People's Democracy

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


No. 15

April 15, 2007



Dasgaon Town Honours Com. R B More’s Memory


Subodh More


MAHARASHTRA witnessed the beginning of a powerful struggle for social equality eight decades ago, on March 19-20, 1927, involving the Chavadar Lake at Mahad. And it was in the memory of that event that, on March 18 this year, the CPI(M) organised a ceremony in Dasgaon, near Mahad, to rename the Pragatishil Madhyamik Vidyalaya (Progressive Secondary School), with a new building now, in the name of Comrade R B More, a late communist leader. 


One may note that Comrade R B More was the chief organiser of Mahad Satyagraha, a close associate of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and founder editor of Jeevanmarg, now the Marathi weekly organ of Maharashtra state committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). 


The building was inaugurated by Sitaram Yechuri, a CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and leader of the party’s group in parliament. 


The town of Dasgaon, which hosted this ceremony, has a record of taking an active part in various social reform movements in the state. We may recall the agitation in 1885 here when one Vitthal Joshi-Hate, belonging to an “untouchable” caste, constructed a one-storey house. This was a first of its kind for an “untouchable,” and upper castes construed it as a defiance of the laws of Sanatan Dharma. This naturally created a big uproar in the region, and those believing in the sanctity of Varnashrama Dharma even ostracised the Brahmin priest who had performed the bhoomipujan ceremony. In 1889, Gopal Baba Velangakar, a follower of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, wrote a booklet titled Vitthal Vidhvansan about this incident.


Angered over the whole episode, Brahmins of the area falsely accused Babaji More, father of late Comrade R B More, of stealing wood from the forest for the construction of this house, and this resulted in his imprisonment for two years. Comrade More realised the injustice meted out to his father, felt the pangs of social inequality at a very early age, and rebelled against it. He was also denied admission in the high school even though he had passed the scholarship exam. He, however, fought back and secured admission.


The Mahad Satyagraha of 1927 was a part of the same tradition. It was organised for proper implementation of the C K Bole resolution; the Bombay presidency had adopted this resolution in 1923 in order to open the public tanks, wells etc for the “untouchables.” However, four months before the Mahad Satyagraha, Dasgaon was the venue of implementation of the Bole resolution on December 4, 1926, under the leadership of late Comrade R B More. This was the day when, with the cooperation of some reform-minded Hindus, the resolution was put into practice at the Crawford Lake and Crawford Well, when some “untouchables” drank water there in the presence of the tehsildar and nearly 300 other people. This episode made a tremendous impact on the “untouchables” of the whole Konkan region. As they realised that they too could fight for their rights and dignity, they en masse rebelled against the old socio-religious order. The result was the beginning and success of the Mahad Satyagraha. Dr Ambedkar and other satyagrahis came to Dasgaon by a boat and from there they proceeded towards Mahad in a procession. As we now know, the Mahad Satyagraha made Dr Ambedkar well known all over the country.


Summing up the episode on March 18 this year while inaugurating the new building, Sitaram Yechuri said, “Dasgaon has a unique and important place in the social reform movement.” He said it was a moment of pride for him to be present at the naming ceremony of the Pragatishil Madhyamik Vidyalaya’s building, dedicating it to the memory of Comrade More who was Dr Ambedkar’s associate in the stupendous task of bringing about a social change. Just as a religious minded person goes to a holy place for pilgrimage, Mahad and Dasgaon are like pilgrimage centres for the persons who stand for social change. That is why, he said, he considered himself fortunate to have got an opportunity to visit this place. 


Remembering Comrade R B More, Yechuri said when the late comrade started the weekly Aahwan, he stated that it would fight for the cause of workers, peasants and untouchables. This idea has its relevance even today, and bringing these sections together is the need of the hour. As their united struggle can make radical socio-economic changes and the nation’s progress possible, all effort must be made to forge this unity. He also reiterated the need of forging the kind of personal and intellectual relations Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and Comrade R B More had, as well as of reinforcing their intellectual heritage. He said we are witnessing inhuman incidents like those at Khairlanji even after 60 years of independence. The policy of reservation is not being implemented honestly and the IAS, IPS and other such posts are not filled up according to the rules, just in order to keep dalit candidates away from these positions. However, we must remember that the reservation policy is no panacea for the basic problems facing the downtrodden and will not be fully effective until radical land reforms are effected and socio-economic equality established. He further stated that efforts must be made to empower the dalits and adivasis and to increase their capabilities by increasing the facilities like scholarships, hostels etc. All such steps would help them in availing the benefits of reservation. 


While speaking about the anti-people policies of the UPA government at the centre, Yechuri said this government has been like an ox tied to a rope and moving around in a circle. As it has now developed the habit of going around in a circle, we have to fight in order to make it walk straight. On this occasion, he also cleared certain confusions, created by the media, regarding the CPI(M)’s views on industrialisation, special economic zones, land acquisition and the Nandigram events. 


Speaking about the increasing economic inequality in the country, Yechury said, “Just 36 families in this nation have become billionaires and they are being praised no end. On the other hand, millions of people are turning paupers. On the one hand there is the so called shining India while there is suffering India on the other hand.” Dalits and adivasis are the first and foremost victims of such inequality and employment opportunities are getting further reduced for them. Disparity is increasing day by day, and we have to intensify the people’s movements and enhance their pressure to in order to minimise this disparity to the extent possible. Inequality won’t reduce and social justice would remain a distant dream until this task is fulfilled.


Yechuri stressed that Mahatma Phule’s and Dr Ambedkar’s dreams of equality could be realised only if the Red Flag flutters high over every well, every pond and every farm. This would be the true tribute to the memory of Comrade R B More. 


In his presentation, Yechuri promised to get funds for constructing concrete houses for those who lost their homes in the floods two years ago. He said though Mahad has a memorial of Dr Ambedkar, it lacks even basic and minimum facilities for the poor. He also promised to speak to the union railway minister, Laluprasad Yadav, to see that mail and express trains stop at Veet station, near Dasgaon, on the Konkan railway. 


CPI(M) state secretary Ashok Dhawale, Krishna Khopkar (Kisan Sabha), RPI leader and writer Arjun Dangle, daily Vishwasamrat editor Avinash Mahatekar, Tukaram Chandhavekar (working president, Dasgaon Janata Pragatishil Sangha), Nachiketa More (its secretary), G S Salvi (its vice president), Bhushan Kamble (a trustee and union leader) were among those present on the occasion, and recalled the work done by Comrade R B More. Devayani More (president of the institution) presided.


Later, Yechuri and Dhawale visited the historic Chavadar Lake at Mahad and paid tributes at Dr Ambedkar’s statue. They also visited Krantibhumi, Krantistambha and the place where Dr Ambedkar had burned the Manusmriti in 1927. They were welcomed by corporators, local residents and workers in Mahad.