GHADARI BABEAAN DA MUNSHI
Waraich has been reconstructing the history of Ghadar movement page by glorious
page. "I am not a historian, I am a mere collector," says Waraich,
sitting in his room full of books, court judgments, government records, manuscripts
and Ghadar memorabilia he has been collecting with rare perspicacity and rather
With a fondness shot through with nostalgia, Waraich points at a sepia photograph hanging on the wall. These Ghadarites were clicked just after they were released from jail in early 30's. Sohan Singh Bhakna, Sant Vasakha Singh, Harnam Singh Tundi Lat; slowly, the names drop from his lips, heavy with memories, each launching a train of thoughts which trundles through his mind, rousing various emotions.
"Baba Bhakna used to lift his finger while talking. Sometimes he just fell silent and would not answer our questions for hours," remember Waraich. He is talking of Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna who kick-started the Ghadar movement in California.
"I have done nothing. No jails, no suffering, no privations. I feel privileged to be associated with the Ghadarites for nothing," says Waraich who has been a professor of Humanities at Guru Nank Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana and now has a practice in Criminal Law at the High Court. Waraich's student Jagmohan, Bhagat Singh's nephew, once listened to Bhakana at a public function and told Waraich how Bhakna had talked of handing over the Ghadar legacy to the younger generation. That bit took Waraich to Bhakna and he formed a close association with him. Impressed by the ideology which was, in the words of O'Dwyer, "by far the most serious attempt to subvert the British rule in India," Waraich started looking for other heroes of Ghadar who were flung by time to the margins of contemporary world in which both they and Ghadar were flagrant anachronisms. Baba Hari Singh Usman, who set out with a ship full of weapons from the US, stayed in Java where he escaped death sentence and served in the INA, was a sweeper in a school at a village near Ludhiana when discovered by Waraich.
Waraich has also edited autobiographies of Baba Usman and Sohan Singh Bhakna and poetry and diaries of Lala Ram Saran Das Talwar and Giani Harbhajan Singh Chaminda. He is editing the files of Lahore Conspiracy Case, autobiography of Baba Vasakha Singh and the trial of Madan Lal Dhingra.
"I used to make notes while talking to the Ghadarites. So you can call me their munshi," Waraich says. He went as far as a remote village of UP for Baba Vasakha Singh's autobiography. He has scoured lineages, climbed up many a family trees to collect information on dead and long-forgotten Ghadarites. Waraich has filed a PIL against the sorry amnesia of the government which has Ghadar in its lists misspelled as Chaddar. Between history and hagiography, Waraich toils to reclaim the subalterns from least deserved oblivion.