People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 50

December 13, 2009

AIAWU Condoles Com Dhanpat Rai Nahar

 

THE All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU) dips its banner in homage to one of the country’s most steadfast fighters for the rights of agricultural workers and dalits, Comrade Dhanpat Rai Nahar, who left us on 11 November 2009, at the age of 90. His lifelong commitment to the cause of the most oppressed and exploited will always be remembered.

 

Born in 1919 in a dalit family of Shankar village, in Jalandhar, Punjab, he committed himself to being educated. First he passed the Matric examination from the government school in Nakodar in 1933 and then passed the Intermediate from DAV College in Jalandhar in 1938. While still a student in school, he led a successful agitation to end the two-pot system (one for caste Hindus and the other for dalits). He then left for Singapore where he joined as a Second Lieutenant in the British Army and in 1943, he joined the INA, in whose Manipur campaign he took part. He was captured and imprisoned, being released in 1948, when he came to Punjab and joined the CPI and was its state council member till 1964. He then became a state committee member of CPI(M) and  remained so till 2004 and later remained as an invitee till his demise. In all, he spent nearly two decades in jail in various struggles of the national movement, the communist party and the mass movements of agricultural labour, notably the land rights movement of Punjab from 1969-1980, which ensured land rights to small farmers on 50,000 acres of land.

 

He was a founder general secretary of the BKMU in Punjab, with Master Hari Singh and Darshan Singh Jhabal as his companions from its formation in 1953. Later, when AIAWU was founded he became its president in Punjab. At the all India level, he was joint secretary of AIAWU from its first conference of 1982 to its third conference in 1992, when he became its vice president, which he remained till 2003. Even when he was unable to work actively, he came to address the delegates of the sixth conference of the union at Nawashahr, Punjab in 2007, inspiring them to struggle relentlessly for national sovereignty, rights of agricultural labourers and to end the caste system. We will miss his valuable presence.

The AIAWU pledges to carry forward the mission he left unfinished.  The union conveys its condolences to his comrades and family members.