By Inder Singh
LOS ANGELES: The Indian community in the Los Angeles area paid tributes to Gadar heroes at a Gadar Centenary Commemoration event held at Sheraton Hotel in Cerritos.
Congressman Ed Royce and Indian consul general N. Parthasarathi joined the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) and various Indian bodies at the event to remember the sacrifices of the Gadar heroes.
The commemoration event on June 16 began with a seminar where speakers highlighted the importance of the Gadar movement in India’s freedom struggle and the sacrifices and accomplishments of the key people of the movement. The seminar, moderated by Ashok Madan and VJ Singh, was a big draw.
And at the oversold banquet, GOPIO local chapter president Kewal Kanda and Dilip Butani welcomed the gathering even as GOPIO International Chairman Inder Singh thanked Congressman Mike Honda for introducing in the US Congress “H. Res. 259 – “Recognizing the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Gadar Party in the United States.”
A tribute to Gadar heroes by Dr. Karan Singh, M.P, President of Indian Council of Cultural Relations, was also played on the big screen.
In his tribute, Dr. Karan Singh also complimented GOPIO for its persistent efforts in seeking recognition for this NRI-initiated India Independence Movement. He expressed his regrets for not being able to come to preside over the event.
Known historian Prof. Stanley Wolpert was the keynote speaker, with his references to the movement drawing frequent applause by the audience.
Parthasarathi, Consul General of India in San Francisco who presided over the function, paid glowing tributes to Gadar heroes. Interestingly, his Consulate office is the only Government office in the world where the portrait of the prime hero of the Gadar Movement, Kartar Singh Sarabha, is displayed.
Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee , praised the initiative of Indians in America in starting the independence movement a century ago, after learning that Americans too had liberated their country with the force of arms from the same British colonialists.
Later, Consul General N. Parthasarathi released a book titled The Gadar Heroics by Inder Singh and Sayantan Chakravarty.
The 176-page book gives a brief history of the Gadar Movement and bio sketches of over 60 Gadarites who were either given the death sentence, or life imprisonment or sentenced in the so-called Hindu German Conspiracy Trial.
A complimentary copy of the book was given to each attendee.
On the occasion, GOPIO recognized kin of Gadarites by presenting shawls to Atlanta’s S.P Singh who is the grandson of Bhai Bhagwan Singh (the second president of the Gadar Party), and Jagdish Khangura who is the grandson of Kartar Singh Dukki (in-charge of the Gadar Press at the Gadar headquarters in San Francisco).
A GOPIO shawl was presented to Consul General Parthasarathi for his relentless promotion of the centenary celebration of the Gadar Movement.
GOPIO shawls were also given to Jagdish Khangura and Bhupinder Singh Mac for their financial support for the publication of The Gadar Heroics.
Kashmir Singh of Bakersfield presented a book containing poems which were published in Gadar magazine.
The function started and then ended with the singing of patriotic songs and recitation of Gadar poems.
GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh said he was very happy to see the community response to the centenary celebration of the Gadar Movement.
“In 2011, GOPIO took initiative and asked the Government of India to commemorate centenary of Gadar Movement at a grand scale,’’ said Singh
He recalled how he was able to convince Dr. Karan Singh during his visit to San Francisco in September 2011, about the significance and importance of the Gadar Centenary Commemoration.
“In turn, Dr Karan Singh raised the subject with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and GOPIO continued to pursue it with the PM’s office.’’
At Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, 2013, the Prime Minister talked about the Gadar Movement in his speech, announced upgrading the Gadar Memorial Hall in San Francisco into a functional museum and library, and released Gadar centenary stamp, according to Inder Singh.
“Seeing all this happening, I was pleased that GOPIO efforts have succeeded in creating awareness about the Gadar Movement at the highest level in India,” added Inder Singh.
Various Indian organizations that collaborated with GOPIO in organizing the event included the Indian American Heritage Foundation; the Rajput Association of America; the Federation of Indo-American Associations of So Cal; the Federation of Indian Communities; Lions Club of Little India; the India Association of Los Angeles; the Indian Muslims Association, the Sindhi Association, the United Federation of Indians in California (UFICA), the Yadunandan India Center, Cal State, Long Beach; Param Shakti Peeth of America; the Hindu Matiya Patidar Samaj; the Lankershim Sikh Temple, the Khalsa Care Foundation, the Valley Sikh Temple and the Punjabi Heritage & Cultural Society.