Resonances (Vol 8, Issue 1&2)

Role of brave women second to none in Ghadar movement

Neel Kamal, TNN | Oct 30, 2013, (

Role of brave women second to none in Ghadar movement

Neel Kamal, TNN | Oct 30, 2013, (

BATHINDA: Names of legendary freedom fighters — Kartar Singh Sarabha, Rash Behari Bose, Sohan Singh Bhakna, Maulvi Barkatullah and Lala Hardayal — are recalled for their stellar role in the formation of Ghadar Party in California in 1913. However, little is known about the party’s intrepid women members, who matched their male counterparts in fighting for the country’s freedom against the British regime.

Role of three women Ghadarites deserves a special mention for fighting for the Indian independence even while staying abroad. Interestingly, one of them was an American, who never visited India. The three women are Gulab Kaur, Bhikaji Cama and American Agnes Smedley.

Known as Ghadri Gulab Kaur, a native of Bakshiwala village in Sangrur district, she preferred to work for the party after taking a radial decision of leaving her husband in Philippines. Born in
1890, Gulab faced lots of hardships but never gave up. When her husband Maan Singh declined to return to India to take part in the freedom struggle, Gulab accompanied other Ghadarites, Jiwan Singh Daula Singh Wala and Hafiz Abdulla, as their sister. She even had to pose as the wife of Jiwan Singh, to escape arrest while alighting from a ship near Kolkata (then Calcutta).

“Like many Punjabis facing economic hardships, Gulab and her husband had migrated to Philippines for an onward journey to America. But when a ship, SS Korea, reached Manila for an onward journey to India, Gulab boarded it on October 28, 1914, to work with Ghadarites, including Kartar Singh Sarabha. She was arrested from Naudh Singh Wala and tortured at Lahore’s Shahi Quila. She finally died in 1931,” informed Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Committee member Amolak Singh.

On the other hand, Bhikaji Cama was born in a wealthy Parsi family in Mumbai on September 24, 1861. She was named Bhikaji Sorab Patel and became Bhikaji Rustom Cama after her marriage. However, the iron-willed woman was better known as Madam Cama among the
freedom fighters. She worked in the slums of Mumbai during outbreak of plague. She even left her husband to work selflessly for the poor people afflicted with the disease. She fell sick and was taken to Germany for treatment. Later, she went to England to work with the Indian revolutionaries.

“Madam Cama had unfurled a self-designed tricolour in Stuttgart town of Germany on August 22, 1907, which enraged the English government. She then reached US and worked with Ghadarites. She died on August 13, 1936,” said historian Malwinderjit Singh Waraich.

Agnes Smedley, a journalist and writer born on February 23, 1892 at Missouri in US, was known
more for her autobiographical novel “Daughter of Earth” wherein she described her association with the Indian freedom struggle. Despite no similarity in culture and traditions, Agnes came in close contact with Lala Lajpat Rai, M N Roy, Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, Shailendranath Ghose, Bhagwan Singh and Taraknath Das in US during World War-I and served as a communication volunteer for Indian revolutionaries and oversaw Ghadar party’s various publications.

Her father worked in a coal company, where the lives of poor labourers left a lasting impression
on her mind and she grew into a sympathizer of the oppressed. She was even arrested with some documents belonging to the Ghadar Party, but she didn’t disclose anything to the police. The incident finds a mention in her novel.

Agnes accompanied Virendranath Chattopadhyaya to Germany to take part in left-wing
activism. Later she moved to China and died on May 6, 1950. Agnes had once written, “More and more do I see that only a successful revolution in India can break England’s back forever and free Europe itself. It is not a national question concerning India any longer, it is purely international.”


With no excavation, remains of Ghadar Party’s arms factory remain unexplored
Amaninder Pal Sharma, TNN | Oct 30, 2013, (

PATIALA: As Punjabi diaspora across the globe observes the centennial year of the formation of Ghadar Party, Lohatbaddi villagers in Ludhiana are waiting for the government to order excavation of a small chunk of land where Ghadarites had set up a small “underground” unit in 1914 to manufacture arms and bombs. The place was to be used in the coup that Ghadar Party members planned against the British regime.

