The history of the Ghadr movement will be well known to many who handle this book. There are others who will at times have to use it and who necessarily can only have a vague idea of what the movement means. For the information of the latter class the following brief account of the Ghadr movement is written.
2. The word “Ghadr” means mutiny. The Ghadr movement originally included Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, but is now practically confined to Sikhs. It was started by the notorious Har Dyal on the Pacific Coast of the United States of American in 1911. It aimed at bringing about a revolution in India in order to secure liberation from British control. The headquarters of the Ghadr Party were established at San Francisco and the Party published their own paper known as the “Ghadr” and founded an institution known as the Yugantar Ashram, the object of the institution being to instill patriotic feelings in young Indians and train them for a rising in India. The newspaper was violently anti-British and preached murder and mutiny.
3. In 1910 the Canadian Immigration Act was passed enabling the immigration authorities to prohibit the entry of any Asiatic into Canada unless he came direct from his own country and was in possession of a sum of 200 dollars. As a protest Baba Gurdit Singh of village Sirhali, Amritsar, Punjab, chartered the “Komagata Maru” at Hong Kong in May 1914 in order to convey a number of Indian passengers from that port to Vancouver. On the voyage these passengers were turbulent. Seditious speeches were made, and seditious literature was distributed. On arrival at Vancouver on May 23, 1914, permission to land was refused as a result of which an affray ensued between the passengers and the Police resulting in injuries to 22 police officers. Meanwhile seditious meetings were held in Vancouver at which criticism was leveled at Canadian authorities, while an attempt was made by four Sikhs in Vancouver to procure arms and ammunition for the use of the passengers on the ship. Ultimately the passengers had to yield, and they consented to go back to India provided they were supplied with provisions for the voyage by the Canadian Government. The “Komagata Maru” arrived at Calcutta towards the end of September. The passengers were asked to disembark and to proceed to the Punjab in a special train. Only about 60 out of over 300 complied and the remainder were so defiant that a riot ensued in which firearms were used on both sides. This riot takes its name from Budge Budge, the part of the port of Calcutta where the disembarkation was taking place. About 200 of the rioters were arrested, but about 13 including the leader, Gurdit Singh, escaped.
4. During the years 1914-15 several thousands of Sikhs and other emigrants who had been subverted by the Ghadr doctrine returned to India from abroad and embarked on a campaign of murder and armed robbery. Many were brought to justice. Simultaneously a campaign of murder broke out in Canada, one of the victims being the Chief Assistant to the Canadian Inspector of Immigration. This campaign did not end until the entry of the United States into the War, when action under the law was taken there against a number of Ghadr Party men and others who were actively engaged in plots for the benefit of the common enemy.
5. By 1922, however, there were signs of revival and two of the Party’s representatives attended the Fourth Congress of the Communist International help at Moscow in November of that year. This contact with Moscow and support given by the Communist International gave a fillip to the movement. On the advice of their advisers in Moscow the Ghadr Party in 1925 established a Workers’ and Peasants’ Party (Kirti Kisan Party) in the Punjab. Its organ, the “Kirti”, a purely communist production, was subsidized by the Ghadr Party in America. The aims of the Kirti Kisan Party were (1) to achieve complete independence from British Imperialism by every possible method in order to liberate the workers and peasants from political, economic and social serfdom and to establish their democratic power; and (2) to organize the workers and peasants. The Kirti Kisan Party was a counter-part in India of the Ghadr Party organization in America and it professed the communist creed.
6. In 1925 arrangements were made with Moscow for training Ghadr Party students and the first batch of five was sent to Moscow in that year. In Moscow at that time M. N. Roy’s influence was great; but the Ghadr Party were opposed to him and when in 1927 Rattan Singh of Raipur Doaba visited India, his object was to secure from India authority for him to have direct negotiations with the Communist International on behalf of the Ghadr Party. Rattan Singh stayed in India for about six months and got into touch with known communists. Thanks partly to his efforts, the Party increased in strength and by the end of 1928 it was stronger than ever in California and was well supplied with funds.
