Honoring Gadarites: Gadar Museum in SF
A postage stamp and the promise to upgrade the Gadar Memorial in San Francisco into a functional museum and library with a sculpture to honor the Gadari Babas marked the centenary celebrations of the Gadar Movement, writes Inder Singh.
(Above): An old photo of the Gadar Memorial Hall in San Francisco at 5, Wood Street.
During his address, Jan. 8, at the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in Kochi, Kerala, India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “This year, we are celebrating the centenary of the Gadar Movement, which was a luminous spark of support in distant California for the struggle for independence being waged at home in our country. Apart from commemorating it by the issue of a special postage stamp, we will also upgrade the Gadar Memorial in San Francisco into a functional museum and library with a sculpture to honor the Gadari Babas, the heroes of the great movement.”
The Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, responsible for the organizing the annual Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, in his speech at the inaugural event for PBD 2013, said, “This is the centenary of the Gadar Movement when migrants from India settled in Canada and USA rose in their opposition to British rule in India, unmindful of the consequences in their love for motherland. Today is also a day to pay homage to them.”
A three-storied building at 5, Wood Street was purchased with funds collected from Punjabi laborers. An electric press was installed for the weekly Gadar journal and other revolutionary publications to propagate and promote the aims, objectives and activities of the organization.
Lala Har Dyal, first secretary general of the association and editor of Urdu Gadar Journal, Kartar Singh Sarabha, editor of the Punjabi edition and other volunteers responsible for the printing and mailing of the weekly Gadar Journal and other publications, lived and worked in the building. Over a period of time, the building became known as “Gadar Ashram.”
After India became independent, Gadar building was handed over to the Indian Consulate in San Francisco in 1949. A suitable memorial, a two-storied new building, with U.S. $83,000 from Government of India and rest raised from the Indian community in California, was built and named Gadar Memorial Hall.
Gadar Hall is currently used by the Indian Consulate in San Francisco for celebrating Independence Day and other official functions.
In 2003, in order to create awareness among the new generation of Indian Americans, Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, National Federation of Indian American Associations and Global Punjabi Diaspora organized celebration of 90th Anniversary of the Gadar Movement by holding a day-long seminar followed by a banquet in the evening at the Santa Clara Hilton. Former President of India, K.R Narayanan traveled from India to the U.S. to be the chief guest.
In June 2011, a letter was handed over to India’s Consul General in San Francisco, asking Government of India to commemorate centenary of Gadar Movement at a grand scale, issue a postage stamp commemorating Gadar Movement, etc. A similar request was made to the Ambassador of India, and several other high ranking officials and ministers. GOPIO also sent a request to the Prime Minister of India and worked closely with the ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.
GOPIO, several organizations and individuals and descendants of Gadari Babas have been relentlessly pursuing with various agencies of the government and are overjoyed to hear the acknowledgement of Gadar Movement by the Prime Minister of India at the annual convention of NRIs/PIOs (PBD 2013).