Bhai Udham Singh’s Letter to the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, July 1924

The three documents which are reproduced here for the first time have been discovered by the Russian Indologist M.A. Siderov in the former Central Party Archives of the CPSU, Moscow, and are published here by the kind permission of the authorities of the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI).

When discovered it was thought that these documents were those of Udham Singh whose name is inextricably linked with the assassination of Sir Michael O’Dwyer, the Lt. Governor of Punjab at the time of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919. However, the internal evidence in these documents suggests otherwise. Recent biographies of Udham Singh are agreed that he was in the United States in the year in which the documents below were penned. Yet the letter of ‘Udham Singh’ below refers to political and military activities in the region of Afghanistan, Kashmir and Punjab. The files of the former Central Party Archives give us no clue to the background of the three documents.

Who then was Bhai Udham Singh?

The literature on the Ghadar Party refers to one Bhai Udham Singh Kasel who worked in a lumber mill near Portland, Oregon, U.S.A., who formed ‘The Hindustani Association’ in Astoria, Oregon when his mill closed down in the winter of 1912.1 He led a group of revolutionaries to India in 1914.2 In the following year he is referred to as working in Jhelum and Hoti-Mardan, being involved in the Lahore Conspiracy Case and sentenced to transportation for life and forfeiture of his property.3 Udham Singh and his comrade Gurmukh Singh absconded while being transferred from one jail to another. Thereafter they established a Ghadar Party Centre at Kabul, contacting the Soviet representatives there. He secretly visited the Punjab and acted as a liaison between India and Afghanistan.4 He was killed in 1925.5

The documents presented here are redolent of the tradition of the Ghadar Party and reflect the transitional period of this tendency which straddled both national-revolutionary and communist positions. Thus the objectives of the Bharat Sangiwal Association (BSA) embraced national-democratic demands for the establishment of independent rule of India free from the social and economic disabilities rooted in capitalism and imperialism and the socialist aim of conversion of the means of production into common property in order to achieve the abolition of the exploitation of man by man. Impeccably Bolshevik was the tactical line of the BSA to ‘adopt all those methods which have been employed in the past, by nations struggling for freedom.’ Similarly laudable was the attempt to recruit its membership from the peasantry and labour, the inclusion of the military in this sphere reveals the link with strong national-revolutionary traditions. The positive approach to mass work is evident from the intent to establish labour and peasant organisations in the factories, mines and railways and from amongst the working peasantry. The organisational principles of the Association were aligned to notions of revolutionary centralism: the Governing Council of the BSA was vested with absolute powers and was to arrive at decisions on the basis of unanimity. In the best revolutionary traditions the BSA was to engage in legal as well as illegal work, including the publication of proscribed literature, the import and manufacture of arms and ammunition.

The letter of Bhai Udham Singh addressed to the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic demanded that the BSA be recognised by the Russian Soviet Republic, that its representatives be taken into the ‘Third International Communist Party in Moscow’; its students be admitted into the Soviet military schools; and the Association be permitted to hold sufficient land for the establishment of an agricultural commune which would be used to train its soldiers. Of exceptional importance is the portion of the letter which requests financial and military succour from the Soviet regime for the Indian revolution. Two lakh rupees were requested from Russia as well as fifty thousand soldiers including 500 engineers and military experts to be given at the commencement of the revolution. Full military equipment for the arming of five lakh Akalis to be stored in the Pamirs from whence it could be transported to Kashmir through the narrow strip of Afghanistan territory, was also demanded. This route for intervention in India had long been eyed by revolutionaries both in India and Russia. Udham Singh asserted that he had been ordered by the BSA to proceed to the Pamirs while others were to proceed from Amritsar to the Kashmir frontier in order to pick up 10,000 pistols from the Pamirs. The letter concludes with an inventory of the military units in northern and central India where revolutionary supporters were at work.

Vijay Singh

Notes :

1. Gurdev Singh Deol, ‘The Role of the Ghadar Party in the National Movement’, Jullundur and Delhi, 1969, pp. 54, 56.

2. Tilak Raj Sareen, ‘Indian Revolutionary Movement Abroad 1905-21’, New Delhi, Jullundur, 1979, p. 97.

3. Deol, op.cit. pp. 138. 206.

4. Sohan Singh Josh, ‘Hindustan Ghadar Party’, Vol. II, New Delhi, 1978, pp. 159-60, 220-21.

5. Harish K. Puri, ‘Ghadar Movement, Ideology, Organisation and Strategy’, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Second edition, 1993.

No. 1

Textual Copy



No. 303 F.R. Dated July 15-1924

To the Communist Party

Moscow, Russia.


The bearer of this credential Bhai Udham Singh is a duly accredited representative of the Association and has been deputated to interview you on behalf of the same. He is authorised by the Executive Committee of the Foreign Department of the Association to carry on negotiations or settle matters on behalf of the said Association, subject to the approval of the Executive Committee of the Foreign Department.

Yours fraternally,

Secretary of the Foreign Department

place of association seal.

Copy correct:


No. 2.
(Hindustan Communist Party)

NAME: – The name of the Association shall be "THE BHARAT SANJHIWHAL ASSOCIATION".


