struggle for jail reform. Escaped from running train. Organized the Communist Movement in India. First General Secretary of the Desh Bhagat Yadgar Committee. One of the founders of Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall. Source: Azadi Sangram De Suhi Latt Yadgar Committee 2001.

The life story of Baba Gurmukh Singh of Lalton Khurd village on the outskirts of Ludhiana presents responses and reactions to life and time of an age. It starts with a venture and runs through a rare chain of adventures. As a simple village youth he set out to seek fortune in foreign lands. Events took place, mostly unforeseeable. He was all energy, a human dynamo. He was active, restless for several decades. He turned a rebel, a revolutionary. No other contemporary of his saw as many places, visited as many countries and faced as many uncertain situations as he did. Gurmukh Singh Garewal was born in 1892 in Lalton Khurd village, Patti Himmat. His parents, Hushnak Singh and Nand Kaur, had two more sons elder to him, Charhat Singh and Atma Singh. The former died during the riots of 1947. The latter lived in the village, married and had only one daughter, Dalbir Kaur. This niece of the Baba, despite old age, pays respectful visit to her paternal village. Hushnak Singh had a small land holding which could not provide enough to the family to survive. He joined army. Gurmukh Singh was intelligent, gifted with self-confidence and good physique. He could easily dominate, even lead fellow students. He matriculated from Mission High School, Ludhiana. He liked Lal Singh of Nandpur who was then planning to go to the USA to study in Berkeley. He, later on, became the legendary specialist in horticulture and agriculture. With a meagre amount he, left home in 1913. He landed in Hong Kong to proceed to Canada. Met Gurdit Singh (Komagata Maru) and joined the desperate travellers. On May 23,1913, they were refused to land at the Vancouver port. The ship turned back to the Bay of Bengal to drop these persons at the Budge-Budge ghat instead of Calcutta docks. Gurmukh Singh and others were fired upon. He was arrested, taken to the Alipur jail. Undergoing mishaps and hard time, he kept his spirits high. He returned to Punjab. By this time he had tasted to bitter side of racialism, colonialism etc.

He turned his anger into rebellion. Kartar Singh Sarabha, Nidhan Singh Chugga, Uttam Singh Hans and Arjan Singh Jagraon planned to work to bring about a revolution for freedom. They hoped army would see their way. It was a desperate move resulting in the Lahore conspiracy case. Gurmukh Singh was arrested, tried and sent to Andamans. He saw real hell during 1917-22. Sensing trouble, he was sent to Trichy. Later, on way to Wardha, he jumped with handcuffs from the train near Nagpur. He met C. Rajagopalachari in Madras, who looked indifferent and kept silent. Not discouraged, he went to Hazur Sahib, could stay hardly for a week as he caused suspicion. Baba Nidhan Singh helped him with money and advised him to take to safety.

He returned to Punjab and stayed at Langeri village in Hoshiarpur district at the farm-house of Bhai Piara Singh. He was a pious person who visited Afghanistan to preach ideals of Sikhism. Teja Singh Sutantar, already doing this work, accepted Gurmukh Singh to join him. Master Udham Singh Kasel also joined them. Between 1922-24, Baba Gurmukh Singh stayed there. Meanwhile, Santokh Singh was busy with his Punjabi paper (^ÑKirti^Ò) and Rattan Singh Dabba with his hand-written press-adventure. They had returned from Russia after getting training in spreading socialism. Gurmukh Singh was much impressed. He, too, wanted to leave for Russia, which he did. He had Baba Prithvi Singh (Lalru) with him. Gurmukh Singh was dare devil, Prithvi Singh cautious and cool. He moved around in Soviet Russia, met many revolutionaries, attended camps, etc. On an impulse he left for America. It is surprising to learn how could a youth without much material means and devoid of professional training, could muster such courage! In California he made contacts, reviewed the post-Ghadar situation, raised funds, reorganised the broken chain and enthused patriots. The farm of Kishan Singh of Gahaur was central place. Hazara Singh Janetpura, Puran Singh, Niranjan Singh Pandori, Surat Singh Chetanpur, Hazara Singh Hamdam were of real help to him. The years from 1929 to 35 were most turbulent for this Ghadri Baba. He was arrested by the Federal government, patriotic activists got him released on bail. Later, he left for Europe. Moving through half of Europe, he reached Kenya on a fake passport. He came to India via West Asia. He watched the Karachi session of the AICC, met leaders and was disappointed with the poor pace of movement. Returned disappointed, but not disheartened. He liked an anti-British Afghan King Oman Ullah, who was replaced by Nadir Khan. Nadir Khan got Baba arrested. Through common friends, his flight to Russia was materialised. He visited several East-European countries and Soviet Republics. He met Oman Ullah at Rome. Ultimately finding favourable avenues, he staged a come back to Lahore by long sea and land routes. Here he worked incognito for Lal Dhandora. Living as rebel was playing with fire. He was arrested, tried and sentenced to jail. He was moved from one jail to another till February, 1946. Riots, Partition, post-Independence bloodbath and mass-uprooting disillusioned him. He remained underground from 1948 to 1952, turned more bitter. He activated the Kisan Sabha. He finally took to raising a memorial at Jalandhar: Desh Bhagat Yadgaar.  He worked and died to realise this sentimental dream.