7. In the second half of 1929, doubtless encourages by the storm of terrorist activities in Upper India, e.g., the murder of Mr. Saunders in Lahore, the Assembly Bomb Outrage, etc., the Ghadr Party activity increased. Meetings were helping to devise means of starting guerilla warfare in India. The Party’s representatives in Russia urged the Sikhs in America to re-double their efforts to cause trouble in India and efforts were made to send arms and ammunition to that country. About this time Teja Singh Sutantar, who had just been through a course of military training in a Turkish academy at Constantinople, arrived in the United States of America and helped in giving instructions in flying to various Sikh enthusiasts, while at about the same time a manual on the preparation of bombs was translated into Gurmukhi, the language of the Sikhs, and circulated to members of the Ghadr Party.
8. Since the end of 1929 many Sikhs have returned to India from America and it is known that many of them have brought money and messages from the Ghadr Party headquarters in San Francisco. In 1930 Gandhi’s civil disobedience campaign took place and this increased enthusiasm amongst the Sikhs in the U.S.A. and Canada.
9. In January 1931 Teja Singh Sutantar was expelled from the U.S.A. and made a tour amongst his fellow Sikhs in Panama, Brazil and the Argentine, where he was able to open branches of the Party and to collect considerable sums of money. Economic depression and unemployment caused the U.S.A. Immigration authorities to take a greater interest in persons who had entered their country under false pretenses or who, after entering legitimately, had stayed on contrary terms on which they entered. Many Sikhs had entered the U.S.A. illegally or had overstayed the period for which they had obtained permission. The activities of the Immigration authorities excited the Sikhs and a long series of murders took place, mainly of Sikhs suspected of giving information to the Immigration authorities. In this connection the Ghadr Party’s offices in California were searched and the President, Nidhan Singh, was arrested, though he was subsequently released for want of evidence.
10. In 1930 the Ghadr Party formed a cell for their activities and as a base for subversive propaganda in India, at Kabul in Afghanistan. The leaders there were Gurmukh Singh and Rattan Singh and they had plans for importing into India a quantity of arms. They established close contact with people connected with the Soviet Legation in Kabul. Rattan Singh was deported from Afghanistan in November 1931 and Gurmukh Singh in December 1932. The affairs of the Ghadr Party in Kabul were taken over by Ishar Singh alias Wasdeo Singh, brother-in-law of Teja Singh Sutantar. This individual had been trained as a Ghadr Party student at Moscow in 1929. In 1932, he came to India on some errand, but after evading arrest for a considerable time, was arrested in August 1933 and has since been interned under Regulation III of 1818.
11. In India the Kirti Kisan Party endeavored in 1929 to link up with other communists in India who at that time were being educated by Bradley, Spratt and other communists, Sohan Singh Josh being the link. Fortunately, the Meerut Conspiracy Case was inaugurated in that year and Sohan Singh Josh was put into court with his communist friends.
12. Early in 1931 the Kirti Kisan Party organized a joint conference with the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, another Communist Party in the Punjab, and this was held simultaneously with the annual session of the All-India National Congress. In that year the bottom dropped out of the Punjab wheat market and the Kirti Kisan Party made every effort to subvert the Sikh agriculturalists. The Government of the Punjab, however, took the wind out of their sails by giving very great relief to the farmers. Since then the Kirti Kisan Party has been endeavoring to impress the Communist International with its importance and to secure a mandate for the control of communist work in India. There are at present about 35 students of the Ghadr Party undergoing training in Moscow.
13. The above sketch will, I trust, show the necessity for vigilance on the part of all officers of the British Crown. It was also, I hope, show Consular officers in different parts of the world why the authorities in India have continuously to make demands on their time in connection with the comings and goings of persons believed to be members of that very disloyal, but luckily almost equally stupid, organization, the Ghadr Party.
This edition supersedes the Punjab Ghadr Directory issued in 1917. The names mentioned in this volume have been arranged on the lines indicated below:
- Districts, as well as names, are shown in heavy type, and, where similar names occur, they are placed alphabetically according to districts of residence.
- Names are numbered according to the initial letter.
The names of all deceased persons and the appendices to the Punjab Ghadr Directory of 1917 have been omitted.
Recipients of the Directory, are requested to bring to notice any mistakes or omissions and any subsequent facts.
Intelligence Bureau, Home Department Government of India.
29th March 1934.