People's Democracy

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


No. 49

December 08, 2013






Rally Concludes Ghadar Party Centenary


Harsev Bains


ORGANISED in Bradford on November 24, a rally concluded the series of events marking the centenary of the Ghadar Party in Great Britain. (This revolutionary party was formed at San Francisco, USA, in November 1913.) A perfect setting for the concluding tribute to the Ghadar Party martyrs and heroes in this centenary year was provided by an event that was organised in collaboration with the South Asia Peoples Forum, representing the people from Pakistan and India in the Indian subcontinent, and the Indian Workers Association Great Britain (IWA-GB). The presence of Gosal and Muheem, descendants of two of the Ghadari Babas, among the audience, gave the centenary commemoration an added significance.


The programme, interspersed with poetry that was border transcending, was a most poignant reminder of our common heritage and the struggle for independence. From the same stage were the poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Surjeet Patar recited. The words --- whether in Punjabi, Urdu or Hindi --- carried the same emotion and an expression of hope for a brave new world. The message was given by the Ghadar heroes a hundred years back --- “Nawan roop rachna Hind de samaj da, tukham udaona zaliman de raj da (We have to destroy the rule of the tyrants to construct a new socio-political order in India).


The decision to commemorate the Ghadar Party centenary was taken by the 20th congress of the CPI(M) in Kozhikode (Kerala) last year.


During this final rally, M A Baby, member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau, echoed the words of CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat: that “The Ghadar Party centenary has been an occasion to pay tributes to the indomitable revolutionary spirit that this movement symbolised.” He recalled with pride the close association of the Ghadarites with the freedom struggle and mass movements. One notable example was Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna who was once the national president of the All India Kisan Sabha. M A Baby traced the history of the Ghadar movement from the USA and Canada onward and the call it gave for “Poorna Swaraj” (complete independence), almost 16 years before the Congress session adopted it at its Lahore session in 1929.


In recognition of these Ghadar Party commemorative events which coincided with the 75th anniversary of the IWA-GB, the CPI(M) leader Baby urged upon the youth of today to emulate the spirit of the Ghadari Babas. He stressed the necessity of an infusion of the experience of these veteran freedom fighters with the vibrancy of the youth. In the words of the late Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, he said “The world would not get better on its own.”


M A Baby congratulated the IWA-GB for electing Joginder Kaur as its national general secretary. She is the first female to occupy this position in the 75 years of the organisation.


Joginder Kaur, the newly elected national general secretary, provided a rich insight into the contribution of women, like Bibi Gulab Kaur and Madam Bhikai Ji Cama, in the Ghadar Party and the freedom movement. Joginder Kaur said she was looking forward to an even greater involvement of women in future campaigns of the Indian Workers Association Great Britain.


Harsev Bains, secretary of the Association of Indian Communists (Great Britain), gave an update on the issues facing the Indian Diaspora and thanked the organisers Dr Acharpal Dharni, Professor Nazir Tabassum, Parwez Fateh, and Sarwan Hayer for arranging such a wide array of participants for this concluding rally. He recalled the start of the whole series of programmes inaugurated by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury on June 8 this year in London to commemorate the centenary of the Ghadar movement. Yechury had described the latter in these words: “Like a blazing comet that sets the skies aflame, the Ghadar movement started on the USA’s west coast on November 1, 1913, with the beating of drums that its name was “mutiny” and that it was an enemy of the British rule.”


Bains recorded his appreciation of the significant contribution by Jan Natya Manch (JANAM) for their inspirational theatrical tour, raising issues of social justice and making an audio-visual presentation on the Ghadar Party and the struggle for freedom.


The hall of the rally in Britain reverberated with the sounds of “Pagri sambhal jatta,” an immortal song.


The commemoration of the centenary across the continents of Asia, Europe and North America included a seminar at Yugantar Hall in San Francisco and a rally attended by 15,000 people in Vancouver. These places stand as milestones in the history of our freedom movement and were worthy of celebrating the legacy of the Ghadar Party.