Archive for Independence movement

On Pakistan and National Unity

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by Umer

Resolution passed by the Enlarged Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India on the 19th September 1942, and confirmed by the First Congress of the Communist Party of India in May 1943.

All-India national unity based on communal harmony and Congress-League joint front is today an urent and pressing necessity to solve the present national crisis, to win national government from the hands of the British imperialist bureaucracy and to defend our Motherland against the fascist aggressor. This has brought the controversy of pakistan versus the unity of India sharply to the forefront. The Communist Party, therefore, lays down the main principles of the Communist policy on this issue.

1. The Communist party draws together the toilers of all castes, communities and nationalities in common class organizations (Trade Unions, Kissan Sabhas, etc.). It unites them politically as the vanguard of the United national front for achieving the freedom of our country and democracy. This is the cornerstone of the policy of achieving communal unity.

2. To build the united national front of the peoples of the various communities and nationalities that inhabit India, for the defense and freedom of our country, it is necessary to dispel the mutual distrust and suspicion that exists among them. This is a remnant of memories of past historical oppression and of present social inequalities arising out of the feudal imperialist exploitation. For this purpose, the basis rights of the communities and nationalities must be made an essential part of the programme of the united national front.

3. The programme of the U.N.F. must declare that in Free India, there will be perfect equality between nationalities and communities that live together in India. There will be no oppression of one nationality by another. There will be no inequalities or disabilities based on caste or community. To ensure this the national movement must recognize the following rights as part of its programme for national unity:

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Red Salute to Baba Bhagat Singh Bilga

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , on July 25, 2009 by Umer

Last of the Ghadar revolutionaries 

The revolutionary movement, and all Indian progressives and patriots, lost the last living link with one of the most glorious pages of India’s anti-imperialist history when Comrade Baba Bhagat Singh Bilga, popularly known as Baba Bilga, passed away on 22 May in Birmingham at the age of 102.

Baba Bilga was the last surviving member of the Ghadar Party, a revolutionary party of Indians overseas, founded in California, USA, in 1913, pledged to the liberation of India from British colonial rule by means of armed struggle.

He was born on either 1 or 2 April 1907, the same year as the great revolutionary martyr, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, in the village of Bilga in Punjab’s Jalandhar district. His village was known as a baghi (rebel) one by the British rulers and several of its young men were to join the Ghadar Party.

Not untypically, his early life was hard. His father, Hira Singh Sanghera, died when he was one year old. As he recalled in later years: “My maternal aunt took me to her village, Ajitwal in Moga district. She soon died of plague. Her husband and my maternal grandmother brought me up.”

Seeking work, Baba Bilga went to Kolkata and from there to Burma, Singapore, Hong Kong, Chile and finally to Argentina in 1931 at the age of 24. It was there that he met Ajit Singh, the uncle of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, who won him to the cause of revolution. He worked as a clerk in a railway store and became the General Secretary of the Ghadar Party in Argentina.

Revolutionary history of the Ghadar Party

The Ghadar Party’s roots lay in the struggle against discrimination faced by Indian immigrants to Canada and the USA, but its focus was on freeing India from British colonial rule. The first issue of the party paper, published in November 1913, wrote:

“Today there begins in foreign lands, but in our country’s tongue, a war against the British Raj… What is our name? Revolution. What is our work? Revolution. Where will the revolution be? In India. The time will soon come when rifles and blood will take the place of pens and ink.”

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Naghma-e-Zakhm-e-Dil: Songs of the Wounded Hearts

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism, Pakistan, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2009 by Umer

by Shahram Azhar

Many people who know little or nothing about Laal’s evolution question the practicality of building socio-political movements through music and poetry. Too obviously, there is some truth to this skepticism; music, in its essence is a language constructed on notes and percussion. Revolutionary movements on the contrary are political-economic-social movements that are led by oppressed classes to overthrow a system of exploitation. However, revolutionary movements are not chaotic movements built in days or even months. Revolutionary science teaches us that a protracted process of ideological struggle precedes revolutionary movements—in the words of the greatest revolutionary of the past century, Vladimir Lenin: “Without revolutionary theory, there will be no revolutionary movement”.

