Baba Gurdit Singh (Komagata Maru)


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September 26, 1914 Kamagata Maru arrived in Calcutta. The forcibly returning ship “Nanak Nam Jahaj” (Koma Gata Maru) was fired upon by the British forces. The police insisted that all returning passengers should board the train bound for Punjab. Only 50 men and 2 children boarded the train while others defied the police. In the combat 19 were killed, 203 were arrested and 32 abscended. Baba Gurdit Singh was one of those who escaped the police net.

Baba Gurdit one of the Great Sikhs That Ever Lived, rented a Japanese Ship Called Komagata Maru, Rescued Stranded Punjabis in Hong Kong, brought them to Canada, Canadian Government Rejected them, and so they headed to India. British Forces Fire upon the ship, resulted in many causalities. Baba Gurdit Was a Very Rich Business man of the time, a Major Contractor, Risked his own life to rescue those stranded.
Punjabis traveling to foreign land in search of better jobs were being discriminated against at the begining of 20th century. The Canadian government had issued prohibition against their entry and the British ships had refused to accept any Punjabi travelers. The Canadian law stated, for the purpose of preventing immigration from india and other countries, that only those passengers could land in Canada who travelled on a through ticket without any break in journey from their land of birth. However, no company provided such a service between the Indian and Canadian ports. As a result, many Punjabis were stranded for months in Hong Kong, unable to get tickets for their final destination, Canada.
Baba Gurdit Singh of Sarhali village, a well established businesses in Calcutta, Malaya, etc., heard of the stranded Punjabis in Hong Kong and decided to challenge this prevalent situation. He rented Koma Gata Maru, a Japanese ship and named it Guru Nanak Jahaj. Sri Guru Granth Sahib accompanied the passengers along with Kesri Nishan Sahib.
On April 4, 1914, this ship sailed out of Hongkong and reached the Vancouver port on May 23, 1919, with 167 passengers. However, these passengers were not allowed to land at Vancouver and were forcibly returned to Calcutta in the same ship, after a long and painful struggle. Upon return, the ship was fired upon by the British at BajBaj Ghat in Calcutta. The returning passengers were either arrested or killed. Only a few managed to escape. Baba Gurdit Singh jee escaped the death and lived in disguise for almost 8-9 years. What started as a simple individual business venture turned into a major political event. The returning passengers were no longer considered as better job opportunity seekers but were prosecuted as freedom fighters

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