He passed away on March 13, 1977, and was duly cremated at his ancestral village, Lalton Khurd. He ranks among the pioneers of freedom movement.

by: M. S. Cheema   (For additional information:  http://www.tribuneindia.com/20010911/ldh1.htm#13)

Shaheed Kanshi Ram (link to photo)

Shaheed Kanshi Ram was born at Village Marauli, (Ropar) Punjab on October 13th, 1883. He passed his 10th class from Patiala. After he concluded his education in 1902, he traveled to America in search of livelihood. Early in his life, he had an occupation of a laborer, but he worked hard and became a very rich person. After he became successful, he was not a greedy man. He often contributed thousands of dollars to the Gadar party. Kanshi Ramm's home was the center of conversations; hence, it became the center of discussion for freedom-seeking leaders on the topic of revolutionary literature sent by Madam Koma. On occasion, he would have meetings with Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna and other Gadri Babas such as the intellectual Lala Hardyal. In these meetings, the Gadar party was formed. Kanshi Ram became the treasurer of the party and member of the trio commission to maintain the secrecy of the party. Their goal was to establish an India independent of British rule. To help them fulfill their goal, it was decided to publish a newspaper entitled "Gadar" which spread the word of freedom. They sent the publication throughout the world. Once Kanshi Ram realized the magnitude of the affairs in India, he departed for India in 1914 to help fight for the cause. Due to the efforts of these men who fought for liberty, India attained independence on August 15th, 1947 thanks to the sacrifices of the great Gadri Babas. For his treasonous acts against the British empire, Kanshi Ram was hung, sadly, on March 27th, 1915.
Khushwant Rai Joshi Advocate Interview with T.S. Sibia August 2001

Taraknath Das

The Seed-Time

Taraknath Das left India to evade imprisonment in 1905 and eventually reached Tokyo to study at the University there. His pro-Indian activity in Japan was objected to by the British Ambassador and fearing extradition, Das crossed over to Seattle, Washington in 1906. He had literally to work his way up till Vancouver U.S. Immigration station. Das got his B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1910 and his M.A. next year. He then secured a fellowship at the University of California for his Ph.D. Dangerous politics interrupted his studies, and he had to wait for his Ph.D. till 1924. Meanwhile, however, Das was admitted to U.S. citizenship on January 5, 1914. It should be conceded, however, that in his agitation work in America Taraknath Das was anticipated (though with less success) by a few others, the Pan-Aryan Association of New York (1960) established by Maulvi Barkatulla and S. L. Joshi appears to be the earliest Indian organization with some political purpose. It did not survive Barkatulla's departure for Japan early in 1909. Mention should also be made of New York's Indo-American National Association, founded in 1907. Ramnath Puri started his Urdu weekly, the Circular of Freedom, from California in 1907. It became defunct within a year. The Committee for the Management of Sikh Diwans and Temples of Vancouver with branches elsewhere in Canada and the USA was also an early organization.

Source: Banerjee, Kalyan Kumar. Indian Freedom Movement. Revolution in America. April, 1969. pg. 11-12.

Before the end of 1970 Taraknath Das, who after wards became of much greater importance than Ram Nath Puri, was already associated with the Vancouver branch of the movement. He is mentioned in the Circular of Freedom as one of the treasurers of the Indian Association, and not long after that periodical came to an end he started his own paper, the Free Hindusthan. An account of this paper and of Taraknath's earlier career is given in Chapter IV (see page 119). Being a Bengali he was unable to talk to the Sikhs in their own language, and his paper was unintelligible to the great majority as few of the Sikhs could read a word of English. His influence at the time for harm was therefore considerably less than might be inferred from the language of his paper, but there is no doubt that, such as it was, it was inimical to the British Government and prepared the ground for the serious trouble which arose later.