In every epoch the ruling classes befuddle the minds of the oppressed classes by systematically propounding and enforcing ideas that seek to maintain the balance of class forces intact. In order to reproduce their class hegemony on a continuous basis they must convince the broadest sections of the masses that the status quo is in the best interests of the oppressed classes as well. This, the ruling classes achieve by monopolizing the means of propaganda: schools, religious seminaries, media, art and academic inquiry, in other words all the instruments of mass knowledge are directly or indirectly controlled by the ruling classes. It is through these institutions that the oppressor convinces the oppressed that the current system of production and distribution is sane, just and stable. Once that has been achieved the ruling classes are said to have established their ideological hegemony over all other classes. The consolidation of this ideological hegemony exhibits itself most vociferously in official discourse as an overarching objective of the educational, literary and cultural pursuits of the ruling classes. Marx said:

“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this In Its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.”

It is precisely here that the role of revolutionary intellectuals and artists acquires primary importance: the destruction of the power of the ruling class first and foremost assumes the destruction of its sources of power. Now, power itself can be divided into various forms. The ruling class does not rule through force alone. It rules because it has convinced the oppressed segments of society that it deserves to rule. X cannot be a slave-master to Y, if Y is no longer willing to accept X as his slave-master. If Y must no longer accept X as his slave-master, Y must first be convinced that he too has the intellectual and physical abilities to become the ruler.

Therefore, in order to defy the domination of the ruling bloc, oppressed classes and their ideologues must challenge the ideas upon which their power rests. Too obviously in every society, revolutionaries must possess the ability to creatively apply the general science of revolutions to the objective, concrete situation of their society. Revolutionaries must find a way to propagate their ideas in a manner that pushes the broadest sections of the masses towards revolutionary action. Revolutions are built when a significant proportion of the population is convinced that the ruling system of oppression and exploitation must be torn asunder. Revolutions are built when the forces of love and humanity conquer the forces of hatred and barbarity. Revolutions are made when millions upon millions are united by their wounds against a common enemy.

In Asiatic (i.e., where the Asiatic Mode of Production prevailed) societies, from Arabia to India, poetry and music have played an extremely important role in forming the psychological make-up of society. Let us take the most familiar example. In ancient Arabia, competing tribes had poets and musicians as their ideologues. Poets (who were also musicians) were warriors, propagandists and strategists and led their armies from the front.

In colonial India the poetry of Nandlal Noorpuri and Ram Prashad Bismil became immortalized in their death: Sarfaroshi key tamanna abb hamaray dil main hai (The desire for sacrifice is now in our hearts). Faiz Ahmed Faiz, in his book Mah-o-Saal-e-Aashnai remembers this time as the formative phase of his life as a revolutionary and says that “as a result of this movement there was a significant change in the nature of national protests. Now, the slogans of Swaraj and Band-e-Matram had been replaced by the slogan of Inquilab Zindabad! (Long Live the Revolution!) and people sang “Sarfaroshi key tamanna abb hamaray dil main hai” instead of “Saaray jahan say acha Hindustan Hamara” (Better than the entire world, is our Hindustan).

In the Punjab the poetry of Ajit Singh Sikka inspired the peasantry to revolt against the local landlords. His poem “Pagri Sambhal, Jatta Pagri Sambhal” (Hold you turban, Jut,  hold your turban) united the peasantry across the Chenab and the Ravi and gave birth to one of the greatest revolutionary leaders from the sub-continent: Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, who formed the Naujawan Bharat Sabha (NBS) and later the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army with the explicit aim of creating a socialist republic. One of the principal methods of ideological propagation that the NBS employed was poetry recitation and music. In fact, Bhagat Singh and his comrades continue to resonate in popular culture with the song that they sang to the gallows: “Mera rang day basanti chola, maayay, mera rang day basanti chola” (Dye my robe the colour of spring, mother, dye my robe the colour of spring).

