What was Ghadar party? What were its objectives? How significant was its involvement in the revolutionary phase of Indian National Movement? Read further to know in detail.
The Indian national movement for independence went through several stages over time and space to buy the Nation, “freedom from the oppressive British rule”.
Revolutionary phase of Indian National movement is very significant in this respect as it gave the much needed momentum to the slow progress of the freedom struggle.
Ghadar party and its activities become inevitably, worth remembering in this context.
The Ghadar Party was a revolutionary organisation with its main office in San Francisco and was centred around the weekly journal “The Ghadar.”The majority of these revolutionaries were ex-soldiers and peasants who had moved to the USA and Canada from Punjab in pursuit of better job possibilities.
They were mostly from Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur and many of them were landless, indebted peasants, many of them had previously served in the British Indian Army and had gained the confidence necessary to emigrate. They had travelled to these distant countries after being driven from their native country by the economic crisis and seduced by the prospect of a better life.
Effective limitations on Indian immigration to Canada were in place by 1908 and the Alien Land Law, which forbade Indians from owning land in the US, was another restricting piece of legislation. The host countries’ discriminatory practices caused the Indian emigrants to leave the country. Hence, they decided to organize themselves to secure India’s freedom from British Rule.
The Ghadar programme was designed to plan official assassinations, disseminate anti-imperialist and revolutionary literature, coordinate with Indian troops stationed abroad, get weapons, and spark a synchronised uprising across all British colonies. Lala Hardayal, Ramchandra, Bhagwan Singh, Kartar Singh Saraba, Barkatullah, and Bhai Parmanand were the driving forces behind the Ghadr Party. The Gadites wanted to incite a rebellion in India.
Background of the Ghadar Party
- At the start of the 20th century, the growing Indian Independence Movement triggered a rise in nationalist feelings not just on the Indian subcontinent but also among students and emigrants from the same area all over the world.
- Nationalist ideologies were instilled in these students by revolutionary thinkers like Taraknath Das and Lala Har Dayal to mobilise them.
- To conduct revolutionary operations, activists had already constructed the “Swadesh Sevak Home” in Vancouver and the “United India House” in Seattle. The Ghadr party was formally established in 1913.
- Lala Har Dayal, Sant Baba Wasakha Singh Dadehar, Baba Jawala Singh, Santokh Singh, and Sohan created the Ghadar Party, formerly known as the Pacific Coast Hindustan Association, on July 15, 1913, in the United States.
- Among the Indian diaspora in the United States, Canada, East Africa, and Asia, the Ghadar party attracted a substantial following.
Features of the Ghadar Party
The Ghadar Party was a predominantly Indian-founded revolutionary group. The party included Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim members, although Sikh leaders predominated. The party was multiethnic but primarily Punjabi. The Ghadar party, which had its headquarters in San Francisco and its origins in the rural Californian Punjabi immigrant community, was also dedicated to bringing about the independence of India by revolution.
- The Ghadar programme sought to coordinate official assassinations, produce anti-imperialist and revolutionary literature, collaborate with Indian troops stationed abroad, acquire weapons, and incite a simultaneous uprising in all British colonies.
- A working committee was established, and it was decided to launch, “The Ghadar”, a free weekly newspaper, and to build Yugantar Ashram as the organization’s headquarters in San Francisco.
- The militants in the Ghadar party immediately began an active propaganda campaign, visiting the farms and mills where the majority of the Punjabi immigrant labourers were employed.
- The inaugural issue of Ghadar was released on November 1st in Urdu and in December in Gurmukhirumukhi. The paper’s heading made it clear what it was about An enemy of British rule, or Angrezi Raj ka Dushman. Each issue’s front page featured Angrezi Raj Ka Chittha, or “An Expose of British Rule.
- They featured the eradication of Indian crafts and industries, the recurrence of famines and epidemics that claimed the lives of millions of Indians, and the usage of the Indian slave practice of giving money collected from Hindus and Muslims to Christian missionaries, as well as the attempt to sow discord between Hindus and Muslims: in short, the entire critique of British rule put forth by the Indian national movement was summarised and presented to Ghadar readers each week.
- The Indian War of Independence – 1857, written by Savarkar, was serialised to further the message.
