Prominent Ghadr leader (1879-1975)
Was born in 1879, the son of Sham Singh of Bhakna Kalan, in Amritsar district. He served in the 4th Cavalry for six years. In 1909, he migrated to Shanghai (China) and got himself enlisted in the police. In 1913, the Ghadr party’s weekly, the Ghadr, came to Shanghai through the granthi of the local Gurdwara, who handed over the packet to the police. Somehow a copy came into Gujjar Singh’s hands. He read it avidly and he read it repeatedly to his friends. The Ghadr awakened in him the urge to serve the motherland. He collected 100 dollars and sent them to the Yugantar Ashram in San Francisco as his contribution. He arranged to receive the Ghadr in a bundle through a Japanese merchant and distributed copies among fellow Indians by night.
Bhai Sundar Singh and Dr Mathura Singh travelled to Shanghai to activate the Indian inhabitants. Gujjar Singh, along with Baba Vasakha Singh, took a leading part in organizing a Ghadr group. He started addressing weekly meetings of Indians at the Shanghai Gurdwara. The Ghadr paper was read to the audience and they were exhorted to help India get rid of the foreign yoke and establish a system of government based on equality, liberty and fraternity. Because of his work for the Ghadr movement, Gujjar Singh was removed from the police department.
On the outbreak of World War I, Gujjar Singh responded to the call of the Ghadr party for Indians to march to India. He bought some pistols in Shanghai and concealed them under false bottoms of buckets and boxes, and succeeded in smuggling these into India via Hong Kong and Penang. He returned to India in October 1914 in the first group which reached Calcutta after the Komagata Maru. He did some preparatory work for the party until the arrival of the main body of the Ghadr group from America.
Their first meeting in the Majha region was held on 13 October 1914 under Gujjar Singh’s guidance. He was elected a member of the party’s central committee in India. Accompanied by Kartar Singh Sarabha and Harnam Singh Sialkot, he met Mahatma Gandhi and asked for help which was denied. He attended the next meeting of the party on the occasion of the amavas fair at Tarn Taran on 17 November 1914. He was arrested at the fair but was soon released.
He was again arrested at Chheharta railway station. The trial court records the date of his arrest as 18 November 1914. He was coerced into revealing the details of political activities of Indians in Shanghai. He was tried in the first Lahore conspiracy case, but was acquitted, re-arrested soon after and again tried in Lahore conspiracy case II (1916). This time he was convicted and sentenced to transportation for life, with forefeiture of property. He was serving his term in Hazari Bagh jail in Bihar, when he in a most daring feat escaped from custody along with 17 of his comrades. He was rearrested and kept successively in jail in Hazari Bagh, Madras and Pune. In Pune jail, he sat a fasting to assert his right to wearing kachhahira (drawers) as prescribed in the Khalsa code. He made a bid to escape from jail, but did not succeed this time. From Pune he was shifted to Lahore and was released in 1930 on completion of his sentence. He returned to his village, Bhakna, and continued to take part in social and political activities.
Gujjar Singh died on 6 September 1975.