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A Communist who played as vanguard for a correct line on Khalistani terrorism

By Harsh Thakor 

The Communist revolutionary contingent dips its red flag in memory of Thana Singh who had recently departed from the ranks of communist revolutionary movement after a brief but fatal bout of illness. Without doubt he has carved a permanent niche amongst the great communist revolutionary leaders of India. Till the very last, he manifested the spit of liberating humanity. A model for any member of the Indian Communist revolutionary camp.
His departure terminated a glorious chapter of almost five and half decades of dedicated life of a professional communist revolutionary. Born in late thirties in a modest peasant family of Punjab, Thana Singh integrated with trade union movement in early sixties. With the relentless spirit of a soldier and adept skill of a surgeon, he conducted an underground life, for 4 decades.
Thana Singh‘s life was a manifestation of the very soul or spiritual essence of a Marxist revolutionary .At crucial junctures he made the imperative transformations. The course of his life was moulded in the very furnace of class struggle. Above all, he championed the revolutionary mass line, and till the last breath shimmered Marxism- Leninism Mao Tse Tung Thought, like an inextinguishable flame, facing all types of perils. He never allowed the reputation of the Communist movement to be tarnished. Thane Singh blended the courage of a soldier, with the skill of an architect and imagination of a poet. Even if he has left us, in his very lifetime he incarnated new roses to bloom, to permeate road of revolution.

Political Life

In mid-sixties during his studies in Punjab University Chandigarh, he established contact with Communist Party of India (CPI) and joined its student organization. After the advent of the Naxalbari uprising he became part and parcel the Communist Revolutionary ranks committed to Marxism–Leninism–Mao Tse-Tung Thought and the Peoples’ War Path of the Indian revolution. As a dedicated activist belonging to the All India Co-ordination Committee of communist revolutionaries, he played an integral role in technical preparations for armed struggle under the leadership of Daya Singh who later became secretary of the state unit of CPI (ML) and fell to bullets in a false police encounter. With a meticulous enquiring spirit he investigated polemics about the correct line for the Indian revolution.
His coming into close relation with Harbhajan Singh Sohi, propped him to recognize and grasp the significance of revolutionary mass line and united with the determined team of communist revolutionaries – a very scattered bunch at the time – struggling against the wrong trend for correct application of Marxism–Leninism–Mao Tse-Tung Thought. He was among the architects of Bathinda-Ferozepur Revolutionary Committee and then the Punjab Communist Revolutionary Committee (PCRC), which sowed the seeds of the revolutionary massline of Punjab. The tide of left adventurist line spurred the idealism of youth with escalating disillusionment but hardly any basis of ideological-political grounding. It was also a period of severe police repression.
Revolutionary mass line was at rock bottom, among communist revolutionary ranks. A scenario of mutual distrust, prejudices, sectarian and blind opposition and even inimical behaviour prevailed among communist revolutionaries which was highly unconducive for the prospects o building a movement. The followers of correct trend were almost devoid of mass contacts. Practice of correct revolutionary mass line and building revolutionary class struggle was like climbing a mountain peak. Constructing revolutionary mass movement required dedicated and death defying struggle against wrong trends to protect the fraternity of the communist revolutionary camp.
During emergency period when HBS was in jail Thana Singh performed duties of secretary of the state committee of PCRC which formulated the resolution on situation of emergency as well as the guidelines for work in situation of fascist onslaught.
During a fairly long period of performing organizational responsibilities, he acted as a leading committee member and secretary of PCRC, state secretary of Punjab unit of UCCRI (ML) and CCM of UCCRI (ML). He undertook responsibilities related to central headquarters of CCRI and then CPRCI (ML) (Communist Party Re-Oragnisation Center of India-Marxist-Leninist) He remained chief editor of the state party organ of UCCRI ML as well as its mass political paper. Before his departure, he was member of the state unit of CPRCI (ML).

