GUJJAR SIṄGH (1879-1975), prominent Ghadr leader, was born in 1879, the son of Shām Siṅgh of Bhaknā Kalāṅ, 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 granthī of the local Gurdwārā, who handed over the packet to the police. Somehow a copy came into Gujjar Siṅgh'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 Yugāntar Āshram 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.
Bhāī Sundar Siṅgh and Dr Mathurā Siṅgh travelled to Shanghai to activate the Indian. inhabitants. Gujjar Siṅgh, along with Bābā Vasākhā Siṅgh, took a leading part in organizing a Ghadr group. He started addressing weekly meetings of Indians at the Shanghai Gurdwārā. 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 Siṅgh was removed from the police department.
On the outbreak of World War I, Gujjar Siṅgh 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 Mājhā region was held on 13 October 1914 under Gujjar Siṅgh's guidance. He was elected a member of the party's central committee in India. Accompanied by Kartār Siṅgh Sarābhā and Harnām Siṅgh Siālkoṭī, he met Mahātmā Gāndhī and asked for help which was denied. He attended the next meeting of the party on the occasion of the amāvas fair at Tarn Tāran on 17 November 1914. He was arrested at the fair but was soon released.
He was again arrested at Chheharṭā 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 Hazārī Bāgh jail in Bihār, when he in a most daring feat escaped from custody along with 17 of his comrades. He was re-arrested and kept successively in jail in Hazārī Bāgh, Madrās and Puṇe. In Puṇe jail, he sat afasting to assert his right to wearing kachhahirā (drawers) as prescribed in the Khālsā code. He made a bid to escape from jail, but did not succeed this time. From Puṇe he was shifted to Lahore and was released in 1930 on completion of his sentence. He returned to his village, Bhaknā, and continued to take part in social and political activities.
Gujjar Siṅgh died on 6 September 1975.
Gurdev Siṅgh Deol