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Primary sources would explain true story of Gadhar movement – Former leftist giving ‘right’ turn to history

August 22, 2012 | By

Ludhiana, Punjab (August 22, 2012): Gadhar movement was a vital historic event against British rule in India but it has been widely ignored after the transfer of power in 1947 that ended the British rule in this peninsula. Academicians and scholars gave a motivated turn to the history of the movement to make it fit for the agenda of building “single Indian nation” adopted by the Indian state. This process remained hidden for a long period in past but now the things are getting exposed.

“As the programmes to mark the centenary of Ghadar movement in 2013 have already started in various parts of the world and academic activity pertaining to research on the subject has also picked up, a former leftist activist has compiled three books after digging up almost forgotten writings of the Ghadarites and is a giving a new perspective to understand the orientation of the movement” Times of India (TOI) has reported on August 20, 2012.

Rajwinder Singh Rahi

Rajwinder Singh Rahi

According to information Rajwinder Singh Rahi, who was earlier known as Rajinder Rahi during his days in left movement for around two decades, has also edited autobiographic account of founder president of Ghadar party, Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna, which he had authored some 82 years back but remained nearly forgotten since then.

“Interestingly though he remained a hardcore leftist, Rahi’s compilations clearly reflect and he himself concludes that Gurudwaras of USA and Canada had played major role to provide grooming ground for the Ghadar movement and its activists” TOI report reads further.

“The history of Ghadar movement has usually been recorded with leftist perspective but when I studied the primary sources especially the autobiographical account of Ghadar movement founder president Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna and articles or sketches of 18 other Ghadarites I found that Sikh philosophy, history and orientation had played a key role in shaping these revolutionaries even as they kept the Ghadar movement above any sectarian lines,” Rajwinder Singh Rahi is reported to have told TOI.

“It would have been academic dishonesty to deny a rightful place to this orientation and I went ahead to project the ‘other than left’ perspective to their history,” he added.

Meanwhile ” Meri Ram Kahani”(My story) authored by Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna would have remained buried in archival record of Khalsa College Amirtsar Library but for Rahi’s efforts who found it, retrieved it and then copied the entire text with his pen to bring the work to light again. Baba Bhakna’ Meri Ram Kahaniwas published in a Punjabi newspaper Akali Te Paper in instalments in 1930 and 1931 and it was not available or published later in any form.

While editing this autobiographical account Rahi also collected firsthand accounts of Ghadarites or sketches written by fellow ghadarites and 18 of these have been compiled two separate volumes “Ghadar Lehar Di Asli Gatha”.

Meanwhile these accounts especially of Bhakna’s help to dispel several notions and also expose weaknesses of some leaders while also objectively recording their strengths. Baba Bhakna had clearly written that Lala Hardyal had his contribution to create this movement but it was only lack of knowledge to state that he was sole creator of this movement. Lala Hardyal was founder of newspaper Ghadar and it is usually perceived that it was his brainchild but Baba Bhakna had clarified that he was of course founder editor but he was engaged after the idea to bring out a paper was conceived by Baba Bhakna and other revolutionaries. However Baba Bhakna also highlighted qualities of Lala Hardyal. He also exposed weaknesses of Tarak Nath, G D Kumar and Ram Chander who later became editor of Ghadar newspaper.

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