The special postage stamp issued by the post and telecommunication department to commemorate the Ghadar Movement Centenary has started a debate among the scholars and activists of Punjab and abroad on the image printed on the stamp as it doesn't relate to the Ghadar Movement.
The five-rupee postage stamp was released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on January 8 at the 12th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas at Kochi.
The image on the stamp shows a few hands with torches. However, scholars feel this image doesn't relate to the Ghadar movement; the stamp should have been more specific. There were four suggestions given by various scholars and Jalandhar-based Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall. These were photographs of Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna, Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha, Yugantar Ashram located in San Francisco and the Ghadar Party's tricolor flag.
Prof Harish Puri, an authority on the history of the Ghadar Movement in the country, who had sent four suggestions, said, "The stamp initiative of the government should be welcomed." But it would have been better if the stamp comprised portraits of any of the prominent Ghadarites like Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna and Kartar Singh Sarabha. Or the flag of the Ghadar Party, which was so colourful, it would have made a wonderful stamp, said Puri.
"It is really disappointing; totally unimaginative," said London-based poet Amarjit Chandan, who is a keen follower of the Ghadar movement's history and had been trying hard for issuance of the stamp. The cliched image of the mashaal, he said, doesn't mean anything to him. "I wonder whose idea was this? How does it relate to the Ghadar movement? It is meaningless and sad; an opportunity has been wasted. We had expected Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna's photograph at least as a stamp on Lala Hardyal was issued a few years ago," he said.
"The decision shows that finally the government has also recognised the Ghadar movement. But people across the country must know who were heroes of this movement," said Gurmeet Singh, convenor of the Ghadar Shatabdi Committee of Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Hall in Jalandhar, which is celebrating Ghadar Centenary in Punjab and abroad.
"It is nice that the contribution of the Ghadar Party in India's struggle for independence has been recognised. Though the current stamp indicates struggle, which the Ghadar Movement was all about, but the tricolour flag of the Ghadar Party would have made a far better stamp," said Gurmeet.
The Ghadar Party, which was founded in 1913 by Punjabis of Indian origin, in the United States and Canada, is celebrating its centenary this year. These Punjabis with an aim to liberate India from the British rule returned to India to start a struggle against the colonial rule. But they were crushed by the British.