(This story was first published on 14 August 2021. It has been reposted from The Quint's archives to mark India's 77th Independence Day.)
'Ghadar' is an Urdu word that stands for rebellion or revolution.
In the early 20th century, a group of refugees from British-ruled India – Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims, settled in US and Canada, led a massive movement to end British rule in India.
Several farmers migrated from Punjab, to escape the British rule. They mostly settled in North America – where they thrived but also faced racism. What started as an anti-racist movement, grew into an anti-Colonial, nationalist uprising across many parts of the world.
Eventually, the Ghadar Party was formed, with a greater aim – freedom of India. Soon, most prominent leaders returned to their homeland to overthrow the British rule in India.
Many were killed in firing, illegally detained, jailed without trial, and executed. The British tried all means to suppress them – even banned peaceful protests, passed draconian laws. But nothing could stop them.
Legacy of the Ghadar Movement Lives On
Left headless, their movement failed to uproot the British. The Ghadar party was formally dissolved after India's independence.
But the legacy of the Ghadar uprising continues to inspire the fight for justice. The Ghadar movement is still revered and leaders like Kartar Singh Sarabha are still remembered as heroes in Punjab and Canada. Sarabha massively inspired Bhagat Singh too.
The movement is a milestone in the history of India's struggle for freedom. Ghadar leaders and their acts of bravery are still a part of Punjab’s folklore.