comrade Sheopat Singh
- ONE of the vice presidents of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS),
president of its Rajasthan state unit, member of Rajasthan state
secretariat of the CPI(M) and former MP, comrade Sheopat Singh
breathed his last on March 26. He suffered a heart attack at about 4 a
m in his village Makkasar and was immediately rushed to Hanumangarh
hospital where he died at about 3.45 p m. He was 80.
Comrade Sheopat Singh was born on January 27, 1927 in his maternal
grandfather's home in village Lakha Haakim while his ancestral village
was Daulatpura. His father, Chaudhari Hariram, was an MP from Bikaner
during 1977-80. Comrade Sheopat Singh was a good athlete in his
student life. Influenced by the anti-Congress, anti-Jansangh political
leanings of his family, he struggled all his life for the cause of
workers, peasants, youth and students inside the state assembly and
outside. Starting his political career as a panchayat pradhan, he was
elected to assembly from Hanumangarh in 1957, 1962, 1977 and 1985, and
was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989. While he raised the issues
concerning the people in the assembly, he led several of their
militant struggles outside. He opposed the auction of lands in the
Bhakra canal area and went to jail in 1959; many peasants got land as
a result of this struggle. When a dalit, Kurdaram Harijan, died in
police custody in 1962, comrade Sheopat Singh covered a distance of
about 600 km with the dead body, broke many police cordons in
Ganganagar and on his way to Jaipur, and forcibly entered the assembly
building. He did not rest till the guilty police officials were
punished. During the severe famine in the state in 1968, he led
thousands of peasants and lakhs of cattle in a raid on the Suratgarh
agricultural farm. In 1970, he opposed the auction of lands in the
Indira Gandhi Canal project area. More than 20,000 peasants were
arrested, comrade Sheopat Singh's whole family was put behind bars,
and 15 peasants were martyred in this agitation. After the then AIKS
president, late Comrade A K Gopalan, intervened and visited the area,
more than one lakh peasants got land. 16 acres were given per family.
It was because of the hard labour of these very peasants that the area
is today known for its agricultural produce. Comrade Sheopat Singh led
a peasant agitation for loan waiver in 1988 and another in 1993
following the ravages due to a flood in the Ghaggar river. In 2002, he
led a successful agitation on the issue of supply of Gang Canal water.
The other agitations he led included one against the firing at Kisan
Hostel in Sikar killing Comrade Kanaram, a padav at the Secretariat in
Jaipur on power supply issue (1997), and gherao of the assembly by one
lakh peasants (2000). Nobody can forget the valuable contribution of
comrade Sheopat Singh in the peasant agitation during the first phase
of Indira Gandhi Canal project (2004-05), when 6 peasants were
martyred, and more than a thousand were put behind bars; and to the
historic mahapadav at Jaipur from September 1 to 8, 2005, in protest
against the hike in power tariff. He also played a role in the
struggles of other toilers in and outside the state. He went to jail
in 1962, 1965, 1975 and on several other occasions while leading mass
struggles. He spent three and a half years in jail.
His 50 years long career of struggles endeared comrade Sheopat Singh
to many, and the toiling people of Rajasthan have lost a popular
leader. Though he was born in a rich peasant family, he emerged as a
beloved leader of the poor people because of his role in raising their
issues with courage and determination. He was elected AIKS vice
president at its national conference in 2005. He devoted almost 18
hours everyday to the party and Kisan Sabha work in the last two years
despite suffering from blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.
On March 26, the whole state was in grief as soon as the news of
comrade Sheopat Singh's demise spread out. People from all over
Rajasthan began to reach his village Makkasar. AIKS joint secretary N
K Shukla, Haryana CPI(M) state secretary Indrajit Singh, Haryana Kisan
Sabha general secretary Harpal Singh, members of the Rajasthan state
committee and secretariat of the CPI(M), leaders of the CPI, chief
minister Mrs Vasundhara Raje Scindia, assembly speaker Ms Sumitra
Singh, canal minister Sawar Lal Jat and state minister for agriculture
Surendra Pal TT paid floral tributes to the departed leader. MLAs and
leaders of various parties and mass organisations bid him a tearful
farewell before his dead body was consigned to flames amid loud slogans.
Before the cremation, the late comrade's eyes were donated to a
hospital as per his will. The funeral procession was joined by a large
number of people including thousands of women.
- Comrade Sheopat Singh was famous for his honesty and
commitment. i am the lucky one who know him very well.
i met him many times during my journalistic job. it
was a great experience to see him and to hear him on
farmers issues, their problems.
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- Ram Kumar
Could you do an interview of Dr Pema Ram, and give us a write up?
He must be getting on in years!
His work on the resistance of the Jats to the fuedalism in Rajstastan
is exemplary, and deserves greater notice.
Pictures would be appreciated, perhaps a video too.
We can upload the video, as a historical dcoument
Burdakji will help too
An interview would be a good start!