Appeal to the Sikhs

That Taraknath Das intended to appeal to the Sikhs, especially those connected with the army, is clear from the following extract from the Free Hindusthan for September- October, 1909:--


The Taraknath Das Foundation (http://www.sipa.columbia.edu/REGIONAL/SAI/tdas.html )

Life History: Martyr Jagat Singh

Photo of memorial

Born: 1894 at Vill. Binjal, Ludhiana, India.
Mother: Kishan Kaur.
Father: Sada Singh.
Grand Father: Sukhan Singh.
Great Grand Father: Desh Singh.

2. At 18 years of age he joined 47 Sikh Platoon Indian Army. After two years he left the Army and went to Shanghai (China).

3. The following year he went to the Philippines and after some time went back to Shanghai.

4. End of August, 1914 he met Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna President of Gaddar Party and joined him along with his friends.

5. He along with 50-60 friends boarded a ship at Manila came from Nagasaki to Hong Kong.

Some of the members in the party:
President Hafiz Abdulla (Jagraon)
Others: Jagat Singh (Binjal); Kanshi Ram (Maroli); Rehmat Ali Shah (Vajidke); Lal Singh (Ludhiana); Dhian Singh (Bansipura); Chanda Singh (Baraich); Kachar Bhan Ganda Singh.

6. The escaped from the port in disguise.

7. Next Prog: Mian Mir, Lahore, Firozepur Cantt. (Port) attack together and destabilise Pb. Govt.

8. 26 Nov. 1914 Gadar Party had a meeting outside Ferozepur City on Jalalabad Road but no concrete plan emerged.

9. 27 Nov. 1914: They boarded a train for Ludhiana along with Kartar Singh Sarabha but got left behind and took Tongas for Moga. On the way near Feru Shahr SP Police was to visit and a reception Party comprising Zaildars, Lambardars and Thanedar Busharat Ali was waiting at (POL INSP) Mahesari Canal Bridge. They stopped this Gaddar Party and started bullying them, when Rehmat Ali Shah asked the reason for this rude behaviour the policeman slapped him. On this Jagat Singh and Kachar Bhal Gandha Singh killed a Zaildar and Thanedar and people fled away. The Gaddar Party hid themselves in bushes and the police party surrounded them and put the bushes on fire. Dhian Singh and Chanda Singh made supreme sacrifice and remaining seven were captured alive. Ferozepur sessions judge sentenced them to death.

Hanged: 25.3.1915 - Sahiwal (Montgomery) Central Jail.
Source: Wing Commander: Paramjeet S. Sibia
Village Ram Garh Sivia near Raikot. Ludhiana, India.

Life History - GADARI BABA - Makhan Singh Sandhu

photo 1
photo 2

Birthplace: Manihala Kahn Khanda (near Lahore)

Birthday: March 4, 1898

Grew up in Hong Kong from age 1 to age 22

Immigrated to San Francisco June, 1920

Graduated from UC Berkeley in 1927 with a degree in Pharmacy and then further studied and received a degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

1920 - Joined the Gadar Party which had been formed in San Francisco in 1905

For 17 years he worked full time for the party.

His specific tasks were two-fold:
1) He set type in two languages Urdu and Gurmukhi and printed all the propaganda literature, newspaper, and magazine articles for the people in India and other countries. 2) He traveled the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas collecting money for the Party.

101 + year old Mr. Sandhu is now living in Ripon, CA. His daughter Lorraine is a great source of comfort for him.

Maybe he is the oldest living Indian in the United States.

Gadari Baba was honored as an Honorary member of Kooh-I-Noor Club in recognizing his outstanding service and achievement to the Indian Community of North America especially his sacrifice and service to free India by taking an active part in Gadar Party Movement. Kooh-I-Noor Club honored him as Chief guest at Golden night held in Sacramento on September 25, 1999. He is a living history to the Indian Community.

