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Jalandhar’s Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall has become synonymous with patriotism

Jalandhar’s Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall (DBYH), which is located in the heart of the city, has not only become synonymous with patriotism but also become a rich archive of the Ghadar Movement.

desh-bhagat-yadgar hallIt's a place where the voice for secularism, equality and human rights is raised today against corruption and discrimination of any kind. (file)

As the nation is celebrating its 76th Independence Day, Jalandhar has a big role in carrying forward the legacy of the Freedom Movement and preserving the heritage of one of the crucial movements of the Indian freedom struggle.

Jalandhar’s Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall (DBYH), which is located in the heart of the city, has not only become synonymous with patriotism but also become a rich archive of the Ghadar Movement – ‘Ghadar’ in a literal sense means revolution – which began in 1914 after the formation of Ghadar Party in 1913 at San Francisco by expatriate Indians that mainly included former soldiers and peasants from Punjab settled in North America.

It’s a place where the voice for secularism, equality and human rights is raised today against corruption and discrimination of any kind.

When the Britishers crushed the Ghadar Movement, hanged several Ghadarites and sent many to Cellular Jail (Kala Pani), they confiscated the records related to the Ghadar Movement.
“They didn’t want any records of the Ghadar to enter the public domain along with the information about several Indian leaders who were at the forefront during the Freedom Movement,” says Chiraungi Lal Kangniwal, one of the trustees of DBYH.

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But post-Independence, several Ghadarites – who are also called Ghadari Babas – teamed up to preserve the legacy of the Ghadar Movement and they set up DBYH at Jalandhar in 1959 on a piece of land which was donated and purchased by Ghadari Babas and their supporters.
A DBYH committee then started procuring rare records of the movement from the archives of the US, Canada, London, Singapore and several other countries. After 100 years, the committee procured the rare documents of the ‘First Lahore Conspiracy’, and its ‘four volumes’ are now available at the library of DBYH. Even the relatives of the 82 accused of this conspiracy were not allowed to watch the proceedings, which were held in camera, of the court held in Lahore Central Jail wherein several Ghadarites were hanged, including Kartar Singh Sarabha who was just 19.

Gurmeet Singh, one of the trustees of DBYH, was the main force behind procuring these documents from various libraries across the world. Also, documents of Supplementary Lahore Conspiracy Cases, Burma, East African cases, etc. are available here along with the copies of ‘The Ghadar’, a revolutionary newspaper started by the Ghadar Party after its formation in 1913.

The committee also procured rare literature about Jallianwala Bagh from the British Museum which tells the gory tale of the 1919 massacre.

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One such book was written by famous Punjabi poet Babu Feroz Din Sharaf titled ‘Dukha De Kirne” (Tales of Sorrow), which has been procured from the British Museum bearing the stamp of the museum as well. A two-page-long poem starting with lines “Eh Ajj Ruh Shaheedan De Akhde Hun, Dyre Kitian Ethe Nalziyan San, Ethe Wang Kabutran Tadphde San, Saanu ais Than Golian Vajiyan San (the souls of martyrs tell that… they were shot here). The poem, which is written in Punjabi, explains the entire massacre which could make any reader’s blood boil.

“We are regularly procuring every document related to Ghadar from across the world as well other rare historical documents and to date, nearly 130-135 scholars have completed their M-Phil and PhD by taking references from the DBYH library,” said Kangniwal.

One such scholar from Japan (Kaori Mizukami) came here from the University of Tokyo to complete her thesis on a project titled – “History of Free International Migration from India from the end of 19th Century to 20th Century”.

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Bhagat Singh Bilga, the last Ghadri Baba, who incidentally shared his name and year of birth with Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, started Mela Ghadri Babeyan Da in 1992 which has become a real milestone in spreading the ideals of Freedom and Ghadar Movement among young generation and encouraged people to open centres like DBYH across the world to spread the feelings of patriotism among the youth.

Baba Bilga, who died at the age of 102 in 2009, in one of his interviews had told The Indian Express that he spent over half of his life struggling for freedom and the other half seeing it (India) go to pieces. “I don’t want corruption and nepotism in my country.” He was the first president of Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall Committee.

Portraits of Ghadari Babas

The museum in the hall houses over 300 portraits of Ghadari Babas, including rare pictures of the infamous Komagatamaru incident. The portraits are that of Lala Hardyal, V G Pingley, Sant Baba Vasakha Singh, Sohan Singh Bhakna (president of Ghadar Party), Kartar Singh Sarabha, Bhai Parmanand, Abdul Hafiz, Rashbehari Bose, Hulab Kaur, Nishan Singh, Jawala Singh, Kesar Singh, Pt Kanshi Ram, Munshi Ram, Lala Thacker Das, Udham Singh, Bhagwan Singh Guyanese, Santosh Singh, Balwant Singh, Tarak Nath Das, Rehmat Ali, Harnam Das, G D Verma, Baba Chattar Singh, Karim Bakhshali, Amir Chand, Maulvi Barkatullah, Karim Bux, Pt Ram Rakha, Pandurang Sadashiv, Ganda Singh, Baba Prithvi Singh Azad, and Sohan Lal Pathak, among others.

First published on: 14-08-2022 at 07:42:59 am
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