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Left groups protest across Punjab, seek to revive spirit of Bhagat Singh's martyrdom

By Harsh Thakor* 

Despite political change of guards, which brought Aam Aadmi Party to power, recent events suggest that Left-wing forces of different shades appear to be steadily gaining ground in Punjab. At a commemoration meeting on March 23, the 91st martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) held conferences at 23 places in 18 districts of Punjab.
The decentralised campaign continued the spirit of the farmers’ protests at the Delhi Singur border, where a commemoration programme on the martyrs was held last year. There was impactful gathering in the districts of Malwa region, with highest participation in Sangrur, Moga and Bathinda. In total over a lakh and a half farmers participated.
BKU (Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan said that at all the conferences tens of thousands of farmers and labourers along with their families, contract workers, students, youth and others participated. Slogans of Inquilab Zindabaad and Down with Imperialism -- echoing the ones raised by the martyrs at the gallows -- were raised as a token of appreciation of the exemplary sacrifice.
Protesters spoke about how today dozens of mammoth corporate houses akin to the East India Company were seeking to enslave labour of farmers. The rulers of our nation were patronising such plunder. Hence it was the need of the hour to unitedly struggle against World Trade Organisation and the imperialist policies as a whole, it was pointed out.
A few weeks later, several oganisations came together to stage protest against the arrest of political prisoners, who it was claims were framed on false charges. Held on April 8 in Singrur on the very day Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru flung a bomb in the parliament house to symbolise liberation from colonial slavery, the Kirti Kisan Union, Punjab Students Union, Naujwan Bharat Sabha and Zameen Prapti Sangharsh demanded unconditional release of political prisoners.
Speakers summarised how activists like Gautam Navlakha , GN Saibaba, Rona Wilson, Anand Teltumbde, Varavara Rao, Umar Khalid, Sudha Bharadwaj, Devinder Ghullar etc. were branded for waging a conspiracy against the state as they were posing a question to the autocratic character of the rulers or confronting fascism.
Speakers explained how the rulers were leaving no stone unturned in penetrating the poison of Hindu religious fundamentalism to divide and rule the people just like the British. Gross violations of making available basic amenities to political prisoners was highlighted. They asserted, in the days to come the tentacles of the central rulers would sharpen even more with state repression to crush all political dissent.
Speakers summarised how activists were branded for waging conspiracy against the state as they were posing a question to the autocratic rulers
In yet another successful programme, on April 9, speakers touched upon how under the current rulers the monopoly or grip of Hindutva fascism and feudalism had escalated to an unprecedented scale. Accent was given to how means of production was most unevenly distributed. Student leaders spoke about how education was saffronised at unparalleled levels. They raised the burning issue of re-instatement of ration cards, demanded allocation of land plots, and pointed towards the illegal occupation of land by upper caste landlords.
In yet another programme, the Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union (Punjab) and the Punjab Radical Students Union staged a play in village Namol dedicated to Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev raising the issues of emancipation of workers. Addressing people who had gathered for the play, Revolutionary Rural Workers' Union president Sanjeev Mintoo and secretary Dharmapal Singh said that the freedom for which the martyrs sacrificed their lives has not come.
President of Punjab Radical Students' Union Raspinder Jimmy said that while raising voice against the saffronisation of education the students and youth should play their due role against the Indian rulers as well. Another play "Before Disappearance" by Shaheed Art Bhagat Bhagat Singh, left deep impression on the minds of people. Revolutionary songs were sung by Major Upli and Billu Singh. The programme ended with loud chants of "Martyrs, think a little and watch carefully".
---
*Freelance journalist

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