The first edition of a book titled "Call of the Ghadaris — Revolution", published by the Communist Ghadar Party of India in Hindi, Punjabi and English, was released on 15 July, 2017, at an impressive function held at the Desh Bhagat Yaadgaar Hall in Jalandhar, Punjab.
The function was organized jointly by the Punjabi Lekhak Sabha and the Desh Bhagat Yaadgaar Committee. It attracted a wide audience consisting of progressive academic scholars, writers, poets, journalists, students and political activists belonging to different parties and communist groups.
Professor Ominder Singh Johal of Doaba College conducted the proceedings on behalf of the Punjabi Lekhak Sabha. In his opening remarks, he emphasized that this book not only presents the history of the Hindustan Ghadar Party and its work but also brings out its relevance in contemporary times. It shows the path ahead for Indian revolutionaries.
The book was released by Comrade Gurmeet (General Secretary, Desh Bhagat Yaadgaar Committee and General Secretary, Punjabi Lekhak Sabha), Harjinder Singh Atwal (President, Punjabi Lekhak Sabha), Comrade Gurmeet Singh Dhodha (President, Desh Bhagat Yaadgaar Committee), Comrade Naunihal Singh (Convener, History Sub-Committee, Desh Bhagat Yaadgaar Committee), Comrade Hanuman Prasad Sharma, former President of Rajasthan Shikshak Manch and Vice President of Lok Raj Sangathan, Prof Ominder Singh Johal of Doaba College and Comrade Prakash Rao (Spokesperson, Communist Ghadar Party of India).
Comrade Gurmeet pointed out that this publication has come at a very crucial time in the history of our country. There is an active debate going on about the growing fascism and what communists should do at this time. In this publication, the Communist Ghadar Party is calling upon all communists to unite. The Hindustan Ghadar Party also called for unity of all revolutionaries against the British Raj. At this time, the Communist Party of India is also calling for unity of communists. It is a big responsibility on all of us to work towards the unity of communists and inspire our youth to take up the cause of revolution, he concluded.
Comrade Prakash Rao highlighted in his speech that this book exposes two big lies that have been spread about the Ghadaris. One is the lie that they were naïve, hot headed, and did not know revolutionary theory. The second lie is that there was no difference in the aims of Congress Party and Ghadar Party; that they only differed in their methods of struggle.
The flag of the Hindustan Ghadar Party displayed two swords. One sword represents knowledge and the other represents valour on the battlefield. The Ghadaris published a weekly paper in many Indian languages. It was distributed in millions across the world. They understood the importance of making the people conscious of the need for revolution. They built organizations of the Party among Indian immigrants all over the world, and among soldiers of the British Indian Army. They understood the imperialist character of the First World War and decided that the situation must be exploited in the interest of overthrowing British rule through a mass uprising. It is outright slander to say that they were naïve and did not know any theory. The program put forth by the Ghadaris was very advanced for its time.
The political aim of the Hindustan Ghadar Party was the opposite of the aim of the Congress Party. The Ghadar Party worked to overthrow colonial rule and establish an entirely new State, with workers and peasants in power. The Congress Party worked to accommodate the interests of Indian capitalists and landlords within the colonial state and system of plunder, with the aim of replacing British colonial rule with their own exploitative rule over the Indian people.
Comrade Prakash Rao highlighted the fact that the Hindustan Ghadar Party was truly internationalist in its outlook and practice. It put forth the goal of establishing a federal Republic of the United States of India, where the interests of all nations, nationalities and peoples will be safeguarded. Through its organized propaganda and agitational work, the Ghadar Party prevented the soldiers of the British Indian Army from firing upon the people in other British colonies.
A striking feature of the Ghadaris was that they never fought for personal glory. They organized on the basis of collective leadership and individual responsibility. They worked unitedly for the realization of their lofty aims. There were no factions within that party at any time.
The Hindustan Ghadar party had an irreconcilable attitude towards the British colonialists and their institutions as well as to both communal and “secular” parties of the Indian bourgeoisie. This is in striking contrast with the tendency which continues to plague the communist movement, of conciliating with the existing institutions of the State and the official ideology of secularism.
In conclusion, Comrade Prakash Rao stressed that revolution takes shape in the concrete conditions of a specific country and draws from its revolutionary heritage. All communists have to open their eyes to this reality. “We have many differences. Let us begin the discussion from where we all agree, and then move forward”, he said.
Comrade Naunihal Singh congratulated the Communist Ghadar Party of India for bringing out this book at this time. Referring to the quote from Barkatullah, which is referred to in the book, he said it was very important and gave a new meaning to “jehad”, as being the struggle against all oppression. Like the Bolshevik Party of Lenin which called on workers of all countries to fight against the capitalists of their own country, the Hindustan Ghadar Party called on Indian armed battalions stationed in various countries of the world to turn their guns against the British rulers. He called for a serious debate on this book. He said that it is necessary to discuss and arrive at a common understanding among communists on the stage of the Indian revolution.
Comrade Hanuman Prasad Sharma highlighted the fact that the Punjabi people have played a heroic role in all the revolutionary uprisings in our history. He said that this book is calling upon all communists, all progressive and revolutionary forces to unite. We must not join hands with this or that party of the ruling class under the pretext that they are a “lesser evil”. We need to discuss about the existing constitution and the constituent assembly which formulated and adopted it.
Professor Gopal Singh Bhuttar, Head of Punjabi Literature, Layalpur Khalsa College, explained that it was the Ghadar Party which gave the meaning of revolution to the word Ghadar. He pointed out that the Congress Party, which was formed at the initiative of a British officer called Hume in 1885, raised the demand for independence only in 1928. The Hindustan Ghadar party raised the banner of complete independence from colonial rule in 1913.
Professor Ram Murthy, DAV College, Nakodar, hailed the fact that the first event organized by the Punjabi Lekhak Sabha after its revival was the release of this book on Ghadar Party. We are at a critical juncture in the history of India. People are being fooled by those in power and they have to be made conscious. Today, progressive literature and culture is also under attack and we need to combat these attacks.
Gurmeet Singh Dhodha said there must be debate on this book and about the line of the Hindustan Ghadar Party. The situation in our country is worsening and we must all unite in combat. He expressed his joy at seeing that the hall is filled today.
Harjinder Singh Atwal said that understanding the role of the Congress Party is very important in order to smash the chains that bind us even after 70 years of independence. He referred to the discussion that had taken place in the Punjabi Lekhak Sabha about the proposal to co-host the function to release this book published by the Communist Ghadar Party. Faced with the question as to whether we should organize the release of a political work, we decided that we must do so because the Ghadar movement is an organised political movement, he said.
The function concluded in a militant spirit, with the participants full of determination to take to completion the struggle of the Ghadaris for liberating our people from all forms of exploitation and oppression. In his concluding remarks, Professor Johal said:
“Ideas don’t die, and revolutionary ideas live forever. The struggle will go on until we achieve the goal of the Ghadaris!”