(a) To furnish facilities for raising Indians to the normal level of (Inter)national (self) respect.

(b) To establish independent indigenous rule and free the country from the curse of political bondage by removing all the existing social, mental and economic disabilities due to (capitalism and imperialism).

(c) To abolish all systems which make any kind of exploitation of man by man possible.

(d) To bring about by degrees social and financial conditions in which the whole wealth of the country and all means of production shall be the common property of all children of the land according to the ideals of the (Commomunism) all shall be acknowledged as co-sharers and none shall be excluded – All will have equal opportunities to produce wealth by a free and unrestricted use of the means or production and will enjoy the full fruits of their labour.

METHODS: – The Association will adopt all those methods which have been employed in the past by nations struggling for freedom and other methods which the Association may decide upon from time to time in view of changed circumstances.


(a) All activities will be controlled by "The Governing Council", which will consist of the six Secretaries of the different departments. The Governing Council will elect its own President and Secretary. The Governing Council will ordinarily meet once a year to lay down the general policy of the Association, to revise the rules of the Association if necessary and to draft the programme of work for every department. The decisions of the Council will be arrived at by a unanimity of opinion. The Governing Council will be vested with absolute powers. The Governing Council will supervise adjust and coordinate the activities of the different departments of which it shall have full knowledge. The Governing Council will be in direct charge of the work to be carried on in countries outside India.

DEPARTMENTAL AND TERRITORIAL ORGANISATION. The work of the Association will be divided into six departments, each under the charge of a secretary who will be an ex-officio member of the Governing Council.

The Territorial activities shall be carried on by a committee of six members, representing the six different departments. Territorial committee will be organised by the territorial officer who will be in direct touch with the Governing Council and who will work under their directions. Under special circumstances one member may be put in charge of more than one department. All decision of the territorial committees shall be arrived at by the unanimous consent. The central and territorial organisations will have the following departments: –

(1) Propaganda
(2) Collection of man.
(3) Collection of funds and terrorism.
(4) Collection and storage of arms and ammunition.
(5) Foreign connections.
(6) Putting members of the Association into different departments of Government service i.e. Railway, Post, and Telegraphs, Army Political Departments.

The Association will concentrate its attention on the peasant labour and military classes with a view to recruit members from them and raise their status in the Social and Economic life of the country.

MEMBERSHIP: – Members shall be recruited by organisers in charge of a territory. Every member must be ready to devote his whole time for the Association and even risk his life when necessary. Every member shall be ready to obey the commands of his territorial officer implicitly. Every member must behave in a manner so that he may not prejudice or jeopardise the cause for which this Association stands and may not do any harm directly or indirectly to this organisation. No member of the Association shall belong to any other organisation without the consent of his territorial officers. Every member must remember that his improper behaviour and mistakes might lead to .the ruin of the whole organisation. No member shall conceal anything from his territorial officer as his public life is concerned. Members who will betray the cause will be punished with death. The authority of punishment shall rest with the territorial officer working with the approval of the G.C.

TERRITORIAL OFFICER AND HIS DUTIES: – The territorial officer will be in sole charge of the members working in his territory. He shall have power to start branches in different parts of his territory as he may think desirable and shall recruit members from among persons belonging to public Associations through his own influence or by any other method that he may think proper. The territorial officers must see that the members are divided into separate groups and the different groups do not know each other. The territorial officers should not know one another's activities or if possible they must also not know another by person or by name.

Qualifications of a Territorial officer.

1. He must have the tact and the ability to guide and handle men of different temperaments.

2. He must have the capacity to grasp political and economic (situations) of the present day with special reference to his territory.

3. He must have a full grasp of the spirit of the history of his country and should understand thoroughly the character and temperament of the people living in his territory.

4. With a firm faith and unflinching devotion to the objects for which this Association stands he should be ready to devote his whole life to the sacred cause and should carry on the struggle single-handed even when all his companions are removed.

5. He should be bold, self-sacrificing and resourceful.


The activities of the Association shall be "Public" and "Private".


(a) To start clubs, libraries, schools and other public institutions for drawing men towards the ideals of this Association.

(b) To start Labour and Peasant organisations and engage suitable men for organising and controlling workers employed in different factories, Railways, mines etc., or peasants tilling lands.

(c) To start papers and publish handbills and pamphlets for helping different activities, propagating, liberal ideas of mutual help and service, and instilling love for (The Society) and for workers who toil in the service of humanity.

(d) To utilise and influence all other public activities as far as possible.


(a) To establish a secret press and publish proscribed literature or such literature which is likely to be proscribed.

(b) To circulate such literature.

(c) To establish branches of this Association in every part of the country.

(d) To collect funds in as many ways as possible.

(e) To send suitable men to foreign countries where they may get military or scientific training, so that they may become military or scientific experts to take charge of armies and ammunition factories at the time of revolution.

(f) To import arms and ammunitions and also to manufacture them as far as possible in the country.

(g) To get the members of this Association enlisted into the army and other departments of Government service and persuade men holding responsible positions in Government service to become members of the Association in order to collect useful information and help in the realisation of the objects of the Association.