Political Contribution and Evaluation

A virtual in arms of HBS, Thana Singh acted in the forefront as a proletarian revolutionary in constructing an impressive model of communist revolutionary movement penetrating deeply into the masses. While undertaking arduous duties confronting the CR organization in early seventies, with relentless will and enthusiasm, his potential and capabilities as a communist revolutionary soldier blossomed.
He toiled to the very last straw for intellectual grasp of correct Marxist-Leninist line and made an invaluable contribution in its projection among the ranks of communist revolutionary camp. His capability to grasp and project the communist revolutionary positions in a most dialectical manner with most impactful debating skills in writings and oral discussions served as an effective instrument to win over a huge contingent in the camp of communist revolutionaries towards the correct trend.
Thana Singh, was one of the principal architects, in propelling the mass line, for around five decades. He overcame the most turbulent waters, to overcome the hurdles of ruling class politics and revisionism. One of the most devoted disciples of late Harbhajan Sohi,virtually carrying on where he left. Thana Singh in various junctures planted the seeds for the mass line to flourish, against all alien trends, preventing the course of the movement going adrift towards right opportunism or being swayed by left adventurism.
In PCRC and UCCRI ML, Thana Singh shimmered the banner of correct ideological-political positions as in arms of HBS as well as an independent propagator and teacher of correct party ideology and politics. He left no stone unturned in combating the rightist path of Satayanarayan Singh and the left adventurist path of the CPI(ML). Few comrades, ever, contributed so much in preserving the backbone of the massline, and rescuing it from the morass of opportunist trends or capitulationism. He deeply grasped the massline formulated by T.Nagi Reddy.
During ebb and flow of international and national political situation as well as the CR movement in face of opportunist waves he stood like a boulder withstanding a most powerful storm in defence of correct Marxist-Leninist understanding. He was involved in preparing the documents of polemics combating right and left opportunism and wrong trends. Few comrades so meticulously or analytically diagnosed the mass line of the Communist movement, in diverse spheres. His writings delivered a knockout blow to revisionism and opportunist tendencies, at their hardest point.
His writing work encompassed a wide range of subjects like various aspects of three world theory, crypto revisionism of RCP USA, relation of armed struggle for state power and agrarian revolutionary movement, line of communist international during second world war, question of imperialist war, peace and revolution, revolutionary united front, peoples’ war path, the revisionist “theory of conjuncture”, the question of international principal contradiction, the final aim of communism and the orientation of revolutionary mass organizations in period of democratic revolution, class collaborationist policies and practice in trade union movement of Punjab, so on and so forth. Thane Singh exhibited high polemical mastery in defending the kernel of Marxism Leninism, be it attacks on Stalin or on Mao.
During emergency period when HBS was in jail Thane Singh performed duties of secretary of the state committee of PCRC which formulated the resolution on situation of emergency as well as the guidelines for work in situation of fascist onslaught. No leader resurrected or gave life to the teachings of late Harbhajan Sohi, in theoretical and practical aspects.
Thana Singh was ever ready to accept any kind of responsibilities as professional revolutionary, however menial was the task of work. He was never adamant in performing ordinary manual labour. His work manifested The Maoist spirit to “serve the people” as a selfless crusader of revolution, with no aims to be hero worshipped. Frequently, he engaged in a diverse range of duties, serving as a day and night press worker, a regular cook in party kitchen, courier, messenger, translator, transporter, store keeper etc. along with political organizational jobs as a party leader. Arduous travelling tours on bicycle for party work were a routine feature of his life, for a long tenure.
Thana Singh was a portrait of self –sacrifice, collective spirit, sense of belongingness, feeling of deep affection and a very strong tendency of care, concern and help with fellow comrades. Upholding selfless spirit of self-criticism he was able to expose his own shortcomings. Activists functioning under his leadership relished his constructive criticisms of their shortcomings. To the last tooth, he battled against sectarianism of all shades. He played a most constructive role in the ideological-political moulding and practical guidance to the party activists deployed on the peasants’ front.
After the 1980’s Thane Singh ‘s major contribution was preventing the Communist movement from falling into the hands or quagmire of Sikh nationalist or Punjabi nationality politics, and he played vanguard role in establishing the correct line to confront Khalistani and state terrorism. He also dipped his pen with surgical precision in defending that semi-feudalism was the mode of production and how the united front had to be built of the landless with the landed peasantry. In the craftiest manner, he protected mass organisations from being converted into party front’s, and maintain their independent identity. In a most methodical manner, he guided peasants and agricultural labourers.
Singh also relentlessly preserved the secret party structure, confronting tendencies prevailing which permeated open party functioning.
Thane Singh was master in nurturing new comrades to integrate with the ranks of the Communist revolutionary movement and plant seeds for new flowers to bloom. From the most dire straits, he could resurrect scattered party forces and mass struggles. With death -defying courage. he sustained a tortuous path of an underground life.
In sum, Thana Singh, till the end shimmered the massline of the CPRCI (ML), arguably the most correct line in the Indian Communist Revolutionary camp. In a classical Leninist fashion, he demarcated the role of the Communist party from the mass organisations, giving it the cutting edge. His guidance enabled revolutionary mass movements to ripen and blossom. Comrades like Thane Singh, enabled the flow of the mass movements to prevail and not be entangled by controversies within the Communist Revolutionary camp or setbacks.
I myself in the last decade having visited Punjab numerous times, have been privileged to witness, arguably, the most organised or cohesive revolutionary democratic mass –political movement in the country in diverse spheres, be it elections, economic and political issues or democratic rights.. The mass political movement guided by the Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist Leninist) or CPRCI(ML) in Punjab is model for entire India, in practice of massline Possibly .nowhere in India, have open mass movements flourished to such an extent.
I deeply wish that Thana Singh’s political writings are published and translated for study, which will contribute an invaluable treasurehouse for aspiring political cadres.


