People's Democracy

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


No. 31

August 10 , 2008



Pak Comrades Condole Comrade Surjeet's Demise

THE news of the demise of Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet was received with a sense of shock and grief in the Pakistani communist circles which always considered the late veteran leader as their own. It would be pertinent to note that when Comrade Surjeet was on a visit to Pakistan in February-March 2005, many surviving veterans of the communist movement in Pakistan fondly recalled the pre-partition days when Comrade Surjeet was stationed in Lahore and led the party as the secretary of its Punjab provincial unit.

The Pakistani comrades do characterise the said visit as a “historic” one, as Comrade Surjeet then led the first Indian communist delegation to Pakistan after the country's independence and partition in 1947.

In a message addressed to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on August 1, Chacha Maula Bakhsh Khaskheli, secretary general of the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) said they had “heard the news of Comrade Surjeet's demise with a feeling of shock. The international communist movement has lost one of its most active campaigners. His life can easily be described as devoted to a greater cause.”

The CPP message further said the people of the subcontinent would not forget Comrade Surjeet's “immense contribution to the movement of freedom from British imperialism….. His struggle for organising the peasant movement in undivided India is of historic importance, and his performance as general secretary of the CPI(M), a good example of quality leadership, will be written with golden words in communist history.”

The message also recalled Comrade Surjeet's “historic visit to Pakistan” at the invitation of the Joint Left Front, of which the Communist Party of Pakistan was a constituent, and said this visit “will always be remembered by us. He took the pain of a long, tiring journey in order to wipe out the depressive effects of the socialist bloc's debacle from the minds of communists of the region.”

Saying that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Pakistan shared the CPI(M)'s grief and sorrow, the message urged the latter to convey their feelings to Comrade Surjeet's grieved family.

On the same day, the CPI(M) also received a condolence message from Sufi Khaliq Baloch, chairman of the Communist Mazdoor Kisan Party (CMKP) of Pakistan. It said the passing away of Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet, former CPI(M) general secretary and member of its Central Committee till his death, was “not only a loss of your party but it has deprived the subcontinent of one of the veterans of national liberation movement, anti-feudal and anti-communal struggle as well as Indian communist movement that remained aligned with the contemporary neo-colonial crusade and international communist movement.”

The message further said “Comrade Surjeet was among the high-stature communist stalwarts of the subcontinent who longed and strove for friendly relations between India and Pakistan. His ardent desire was to foster an amicable environment in the subcontinent through good relations between India and Pakistan which have some common problems, hopes and aspirations. His gesture could be gauged from his historic visit to Pakistan three years ago despite his illness and old age. He, along with CPI general secretary Comrade A B Bardhan, came to Pakistan to remove suspicions and create better understanding between these two countries which were one prior to August 14-15, 1947.” The message added that, while rejecting the legitimacy of the military regime, “Comrade Surjeet underlined the need for peaceful negotiations.”

While “sharing the CPI(M)'s grief and sorrow over Comrade Surjeet's physical departure,” the letter said the CMKP was “optimistic that his brilliant fighting spirit, stemming from Marxism-Leninism, will help strengthen you all to move forward with the task the CPI(M) has assigned itself at the present juncture, with an obvious ultimate goal --- the creation of a society free from exploitation of man by man.”

Standing “to salute this towering anti-imperialist fighter and revolutionary leader of our time,” the letter added that “Comrade Surjeet's long, seven and a half decades of glorious struggle, first for national emancipation from the British yoke and then for the establishment of a secular democratic order with a non-aligned and independent foreign policy and for the final task of establishing a classless society, will illumine the path set for itself by the CPI(M).”