- The Ghadar also highlighted the heroic acts of the Anushilan Samiti, the Yugantar group, and Russian secret societies, as well as contributions from Lokamanya Tilak, Sri Aurobindo, V.D. Savarkar, Madame Cama, Shyamji Krishna Varma, Ajit Singh, and Sufi Amba Prasad.
- The poetries out for their secular tone as much as their revolt was fervour was published in The Ghadar and afterwards compiled, published, and distributed for free under the title Ghadar di Goonj may have had the most influence.
- The Ghadar reached populations in the Philippines, and Hong Kong, China, the Malay States, and was widely disseminated among Indians in North America.
- It sparked a ferocious debate and discussion and received an unparalleled response. The poems it included were chanted during meetings of Punjabi immigrants and swiftly spread throughout the world.
- In a short period, the Ghadár was able to change the Punjabi immigrant’s self-image from that of a devoted soldier of the British Raj to that of a rebel whose main objective was to overthrow the British control of his motherland. The Ghadar purposefully called the Punjabi’s history as a loyalist to his attention, made him regret it, and tasked him with making amends in the spirit of his ancestors’ earlier tradition of resistance to oppression.
- Some Ghadar Party members travelled to Punjab in 1914 after the Fitoroke out to spark an armed uprising for India’s independence.
- Along with smuggling firearms, the Ghadar party were successful in stirring up a rebellion among Indian soldiers serving in the British Army.
- The British brutally put down the next revolt, which is now known as the Ghadar Mutiny, and killed 42 mutineers after the Lahore Conspiracy Case trial.
- Nevertheless, from 1914 to 1917, the Ghadar Party opposed colonialism with the aid of Central Powers Imperial Germany and the Ottoman Empire both of which were Central Powers opposed to the British.
- The Ghadar stated that they “wanted brave soldiers to ignite rebellion in India.”
- Following the Komagata Maru Incident in 1914, which directly challenged Canadian anti-Indian immigration rules, hundreds of Indians living in the US sold their companies and houses to force the British out of India, strengthening the Ghadar Party’s numbers.
Komagata Maru Incident
- The ship Komagata Maru started on its terrible voyage to Canada in March 1914. Canada had long imposed strong limits on Indian immigration, passing legislation that restricted entry to only individuals who made a continuous journey from India. This strategy worked since no maritime lines provided a route along that line.
- However, in November 1913, the Canadian Supreme Court permitted 35 Indians who had not travelled continuously admission. Gurdit Singh, an Indian contractor based in Singapore, was inspired by this choice decision to charter a ship to carry Indians to Vancouver falls throughout East and Southeast Asia.
- With 376 Indian passengers in total, the ship sailed for Vancouver. Ghadar activists held talks and distributed literature on the ship in Yokohama, Japan. The Punjabi press issued grave warnings if the Indians were denied access to Canada.
- In contrast, the Canadian press adopted a different position, and some Vancouver newspapers published alerts about the “Mounting Oriental Invasion.” The Canadian government, meantime, had filled the legal gaps that had prompted the Supreme Court’s ruling in November. The lines of battle were marked in the sand.
- When the ship arrived in Vancouver, it was barred from entering the port and surrounded by police. Under the direction of Husain Rahim, Sohan Lal Pathak, and Balwant Singh, a “Shore Committee” was established to defend the rights of the passengers. Meetings for protest were arranged, and money was raised.
- A British-backed uprising in India was on the verge of happening. Under the direction of Bhagwan Singh, Barkatullah, Ram Chandra, and Sohan Singh Bhakna, a potent campaign was organised throughout the United States, and the populace was counselled to gean t ready for an uprising.
- Soon later, the Komagata Maru was compelled to depart the Canadian seas. The British government ordered that no passenger be permitted to disembark anywhere along the journey, not even at the ports where they had boarded the ship, but only at Calcutta, Before World War I broke out, the ship arrived at Yokohama.
- The ship became a focal point for anti-British mobilisation and unleashed a wave of anger and outrage among the Indian community in every port it stopped at. When the ship touched down in Budge, close to Calcutta, the anxious and incensed passengers, irritated by the hostile attitude of the government, fought the police, leading to a fight in which 18 passengers were killed and 202 were arrested. Some of them managed to escape.
