People's Democracy

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


No. 32

August 17 , 2008


A Village Remembers Her Legendary Son

Rich Tributes Paid To Comrade Surjeet In Bundala

G Mamatha

ACROSS the National Highway (NH) Number One from the industrial town of Goraya in Punjab, there is a village that stands out among the rest — all because of one man. This is where Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet was born 92 years ago and this is where he spent his childhood years. This Bundala village, 25 kilometers from Jalandhar city, has produced many leaders for the communist movement, but Comrade Surjeet emerged the most towering of them all.

The Punjab state committee of CPI(M) on August 10, 2008 organised a huge meeting ''Shardhanjali Samaroh'' in Bundala to pay homage to Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet. The village witnessed a complete blockade as people - young and old, men and women, children- came traveling in private buses, tractors, trucks from every part of the state to participate in the public meeting. Many people including leaders had to get down at a distance and walk up to the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Stadium of the village, the venue for the meeting. Slogans of “Comrade Surjeet amar rahe”, “Comrade Surjeet ko Lal Salaam” resonated everywhere.

Despite the scorching heat and humid weather, people kept coming till the end of the ceremony. An elderly man was perspiring and riding a bicycle to attend the meeting with Comrade Surjeet’s photo as a badge on this chest. A young boy with Dhoni’s photo on the back of his T-shirt and Surjeet in his heart was walking up to the ground. Women holding their small babies in the arms sat through the entire meeting.

He may have died today but his memory and his ideology will live on in the minds of the people, particularly in this village,” former village headwoman Balbir Kaur said. Some people recollected how once Comrade Surjeet, a staunch freedom fighter, tore off the Union Jack during British rule in Hoshiarpur town, 65 kilometers away and hoisted the tricolour to mark the first anniversary of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and with a smile on his lips went to prison for that act. Most of the people were filled with nostalgia. Dayal Singh, a veteran activist of the Party from this ancestral village of Comrade Surjeet recalled that from 1967 onwards Party school was held in this village and Comrade Surjeet used to take a class on Marxism and Leninism. Whoever attended this school used to become an activist, he said and added that Comrade Surjeet served as an MLA and MP too. People proudly think back of his political acumen. Surjeet studied in a government school in the village till Class Four before moving out and getting into the freedom struggle, said an older man who came to mourn his death. “His death is a great loss to this village, this area, Punjab and the whole country. He was actively involved in the freedom struggle and faced hardships,” pointed out Harjit Singh, 90.

Addressing the meeting, CPI(M) general secretary, Prakash Karat said Comrade Surjeet was a man of great courage and at the age of 16, he plunged into the freedom struggle. He spent a long period of eight years in jail. The Party requested Comrade Surjeet to write his biography of 75 years of revolutionary political life but due to illness he was not able to complete it, said Prakash and added ''We will make efforts to publish a book on Surjeet's contributions to make the younger generation aware of his contributions to the nation''. He also recalled Surjeet's fight against communalism and against forces which threatened the unity of the nation and reminded the people of Punjab of the stand taken by Surjeet against terrorism in the state. He said that Surjeet was a man of masses and nearly every top politician looked forward to his advice in the time of crisis. Prakash Karat recollected Surjeet’s role in mobilising a shipment of foodgrains, medicines, pencils and study material for Cuba. He concluded by saying that the collective leadership of the Party would move in the direction set by Comrade Surjeet and work for fulfilling his ideals.

Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member offering his tributes said Surjeet always stressed on applying the cardinal principle of ‘ concrete analysis of concrete conditions’. He tirelessly worked for translating the political independence into economic independence of every man and to establish socialism. Sitaram referred to the contribution made by Comrade Surjeet to the Kisan movement in the country and said he fought for the upliftment of the downtrodden and the poor people. He played an important role in shaping the foreign policy of the independent India along with Jawaharlal Nehru. He was the main person responsible for the formation of the coalition governments in the country. Yechury said Comrade Surjeet’s loss is felt all the more in the present juncture where the Amarnath land row in Jammu and Kashmir is getting intensified day by day. Surjeet played a remarkable role in forging solidarity with the international communist parties and with the people fighting for liberation of their nations. Sitaram recalled his personal experiences and said Surjeet always encouraged younger generation to take responsibilities to create an alternative.

Attending the public meeting, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said the demise of Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet is a great loss to the nation. He said the nation would always remember the man of great thoughts who had the wisdom and courage to come forth with a solution whenever there would be any predicament.

Lok Sabha deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal said that Comrade Surjeet overcame many hardships and fought steadfastly for the development of the people of the country and the nation will always cherish his memory.

Brinda Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member also attended the meeting. Union minister Pawan Bansal, Jagmeeet Singh Brar, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Joginder Dyal from CPI, Lok Bhalai Party chief, B S Ramoowalia, state Congress working president Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Punjab BJP chief Rajinder Bhandari, Satnam Kainth from BSP, local MLA Gurdeep singh Bhullar, Local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia and many others also paid tributes to Comrade Surjeet.