The death-defying courage, brilliant organisation and farsighted vision of the revolutionaries who launched the Ghadar uprising of 1915, to liberate India from British colonial rule, was commemorated at a public meeting in Delhi on February 21, organised by Lok Awaz Publishers and Distributors. Activists of the Party and sympathisers participated enthusiastically in the meeting and eagerly discussed the relevance of the Ghadar uprising in the present situation.
Comrade Prakash Rao of the CGPI presented the salient features of the 1915 Ghadar uprising and the important lessons that have to be learnt from it.
The past, present and future are inseparably connected with one another. We communists of today, learn from the lessons of the past, both the positive as well as negative experiences, to address the problems of today, and chart the course for the future of our society. Our goal is to liberate our motherland from capitalism, the remnants of feudalism, imperialism and colonialism, and build a socialist India free from all forms of exploitation of persons by persons.
A hundred years ago, Indian revolutionaries organised under the banner of the Hindustan Ghadar Party decided to begin the outbreak of the revolution to overthrow hated British colonial rule in India and establish a modern democratic Republic free of all forms of exploitation and oppression. With Britain being embroiled in a World War for the redivision of the world, the Ghadaris saw the opportunity to overthrow British rule. The uprising was to begin with the units of the British Indian Army in Punjab and UP, liberate Delhi, and then proceed to liberate the whole country. Where ever Indian Army units were there, both in India as well as in other countries, the Ghadaris carried out revolutionary propaganda amongst the soldiers to turn their guns on their real enemy, the British colonial rule.
The 1915 uprising was one of the most revolutionary episodes in the history of the anti-colonial struggle on the Indian subcontinent. It has important lessons for the progressive forces today, when the world is being dragged towards a Third World War. As Indian communists, we believe it is our duty to draw from our own revolutionary heritage as well as the most advanced scientific knowledge on the world scale in order to accomplish our mission.
Thousands of Ghadaris came to India in ships from the US and Canada, as well as other countries of the world, from August 1914 onwards. Many were arrested on arrival in Kolkota, many others were put under house arrest in their villages in Punjab. However this did not deter the Ghadaris. With leaders like Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha, Shaheed Vishnu Ganesh Pingle, and many others at their head, they linked up with the Indian revolutionaries in Bengal and UP and began to organise the uprising in the Indian Army. When this uprising was suppressed through treachery, the Ghadaris organised amongst the army in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Baluchistan, Singapore, Malaya, Myanmar and other countries.
Comrade Prakash Rao pointed out that in the First World War, there were two trends in the socialist and communist movement of the world. Lenin analysed the war an imperialist war for the redivision of the world by two big groups of predators, and called upon the communists to lead the workers into turning the imperialist war into a revolutionary civil war to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie. He called upon the workers and oppressed of the world to unite against the imperialist bourgeoisie for revolution and national liberation. Precisely at this time, various working class parties of Europe betrayed the working class and called upon the workers to be cannon fodder for their own bourgeoisie and kill workers of other countries. The Ghadar Party came to the same conclusion as Lenin and the Bolshevik Party and tried to turn the imperialist war into a revolutionary civil war for the liberation of India from colonial rule. The Ghadaris were profoundly internationalist in the true sense of the word. During the course of this work, they set up the government of Azad Hindustan in Afghanistan.
The Ghadar revolutionaries visualised and fought for an India which would be free from all forms of exploitation. They were bitterly opposed to all forms of caste and communal divisions in the society that the British colonialist rulers and their loyalists tried to inflame to break the people’s resistance.
To crush the revolt of the revolutionaries, the colonialists unleashed a reign of fascist terror, with laws like the Defence of India Act in 1915, followed by the Rowlatt Act in 1919. They carried out the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of unarmed women, men and children protesting the Rowlatt Act. But none of this could deter the revolutionaries from reorganising their forces, forming a new revolutionary center, and putting forward the vision of a liberated India. This work led to the formation of the Hindustan Republican Association in 1924. Under this organisation, Indian revolutionaries began to organise the workers, peasants, women, youth and all the patriotic forces for an India free from exploitation and oppression.
Comrade Prakash Rao pointed out that the revolutionaries learnt important lessons from the Ghadar uprising and the victory of the revolution and construction of socialism in the Soviet Union. They recognised the need for a political party whose organisation was secret, and which was capable of carrying out both secret revolutionary actions, as well as mass political activity. They recognised the need to organise the workers and peasants. They recognised the need to put forward a program for revolution, based on a revolutionary theory, which would challenge the program and theories propagated by the collaborators with colonial rule like Gandhi. The theory and practice of the revolution elaborated by Lenin deeply influenced the revolutionaries, as also the theory and practice of revolution of our own country from the ages, including the Bhakti and Sufi movement, the Great Ghadar of 1857 and the 1915 Ghadar.
