FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ASTORIA OR: The Ghadar Party plaque mysteriously disappeared on October 23rd, from its designated location at the Maritime Memorial Park. The plaque recognized the founders of the Indian liberation movement who immigrated to Astoria from Eastern India, mostly as mill workers who worked at the Hammond Mill in Alderbrook. The Ghadar movement eventually led to the independence of India and Pakistan from British colonial rule. State Senator Betsy Johnson, Willis Van Dusen, former mayor and owner of Van Dusen Beverages, Inc., Lovekesh Kumar, owner of the Super Mart in Warrenton, and Bahadur Singh, brother of Kumar have all donated personal funds to replace the missing plaque.
“Having the means to help recognize the workers that inspired my country’s independence is a great honor.” Says Mr. Singh. “Immigrants sacrifice much to be able to live freely and me and my family are grateful to live in a community that recognizes that.” Adds, Kumar.
The City of Astoria had no prior knowledge of its former residents who were so integral to India’s independence movement, until approached by historians Johanna Ogden in late 2012. A large celebration was held to honor the legacy of these individuals during the movement’s centennial celebration in 2013, by installing the plaque at the site of where the movement was born.
“I think that the history of the Ghadar party and the relationship to the history of India to Astoria is poorly understood. Having a monument that represents the connection of our City to India’s struggle for justice is vital. It is unacceptable to have a monument of such historical importance to be vandalized and disappeared without trace.” Said Senator Johnson.
The founders encountered many hardships in the United States; from ethnic persecution, humiliation, and mob violence. They found an unlikely kinship with the Finnish brotherhood in Astoria who welcomed them to their Finnish Socialist Hall in May of 1913 to freely discuss the right to live free from oppression. Many Ghadarites who returned to India to ignite the revolution faced life in prison or hanging.
“I am deeply disappointed that someone would go through the efforts of removing a sign that symbolizes the sacrifices that these Indian immigrants made to embark on the noble cause of freedom and liberty.” Says Former Mayor, Van Dusen. “The history of these laborers that contributed greatly to the American economy and for the rights of their people back home deserve to be recognized.”
The sign and its whereabouts are still unknown. It is set to be replaced at the same location sometime in February. If you have any information regarding its whereabouts, please contact Astoria Police Sargeant Andrew Randall at email@example.com or (503) 325-4411.