Baba Gurmukh Singh Grewal Lalton Khurd

Dalvinder Singh Grewal

Baba Gurmukh Singh Grewal Lalton Khurd
Col Dr Dalvinder Singh grewal

The news of desecration of statue of Baba Gurumukh Singh Grewal at his own village at Lalton realy shook the Grewalz as disrespecting the most respected freedom Fighter of Kamagatamaru fame deserved respect of all the future generation as he was a source of inner strength and guiding light for the youth to do something for their mother land. His achievements put to shame the descretors act. He was arrested on return from Canada on board the Komagata Maru Ship and was awarded life-imprisonment and actively participated in the struggle for jail reform. He escaped from running train and became active in freedom struggle. He organized the Communist Movement in India and was the First General Secretary of the Desh Bhagat Yadgar Committee and the founders member of Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall. The life story of Baba Gurmukh Singh of Lalton Khurd village on the outskirts of Ludhiana presents responses and reactions to life and time of an age. It starts with a venture and runs through a rare chain of adventures.

Baba Gurmukh Singh Grewal was born in 1892 in Patti Himmat village Lalton Khurd of Ludhiana District. His parents, Hushnak Singh and Nand Kaur, had two more sons elder to him, Charhat Singh and Atma Singh. The former died during the riots of 1947. The latter lived in the village, married and had only one daughter, Dalbir Kaur. This niece of the Baba, despite old age, pays respectful visit to her paternal village. Hushnak Singh had a small land holding which could not provide enough to the family to survive. As a simple village youth he set out to seek fortune in foreign lands as he joined army.

Gurmukh Singh was intelligent, gifted with self-confidence and good physique. He could easily dominate, even lead fellow students. He studied up to Matriculation at a Church Mission School of Ludhiana and was a school-mate of Kartar singh Sarabha. He liked Lal Singh of Nandpur who was then planning to go to the USA to study in Berkeley. He, later on, became the legendary specialist in horticulture and agriculture.

Events took place, mostly unforeseeable. He was all energy, a human dynamo. He was active, restless for several decades. He turned a rebel, a revolutionary. No other contemporary of his saw as many places, visited as many countries and faced as many uncertain situations as he did.

With a meagre amount he, left home in 1913 and decided to go to America. He landed in Hong Kong to proceed to Canada. He met Gurdit Singh (Komagata Maru) and joined the desperate travellers. On May 23, 1913, they were refused to land at the Vancouver port. The ship turned back to the Bay of Bengal to drop these persons at the Budge-Budge ghat instead of Calcutta docks. Gurmukh Singh and others were fired upon. He was arrested, taken to the Alipur jail. Undergoing mishaps and hard time, he kept his spirits high. He returned to Punjab.

By this time he had tasted to bitter side of racialism, colonialism etc.
He turned his anger into rebellion. Though he was placed under orders of internment, but under the influence of Kartar Singh Srabha and Rash Bihari Bose he made efforts to establish secret contacts with Indian soldiers in some of the Punjab cantonments. Kartar Singh Sarabha, Nidhan Singh Chugga, Uttam Singh Hans and Arjan Singh Jagraon planned to work to bring about a revolution for freedom. They hoped army would see their way. It was a desperate move resulting in the Lahore conspiracy case. But all plans of Gurmukh Singh and his companions failed on account of betrayal of one of their colleagues. He was arrested among the many revolutionaries after the disclosure of the plot. He was confined in the Lahore Central Jail and tried in the First Lahore Conspiracy Case along with others. On being sentenced he was sent to Kala Pani (Andaman Islands). Gurmukh Singh was arrested, tried and sent to Andamans. He saw real hell during 1917-22. Sensing trouble, he was sent to Trichy. He jumped off a running train with handcuffs near Nagpur when he was being transferred from Madras to UP in 1922. He met C. Rajagopalachari in Madras, who looked indifferent and kept silent. Not discouraged, he went to Hazur Sahib, could stay hardly for a week as he caused suspicion. Baba Nidhan Singh helped him with money and advised him to take to safety.

He returned to Punjab and stayed at Langeri village in Hoshiarpur district at the farm-house of Bhai Piara Singh. He was a pious person who visited Afghanistan to preach ideals of Sikhism. Teja Singh Swatantar, already doing this work, accepted Gurmukh Singh to join him. Master Udham Singh Kasel also joined them. Between 1922-24, Baba Gurmukh Singh stayed there. Meanwhile, Santokh Singh was busy with his Punjabi paper ‘Kirti’ and Rattan Singh Dabba with his hand-written press-adventure. They had returned from Russia after getting training in spreading socialism. Gurmukh Singh was much impressed. He, too, wanted to leave for Russia, which he did. He had Baba Prithvi Singh (Lalru) with him. Gurmukh Singh was dare devil; Prithvi Singh cautious and cool. He moved around in Soviet Russia, met many revolutionaries, attended camps, etc. On an impulse he left for America. It is surprising to learn how could a youth without much material means and devoid of professional training, could muster such courage!

In California he made contacts, reviewed the post-Ghadar situation, raised funds, reorganised the broken chain and enthused patriots. The farm of Kishan Singh of Gahaur was central place. Hazara Singh Janetpura, Puran Singh, Niranjan Singh Pandori, Surat Singh Chetanpur, Hazara Singh Hamdam were of real help to him. The years from 1929 to 35 were most turbulent for this Ghadri Baba. He was arrested by the Federal government, patriotic activists got him released on bail.

Later, he left for Europe. Moving through half of Europe, he reached Kenya on a fake passport. He came to India via West Asia. He watched the Karachi session of the AICC, met leaders and was disappointed with the poor pace of movement. He returned disappointed, but was not disheartened. He liked an anti-British Afghan King Oman Ullah, who was replaced by Nadir Khan. Nadir Khan got Baba arrested. Through common friends, his flight to Russia materialised. He visited several East-European countries and Soviet Republics. He met Oman Ullah at Rome. Ultimately finding favourable avenues, he staged a come back to Lahore by long sea and land routes. Here he worked incognito for Lal Dhandora. Living as rebel he was playing with fire. He was arrested, tried and sentenced to jail. He remained in confinement on the Andman Islands till 1945. After that he was transferred to the Punjab and kept in the Multan jail. From there he was released in 1947 on the country's attainment of freedom.

He remained underground from 1948 to 1952 but turned bitter. He activated the Kisan Sabha. He finally took to raising a memorial at Jalandhar: Desh Bhagat Yadgaar. He worked and died to realise this sentimental dream.

He passed away on March 13, 1977, and was duly cremated at his ancestral village, Lalton Khurd. He ranks among the pioneers of freedom movement.


1. Azadi Sangram De Suhi Latt Yadgar Committee 2001.

2. Cheema M. S.,