PRESS RELEASES

National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA)
319 Summit Hall Road, Gaitherburg, MD 20877

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release.

Contact:
Rajen Anand             (562) 537-1077
Niraj Baxi                 (408) 307-9845
Neil Malhotra            (408) 772-7969        

 

NFIA Holds Seminar and Banquet to Pay Tribute to Gadar Heroes

An unprecedented event was held last Sunday at the Santa Clara Marriott to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Gadar (revolution) movement by early immigrants from India, who sacrificed their life in support of India’s independence struggle from Great Britain. An all day seminar addressed by renowned speakers and high ranking diplomats followed by a gala banquet brought to light the saga of valor and courage of a small group of Indians in the United States determined to work for the freedom of India. The highlight of the event was the personal poignant stories of the descendents of the Gadarites.

National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) with co-sponsorship of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), Federation of Indian American Associations of San Francisco Bay Area and Global Punjabi Diaspora (GPD) organized this function first time in history of Indo-Americans, which was attended by over 300 people, in order to pay tribute to the pioneers, patriots and heroes of the Gadar movement.

Bhishma K. Agnihotri, the Ambassador-at-large for NRI/PIO started the seminar with an introductory address, in which he lauded the role of these people and asked the audience to take lessons from their lives and now go back to India and fight the poverty and corruption in free India, just as those people fought for the freedom of India. He described a flyer produced in 1913 in an effort to recruit volunteers stating: Wanted-Brave soldiers to stir up Gadar in India; Pay-death; Prize-Martyrdom; Pension-Liberty; Field of battle-India. In an eloquent address during the seminar as well as at the dinner, Ujjal Singh Dosanjh, the former Premier of British Columbia traced the history of Gadri Babas, as they were known in India from Canada to the United States. He said that these early immigrants could have lived a comfortable life in the United States and become rich. But instead, they chose service to their motherland and worked towards gaining freedom of India. “Today, we salute them for their sacrifices,” said Dosanjh.

Organized by Inder Singh, President-elect of GOPIO and past president of NFIA and moderated by its president-elect Rajen Anand, the seminar was addressed by many speakers, including Janmeja Singh, Arnold Kaminski of California State University, Long Beach, Ted Sibia, Jasbir Sachar of London, Rani Johnson of Rhode Island, Sulakhan Singh, S.P. Singh of Atlanta, Ved Vatuk of Berkely, and Satish Bhatnagar of Las Vegas.

The political and social turmoil in India was felt worldwide, but it was felt by a unique group of individuals in Northern California, that initiated a revolutionary movement, later called as Gadar, to free India from the foreign rule. Sibia said that the Gadarites, leaders of the movement, were enlightened individuals who had the wisdom of their times and the courage to speak for India. Over 6 thousands of them decided to go back to India and laid their lives to free their home country from British Empire. Four hundred returning Indian immigrants were executed. The efforts of these brave and dedicated people did not succeed, said Inder Singh. But their movement fueled the desire for freedom among the Indian masses.

Rani Johnson, the grand daughter of Revolutionary Bhagwan Singh Gyani gave a moving account of how she learned of her grandfather’s activities. Her quest to research about her grand father led to her meeting her Indian relatives. She met S.P. Singh from Atlanta another grandson of Gyani and her cousin. She said, “ I have started reading some of my grandfather’s writings and found an eerie familiarity with their themes and tones.” 

Gala Banquet

 The seminar was followed by a gala banquet, which was also graced by Ambassador Sichan Siv from the United Nation, who paid a great tribute the leaders of the Indian community, who had organized the function. He also thrilled the audience by his anecdotes after he arrived in this country. Indian Consul General H.H.S. Vishwanathan gave a powerful address saying that the Gadar movement was founded on the principles of secularism and nationalism. The people who joined the movement were identified as Indians. Their religion, caste, or language was not important. Their aim was simple: freedom for India. Several of the local politicians, including the mayor of the City of Santa Clara were present at the banquet. Ambassador Agnihotri and Dosanjh gave brief remarks. A video message from the former President of India, Mr. Narayanan, who was scheduled to attend the event, but could not come due to his illness, was shown to the audience.

The Gadarites left the luxury of life in the United States and went back to fight for the freedom of India, said Niraj Baxi, president of NFIA the major organization sponsoring the event. “Many of them paid the price with their life. We owe them a debt of gratitude for paving the way for most of us to come to the United States and enjoying the freedom and prosperity here,” added Baxi.

Thomas Abraham, the president of GOPIO, a co-sponsoring organization summed up by stating, “all the speeches at the event were inspiring, especially to learn an account of the struggles of Gadarites. They would remain as torch bearers for future generations.”

This celebration by NFIA and other organizations will keep the memory of the valor, dedication and sacrifices made by early immigrants from India 90 years ago, in order to gain freedom for the country they left behind alive, concluded Anand.