Chandra Ram

Other Publications By or About Chandra Ram
Available at the Gadar Party Collection at UC Berkeley (Bancroft Library)

1. Chandra, Ram The Appeal of India to the President of the United States. San Francisco: Hindustan Gadar, 1918? 12p.

2. Chandra, Ram The Balance Sheet of British Rule in India. San Francisco: Hindustan Gadar Party, [s.d] 1 p. handbill

3. Chandra, Ram Exclusion of Hindus from America due to British Influence. San Francisco: Hindustan Gadar Party, 1916.

4. Chandra, Ram India Against Britain. A Reply to Austin Chamberlain, Lord Harding, Lord Islington and Others. San Francisco: Hindustan Gadar Party, [1916]. 62 p. Booklet

5. Desh Bhakti Ke Git. Preface by Ram Chandra. San Francisco: Hindustan Gadar Press, [1916]. 32 p. (Hindi)

6. Chandra, Padmavati. Interview, May 1974. New York City. 4 cassette tapes.

7. Chandra, Ram, defendant United States vs. Ram Chandra et al. District Court, [S.D.] California, First Division. August 4, 1917. No.6133, 254 Fed. Reptr. 635-637. St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1919.

8. [Letterheads] Ram Chandra's, Indian News Service, #GP, 5 Wood St., Dept. of National Defense, Vancouver, Canada

9. "Editor of Coast Hindu Papers Resigns, Starts New Journal" San Francisco Chronicle, Mar. 8, 1917, Sec.2, p.1.

10. Ram Chandra and Bhagwan Singh, Barakatullah Urge Hindus to Aid Uprising in Native Land.

Jathedar Partap Singh


Partap Singh was born on October 27, 1882 to Shrimati Jaswant Kaur and Shri Deva Singh of the village Moelawahidpur, Dist. Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India. He got his primary education in his village, middle school at Garhshankar and high school from Govt. High School, Rahon, Dist. Jallandar. He was very interested in history and geography. He had read that America and Canada were very prosperous and progressive countries. He asked his parents if he could go to Canada. His parents were very religious people. They told him that if Sant Atar Singh Masutana would bless him to go to Canada, then they have no objection. According to his parent's wishes, Partap Singh appeared before Santji and told him of his desired to go to Canada. Santji gave him his blessing and rather stressed that he must go to Canada because he was very much needed there by his countrymen and would be very successful whatever in his life's missions. He stayed with Sant Atar Singh for five days and learned about Sikhism and the teachings of honesty and hard work. He was given the name Dharm Singh by Santji. With due respect to both his parents and Santji, he used the name: P.S.Dharm Singh for his business in Canada. He followed Santji's advice for the rest of his life.

He came to Canada in April 1905. He noticed that Indian workers, especially Punjabis were treated badly and with hatred by the whites. The majority of the workers were illiterate, used to smoke, drink and their work ethics were poor. The first thing Partap Singh did was to spread the message of honest work and dignity. He became so popular with Punjabi workers and they started respecting him so much, that they felt proud to go to work through him. He also became very popular with workers from other countries because of his work ethics and honesty. Canadian businesses and farms started hiring workers form him.

P.S. Dharm Singh believed and followed Sikhism all his life. He felt the need to built a Gurdwara in Canada and America and wrote a special letter of request to Santbabaji Atar Singh asking him to come to Canada. Santji asked his special follower, Sant Teja Singh MA,LLB, who was studying at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York during 1908 to meet P.S.Dharm Singh in Canada after he finished his studies. Sant Teja Singh stayed with Partap Singh in Canada for two years (1908-1910).With his loving and impressive preaching, Sant Teja Singh converted hundreds of Punjabis to Amritdhari. Wealthy Canadians and Americans became so impressed with the Sikhdhari worker's work ethics and honesty, that they especially started asking S.Partap Singh to send only Sikhdhari workers to their factories and farms. More and more workers continued to become Sikhdharis. In 1910, Sant Teja Singh helped Partap Singh to built first Gurdwara in Vancouver B.C., Canada under the management of Khalsa Dewan Vancouver.

