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The Ghadar Party (Hindustani: ग़दर पार्टी, غدر پارٹی ) was an organization founded by Indiansmarker of the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker in June, 1913 with the aim to liberate Indiamarker from British rule. It was also known as the Hindi Association of the Pacific Coast.

The first issue of the Ghadr, their paper was published from University of California in Berkeleymarker in November 1, 1913, In it Har Dayal wrote: "Today there begins in foreign lands, but in our country's tongue, a war against the British Raj... What is our name? Revolution. What is our work? Revolution. Where will be the revolution? In India. The time will soon come when rifles and blood will take the place of pens and ink."


The economic downturn in India during the early nineteenth century witnessed a high level of emigration. Some of these emigrants settled in North America. These included Punjabis as well as people from other parts of India. The Canadian government decided to curtail this influx with a series of laws, which were aimed at limiting the entry of South Asians into the country and restricting the political rights of those already in the country. The Punjabi community had hitherto been an important loyal force for the British Empire and the community had expected, equal welcome and rights from the British and Commonwealth governments as extended to British and white immigrants. These laws fed growing discontent, protests and anti-colonial sentiments within the community. Faced with increasingly difficult situations, the community began organising itself into political groups. A large number of Punjabis also moved to the United States, but they encountered similar political and social problems.

The Ghadar Party, initially the Pacific Coast Hindustan Association, was formed in 1913 in the United States under the leadership of Har Dayal, with Sohan Singh Bhakna as its president. The members of the party were Indian immigrants, largely from Punjab. Many of its members were students at University of California at Berkeleymarker including Dayal, Tarak Nath Das, Maulavi Barkatullah, Kartar Singh Sarabha and V.G. Pingle. The party quickly gained support from Indian expatriates, especially in the United States, Canadamarker and Asia.

The word "Ghadar"

Ghadar is an Urdu/Punjabi word which means "revolt" or "rebellion." As Kartar Singh Sarabha, one of the founders of the party, wrote in the first issue: "Today there begins 'Ghadar' in foreign lands, but in our country's tongue, a war against the British Raj. What is our name? Ghadar. What is our work? Ghadar. Where will be the Revolution? In India. The time will soon come when rifles and blood will take the place of pens and ink." The party consisted of mainly revolutionaries and socialists.

The Ghadar Newspaper

Ghadar Newspaper (Urdu) Vol.
1, No.
22, March 24 1914
The party was built around the weekly paper The Ghadar, which carried the caption on the masthead: Angrezi Raj Ka Dushman (an enemy of the British rule). "Wanted brave soldiers", the Ghadar declared, "to stir up rebellion in India. Pay-death; Price-martyrdom; Pension-liberty; Field of battle-India". The ideology of the party was strongly secular. In the words of Sohan Singh Bhakna, who later became a major peasant leader of the Punjab: "We were not Sikhs or Punjabis. Our religion was patriotism". The first issue of The Ghadar, was published from San Franciscomarker on November 1, 1913.

Following the voyage of the Komagata Maru in 1914, a direct challenge to Canadianmarker racist anti-Indian immigration laws, several thousand Indians resident in the USAmarker sold their business and homes ready to drive the British from India. However, Hardayal had fled to Europe concerned that the US authorities would hand him over to the British. Sohan Singh Bhakna was already in British hands, and the leadership fell to Ram Chandra. Following the entry of Canadamarker into World War I, the organisation was centred in the USA and received substantial funding from the Germanmarker government. They had a very militant tone, as illustrated by this quote from Harnam Singh:

No pundits or mullahs do we need
The party rose to prominence in the second decade of the 20th century, and grew in strength owing to Indian discontent over World War I and the lack of political reforms.

Ghadar activists undertook what the British described as political terrorism, but what was revolution to most Indians. Ghadar activists were responsible for bombs planted on government property.

In 1917 some of their leaders were arrested and put on trial in the Hindu German Conspiracy Trial in which their paper was quoted.

The Ghadar party commanded a loyal following the province of Punjab, but many of its most prominent activists were forced into exile to Canada and the United States. It ceased to play an active role in Indian politics after 1919. The party had active members in other countries such as Mexicomarker, Japanmarker, Chinamarker, Singaporemarker, Thailandmarker, Philippinesmarker, Malaya, Indo-China and Eastern and Southern Africa.

Members of the Ghadar Party

See also


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