1. To enlist the sympathy of the public and create a band of sympathisers by propaganda and occasional retaliations.

PROPERTY: – The funds and property of this society can never belong to an individual; donations or endowments once made to the society can never be refunded.

WORKERS: – The members working for the society will draw no regular salary, but will receive subsistence allowance which will be fixed according to the requirements of each case by the G.C.

Rules relating to the objects: – Property, allowance to workers and methods of work are fundamental and can never be changed.


No. 3

Dear Comrade,

I, on behalf of the Bharat Sangiwal Association (Hindustan Communist Party), being authorised by the said association to draw the attention of the R.S.F.S. Republic to consider the demands of my Association, my Credentials as a special Representative of the Bharat Sangiwal Association and the fundamental constitution with a brief report of its activities have been also attached with this document. It is as follows:

1. Bharat Sangiwal Association should be recognised by the R.S.F.S. Republic.

2. Men, money, ammunition should be recommended as soon as possible.

a) About 50 thousand soldiers with about 500 officials and engineers, military experts as a guidance to the successful revolution must be given us at the beginning of the revolution.

b) More than two hundred thousand of rupees should be recommended at present, because the British Government is to cut off all our financial resources of our Akali movement in Punjab. It would be therefore very difficult for us to carry on a wide scale. Our 16 thousand workers have gone to jail, the remaining are being put into prison and their properties confiscated; most of them have been financially ruined.

c) The full military equipments for about five hundred thousand Akalis should be recommended and stored up at the Pamirs the territory of Russia for the beginning of the revolution. So we may be able to smuggle them to India through the territories of Kashmir. We have nearly arranged for it there. Ten thousand of pistols must be handed over to us at Pamir at present, because I have been ordered by the Association to leave for the Pamir. Because my friends were ready to go there from the Amritsar through Kashmir and who may wait for me upon the frontier.

3. A special arrangement should be made for our students to be admitted to military schools of Russia; students will leave for Russia as soon as Soviet Government will allow.

4. The Bharat Sangiwhal Association should be allowed to hold ‘sufficient land’ for its members as an agricultural commune through whom we may be able to prepare our soldiers there.

5. The representatives of the said Association must be taken in to the Third International Communist Party in Moscow.

The activities or our society are as follows: The members of the: Association are working at the following military basis.

Cavalry Regiments.
1st & 2nd horse at Ferozpoorre
Hudsan horse " Lahore
Light horse " Tanik on the western frontier
Light cavalry "Keshawar
Guides cavalry " Modan
Cavalry frontier " Rawalpindi
* * " Sial Kut
Lancers depot " Merrut
* * " *
Cavalry " Rosalpore
Lancers " Loralai
Infantary Regiments.
1st Punjab regiments.
1st battalion No. 82 at Peshawar
2nd " " 66 " Thal
5th " " 82 " Lucknow
10th " " 82 " Jahalam
2nd Punjab Regiments.
1st battalion Punjabi No. 67 at Peshawar
2nd battalion Punjabi " 67 " S. Vaziristan
4th " " "74 " Landi Kotal.
Punjabi Regiments.
10th Battalion Punjabi No. 2/89 at Lahore
5th "Sikh regiment D.C.O. at Noshora
10th " " " " "
Frontier Force
2nd Battalion Sikh at Jallander No 52
3rd " " "Kohat. No 53
4th " " " Ali Maszad ": 54
5th " " " Queen Victoria Guardian at Mardan
10th " " "Queen Victoria at Mardan.
Frontier Force
10th Battalion 2/56 Punjabi Rifle Forces Abattabad
Punjabi Regiments No 14
10th Battalion Punjabi No. 22 at Ferezpore
Punjabi Regiments 15
1st Battalion Punjabi No. 25 Jehallam’
2nd " " " 26 "
4th " " 28 Amballa
10th " " 29 Sial Kob.
Punjabi Regiments No. 16
1st Battalion Punjabi No. 35 at Rawalpindi
2nd " " " 31 " Peshawar
4th " " " Bhopal Infantry No. at Jabalpore
10th " " No. 46 at. Malton.

In the State of Kashmir.

British Government have determined to establish a military and aeroplane base at Bandipore Kashmire. We have also put our men there, who may inform us all about them. The certain posts of’ Bhungi, Chalas, Bandipore, Gilgit, Gopas garrisons in the route that goes to Russian frontier have also been grasped by our workers there. Our information tells us that the only two thousand Dora soldiers are garrisoned upon that route that goes from Gilgit to Bandipore. This is the only route which goes to Gopas from Bandipore. There is a small river bridge in the route that goes to the Russian frontiers. A direct route goes to Gilgit from Chatral. There are two river bridges in this route, if these river bridges be destroyed, the communication between Chatral and Gilgit will be cut off. A mountain Sandoras about 20 miles is between the frontier of Afghanistan and Gilgit.

An arsenal map of Rawalpindi have also been attached with this document. Please copy it and send it back to me. We have our men in the Simla office.

Place of seal.


Representative of the
Bharat Sangiwal Association,

27 96


RGASPI f. 495, op. 154, d. 226, ll.25-34.

Text typed in English, orthography as in the original.

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