These poets and revolutionaries in turn, inspired a new breed of revolutionary poets and poetesses. Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sahir Ludhianvi, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Habib Jalib and Amreeta Preetam first, and later Ahmed Faraz and Jaun Eliya continued to hold aloft the banner of purposive art and poetry. The power and strength of their ideas can be seen through the fear that these immortal revolutionaries instilled in the hearts of military dictators, capitalists and jaageerdars. These fearless freedom fighters would stop at nothing less than the complete abolition of exploitation and injustices. In a time when the military dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq had banned the publication of anti-dictatorship material, poetry recitals became an extremely important method of defiance. The poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib was banned from newspapers and declared illegal. Yet, it continued to inspire millions upon millions of workers and peasants towards rebellion.

In his poem, “Hum jo taareek rahon main maaray gayay” (We, who were slain in unlit pathways), Faiz declared:

“Qatl gaahon say chun kar hamaray ala

Aur niklaingay ushaaq k qaafilay”

(Picking up our flags from these grounds

will march forth more caravans of your lovers)

And so it is with Laal: As individuals who seek to build a socialist revolution in Pakistan we have decided to re-lift the flags of our heroes. As long as there is oppression and injustice in our land, we will fight. As long as there are those who live through the labor of others in comfort and luxury, we will fight. As long as there are those who consider themselves the masters of the universe and all its wealth, we will fight.

Our poetry and music is for all the wounded hearts and the oppressed millions who continue to live in conditions of bondage and slavery. In the words of Jalib:

Jo sadaaayain sun raha hoon

mujhay bus unnhey ka ghum hai

Tumhain shair key pari hai

Mujhay aadmi ka ghum hai

(The calls that I hear

Only these worry my soul

You are concerned about the poet

I am worried about humanity)

Shahram Azhar is the lead vocalist of the musical band Laal (the Reds) and a member of the Communist Workers and Peasants Party (CMKP) of Pakistan.

Congress created Pakistan, Pakistan created the BJP?

Posted in International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2009 by Umer

By Jawed Naqvi

A potentially sinister event has prompted this column. It is my sense from a few visits to Pakistan beginning with 1997 that a large number of Pakistanis prefer the rightwing religious revivalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to rule India. On the other hand, they are wary of the Congress. This tendency, I gather, is more pronounced within the Pakistani bureaucracy and the military. I know of Pakistani diplomats and officials who would be privately praying for the BJP to win the April-May elections in India.

To some extent this is true also of some of the journalists I have interacted with from different parts of Pakistan. They include those that claim to work for peace and dialogue between the two countries. The BJP has sold them the myth that it can alone solve the Kashmir dispute, not the Congress or anyone else.

There is a counter grouse among Pakistanis. Many of them feel, and they are probably spot on, that the bulk of the Indian establishment, including that media which works with the establishment, has a subcutaneous liking for the military in preference to civilian governments in Islamabad, and, in recent days, for General Pervez Musharraf in particular. This was reflected in some ways in the standing ovation the former army chief received recently at the end of a televised interaction he had with the movers and shakers of Delhi. And who was the one person Musharraf wanted to meet in Delhi but couldn’t? It was none other than his favourite BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee.

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The Dawn of Freedom

Posted in Pakistan, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , , , on March 20, 2009 by Umer

This translation of a famous poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Subh-e-Azadi, was introduced to me by Mat Noir in a comment at the Red Diary.