Punjabi workers in California were very impressed by Partap Singh's efforts to improve Punjabi workers lives in Canada that they requested that he build his headquarters in Stockton, California. Workers in California showed S. Partap Singh so much respect and affection, that he again felt need to built Gurdwara in Stockton, California. He wrote a letter to Sant Teja Singh requesting that he to come to Stockton, California. In 1912, Sant Teja Singh came to Stockton. People came in large numbers from Canada and America to welcome Santji. Under Sant Teja Singh's presence, Doaba Sikh American Education Society and Pacific Coast Khalsa Dewan Society Stockton were established. During the Stockton Gurdwara foundation ceremony, S.Partap Singh, Canadian, Moelawahidpur and S.Harnam Singh, Bhajjal donated large sums of money to build the gurdwara. Lots of money was also given by other sangat. At the same time thousands of U.S. dollars were collected to build Khalsa High School at Pur Heeran, Dist. Hoshiarpur through the Khalsa Educational Society.

During S.Partap Singh's stay in Canada, he continued to spread and preach Gursikhi and freedom spirit in the mind of Punjabis and hatred against slavery in India. He was always very interested in spreading education in Punjab, especially to educate girls. He continued to send money to Punjab for educational purposes through Chief Khalsa Dewan, Amritsar. In September 1912, S.Partap Singh returned to Punjab and also in 1912, Raja Mohinder Partap, Bhai Dashontha Singh Dhada and other Gadari Babas returned to India to start freedom revolution against the British rule. During the summer of 1913, freedom fighters from America and Canada would meet S. Partap Singh in his village, Moelawahidpur, at night to discuss their plans of action against British rule. Unluckily, a traitor gave information to British government regarding their plans of action. The British government stated arresting freedom fighters and putting them in jails. S.Partap Singh and Pundit Salig Ram were arrested at Moelawahidpur and put in the central jail in Lahore. While imprisoned, they were tortured for three years. In 1916, the British had to release them because of lack of evidence against them. S.Partap Singh was told by the British authorities that he could not leave his village for three years and had put restrictions on all his activities including lectures, writing in newspapers or meeting with any freedom fighters. A Police chocki was set up at his village, Moelawahidpur, to watch his activities and S. Partap was made to pay all their expenses. Inspite of all these restrictions, he continued the freedom struggle along with other freedom lovers. During the house arrest period, he built a Gurdwara in his village. S. Partap Singh created Punchati raj in his village and all village legal matters were resolved locally with no cases going to the government court. He also employed a teacher to go to village homes to motivate villager to start educating their girls.

During Feb.1920, the British lifted restrictions on S. Partap's movements. He was invited by Shodi Pritam Singh Anandpuri to visit Anandpursahib, which he gracefully accepted. Later as a Jathedar, he made many good changes at Anandpur Gurdwara. He went to jail many times during freedom struggle. In 1924, he was again released from jail and after his release SGPC Amritsar made him again Jathethar of Takhat Shri Kashgarh Sahib. He served faithfully at this position for almost 20 years. With the help of Sant Harnam Singh and Sant Hari Singh Kaharpuri, Partap Singh successfully built the beautiful Takhat Keshgarh Sahib Gurdwara.

After 20 years of service at the above holy place, he returned to his village. He spent most of his time doing kirtan gurbani and prayer. On Feb.9, 1947 about 2.30 PM, he called his son and told him that he was ordered by the Almighty to leave this world and Sant will come to take him. "Send me with him with a smile and no on will cry on my departure." On Feb.10, 1947 at exactly 2.30 PM while Partap Singh was laying in his bed he again told his son who was sitting by his bed side, and Jathedarji smiled and said Santji had come and his soul left his body peacefully. According to his wishes, Santsamelan was done on Feb.21, 1947. All prominent Sants and Akali leaders came to celebrate his life achievements and to pay homage and show their respect to this freedom fighter gadaribaba named Jathedar Partap Singh. To show further respect to him, SGPC Amritsar inducted the Partap Singh, Canadian portrait and life history into the Central Sikh Museum at the Golden Temple, Amritsar. S. Baldev Singh Sibia, Acting Chairman SGPC, conducted this historical ceremony. Jathedar Partap Singh's life history is also written and published by the Information Department of Punjab Government in a book called Freedom Fighters from district Hoshiarpur (Jila Hoshiarpur De Sutantarta Sangramis) under the title AMAR SAHID on page 91 along with his photograph.

P.S. - This information is from life history of Partap Singh written by his son Gurdial Singh Mahi BA, LLB; who was also involved in India's freedom movement and watched his father's freedom struggle along with other Gadari during his childhood.

This life history in written by Dr. Nazar Chauhan and Parminder Kaur Chauhan, his granddaughter.

