Clatsop County Historical Society
Local politicians and business owners have donated money to replace a missing historical marker memorializing an early 20th century Indian independence group that met in Astoria.
The weighty bronze metal sign attached to a metal pole at Maritime Memorial Park, which recognizes the Ghadar Party, went missing in October and has yet to be found. State Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, former Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen, Lovekesh Kumar — owner of Super Mart in Warrenton — and Bahadur Singh — Kumar’s brother — have donated $1,670 to cover the cost of its replacement. It is scheduled to be replaced by February, according to the Astoria Parks and Recreation Department press release. The sign memorializes founders of the Indian liberation movement who came to Astoria from eastern India in 1913 and became mill workers. They met in May 1913 at the former site of the Finnish Socialist Hall. Driven by Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims along the West Coast, the movement eventually led to India’s and Pakistan’s independence from Britain.
“Having the means to help recognize the workers that inspired my country’s independence is a great honor.” Singh said. “Immigrants sacrifice much to be able to live freely and me and my family are grateful to live in a community that recognizes that.”
A pair of historians approached the city with the story one year ahead of the movement’s centennial anniversary. The sign was installed during a 2013 ceremony.
“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,” Van Dusen said. “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.”