Special Correspondent

Bhagat Singh Bilga was the last surviving member of the Ghadr Movement

CHANDIGARH: Bhagat Singh Bilga, who passed away at the ripe age of 102 years in the U.K., was the last surviving member of the Ghadr Movement.

“Baba Bilga” as he was popularly known not only shared the first name but was also born in 1907 as was the legendary freedom fighter Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

He gave up his studies in medicine and joined the Ghadr Party, which was founded in 1913 by Indians settled in the USA and Canada to support the Indian freedom struggle.

Baba Bilga travelled from Calcutta to Burma, Singapore, Hong Kong and Argentina, where he met Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s exiled uncle, Sardar Ajit Singh and was influenced by the patriotic spirit of the freedom movement.

Baba Bilga was arrested for the first time in 1936.

Subsequently he spent different terms of incarceration at Amritsar, Lahore and house arrest. During the World War II, he was arrested and sent to Attok (now in Pakistan) for rigorous inprisonment.

After Independence, Baba Bilga engaged himself in social work and refused to accept any pension for his contributions in the freedom struggle.

His efforts resulted in the famous “Mela Ghadri Babeyan Da”, a commemorative public event in the memory of the Ghadr movement.

This fair has been organised at the Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall in Jalandhar for the last 17 years.

Author of five books, Baba Bilga successfully endured to procure some of the rare photographs related to Komagata Maru incident of 1914.

He championed the cause of getting “freedom fighter” status for those who were martyred in the episode.

Disappointed

However, before leaving India for the UK last year, in various interviews Baba Bilga had openly expressed his disappointment with the state of affairs, especially with the rampant corruption eating into the vitals of the Indian Nation.

He was often quoted as saying that the freedom fighters had not struggled for an India as it stood now.