Baba Roor Singh

Brief Life History

1. Born : 1880
Mother : As Jagat Singh
Mother : Kishan Kaur
Father : Sada Singh
Grand Father : Sukhan Singh
Grand Grand Father : Desh Singh

2. After serving in the Army for 4-5 years he left it and went to the USA and worked as a labourer

3. On 13 March, 1913 first meeting under the chairmanship of Lala Hardial was held.

4. Kartar Singh Sarabha used to address him as Bai (Brother). A book having a red cover with the name “Gaddar Dian Gujjan” was to be printed and the Indians decided to have a Printing Press. Baba Roor Singh took maximum possible part in the freedom struggle by spreading the message of the Gaddar party, distributing copies of “Gaddar Dian – Gunjan” (Red Book) at various places including the ships. He donated his total earnings to the Gaddar Party. When he returned to India, the following prominent gentlemen were among the co-passengers with Baba:

5. On arrival he was apprehended at the Port itself and was sent to jail. Two years term in Jhelum jail, one year in Central Jail in Lahore and Camel Pur etc.

6. Initially he was awarded life term, during subsequent trial Nawab Halwara who was the prosecution witness from the Police side, helped him by stating that he does not recognize the Baba. Nawab’s brother was a member of the Gaddar Party and he persuaded his brother not to state anything which can go against Roor Sahib. As a result he stayed in jail for 6-7 years only and sincerely followed the restriction imposed upon him to stay within his village area.

7. A government letter issued in 1919 was received in 1921 which stated that all restrictions imposed on Roor Singh alias Boor Singh s/o Sada Singh are withdrawn.

8. Country was freed on 15 August, 1947 and Gaddar Party members dreams came true. Baba Ji was granted Rs. 20 and Rs. 30 PM as pension/relief from the National Relief Fund, but his financial position by and by became worse and he passed away on 11 July 1966.

9. His pension later on was increased to Rs. 50 and was assured of further help by CM and PM and was honoured as follows:

Life History: Martyar Jagat Singh

Born : 1894 at Village Binjal, Ludhiana
Mother : Kishan Kaur
Father : Sada Singh
Grand Father : Sukhan Singh
Grand Grand Father : Desh Singh

2. At 18 years of age he joined the 47th Sikh Platoon Indian Army. After two years he left the Army and went to Shanghai (China).

3. Next year he went to the Philippines and after some time went back to Shanghai.

4. End of August, 1914, he met Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna President of the Gaddar Party and joined him along with his friends.

5. He along with 50-60 friends boarded a ship at Manila and came from Nagasaki to Hong Kong.

Some members of the party included:
President Hafiz Abdulla (Jagraon)
Jagat Singh (Binjal)
Kanshi Ram (Maroli)
Rehmat Ali Shah (Vajidke)
Lal Singh (Ludhiana)
Dhian Singh (Bansipura)
Chanda Singh (Baraich)
Kachar Bhan Ganda Singh

6. They escaped the port in disguises.

7. Next Prog.: Mian Mir, Lahore, Firozepur Cantt. (Port) attack together and destabilize Pb. Government.

8. 26 November 1914, Gadar Party had a meeting outside Ferozepur City on Jalalabad Road but no concrete plan emerged.

9. 27 November 1914: They boarded a train for Ludhiana along with Kartar Singh Sarabha but got left behind and took Tongas for Moga. On the way near Feru Shahr SP Police was to visit and a reception Party comprising Zaildars, Lambardars and Thanedar Busharat Ali was waiting at (POL INSP) Mahesari Canal Bridge. They stopped this Gaddar Party and started bullying them, when Rehmat Ali Shah asked the reason for this rude behaviour the policeman slapped him. On this Jagat Singh and Kachar Bhal Gandha killed a Zaildar and Thanedar and people fled away. The Gaddar Party hid themselves in bushed and the police party surrounded them and put the bushes on fire. Dhian Singh and Chanda Singh made supreme sacrifice and the remaining seven were captured alive. Ferozepur sessions judge sentenced them to death.

Hanged: 25.3.1915 – Sahiwal (Mongommery) Central Jail.

Ghadri Baba Mangoo Ram Mugowalia

By Mark Juergensmeyer

Late Bhai Nahar Singn, and eminent historian, took some material from C.I.D. file no. 1273 of 1915 and sent it to Desh Bagat Yadgar committee. It was about Sh. Mangoo Ram a great ghadarite.