- Leading members of the Ghadar Movement gathered for a special conference where they determined that the chance must be taken, that it is better to die than do nothing at all, and that their primary weakness—a shortage of weapons—can be solved by travelling to India and gaining the support of Indian soldiers.
- The Ailan-e-Jung, or Proclamation of War, was published by the Ghadar Party and widely disseminated. Ram Chandra, Bhagwan Singh, and Mohammed Barkatullah organise several at several public gatherings to entice Indians to organise an armed uprising in their native country. Indians were despatched to Singapore, Burma, China, Hong Kong, the Malay States, Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore to convince people to come home and join the rebels. The more furious Ghadar supporters immediately departed for India, including Raghubar Dayal Gupta and Kartar Singh Sarabha, who was later killed by the British in a conspiracy case.
Importance of Komagatha Maru incident
- Due to the prejudice and violation of human rights, the Komagata Maru incident garnered attention and outrage on a global scale.
- This was one of many instances in the early 20th century where immigrants of Asian heritage were barred from entering Canada and the United States due to exclusion rules.
- The incident provided the Ghadar party with more motivation to continue fighting against colonial control, which indirectly aided the Indian freedom movement.
- The Ghadar Party extensively used the enflamed emotions following the tragedy to gain support for its objectives.
- The incident also serves to remind Indians of the role played by individuals who fought for independence while living abroad.
Related Article: Popular Uprisings and Revolts against the British – ClearIAS
Reasons for failure of Ghadar Party
- Before they even arrived in India, many Ghadar leaders were detained, and after they disembarked, they were imprisoned.
- Kartar Singh Saraba, Pandit Kanshi Ram, and G. Pingale were among those who managed to avoid capture and gathered in Punjab to carry out the uprising. At the time, Punjab’s Lieutenant-General was Michael O’ Dwyer.
- Ghadar Party leaders in Punjab employed a variety of tactics. Both the native Punjabi population and the British referred to them as dacoits, none of them welcomed them. The leaders of the Ghadar were directed to be apostates by some Punjabi Sikhs.
- At the time, Sikhs were the most devoted soldiers in the British Army, and they had already garnered enough rewards from these positions.
- O’Dwyer mandated the detention of all Ghadar party members, whether they were doing it lawfully or not.
- The Ghadr party movement’s achievement was in the realm of ideology. It preached militant nationalism while remaining completely secular.
- However, it failed to achieve much politically and militarily because it lacked organized and sustained leadership, and underestimated the extent of preparation required at every level—organizational, ideological, financial, and tactical strategic.
The Ghadarites believed that India would be equally enthusiastic about revolution as it had been about their successful efforts to recruit Indians in the United States, but they soon realised that this was not the case. The Indian National Congress, the priests of several significant Sikh gurdwaras, and numerous other nationalist figures in India attacked the party. The interconnection of colonialism, racial subordination, and economic exploitation helped Ghadarites in North America mobilise thousands along the Pacific Coast, but they were unable to convince their Indian counterparts to join them.
The Ghadar Movement’s legacy After the brutal British repression, the Ghadar Movement started to weaken. 1917 saw the Ghadar Party split into a Communist and a Socialist faction following the end of World War I. Despite this loss, the Ghadar Party served as an inspiration for many revolutionaries in the quest for liberation. Bhagat Singh is the most renowned among them. The Ghadar movement might be characterised as a story of extraordinary bravery, labour, and toil that touched the hearts of every Indian living in foreign lands.
The strong comments made by its leaders did influence the sentiment of foreigners against the British misrule in India. It qualifies as a significant conflict since it inspired the populace to fight for freedom and planted the seeds for all subsequent actions. This movement’s legacy endures forever. The recent apologies from Canada to India over the event demonstrate how significant this movement is.
Previous year UPSC question (2022)
Consider the following freedom fighters:
- Barindra Kumar Ghosh
- Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee
- Rash Behari Bose
Who of the above was/were actively associated with the Ghadar Party?
(a) 1 and 2
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3
(d) 3 only
Article Written by Atheena Fathima Riyas