The 11th martyrdom anniversary of people’s hero Comrade Mahendra Singh was observed as ‘sankalp diwas’ (pledge day) all over Jharkhand on 16 January.

People thronged in huge numbers at the Jan Sankalp rally held at bus terminal ground in Bagodar in Giridih district of Jharkhand to remember their beloved leader who had led a fearless struggle against all oppressive forces and embraced martyrdom eleven years ago.

The rally was addressed by CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. He said that today there is once again a situation similar to the 1975 Emergency days; the promise of ‘achhe din’ has changed to the reality of ‘bure din’ (bad days); stoking communal passions and working for the interests of corporate houses is being done in the name of ‘development’; minorities are facing increased intolerance and being victimised in the name of terrorism; adivasis are being discriminated against in the name of counter-insurgency; voices of dissent are being ruthlessly crushed. There is not a single deed accomplished by the Modi Government which can be said to be in favour of the poor. Com. Dipankar stressed the need for pledging to fulfill Mahendra Singh’s dreams, which is the only way the anti-people policies of the Central and State governments can be resisted and the agenda of the fascists can be given a befitting reply.

He also mentioned the recent incident of Birni block panchayat Chairperson’s election where a ruling party candidate was declared elected in spite of the fact that he did not enjoy majority support and expressed confidence in people’s struggles which will certainly give a befitting reply to the district administration’s blatant act of electoral malpractice.

The meeting was also addressed by former MLA Vinod Singh and Rajdhanwar MLA Rajkumar Yadav. Marxist Coordination Committee’s MLA from Nirsa Arup Chatterjee addressed the rally and remembered the legacy of martyred comrades Mahendra Singh and Arup Chatterjee.

Early in the morning, the life size statue of Mahendra Singh at his native village Khambra was garlanded by leaders, who then proceeded to Bagodar town to pay tributes at his statue at Kisan Bhawan.

People also pledged to intensify the movement for food security and BPL ration cards and to resist the ongoing land grab by the corporates, announcing a district-level sit-in (Dera Dalo Ghera Dalo) campaign on 9 February on the issue of food rations.

On the same day, a Sankalp Sabha was organized at Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi which began with party’s veteran leader Sukhdev Prasad and social activist Father Stan Swamy paying floral tributes to the martyr. The meeting was addressed by Comrades Shubhendu Sen, Bhuvaneshwar Kewat and many others. They said that successive state governments had ensured that even after 12 years the killers of Mahendra Singh have not been punished.

They also condemned the verdict of double life imprisonment against the 8 Pricol workers in Coimbatore and termed it as a step taken to strike terror in the hearts of the working class. They reiterated the resolve to fight against ‘Company Raj’ to save ‘jal, jangal, jameen’ (water, forest and land resources). Filmmaker Meghnath said that when the real heroes of the country fighting for the rights of the oppressed come on the political stage, those in the echelons of power tremble. That is the reason why the governments serving the corrupt corporates are afraid.

The CPI State Secretary KD Singh said that Mahendra Singh will always be remembered in the annals of Left movement as a brave fighter. CPIM State Secretary Gopi Kant Bakshi said that a united Left would carry forward Mahendra Singh’s fight.

A march was held in Ramgarh, in which protesters condemned the move to create land banks by snatching gair-mazarua land (commons lands) from the poor only to hand it over to the big corporates. Protesters also demanded land rights for the poor and condemned the ongoing process of exclusion of almost 80% poor from the ambit of the Food Security Act.

Hundreds of activists paid tributes to comrade Mahendra Singh in Hesalong village in Hazaribagh district while a talk was organised in Dhanbad on ‘Current Political Challenges and the Path Shown by Comrade Mahendra Singh’. Cadre conventions were organised in various blocks of Deoghar and Jamtara districts and thousands marched in Palmou, Garhwa, Latehar, Gumla and other places. Similar programmes were held in Koderma, Bokaro, Lohardaga and other districts. CPI(ML) activists along with other political prisoners inside Hazaribagh Central Jail also garlanded portrait of comrade Mahendra Singh and observed a day’s hunger strike to protest the corruption in the jail.