The above mentioned files says:

N. 6271

“Mango chamar, of village Mugowal, police station Mahalpur, district, Hoshiarpur. Information was received in the summer of 1915 he was about to leave Sanfrancisco for India via Shanghai and Manila with Narinjan Das of Pharwala. The last two are emissaries of Ram Chand, Peshwari, and have reached Japan in July 1915. Mangoo Ram is said to be dangerous. He seems to have changed his mind about returning, for he was reported in September 1915 still in U.S.A.

Bhai Nahar Singh himself wrote that Sh. Mangoo Ram was one of the frontline Ghadarites, who along with Baba Hari Singh Usman took the responsibility of sending ARMS to the Ghadrites in India. The story of getting weapons from German counsel and the voyage of MEWAK is described 44 to 55.

“I would suggest you to personally go to the village Mugowal and meet the Bradari of Mongoo and ask them to perpetuate his memory.”

Hereby we are giving some thing more about this eminent personality. These are extracts from “Religious Rebels in the Punjab” written by “Mark Juergensmeyer” He is well known Political scientist.


There are not many Scheduled Caste persons in the Gadar movement, however; Sh. Mangoo Ram recalls only one other Chamar besides himself. Initially Sh. Mangoo Ram played only a minor role in the organization, but in 1915 he volunteered to be one of five Gadarites to participate in a dangerous mission involving smuggled weapons shipped from California to Pujab.  He was chosen for the task by the man whom he identified as the "Leader of the Ghadar party at that time," Sohan Singh Bhakna.  The secretary of the Ghadar party, whom he remember as  "Godha," sent the five to Los Angeles where they boarded an intermediary boad after collecting all their personal identification.  For the rest of the saga, Sh. Mangoo Ram would be known by a Muslim Pseudonym, Nizamuddin.

According to Sh. Mangoo Ram, the intermediary boat took them to the Secrorro [sic] islands to rendezvous with the weapons boat, but after thirteen days a military ship from Sydney, the “man of war,” discovered them. Only through the timely intervention of an American warship were they spared. They went to Vera Cruz, Mexico, to receive rations. There they finally connected with their weapons boat, the Maverick; they joined the crew, took on giant turtles for food, and headed for India. They were halted again in Hawaii, where Sh. Mangoo Ram witnesses the eruption of volcanoes. Free again, they advanced a bit further, perhaps to Java or New Caledonia there the Japanese, on behalf of the British, imprisoned them for one yea. Eventually, the British decided to hand them for one year. Eventually, the British decided to hang them, but at midnight the night before they were to be hanged at dawn, fate intervened. The Germans spirited them away in the dark, and the five went their separate direction Harnam das and Charan Das to Bangkok; the others, including Sh. Mangoo Ram, to Manila. But again, according to Sh. Mangoo Ram’s memory, the intervention of fate altered their plans. A typhoon appeared, and the ship went to Singapore instead, where British spies, Bela Singh and Bhag Singh, turned Sh. Mangoo Ram over to British authorities, who promptly ordered him to be placed before a cannon and shot.  Again, however, the Germans whisked for Manila.  When Sh.  Mangoo Ram arrived in the Philippines he read a news report in the Manila Times indicating that he had been executed for treason by the British in Singapore.  Sh. Mangoo Ram assumes that one of his captured colleagues had taken on his name to protect him, and that man had been shot in his place.  The news of his alleged death proceeded to the Punjab, where his wife heard the report and promptly married his younger brother, as custom dictated.  In the meantime, Sh. Mangoo Ram was sequestered in the Philippines in a series of hideouts on various islands.  Members of the Ghadar party were his benefactors during this period, and Sh. Mangoo Ram remembers fondly their hospitality and friendship:  he was no longer an Untouchable but a comrade in distress.  The war ended in 1918, and the Ghadar party was no longer quite the threat it was earlier when it engaged the British by compounding separatism with seditions through its liaison with the Germans.  But Sh. Mangoo Ram decided to stay in manila.  Nonetheless he met an American, a Mr. Johnson of Marshall field and company (a department store in Chicago), who hired him to work in an embroidery factory making shirts for the American market.  After six years of that Sh. Mangoo Ram was ready to return to India.

(Presented by Des Raj Kali)

Source : HERITAGE Bulletin.  no.7 April 1998 pg 83-85.


Contact T.S. Sibia
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