(ML Update, 4-10 November)


Comrade Shah Chand Mukhiya, beloved popular leader from Jehanabad-Arwal, loved and respected as the “Nelson Mandela of Bihar”, passed away on 2 November. A wave of grief enveloped the whole area with the news of his demise. His funeral procession was taken out from his village Bhadasi on 3 November, and a sea of people turned out for one last sight of their beloved leader. Long queues of men and women lined both sides of the road from Bhadasi to Karbala, and more joined in as the procession proceeded. The mourners included Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Com. Kunal, Com. Ramjatan Sharma, Dhirendra Jha, Amar, Meena Tiwari, Saroj Choube, Anwar Hussain, Rajaram Singh, Raldu Singh, Wasi Ahmad, Suhail, and other leaders. Earlier, Com. Dipankar met Com. Shah Chand’s wife Com. Jameela Khatoon and sons, and consoled them with the assurance that every single Party worker stands with them.


Com. Shah Chand was an extremely popular leader of entire Bihar, particularly Jehanabad-Arwal. After passing his Matric from Umairabad, he graduated from BN College, Patna. After higher studies he associated himself with the struggle for social change. In 1977 he became the mukhiya of Bhadasi panchayat for the first time. For his memorable achievements in the panchayat, he got the award of best mukhiya in the whole district. In 2001, when there were elections for mukhiya after a long period in Bihar, he was once again elected by a huge margin of votes. In 2003 while he was still holding the office of mukhiya, he was sentenced to life under TADA.


Shah Chand was born in a zamindar family but his life was dedicated to the poor and he was greatly feared by feudal forces in society. Soon after becoming active in political life he joined IPF in 1985. By then he was convinced that the committed farmers’ struggle under CPI(ML) was the only hope for the poor. Feudal forces in the Arwal area were shaken to the core by the forceful rise of the poor. In 1988 the Bhadasi incident took place, after which false cases were slapped at the behest of feudal forces on 13 people including Shah Chand. The draconian act TADA, meant for controlling ‘terrorism’, was also unfairly slapped on all 14 prisoners. Subsequently, a forceful movement for removing TADA was organised during the Lalu-Rabri regime. CPI(ML) MLAs regularly raised questions regarding TADA in the Assembly, but the Lalu-Rabri government deliberately ignored them. In the 2000 Assembly elections, Shah Chand stood from Arwal as the CPI(ML) candidate. There was a huge mobilisation of the poor in his favour, but because of the double game played by the administration, he lost by a mere 1000 votes to the RJD candidate Akhilesh Singh. But this near victory put the fear into the feudal forces and they left no stone unturned in their attempt to punish him. In 2003 the Supreme Court sentenced him and his 13 comrades to life imprisonment. The sentence was upheld even after 3 appeals, proving that the administrative machinery as well as tyrannical judgements was against those fighting for the rights of the poor. The sentence did not reduce the revolutionary fire in comrade Shah Chand. He carried on peoples’ struggles from jail, started organizing prisoners on various issues, and fighting for prisoners’ rights.


For the past few months comrade Shah Chand was in very bad health. He had spent 13 years in jail and his release was being demanded so that he could get proper treatment. In this regard, a CPI(ML) delegation met Home Secretary Amir Subhani and later CM Jitan Ram Majhi. But the attitude of the Nitish-Jitan government towards this champion of the poor was no different from that of Lalu Prasad. His release on parole met with administrative obstacles, and in the absence of proper treatment his life could not be saved. The attitude of the Bihar government is the height of insensitivity, exposing the true face of the so-called ‘social justice’ of Lalu-Nitish.


After comrade Shah Chand’s funeral procession, comrade Dipankar and other mourners spoke of his courage and commitment, condemned the role of the government and administration in his death, and pledged that his work for the rights of the poor would be taken forward by the Party and people’s struggles. Earlier, a condolence meeting was organized and 2 minutes’ silence was observed. Com. Tribhuvan Sharma, Ind Mehta, and others spoke at the meeting. Moreover, all 449 prisoners in Jehanabad jail went on a 24 hour hunger strike to protest the death of Com. Shah Chand Mukhiya. Red Salute to Comrade Shah Chand!

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