The birth anniversary of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia (1886-1980) falls on January 14. I write this to pay my humble tributes to the memory of the great son of the country particularly of the dalit community. Babu Mangu Ram’s sterling role in the freedom movement of India as a Gadrite leader is well known and documented. He was an Indian patriot to the core in the Gadar Movement in the US and other countries. Later on coming back to India in 1925, he engaged himself fully in the fight against social and economic degradation of the dalit community at the hands of the caste ridden Indian society. It was a daunting task. But Babu Mangu Ram was a crusader.
In 1926, Babu Mangu Ram initiated and established Ad-dharam Movement to provide the dalit a social and spiritual identity of their own. He started publishing a periodical called Adi-Danka to enlighten and cajole the dalit masses to stand up and fight for their rights. The effort was a great success with the help and joining hands with the other leaders of the community like Master Gurbanta Singh, Seth Kishan Dass, Seth Sunder Dass, and Sant Ram. Gopal Singh Khalsa, inter alia. The Ad-dharam Movement, as my father told me, did a great job, under the leadership of Babu Mangu Ram, during the Round Table Conferences in the early 30s in supporting Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as the sole leader of the dalits of India to represent them in the Conferenes and other fora for the interests of the dalits. With these efforts. Ad-dharam was duly recognized as a different entity in the 1931 census. Dr. Ambedkar’s struggle with the help of the leaders like Babu Mangu Ram resulted in the Communal Awards of the British Government to recognize and ensure separate electorates for the dalits in 1932 which was formally accepted and introduced as the Poona Pact between Ambedkar and Gandhi. Some vested interests tried to create unnecessary controversy about the presumptive differences between Dr. Ambedkar and Babu Mangu Ram on the decisions of the Poona Pact and the agenda of the Ad-dharam Movement. But the prevailing political and social atmosphere in the country left no other option both for Dr. Ambedkar and Babu Mangu Ram to accept the ground realities. Babu Mangu Ram continued to accept Dr. Ambedkar as his leader and respected him accordingly. The Ad-dharam Movement gained strength particularly in the doaba region of Punjab. Babu Mangu Ram along with others got elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly before independence in 1947. In the wake of changing political and social scenario, the Movement which was by then converted into a political outfit as Ad-dharam Mandal, fizzled out somewhat. Most of the associates of Babu Mangu Ram either joined the Congress Party or the Scheduled Castes Federation and later the Republican Party. But the relevance and role of Ad-dhram Movement and the Mandal would remain a historical fact that it played an immensely important role in establishing a separate and distinct identity for the dalits which was a much called for need of the times.
Babu Mangu Ram was a visionary and a leader of the first rate. He contributed immensely to freedom movement of India as a Gadrite leader and also to the emancipation of the dalit community.
हजारों साल नर्गिस अपनी बेनूरी पे रोती है;
बड़ी मुश्किल से होता है चमन में दीदावर पैदा !