On June 21, 2008, the Lok Raj Sangathan (Punjab) organised a stirring public function on the School grounds in the village of Gurusar Jagah, in memory of Shaheed Bhola Singh. Over a thousand women, men and children from the nearby villages and towns participated in this function, which began at dusk and went on till well past midnight. Bhola Singh was a young man from working class background who took up the banner of revolution in the wake of the Naxalbari peasant uprising in the ‘60s. In 1971, this young revolutionary, barely 25 years old, was cruelly murdered by the reactionary forces of the Indian state. Since that time, in the village Gurusar, and in Talwandi Sabo area of Bhatinda district of Punjab, many young men and women have come forward to take up the banner of revolution and communism, inspired by the life and work of Shaheed Bhola Singh.
The function was graced by the presence of the renowned theater personality Shri Gurusharan Singh and his theatre group, and the Jagsir Jida troupe of folk singers. Comrade S.S Azad conducted the proceedings. Leaders and activists from Lok Sangram Manch, Inqulabi Sabhiacharak Front, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Pendu Mazdoor Mukti Morcha, Tarksheel Society of Punjab, Lok Raj Sangathan Punjab and many other organisations participated and addressed the gathering. Comrade Prakash Rao, spokesperson of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, delivered the keynote address at this function. The function began with Prakash Rao and other comrades paying homage to the martyr. Comrade Gursharan Singh then received the Balraj Sahni award from Comrade Prakash Rao for his role in enlightening the people of Punjab through his powerful theatre performances.
The Jagsir Jida troupe of folk singers highlighted the issues facing the people of Punjab through a series of songs. One song dealt with the cruel reality of female foeticide, which had brought disrepute to Punjab as the state with the poorest sex ratio. Another brought out the necessity for the unity of peasants and agricultural workers in the common struggle. A third dealt with the tragedy of the peasantry, driven to suicide under the prevailing system. The drama troupe of Comrade Gursharan Singh performed two lively, thought provoking plays. The first was titled “Siapa Mottain Da”. The play brought out, through hilarious dialogues, the anti people character of the police force and the entire state administration and helped to break the illusion that they can be ‘reformed’ in the interests of the people. Another play was entitled “Sarpanchni”. The key protagonist is a woman who has become elected as a Sarpanchni and decides to lead the community in defence of its rights. In this, the struggle of women for empowerment and the struggle a woman has to wage against patriarchy and the entire political system was brought out.
In between these two plays, Comrade Prakash Rao addressed the participants. He spoke passionately on the vision that inspired a young man like Bhola Singh to take up the cause of communism. He said that a people who have given birth to a person like Shaheed Bhola Singh, a people who refuse to forget his Shahadat, will certainly triumph. There are so many young men and women here today like Bhola Singh, who want to take up revolution as their mission. And there are the wizened comrades of Bhola Singh sitting here, still working for revolution!
Comrade Prakash Rao pointed out that the songs and plays are bringing out the reality of Punjab today. We cannot ignore these realities. We are organising in these conditions to transform society.
The lives of peasants and workers, women and youth are being devastated as a result of the all sided capitalist onslaught. Finance capital is trying to squeeze the last drop of blood of the workers and peasants. And the government of Manmohan Singh is dutifully carrying out the behest of finance capital, Indian and foreign. This government did not care whether workers get wages or peasants get returns on their crops. What it cares about is that the biggest capitalists, the biggest speculators and gamblers, in India and the world, can make super profits by looting the workers and peasants, he said.
Referring to the agricultural crisis, he said that this land of the original green revolution was for long advertised as a “success story” of farmers. Today, it is shameful truth, which the governments at center and state are openly admitting, that farming has become a bankrupt proposition for most farmers. There is no bigger indictment of the capitalist system in India than this— that it can simply declare this fundamental branch of the economy, this sector which involves two third of our population, this sector that feeds over 1 billion people, a losing proposition! This is a clear signal that the time has long since come to get rid of this capitalist system through the revolution.
The SEZ policies as well as various other anti farmer measures which are being pursued, are all aimed at destroying the peasantry, he explained. Peasants are being asked to sell their land to the government or the capitalists. What work will a farmer then do, whose sole means of livelihood is farming? And what will be the fate of the agricultural workes. Turning to the political situation, Comrade Prakash Rao pointed out that the ruling capitalist class is in acute crisis. It is using state terrorism, including communal and sectarian violence to keep the people suppressed. At one time, communist revolutionaries like Bhola Singh were the target of state terror. Since then, tens of thousands of youth have been massacred by the Indian state because they were Naxalites, Sikhs, Muslims, Manipuris, Nagas, Kashmiris, and Assamese and so on.
The state is also deliberately inciting sectarian violence amongst people on this or that basis. Right here today, we see that the state wants to divide people into supporters of one sect and of another political party. These forces are carrying on rasta roko, and police is merrily watching and encouraging. This is because the capitalist class and the state benefit from such activities. If workers or peasants were to carry out this kind of rasta roko for issues of concern to workers and peasants, as has happened in Punjab itself in the past in recent agitations, we know with what ferocity the state comes down on the people!
Communists must agitate for workers and peasant’s rule, to replace the rule of the bourgeoisie, said Comrade Rao. Without this transformation, none of the problems facing the people are ever going to get solved.
Turning to leaders of different communist parties and groups, Comrade Prakash Rao bluntly declared that the bourgeoisie can only be expected to vigorously implement its agenda. In the subjective sense, it is we communists who are responsible for the plight of our people. In the sixties, there were lots of illusions amongst people about the parliamentary system. Today, every child knows that it is the huge amount of money power and muscle power that enables the different political parties of ruling class to come to power.
Today, it is some amongst us communists who are guilty of creating illusions about the capitalist system, and its representative democracy. It is our duty to lead the Indian people towards workers’ and peasants’ rule. This demands that we overcome the legacy of division in our ranks and work unitedly according to one communist plan, to defeat the bourgeoisie. At this time, why don’t all of us communists put forward the goal of worker-peasant rule as the alternative to the capitalist rule of the two fronts led by Congress and BJP?
In conclusion, Comrade Prakash Rao said that we remember our martyrs, not just to light incense before them. We remember them to draw inspiration from their life and work. The times call upon us to unite as one and fight for workers’ and peasants’ rule.
The Punjab branch of the Lok Raj Sangathan gave awards to all the singers and dramatists, in appreciation of their performance. The awards were handed out by leaders and activists of various political parties and organistions, by members of the Panchayat and other leading social figures.
Activists from Tarksheel Society — (Punjab Rationalist Association) — gave a performance of “magical acts”, for which they rendered perfectly scientific explanations, to break superstitions and drive home the point that people must look for a scientific explanation for all apparently magical phenomenon.
Long after the function had formally ended, comrades and friends continued their discussions, enthused by memories of past struggles as well planning for future struggles.