People's Democracy

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


No. 37

September 15, 2013





Centenary of Ghadar Movement Observed In Vancouver, Canada


Joga Randhawa


INDO Canadian Workers Association of Canada had decided to observe the foundation of the Ghadar movement and party on the West Coast of North America in 1913. This centenary is significant in many ways.  ICWA comrade Surinder Dhesi was a delegate to the 20th Party Congress of the CPI (M). This congress had adopted a resolution calling upon all units to observe in a befitting manner this centenary. The resolution said, among other things, This party congress recalls with pride and salutes the memory of the 200 martyrs who were killed and 35 who were sent to the Andaman cellular jail for life. Their fearless example raised hopes of overcoming imperialism at its most savage. The movement extended from Vancouver to San Fransciso, and the village of Punjab.


Accordingly, the ICWA decided to hold a series of events on September 7-8, 2013 at Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver Port was the place where the historic voyage of the Komagata Maru was aborted by the then Canadian authorities who refused to allow the Indian to disembark and immigrate.  The ship had to finally return back to India only to face the bullets of the then British colonial administration at Bhudge Bhudge, Calcutta. It is now part of recorded history that scores were killed in this British firing and many more were sent to infamous Kala Pani in the Andaman.  Many were reported missing and many more were slaped with serious criminal cases. A host of conspiracy cases were foisted on the Ghadarites.


These observations in Vancouver began with a very well attended seminar on September 7, 2013 at Dogwood community hall of Newton Recreation Centre in Surrey.  Over 300 people of Indian origin and Canadian citizens participated. Legislative Assessment of British Columbia had adopted in 2011 a resolution apologising on behalf of the Canadian authorities for the Komagata Maru episode. In the same year, the Canadian government declared the mosque built by the Ghadarites at Abbotsford as a monument of national heritage in memory of the Ghadarites and the legacy of the Indian migrs to Canada.


At the seminar, various papers on different aspects of the history of the Ghadar movement were presented.  Among those present were Historian Sohan Singh Pooni, Dr Raghubir Singh, Gurpreet Singh and Naveen. The chief guest at this event was CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and leader of the CPI(M) parliamentary group in India, Sitaram Yechury. Kulwant Dhesi, secretary of the CPI(M) unit  presided over the seminar.  He said that Ghadarites fought for the cause of immigration and again the same issue we are facing again.  Surinder Sangha, president of ICWA, said Ghadar heroes fought for secularism and today India is facing the same challenges again from the communal forces.


Jinny Sims and Jasbir Sandhu, members of parliament of NDP also addressed the seminar. The Counsel General of India, Ravi Shankar greeted the occasion and remarked on the significance of this centenary. He said this meeting is in tune with the government of Indias decision to observe this occasion by issuing a commemorative postage stamp and announcing in the 2013 budget speech an allocation of a substantial amount of money to renovate the Ghadarite Yugantra Ashrama in San Francisco in California.


The next day, the ICWA organised a mela, dedicated to the centenary observation of the Ghadar Heroes in a massively attended function.  Local police authorities have declared the participation of more than 15 thousand people.  The mela began with the hoisting of Ghadar Flag and with a song sung, dedicated to the Ghadar Heroes.


The main speaker at the mela was Sitaram Yechury, followed by the Consul General of India.

Yechury spoke about the contributions made by the Ghadar party to the Indian Freedom struggle. He said Ghadarites did not just confine to the freedom of India from foreign rule, but to continue the fight for a just society after the country had gained its independence.  According to him, bigger challenges from imperial forces still prevail.


He observed that the free market economy and liberalisation has created a huge gap between the rich and the poor. As a fitting tribute to the Ghadarites, we must keep this struggle alive, he said.  He also released a souvenir dedicated to the Ghadar history.


Surpringly,  Sukhdev Dhindsa, an Akali MP landed at these events, uninvited.


The next day, a meeting of the ICWA members and party sympathisers was held and had a detailed discussion about the functioning of the unit and chalked out the future programme.  Next year being the 100 years of Komagata Maru, the unit decided to observe in a befitting manner the centenary.  The meeting also discussed how to improve the functioning of the unit and to plan to form a co-ordination committee.