Guran Ditta Kumar (1867- )

Guran Ditta Kumar (also known as Arora Muktanand and Swami Muktanand) belonged to a Punjabi family from the Attock District who had resettled in the Mianwali district in the North West Frontier province of India (now in Pakistan). Kumar had worked in the commissary department and as a photographer’s assistant in Rawalpindi and he briefly taught Hindi  and Urdu at the National College in Calcutta. In Canada he was known as Prof. Kumar. He landed in Victoria in October 1907, started a grocery store soon after, and remained in the Victoria-Vancouver-Seattle area for the next four and a half years. Begining in January 1910, he produced a periodical in Gurmukhi called Swadeshi Sewak, which he mailed to India for Sikhs in the Indian army. Inspector Hopkinson obtained copies in Vancouver and forwarded them monthly to Ottawa. As a consequence, in March 1911, the Indian Government prohibited the importation of this journal. Kumar was the secretary and chief spokesperson for the Hindustani Association of Vancouver until 1912 when Husain Rahim took it over. In May 1913, he sailed to Manila from San Francisco. He wrote to Taraknath Das in a letter which later fell into the hands of the Indian police: “You be boss in Seattle; I am going to establish base here in Manila . . . .” Hopkinson found letters from Kumar in a house in Victoria that Harnam Singh (from Kahri Sari) had occupied—letters that showed familiarity with the planning of the Komagata Maru affair. He left Manila for Kobe, Japan, in September 1914 and was in Kobe when the Komagata Maru was there on its return journey. For over a month he was busy in Japan meeting groups of Ghadr party activists as they arrived from Victoria and San Francisco on their way back to India. By early 1915 he was in India, living in Hardwar in what is now Uttar Pradesh under the name of Swami Muktanand. He was arrested as an instigator following riots against cow slaughter at Jawalpur near Hardwar and he served eight years of a ten-year sentence. He also served short sentences in 1930 and 1932 for anti-government activities.

Sources: Library and Archives Canada, Governor General’s Files, RG 7 G21; James Campbell Ker, Director of Criminal Intelligence, Political Troubles in India, 1907-17 (Published, Delhi: Oriental Publisher, 1973); I.M. Muthanna, People of India in North America. Part First (Bangalore: Printed at Lutus Printers, 1975). The Ghadr Directory, 1934, Compiled by the Director, Intelligence Bureau, Home Department, Government of India (Published, Patiala: Punjabi University, 1997).