People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 09, 2013


Ghadar Party Centenary Celebrations Begin


Harsev Bains


FOLLOWING the 20th party congress of the CPI(M) in April 2012, the delegates from Canada and UK immediately set about organising a fitting tribute to mark the Ghadar Party centenary. The key objectives would be to recall the patriotic contribution of the founders of the Ghadar movement, to reignite the passion for freedom, to challenge imperialism and its neo-liberal world order, to raise awareness for social and economic justice, and to end all forms of discrimination by promoting equality and secularism.


Prakash Karat, general secretary of the CPI(M), in a message to the Indian diasporas stated that “The Ghadar movement is significant because it was workers and people of peasant origin who constituted the bulk of the movement. They became part of the international revolutionary movement which culminated in the first socialist revolution in the world in Russia. Embracing socialism, the Ghadar Party revolutionaries took the struggle for independence and emancipation forward.


“The Ghadar Party centenary is therefore an occasion to pay tributes to the heroism and indomitable revolutionary spirit that this movement symbolised. In the world we are living in, where imperialism and neo-liberal capitalism is holding sway and where the communists, the Left and progressive forces are struggling against exploitation and social injustice, the Ghadar Party heroes will always inspire us to go forward.”


It is thus that the Association of Indian Communists Great Britain, Indian Workers Association Great Britain, comrades on the west coast of USA and the Indo-Canadian Workers’ Association in Canada have decided to observe the centenary of the Ghadar Party in a big way, pledging to take the legacy of this revolutionary movement forward.


Declaring that the Ghadar centenary programmes would be a fine example of proletarian internationalism across the world, these organisations have declared that the programmes in the UK, USA and Canada would be inaugurated by Sitaram Yechury, a member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau and a member of Rajya Sabha. The inaugural function in the United Kingdom will take place in West London on Saturday, June 8, and, engaging with the people across all the major cities in Britain, these programmes would conclude on July 7. Across the Atlantic, the celebrations in San Francisco, USA, would begin on July 15 in order to pay homage the Ghadar heroes at a rally at the very birth place of the Ghadar Party and home to the Indian diaspora. The rally will draw in people from places like Sacramento and Yuba City in USA with its sprawling countryside, which is not too dissimilar to rural Punjab.


The tour will conclude its foreign journey after having retraced the steps of the Ghadar heroes and the legendary former leader of the CPI(M), late Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet. There will be mass rallies in Calgary and the historic port city of Vancouver in Canada on July 22.  For it was in Vancouver that Komagatamaru, a Japanese vessel carrying 372 migrant Sikh and Muslim Punjabis, was denied berth on May 23, 1914. With the use of firearms the then Canadian government forced the ship to leave the shores on July 23, 1914. Angered by this discriminatory treatment, they returned to India and arrived at the mouth of the Hooghly river in Calcutta, the capital of India under British rule. This decision by the Canada’s British colonial masters has been publicly regretted and an apology by the Canadian government is displayed in the old Gurdawara in Abbotsford, now declared a site of national heritage.


The Jana Natya Manch (JANAM), India’s leading political theatre group, will make a tour of the UK to make its contributions to the centenary celebrations through plays. The renditions by the JANAM will highlight the people’s yearning for freedom and their continuing struggle for social and economic emancipation.


A special anniversary souvenir has been jointly prepared by the IWA GB, the Indo-Canadian Workers’ Association, leading historians, academics and political figures in order to highlight the contribution as well as the contemporary relevance of the Ghadar Party.