The Dawn of Freedom (August 1947)

This leprous daybreak, this night-bitten dawn,
this is not the dawn we awaited with longing sighs;
this is not the dawn that drew our friends on
believing that, somewhere in the desert of these skies,
they would find the resting-place of the stars,
somewhere find where night’s sluggish tides reach shore,
somewhere find the boat of heartache and drop anchor.
When we friends set out by the secret byways of youth
how many hands bid us stay, pulling at our hems!
From eager bedchambers in the palace of truth,
sweet arms kept crying out, flesh calling us to come;
but dearer was the seductive face of daylight,
dearer still her robe aglow with sprites:
my longing seemed to buoy me, my weariness grew light.
It is said that the division of day from night is done,
it is said our goals are realized and unflawed;
but only the ways of our hurtful leaders are new-sprung,
collective joy decreed, the anguish of separation outlawed.
The fire in our livers, the burning in our hearts, the riots in our
eyes—
this severing cannot cure any of these.
When did that dear morning wind arrive—and must it go yet?
The lamps on these byroads have not felt its breeze;
no one has come to lighten this night’s heavy load yet,
our heart’s inheritance has not been bestowed yet.
Come with me, come, our goal lies down the road yet.

Voice of Thunder

Posted in International Affairs, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , , , , , , on January 1, 2009 by Umer
Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh, in Amritsar (1919)

Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh, in Amritsar (1919)


Give me a voice of thunder
That I may hurl implications upon this cannibal
Whose gruesome hunger
Spares neither the mother nor the child

Rabindranath Tagore wrote these verses after the gruesome Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in India in 1919. The massacre of innocent civilians in Gaza is a grim reminder of the colonial brutality that was inflicted on Indians in the times of British India. Same colonial savagery is now being perpetuated in Gaza. So long it has been, but so little has this world changed.

Bodies of Palestinians killed in Gaza from the Israeli airstrike

Bodies of Palestinians killed in Gaza from the Israeli airstrike

Ashfaqulla Khan

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , on December 22, 2008 by Umer

Bahadur ke mut ek baar hoti hai

Buzdil har roz sau baar marta hai

– Ashfaqulla Khan

Ashfaqulla Khan was hanged on 19th December, 1927. Today, 19th December, 2008, is his 81st death anniversary.

Ashfaqulla Khan was born on October 22, 1900 in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He was the youngest of the six children of Shafiqur Rahman and Mazharunissa. His father worked in the police department.

Ashfaqulla was school student when Mahatma Gandhi called for the Non-Cooperation Movement. This had a great influence on him and shaped him to become a freedom fighter. He was labeled as a terrorist by the British Government for his active participation in the train robbery at Kakori.

After the Chauri Chaura incident, Mahatma Gandhi’s withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement left the youth of India very much depressed. Ashfaqulla was one of them. He felt the urge to free India as soon as possible and joined the extremists.

He made friendship with Ram Prasad Bismil who was a famous revolutionary of Shahjahanpur and a member of the Arya Samaj. In spite of their differences of faith, their common objective to free India from the shackles of the British rule.

A meeting was organized by the revolutionaries on August 8, 1925 in Shahjahanpur. They decided to rob the Government treasury carried in the train to buy arms. So on August 9, 1925 the group of extremists comprising of Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla, Rajendra Lahiri, Thakur Roshan Singh, Sachindra Bakshi, Chandrashekar Azad, Keshab Chakravarthy, Banwari Lal, Mukundi Lal, Manmathnath Gupta robbed the train carrying government money in Kakori village. This event is known as the famous Kakori Train Robbery in history.

Ram Prasad Bismil was arrested by the police on the morning of September 26, 1925. Ashfaqulla was still absconding. He went to Banaras from Bihar and started working in an engineering company. He worked there for 10 months. He wanted to go abroad to study engineering which would further help him in the freedom struggle. He went to Delhi for this purpose. He trusted one of his Pathan friends who pretended to help him but in turn handed him over to the police.

Ashfaqulla was confined in the Faizabad jail. His brother Riyasatullah was his counsel who fought the case. The case for the Kakori train decoity ended with the awarding of the death sentence to Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan. The others were given life sentences.

Ashfaqulla Khan was hanged on December 19, 1927.

We honour those who fought for the cause of our freedom from colonial rulers and promise they will never be forgotten.

This message was distributed by the Janbaat Book Distributors, Delhi, at the Pragoti Email List.