Bradford, 24 August 2008
South Asian Peoples Forum in collaboration with the Association of British Indian Communists held a condolence reference here today in order to pay homage to Comrade Harkisan Singh Surjeet, former General Secretary General of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), who passed away on the 1st of this month.
It was a well attended meeting in which diverse people of Kashmiri, Pakistani, Indian and white communities participated. Communist Party of Britain was represented by its Yorkshire Organizer, Mr. Joel Hays.
SAPF was represented by Prof. Nazir Tabassum, Khalid Saeed Qureshi, Parvez Fateh, Kh. Mushtaq Hussain, former Lord Mayors of Bradford, Mr Mohammad Ajeeb, former Lord Mayors of Bradford Councilor Ghazanfer Khaliq, and Trade Union leader Lala Younis.
Similarly Mr. Sarwan Singh, Raj Malhotra, Dyal Singh Bhagrri, Raghubir Singh Verdi, Dr. Seva Singh Kalsi (Liecester) and Hardev Dosanch represented the Association of British Indian Communists and Indian Workers Association.
Apart from these a number of ladies and gentlemen associated with the Socialist movement in India, Pakistan and Jammu Kashmir also participated to pay their respect to the departed veteran communist leader.
While paying glowing tributes to the former General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the speakers said that he was a born revolutionary who chose to tread the path of sacrifices throughout his life. When he was a teenager, he tore down the Union Jack flying over the building of district courts Hoshyarpur in 1932 and instead of it, hoisted the tricolour flag of liberated India. He defied death though shot at twice and courted arrest. After the judicial trail he was interned for 4 years in a juvenile prison.
While paying tributes to the great Indian Communist leader the speakers said that he was a refined blend of Marxist theory and practice. It was his right decision not to follow either the Moscow or the Beijing Party line. Instead he preferred to evolve a political line of his own that was best suited to the local objective conditions.
It was something rare in his person being highly pragmatic in approach to the Indian politics. He always told people to go for votes first. “If you can’t persuade anybody to vote in favour of the Communist Party, could you ever be able to command them taking up guns for a violent change?” he used to ask the Party workers.
The speakers hailed him as a master political tactician who was acclaimed as maker and breaker of various coalition governments in India. His efforts in bringing about communal harmony in the strife-ridden Punjab during the partition of India shall always be remembered.
He was a strong votary for the right of self determination of the people of Jammu Kashmir.
When Khurshid Mehmud Qauri, the then Foreign Minister of Pakistan, invited him to visit Pakistan, instead of accepting the invitation straightaway, he preferred that he should visit Pakistan on the invitation of Pakistani Comrades. Therefore, his visit was planned in July 2004 when he came to chair the annual congress of the Indian Workers Association in London. As a result, he was extended the invitation. Just before stepping down as Secretary General of CPI (M), he visited Pakistan in that official capacity in February 2005.
During this visit, he reminded veteran Pakistani Communist leader C.R. Aslam that on the eve of Partition, before leaving for Dehli, he had handed over the key of the Office of the Communist Party to him. Then he jokingly said: “I have come back to retrieve that key”.
The audience was told by the speakers that during his meeting with the Pakistani President and the Prime Minister, Comrade Surjeet told them that a large number of Indians belonging to the working classes are languishing in Pakistani jails. If the two governments are sincerely trying to normalize the relations, then it is imperative that these poor people must be released and sent back to their homes. As a result, all the interned Indian fishermen were released.
On his return home, he put forward the same argument before the Indian government and thus succeeded in wining the release of Pakistani fishermen and others.
In the end it was pledged to follow the path shown by late Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet and the meeting was declared closed.