Regretfully today Punjab and India is vitiated with right opportunist, revisionist and left adventurist trends .Agrarian revolutionary movement is at low ebb in Punjab, today. We have to question why inspite of such stupendous efforts of leaders like Thane Singh, powerful remnants of infection, still prevail, in the Communist Revolutionary movement. Possibly,Thana Singh, was unable to investigate or discover ,what was the correct path of revolution for Punjab, where it is geographically not possible to practice protracted peoples war line. I wished that he could have properly diagnosed what is preventing a Communist Revolutionary or agrarian revolution from crystallising in Punjab, thrown light on factor of dalit caste question, and dwelled over reasons for the overall setbacks to International communism, throwing light on aspect of dictatorship of the proletariat and concept of vanguard party. I really wish he could have pursued a constructive review on the setback to agrarian revolution an extricated the movement from mechanical tendencies.

Final Moments

On his deathbed, he expressed high level of concern with problems of work and organization. He repeatedly expressed his quest and optimism to re-join his work. Anticipating the probability of death, he was pleased with his accomplishments as well as ready to accept his impending doom with a materialist attitude. He said: “I have lived my life with full satisfaction in the movement. Faced with death, I am to leave with a smile on the face.”
Last night of his life was spent with smiles, jokes and satires in low voice accompanied by pains and restlessness of body. He asked one of the comrades taking care of him to sing a revolutionary song, tried to sing along with him and raised revolutionary slogans.
The sunrise of the next morning invited the farewell gifts of red flags, garlands, showers of fragrant flower petals and speeches full of emotions and feelings of revolutionary pride. Being an underground professional revolutionary, he was cremated secretly somewhere in his Karam Bhoomi. Party unit in Punjab is going to launch a campaign of revolutionary homage in memory of departed Thana Singh.
Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist. Thanks Pavel Kussa from Surkh Leeh publications for information and obituary statement of Central Committee of the CPRCI (ML)



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