Eminent Ghadarties like Kartar Singh Sarabha and Ras Bihari Bose were among frequent visitors to the factory. Some writers have recorded that Sarabha was in the village when the British forces raided the unit in 1915.

Patiala-based lawyer Rajiv Lohatbaddi, who hails from the village, said despite repeated requests to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2008, no one from the organization or the government visited the area or site to ascertain whether it had any traces of the Ghadarites’ arms factory.

“This despite the fact that a few years ago villagers tilling their land near the spot reported discovery of empty shells. An ASI team visited our village in 2008 and told us that the matter had been referred to the department of culture of the Punjab government. Since then, no officer has visited Lohabaddi to explore the matter further,” said Rajiv. Lohatbaddi was then part of Nabha princely state and located on the border of the British territory and Nabha state. Ghadarites established the arms unit in the village after the British government had got a whiff of their other factory, which was operational in Jhabewal village of Ludhiana district till November

Lohatbaddi was the native village of prominent freedom fighter Comrade Harnam Singh Chamak, whose father Achhra Singh had offered his land to the Ghadarties to set up the unit in his fields. Naunihal Singh, general secretary, Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Committee, said Lohatbaddi was chosen for the factory as the then maharaja of Nabha was known for having a soft corner for freedom fighters. “Moreover, the village was in the territory of Nabha princely state, which would act as a deterrent for the British forces to enter there. However, the unit was exposed within months of it being set up.”

The factory also found a mention in the book written by Balbir Chand Longowal on freedom fighters of Lohabaddi. Talking to TOI, Longowal said, “The factory was established beneath a one room structure, which was being showcased as a school by the Ghadarties. It remained operational for few months. However, efforts were never made by the Indian authorities to find out the remaining structure of that factory.”


Burnaby issues Ghadar centenary proclamation
Gurpreet Singh, Vancouver Desi ( news/nridiaspora/burnaby-issues-ghadar-centenary-proclamation/654998/)

Prominent community activist Makhan Tut receives Ghadar proclamation from the Mayor Derrick Corrigan. Submitted the city of Burnaby issued a proclamation to mark the 100 years of the Ghadar Party; a group of South Asian radicals in North America, seeking freedom of India from the British occupation.

The proclamation issued by Mayor Derek Corrigan is perhaps the first such declaration made by any Canadian municipality ever, since the Ghadar centenary year began early this year. The Burnaby City hall is dominated by the affiliates of the New Democratic Party, which is known for its socially progressive positions in the past.

Corrigan read out the proclamation at the city council meeting Monday night, to recognize the contribution of the Ghadar activists in the freedom struggle and their role in the fight for social justice. The statement read, “like all Canadians, the members of the Ghadar Party were strong supporters of self rule, equal rights and non discriminatory policies in our society.”

The Ghadar Party was formed in April 1913 in Astoria, U.S. and had a big following among the Indo-Canadians in British Columbia. Initially launched as Hindi Pacific Association representing the South Asians on the pacific coast of North America, it later came to be known as Ghadar Party after the name of its popular newspaper, Ghadar (mutiny). Significantly, the Ghadar newspaper was launched on November 1, 1913 and its 100th anniversary falls this week. The name of the paper was picked by the Hindi Pacific Association to revive the memories of the first war of independence of 1857 that was branded as “Ghadar” by the British authorities.

The Ghadar Party believed in an armed rebellion against the British rulers and tried to engineer a coup in the British armies. They resolved to drive out the British and form an egalitarian and secular society in the post independent India. Many Ghadar activists returned to India to face gallows or long imprisonments.

Most of the South Asians back then had migrated to this part of the world as British subjects. Rampant racism and indifference of the British Empire towards their concerns both in Canada and U.S. transformed many of these men into social justice activists. They were denied right to vote and bring in their families from India to Canada. They soon realized that the root cause of their sufferings was foreign occupation back home. Eventually they decided to fight against injustices abroad and imperialism back in India. The Ghadar Party was born as a result of this awakening. In 2007, the City of Burnaby issued a similar proclamation to mark the birth centenary of Bhagat Singh, a towering Indian revolutionary, who was hanged for assassinating a British police officer in 1931. Bhagat Singh, who was born in 1907, was influenced by the Ghadar ideology. His father had donated Rs. 1,000 to the Ghadar activists when they returned home to engineer the coup against the British government.


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