11-12 June 1926: Ad Dharm Movement was launched by Babu Mangu ram Mugowalia.
11 and 12 June 1926: Ad Dharm movement of Punjab, a pioneer Dalit movement of North India, made public its ideology and plan-of-action for the empowerment of the downtrodden at its first mammoth conference at village Mugowal of District Hoshiarpur of Punjab.
Ad Dharm movement was founded by Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia. Late in 1925, after his return to the Punjab, Mangoo Ram began teaching in a primary school in his home village of Mugowal, a school which Mangoo Ram claims he named the Ad Dharm School. It was in that school, on 11 and 12 June 1926, that Mangoo Ram convened a meeting that formally launched the Ad Dharm movement. Mangoo Ram was elected its first president, a title he retained for the duration of the movement. On November 1926, when the Ad Dharm organisation opened an office in the city of Jullundhar where Mangoo Ram took up residence there, where he remained until he became active in politics in the 1940s, at which point he moved to the town of Hoshiarpur.
The movement laid stress on distinct Dalit identity independent of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. To achieve that the Ad Dharm movement aimed at relocating the indigenous religion of Dalits and to get it registered as their official religion in the state. In no time this historic movement became a Dalit mass struggle for their separate Dalit identity
With the active supports of the all sections of the community, the Ad Dharm movement succeeded in getting Ad Dharm religion registered for the Census in 1931. At that time about five lakhs members of the community got them recorded as Ad Dharmi. It was perhaps for the first time in the neglected / unrecorded history of the Dalits in India that Scheduled Castes in Punjab declared themselves as belonging to an indigenous non-Aryan religion totally different from that of all the mainstream religions of the region. Not only that, the movement even contested the first provincial election of 1937 and returned with the community candidates from 7 out of 8 reserved constituencies in Punjab. That was also the first great success of the Dalits in Punjab towards their march to gain political power: the proverbial Master Key.
This is in fact what the Dalits of Punjab should have continued with if they were willing to come into power on their own in the state where they are in largest numbers in comparison to rest of the entire country. Sahib Kanshi Ram did his level best to pick up the thread from where Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia had left. But that bore fruits in UP and Punjab is yet to replicate the same. Doing that would be a true tribute to Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia and Sahib Kanshi Ram Ji and to the Historic Ad Dharm movement in Punjab.
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