Shaheed Mela at Bagodar

Comrade Mahendra Singh’s ringing voice resounded on the streets and in the Assembly alike, resolutely raising the issues that few other political forces dared to discuss. On January 16 last year, he was shot dead at the behest of BJP MLA Ravindra Rai and SP Deepak Varma, in a bid to silence his bold voice.On January 16 this year, masses of people thronged to his constituency Bagodar to attend the Shaheed Mela organized by the CPI(ML), followed by the State Conference of Jharkhand Mazdoor Kisan Samiti on the next day.
Manoj Bhakt reports from Bagodar.

On January 16, Bagodar Training College grounds, the site of the Shaheed Mela called by the CPI(ML), was virtually an ocean of red flags. The day began with a March to Khamhara, Comrade Mahendra’s birth village. Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, along with central committee members and thousands of party activists and supporters marched to Khamhara, and amidst spirited slogans full of resolve to avenge the martyrs, Comrade Dipankar unveiled the statue of Comrade Mahendra Singh. Another statue of Comrade Mahendra was unveiled at Bagodar, where Comrade Dipankar also laid the foundation stone of Shaheed Mahendra Singh Smriti Bhawan.
At the rally at Bagodar Training College grounds, wave upon wave of people had gathered; women from villages all over Jharkhand were there in large numbers. On this occasion, a collection of Comrade Mahendra Singh’s speeches in the Jharkhand Assembly, “Vicharon Ke Yuddh Mein” (In the Battle of Ideas) was released by Harivansh, editor of the Hindi daily ‘Prabhat Khabar’. A calendar containing Mahendra Singh’s photographs, quotations from his articles and poems was also released. The mass meeting was followed by colourful cultural events that went on throughout the night – plays and songs by ‘Hirawal’, the theatre group from Patna, as well as performances by a cultural troupe from Bengal, Jharkhand Sanskritik Manch and several individual artists.
The rally was attended by Polit Bureau members Swadesh Bhattacharya, Kartik Pal, Nand Kishore Prasad, D.P. Buxi, Ram Jatan Sharma, and central committee members Rajaram, Ramji Rai, Janardan, Ibnul Hasan Basroo, senior leaders like Pawan Sharma and Jharkhand State Committee members, journalists and social activists. Echoing the sentiments of the red sea of militant masses gathered there, Comrade Dipankar declared, “In the coming days we will together not only punish the killers but carry the battle to fulfil Comrade Mahendra Singh’s dreams for Jharkhand, for national sovereignty, for democracy, social justice and change, for preserving India’s composite culture, for social dignity of the poor – to newer heights.”
“Here we pledge to intensify the battle for justice and warn the assassins. At the same time there is need to intensify the battle of ideas for which Mahendra Singh sacrificed his life, for which he was killed by the political system of this country. In the concrete context of Jharkhand, it is a battle for ‘Navnirman’ (rebuilding) of Jharkhand. The backbone of this battle are toiling masses, workers, peasants, dalits and tribals, and women who are even today getting only migration and displacement or eviction, thanks to the government policies. They are yet to get their dignity, rehabilitation, jobs and proper wages.”
Recalling Comrade Mahendra Singh’s struggles, Comrade Dipankar said, “Mahendra ji charted out a path for the people, and now lakhs of people, holding the red flag, are marching along that route. One G.T. Road belongs for power-brokers, capitalists, scamsters – who want to displace people from here. Against that G.T. Road, Comrade Mahendra came up with his own G.T. Road – for change, development, secularism and to defeat the communal forces, the feudal forces, mafia and criminals. This is the G.T. Road of struggle and change, and it is not confined to Bagodar, but leads to Delhi too.”
Harivansh said that Mahendra Singh’s struggles and his conduct generated confidence among the people, that the Parliament and Assembly too could be arenas for the battle for change. Prominent among others who addressed the meeting were Comrade Mahendra’s son and present MLA from Bagodar Vinod Singh, Comrades Shubhendu Sen, CPI(ML) State Secretary of Jharkhand, Gyan Shankar Mazumdar, CPI(M) State Secretary, CC member Janardan Prasad, Rajkumar Yadav, Suneeta, MLA Bandhu Tirky, Dayamani Barla, Digambar Mehta of Swatantra Janwadi Morcha, and Arup Chatterjee of Marxbadi Samanway Samiti. The meeting was presided over by Com. Ibnul Hasan Basroo and was conducted by Com. Manoj Bhakt.
In a resolution adopted by the mammoth gathering, the State government was strongly condemned for protecting the named killers in place of taking action against them. It was demanded that entire CBI investigation must be focused on the main accused persons - and that they must be arrested immediately and interrogated. In yet another resolution it was demanded that the report of B.D. Ram Committee be made public and action must be taken against Dipak Varma, SP, for the murder of Umesh Ojha and embezzlement of the money confiscated from MCC. Withdrawal of fake charges against Comrades B.N. Singh, Puran Mahato, Tahir Ansari, Vakil Hansda and release of all political prisoners was also demanded.