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Protesters across India insist: Bhagat Singh's worldview 'differed' from today's India

By Harsh Thakor* 

It was heartening to witness the spirit Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguriu resurrected today engulfing regions of Bihar, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi. In Rohtas in Bihar on March 23rd, commemorating the three martyrs, Kaimur Mukti Morch staged an impactful rally and conference, portraying the misery and denial of rights of the Kaimur Pathar, an Adivasi community.
The torch of Bhagat Singh shimmered as a crescendo here, manifesting the invaluable messages of the martyrs relating to their day-to-day problems. Powerful slogans were raised. Till the SDM was not prepared to accept the memorandum of demands, the rally carried on.
Slogans were raised demanding punishment of all criminals or goons, attacking or murdering activists, release from jail of all labourers, withdrawal of repressive laws, seeking police indifference towards the attacks or murders, eradication of repression unleashed on the Adivasis on land, forest and water.
The rally stopped for five minutes when a speaker addressed how politicians were sponsoring rapes and murders and how Adivasis were terrorised when struggling for their basic rights in the forests. The rally then proceeded ahead and was addressed by activists like Ritesh Vidhyarti, activist Sipahi Singh, Kharwar, Nepali Chero, workers from Chandoli, Kanhaiya ji and Rajalal Singh.
Sipahi Singh narrated how, in spite of relentlessly waging resistance for two months, rapists and those elements responsible for murder have not been brought to book.
Workers’ Liberation Front leader Kanhaiya ji articulately projected the essence of the ideology of Bhagt Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru in the current context of India. He made an acute comparison or contrast highlighting the dichotomy of Bhagat Singh’s model with the manner or form India is functioning today.
Examples were given how the workers and peasants were flung to the mercy of the corporates and how Adivasis were stripped of their basic rights of land, forest and water. Kanhaiya ji summed up how imperialism was looting India.
Ritesh Vidhyarthi, also of the Workers’ Liberation Front, said how it was not only an issue of the Kaimul Pathars, but the Adivasis at large. He elaborated on the methods the corporate deployed to loot the Adivasis, with the complete backing or sanction of foreign multinational corporations.
He summed up how the rulers were hoodwinking the masses on embarking projects in the name of people’s welfare or prosperity. He affirmed that it was imperative for workers, peasants, farmers, agricultural workers, women, tribals, students, youth and Dalits to unite in a common front and chalk out a path to confront the oppressors.
He touched upon the fatal consequences of Brahmanical fascist ideology. He asserted that no stone should be left unturned in establishing a genuinely democratic social order.
Rajalal Singh spoke about the need for the police to concede to demands promptly on arresting the criminals. He asserted that if it failed to do so the organisation would embark on a massive protest, even resisting the police barricades. He submitted a memorandum to the police. He narrated how ins pite of marching 50km, the authorities displayed complete apathy.
On the occasion of the 92nd Martyrdom Day of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, a procession and meeting was organized in the vicinity of Delhi's Mayapuri Industrial Area and its workers’ colony by trade union organisation International Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) (Sarwahara) and the Shramik Sahyog Kendra in which workers and children actively participated.
During the procession, pamphlets projecting Bhagat Singh's ideas along with Sarwahara newspaper were distributed. A class on Bhagat Singh was conducted in the basti office for all children along with screening of film "The Legend of Bhagat Singh".
In West Bengal, the Progressive Democratic Youth Federation (PDYF) and IFTU (Sarwahara) organized a memorial and resolution meeting at the union office in Raniganj Coalfields.
The spirit Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguriu were resurrected in several regions of Uttarakhand. The workers led by the Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra linked Bhagat Singh’s teachings with the day to day lives of the workers, projecting his ideology as an integral part of their lives.
In Haridwar, the Workers’ Joint Front Committee, comprising 15 unions and the Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) Workers’ Union, commemorated the Bhagat Singh martyrdom day at the BHEL Hospital with a meeting and procession, highlighting their demands.
AK Das of the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) inaugurated the meeting. MS Tyagi spoke about the assurance of workers for bonus on 29th December to the Joint Committee not being complied to. He narrated that the company with stakes of Rs 410 crore was even dictating the government, affirming, the workers would fight every possible inch to win their rights.
Hospital employees’ union leader Ramyash Singh spoke about the unconditional right of the union functioning within the hospital and the determination of workers to prevent the hospital running in the public-private partnership (PPP) mode.
BHEL Workers’ Union president Amarjeet spoke about how workers could hardly fulfil their desire to educate their children. He summarised that if the workers were let on the streets it would block all avenues for educating children.
Rajveer Singh stated that there are several BHEL workers who work day and night, but still cannot afford to give their children proper education, with several schools closed down.
In Rudrapur in Uttarkhand, the Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra mobilised trade unions of Sidkul area. They articulately summed up the contribution of Bhagat Singh in political struggle, national economy and culture and how he should be emulated today or why his ideas are still relevant.
Activists vociferously raised their voice against G-20.They spoke about how it ransomed small businessmen and would be a weapon to terrorise the lives of workers. A march was led to the Bhagat Singh park.
In Mau, Uttar Pradesh, a commemoration meeting was held with a march at Roadways, Baliketan, Rauja and Saderchowk. They were joined by Marxist Communist Party, CPI (ML), Kisan Sangrami Samiti, and National Democratic Front activists. Workers resolved to relentless battle against capitalism, imperialism and fascism.
In Faridabad, Haryana, a meeting was staged near the Police Chowk in Sector 55 at the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Park, concluding with a march at the Awasi colony. It was pointed out that even after 75 years of independence the manner India was shaped was a complete in dichotomy with the ideas of Bhagat Singh.
At the Industrial Model Township (IMT) in Manesar, the Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra conducted a rally from Bhangrola Bus stand to Bhangrola Shiv Mandir and then to Kokral village shouting slogans to shimmer the torch of Bhagat Singh.
In Punjab, the Naujawan Bharat Sabha conducted a march and a public meeting in Bhagat Singh's house in Touri Bazar in Ferozepur. The thrust of the programme was on converting Bhagat Singh's hideout into a museum and library. It had enthusiastic response from all quarters. Around 1,000 youth participated in this programme.
The Naujwan Bharat Sabha (NBS) demanded that the two-storeyed house of Shaheed Bhagat Singh be converted in to a museum and library in his memory. They affirmed that in 2006 the government promised to turn the two-storeyed house into a monument to manifest the contribution of the Bhagat Singh.
Its leaders regretted, instead, there is a powerful trend in recent times to misuse the name of Bhagat Singh for religious and communal ends, negating the essence of his anti-imperialist, anti-feudal and secular programme.
NBS president Rupinder Singh Chaunda and secretary Manga Singh mentioned that Aaam Aadmi party leader Bhagwant Mann undertook no step to fulfill the conversion of the house into a monument and reminded people about the notification issued by the government in January 6th, 2016 under the Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Remains and Sites Act to undertake the task of turning it into a protected monument. Historian Rakesh Kumar also expressed rage over the government's indifference.
In this very building Bhagat Singh, shorn of his hair to disguise himself from the British, and his comrades had taken refuge from 10th August 1928 to 4th February 1929. Bhagat Singh and his comrades wished to hide a pistol to avenge the killing of Shiv Kumar and 56 other revolutionaries. In this very house the Naujwan Bharat Sabha and the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association were formed.
---
*Freelance journalist who has frequently toured Punjab and covered mass movements around India

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