Friends of Professor Indukant  Shukla (lovingly called Shuklaji) gathered to remember him at the Gandhi Peace Foundation auditorium on December 20th. Shuklaji was a great rebel thinker, writer and activist who breathed his last on September 17, 2008, in California (USA). Shuklaji was born in 1927.


The day of the memorial service was the coldest evening of the season till date in Delhi but the warmth of love for Shuklaji ensured a good turnout for the gathering. Academicians, writers, journalist, researchers, artists, students and trade union leaders disregarded the harsh weather to pay homage to a very dear friend.


Those who came to remember Shuklaji, the fearless upholder of truth, included Professor Randhir Singh, Professor Manager Pandey, Professor Chaman Lal, Dr. Badri Raina, Dr. Prem Singh, Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan (Editor Milli Gazette), Mr. Sumit Chakravartty (Editor, Mainstream), Fr. Baijo (Media House), Mr. Anil Chamadia, Ms. Bhasha Singh, Dr. Arun Kumar, Mr. Harun Reyaz, Dr. Mrigank, Mr. Anand Saroop Verma, Dr. Abdul Rashid Agwan, Mr. Lal Bahadur, Dr. Shamsul  Islam, Ted Svensson (Sweden) and students of University of Delhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia and members of Nishant Natya Manch. Mr. Ved Prakash ‘Vatuk’ a close associate of Shuklaji in California (presently in India) came all the way from Meerut to attend the memorial meeting.


Throughout the meeting, one basic sentiment echoed itself again and again: Shuklaji may have died physically but he will always remain alive through his ideas and writings inspiring to building up a progressive and just society. 


The venue displayed photographs of different phases of life of Shuklaji, flaps of his out of print books (sent by his daughter, Ms. Aarti Mishra and Robin Khundkar), books available in India and a hand-written note of Shuklaji in English, Hindi and Urdu (transcription of a chaupai of Tulsidas exposing the religious bigotry (sent by Mr. SM Shahed). The display which drew the attention of most of the persons was of the book Kumbhilo Pakhiyan (it was published in 1969, dealt with the issue of plagiarism indulged by renowned Hindi writers and a rare book now) which was sent by an old friend of Shuklaji from Varanasi.


The memorial meeting opened with Professor Manager Pandey’s narration of his association with Shuklaji as a student of his in DAV Intermediate College, Varanasi in 1959-60. Professor Pandey narrated that Shuklaji was a great teacher of English literature who always inspired his students to critically evaluate life around and work for a better world. Mr. Ved Prakash ‘Vatuk’ described anecdotes of his long association with Shuklaji, how he was tormented by rulers both in India and USA but never surrendered to totalitarian ideas. It was a life of immense struggle for him but he never compromised with his ideals or wavered in his commitment to truthfulness.


Interestingly, Professor Pandey and Mr. Ved Prakash were the only two persons who had met Shuklaji. Amazingly, all others who came to the meeting were introduced to this great rebel through his writings.


Dr. Shamsul  Islam too described anecdotes of his association with Shuklaji, conveyed the gist of a letter received from Mrs. Madhuri Shukla and Aarti Mishra (Shuklaji’s wife and daughter respectively) , and read out condolence messages from Dr.Walter Fernandes, Dr. Lopa Tasneem, Mr. Regi P George, the moderator, India Thinkers Net, Fr. Cedric Prakash and all at PRASHANT, Dr. Ram Puniyani, Dr. John Ishvaradas Abdallah, Dr. John Dayal, Dr. John Chathanatt, S.J. (Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi), Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Professor K.N.Panikkar, Professor Riffat Hassan (Louisville University), Professor Manoranjan Mohanty, Professor Vinay Lal, Dr. Badri Raina, Dr. Mukul Dubey, Mr. Tabish Khair (Denmark), Professor Ishtiaq Ahmed (Singapore), Monidipa (Chatterjee) Sharma (California) . Shamsul  Islam also read out some of his emails, last one being dated September 13 in which he strongly protested against the spying by the IB of Sahmat office in Delhi.


Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan, (Editor The Milli Gazette) while paying tributes to Shuklaji said that he was a towering ideologue of freedom, secularism and the cause of justice. He always inspired hope when marginalized sections of the society were being persecuted and imperialism was spreading terror throughout the world. Professor Chaman Lal narrated about his Internet exchanges, specially on Bhagat Singh, with Shuklaji and how quickly latter used to respond to his queries. Mr. Sumit Chakravartty (Editor, Mainstream) in his addresses told that though he never met Shuklaji but felt connected to him as if he was always around. Sumitda read out excerpts from his writings and thrilled the house by reciting a Hindi poem (on Aruna Asif Ali) which was even published in Mainstream. He concluded his tribute by underlining the fact that Shuklaji was the most prominent ideologue against totalitarian ideologies and movements specially Hindutva.


Shuklaji was a regular contributor to The Milli Gazette, Mainstream, Frontier, Radical Humanist, The Secularist and many more journals. Excerpts from some of his writings were read.


It was resolved to organize an annual IK Shukla memorial lecture in Delhi on September 17. It was further resolved that writings of Shuklaji should be collected (apart from English and Hindi writings, his many articles were translated into Urdu and carried by Urdu press) and if possible published as collected works.


Ms. Monidipa (Chatterjee) Sharma sent  couplets of Sahir Ludhiyanvi as a tribute to Shuklaji which were recited in the meeting as per her desire. The meeting ended with the singing of the group song (penned by Brij Mohan and sung by members of Nishant Natya Manch) in memory of Shuklaji.

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