Comrade Prakash Rao pointed out that there were two trends within the movement – one, that of the revolutionaries who stood uncompromising in their stand towards the colonial rulers and the other, that of those who were willing to compromise with the colonial rulers in return for positions of power and wealth, which included many prominent leaders of the Congress Party such as Gandhi, Nehru and others. While those belonging to the former trend were arrested and tortured, shipped off the infamous torture chambers across the “kaala paani”, those belonging to the latter trend were rewarded. These were the representatives of the Indian bourgeoisie, which had profited from the First World War while the soldiers were dying as cannon fodder for the British colonisers. They were the ones who became the rulers and took charge of the Indian state after the transfer of power in 1947. The representatives of this class, representing a privileged minority, wrote the Constitution in 1950, and any contrary views were rejected. It is therefore no surprise, he explained, that the present Indian state and the political and economic system we have in our country today works in the interests of the ruling class, the big capitalists, and against the interests of the masses of toiling people. The Indian Constitution sanctions the violation of the most basic rights of the workers, peasants, youth and women.
Today too, we see both these trends. To create the new HIndostan, in which we, the toiling and exploited shall be the masters of our destiny, we have to organise and lead the struggle to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie. We have to establish a new state power, take control of the means of production – the factories, machinery, land, etc. – and write a new Constitution, based on the principle “hum hain iske maalik, hum hain hindostan, mazdoor kisaan aurat aur jawan”.
Comrade Prakash Rao concluded with the following important points:
India needs revolution, a proletarian revolution that will overthrow this hated rule of the bourgeoisie, and open the path to socialism and communism. Establishing the new state of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the working class must take over the means of production from the hands of the bourgeoisie and put it under social control. We will immediately reorient the economy to ensure sukh and raksha to all.
The revolution is the deed of the workers and peasants, women and youth and the revolutionary intelligentsia. All the Ghadaris and revolutionaries of the past came to this conclusion from their own experience. The working class needs a party which has the organisation and vision, theory and program to rouse the masses of people in the revolution, and to defeat the plans of the bourgeoisie to suppress the revolution. The strengthening of the Communist Ghadar Party of India is the decisive factor to ensure that the working class has revolutionary leadership and can in turn lead the other revolutionary classes and strata in the revolution. Let us organise the broad masses of workers and peasants, women and youth, and all the oppressed around the program to become the rulers of India and march towards socialism and communism.
The presentation by Comrade Prakash Rao was followed by a powerful rendition of the song composed by the revolutionary Shaheed Ram Prasad "Bismil" – “sarfaroshi ki tamanna . . “, the song our martyrs had on their lips as they faced the gallows of the British Raj, which continues to inspire revolutionaries through the decades.
An enthusiastic discussion then took place, in which many among the participants came forward to give their views.
Through numerous examples, speakers reinforced the point that no matter which political party forms the government, the present system serves the interests of only a super-rich exploiting minority. The majority in society, i.e. the workers, peasants and all the working people have no right and no mechanism to select their candidates for election, to recall the elected representatives when they violate their mandate, to initiate legislation or to force the elected representatives to implement all that they promise before the elections. People have no right and no mechanism to punish those in power for the many crimes of state organised sectarian violence and state terror that they commit with impunity and even get elevated to positions of power.
Speakers elaborated on how the present Constitution gives legal sanctity to this brutal system of exploitation and oppression. Drawing inspiration from the lessons of the Ghadar uprising of 1915, they pointed to the need to organise in the workplaces and residential areas, to constantly expose and oppose the diabolical plans of the ruling class and take forward the movement for a new HIndostan in which we the toiling masses shall be the masters.
Bijju Nayak summed up the deliberations on behalf of Lok Awaz Publishers and Distributors. He pointed out that the struggle is between the working class and bourgeoisie. While a minority is becoming richer and richer, the workers and peasants are sinking further into poverty. The bourgeoisie wants to ensure that our workers and peasants should not unite, and it spends crores of rupees to ensure this. However, our history shows that our heroes were our workers and peasants and in the future too, they will become a might force. In conclusion, Bijju Nayak gave a rousing call to the youth and all present, to take forward the paigam (message) of the Ghadar revolutionaries and fight for the new hindostan they dreamt of and sacrificed their lives for.