Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

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Unsung Heroes Detail

Hardit Singh Dalewal

Jalandhar, Punjab

June 27, 2022

Hardit Singh was born in the Jullundur (Jalandhar) district's Dalewal village in 1880. His father, Dalel Singh, was a wealthy landowner. A handsome six-footer, Hardit Singh was a devout Sikh and a skilled gatka warrior. At the turn of the twentieth century, like many other Punjabis, he also decided to migrate to Canada in search of greener pastures. In the third week of October 1906, he arrived in Vancouver, leaving behind his wife.

In Canada, Hardit Singh’s personality underwent a metamorphosis. He considered himself a citizen of the British government, but he was actually a subject of the British. The native Canadians treated him as a person from a slave country. This instilled contempt in his heart for British rule. Their experiences in Canada led him to conclude that slavery is the greatest curse for any nation. He was born in a slave country, and because of this, white Americans and Canadians despised him.

The Canadian government planned to relocate Punjabis to British Honduras Island in October-November 1908. He vehemently opposed the scheme, calling it cunning and insulting. He was drawn to the Ghadar Party's anti-British propaganda. Swayed by the patriotic tone of the Ghadr, he joined the party. Following the outbreak of WWI, the Ghadar Party called on its cadre to travel to India in order to incite an uprising. On August 22, 1914, Hardit Singh boarded a Mexico Maru ship bound for Hong Kong. Here, he met Sohan Singh Bhakna, President of the Ghadar Party. They boarded the Nam Sang from Hong Kong and arrived in Calcutta on October 13, 1914. Police arrested all the passengers and detained them at the Ludhiana interrogation centre. He was soon released as police had no secret information about him. He spent some time in his village but soon joined Kartar Singh Sarabha, Nand Singh, Piara Singh Langeri, Bir Singh Bahowal, and other ghadarites and planned nationalistic dacoities. He along with some sixty ghadarites arrived at Ferozepur Cantonment on 19 February 1915, to begin the uprising, but this information was leaked to British authorities. As a result, the plan was shelved. On 5 June 1915, he and some other ghadarites attempted but failed to loot the Kapurthala weaponry depot.

Following the failure of the Ghadar uprising and the arrest of many ghadarites, Hardit Singh decided to punish traitors who informed the police about ghadarite hideouts. Kapoor Singh, a moneylender from Amritsar's Padri Kalan village, was acting as an informant and in the First Lahore Conspiracy Case, he testified against ghadarites. Hardit Singh and his associates killed Kapoor Singh in his fields on August 2, 1915. Hardit Singh’s name appeared in the Lahore Conspiracy Case as well but he was never apprehended by police. He was declared absconder. The police severely harassed Hardit Singh's family. His younger brother was brutally thrashed to death in the police station. His property was confiscated by the authorities.

Meanwhile, Hardit Singh moved to Haridwar and became an ascetic. Later on, he shifted to Kotban, a small village near Agra, and lived incognito. He returned home only after India gained independence. Despite approaching the authorities, this Indian freedom fighter was unable to reclaim his confiscated property. Thereafter, he bought land in Uttar Pradesh’s village of Gulra and began farming. After a brief illness, and unnoticed, he died here in 1956.