Gulab Kaur also known as Bibi Gulab Kaur was an Indian freedom fighter. She belonged to a Sikh family and was a revolutionary. Gulab Kaur got married and shifted to Manila, Philippines, but her love and respect for her country developed when she started listening to lectures by the Ghadar Party. At that time, not only men but women also played a major role in eradicating British rule from India and Gulab Kaur was one of them. She also wanted to release women from evil practices that prevailed in society for decades such as gender inequality and Sati. She died in 1941.
Gulab Kaur was born in 1890 in Bakshiwala village in Sangrur district, Punjab, India. She belonged to a poor Sikh family and was very young when she got married to a guy named Mann Singh. During that time in Punjab, workers and people with farming backgrounds were migrating to foreign countries in search of employment. Due to the same reason, the couple migrated to Manila, the capital of the Philippines in the hope to have a better future as a family, but their ultimate destination was to establish in America. Meanwhile their transfer period from Manila to America, they met some members of the Ghadar party known as “Ghadris”.
The Ghadar Movement
When lower-class people and poor farmers were tired of dealing with the violence and cruelty of the Britishers they decided to leave India and move to other countries for a better life. Most of the Sikhs went to America and were located in its colonies, but it was not that easy to blend in. They had to deal with inequality, racism, and humiliation. Events like this made them more vigilant and courageous to take hardcore steps to save their country, rights and pride. On 15 July 1930, Ghadar Party was founded. The Ghadar Party was an international political movement founded by Overseas Citizens of India to defeat the East India Company’s rule over India. The initial members of the party were mostly Punjabi Indians working on the West Coast of the United States and Canada, but as more and more people got to know about the party the movement kept spreading in India and among Indian communities all around the globe.
The Journey from Gulab Kaur to ‘Ghadri Gulab Kaur’
After meeting members of the Ghadar Party, she researched more about the party by hearing their preachings. She was so much influenced by the party’s work and its intentions that she decided to join the party. In Manila, she used to meet Indians and promote the party for more people to join it. She encouraged others by giving motivational speeches, spreading awareness about independence literature to Indian passengers on ships and convincing them to contribute to the fight.
Parted ways with Husband and came to India
At that time, in Manila, Hafiz Abdullah of Jagraon was the President of the local branch of the Ghadar Party. Under his leadership, a group of 50 Ghadrites was about to leave for India and Gulab wanted to be one of them, but Mann Singh decided not to go back to India. Gulab and her husband got into a major fight. Both parted their ways, Mann Singh was fixated on going to America but Gulab being a freedom Ghadri left for India and never looked back. Gulab with 5o other revolutionaries of the Philippines headed to India. They sailed for India after joining the S.S. Korea batch, changing at Singapore from S.S. Korea to Tosha Maru.
Restlessly Served Day and Night!
After coming to India, she started working in the villages of Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Jallandhar and secretly, kept gathering and distributing weapons, arms and ammunition with the help of other Ghadar party leaders such as Banta Singh Sanghwal, Piara Singh Langeri and Harnam Singh Tundilat. She was known for her bravery because she was great at tricking British police multiple times without them having the idea that she pulled a trick on them. She kept close supervision of the party printing press by masquerading as a journalist and kept the leaders informed about every move that the Britishers made. She gave powerful speeches for making more people unite with the Ghadar party and influenced many women to come ahead and participate in the war against injustice. Women looked up to her and followed her because she played a huge part in empowering women and speaking up against the social evils that were present at that time.
Blood, Sweat, and Tears for Freedom
One day she got the news that her husband returned to India for taking part in the movement. When she came to meet him with some other Ghadarites she was captured with them at the entrance. Subsequently, in 1929 British authorities caught her and she was sent to prison (Shahi Qila) for her rebellious actions for 2 years in Lahore, British India (now in Pakistan), where she was tortured and tormented in ways one could not imagine. Even after this kind of behaviour patriot did not stop speaking out loud against immorality, which made her stay in the prison more difficult and she was molested by the people there. After 2 years, when she came out of jail, she had become very weak and ill because of all the suffering and misery that she had to go through. Although even after coming out of prison, the revolutionary blood pumping through her veins did not take a rest, She kept spreading and sharing her knowledge about independence, its meaning and its struggles. A few years later she expired and suffered martyrdom.
She belongs to a poor Sikh family of farmers in Punjab, India.
Her father was a peasant.
She got married to a man named Mann Singh at a very young age.
Some sources say that she passed away in 1941 (age 50 years; at the time of death) due to some illness, while a few others say that she died in 1931 at the age of 40 years.
- Because of her revolutionary activities, she earned the famous title of “Ghadri Gulab Kaur”.
- In 2014, a writer named Kesar Singh wrote a novel about Gulab Kaur titled ‘Gadar Di Dhee Gulab Kaur’ in Punjabi.
- On 10 January 2021 in Delhi, amongst farmers’ protests, a book titled ‘Gulab Kaur Gaddar Lehar Di Daler Yodha’ was released which is written by Rakesh Kumar.
- Meenakashi Lekhi, who was Union Minister of state for culture released a pictorial book in Delhi, as a part of Azadi Ka Mahotsav titled ‘India’s Women Unsung Heroes: The Brave Women of our Freedom Struggle’ and Bibi Gulab Kaur was mentioned in the book as on the heroes. The book was published with the cooperation of the famous Amar Chitra Katha.
- An acclaimed playwriter from Punjab whose name is Ajmer Singh Aulakh wrote a play titled ‘Ghookda Charkha’ (Spinning Wheel is Going On).
- Every year, a fair is held in Jalandhar, Punjab named ‘Mela Ghadari Babian Da’ from 30 October to 1 November. In this fair multiple cultural programs take place like, folk dance, drama (skit), and art that is performed to give tribute and remember the sacrifices that were made by the courageous freedom fighters to protect our country from cruel and crafty Britishers.