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Five day campaign in Mumbai slums to commemorate Bhagat Singh's birthday

By Harsh Thakor 

On the 28th of September 2022, Naujawan Bharat Sabha - Maharashtra and Stree Mukti League Maharashtra celebrated the 115th birth anniversary of the great revolutionary martyr Bhagat Singh in Mankhurd, Mumbai with great vigour and pomp. Around 50 persons participated in a demonstration and rally with a cultural programme .With intense attention people observed the proceedings in the basti area.
The program was the culmination of a 5-day campaign in different slum settlements of Govandi-Mankhurd under the name of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Smruti Sankalp Abhiyan. Over the course of 5 days, activists of NBS and SML organized a sustained and concentrated campaigns in the areas of Rafiq Nagar, Khadi, Gautam Nagar, Zakir Hussain Nagar, Sathe Nagar and Lallubhai Compound. Through slogans, revolutionary songs, music and a satirical play (Safdar Hashmi’s Desh Ko Aagey Badhao), the life and thought of Bhagat Singh was projected to the working people of Mankhurd.
Speaking about the relevance of Bhagat Singh today, NBS and SML activists said that it was Bhagat Singh who first propounded what freedom should really mean for the country: Bhagat Singh said that we must demand freedom for the bottom 90% of the people, not just the top 10%; and that we must extinguish exploitation of people by both domestic and foreign exploiters. While by foreign exploiters, Bhagat Singh referred to the British, he also emphasized the need to overthrow of the domestic exploiters, the Tatas, Birlas and the Wadias and the like who built their empires by collaborating with the British, ruthlessly exploiting workers and brutally suppressing any resistance. Bhagat Singh dreamed of an India where workers and peasants would unite in anger to break their chains, would kick out the capitalists, capture state power in their own hands and create the foundation for an egalitarian society, where exploitation of any human being by any other would become impossible. 
Bhagat Singh and his comrades saw it as the imperative task of the youth, the most energetic and capable section of the masses, to invest every ounce of their energy to knit this radical change. They had formed Naujawan Bharat Sabha in 1925 with the purpose of recruiting sensitive and strong-willed young men and women into a well knit army for this heroic struggle. NBS today is embarking on continuing this historic mission. Speaking at various places in Govandi-Mankhurd, activists of NBS stated that the dismal state of government schools, colleges and hospitals in the country, the intensifying scale of unemployment, hyper inflation, ascendancy of communalism as well as rising instances of violence against women and caste atrocities the general sense of helplessness prevailing among the public remind us that we are not liberated , that our freedom is being continuously hampered by the Ambanis, Adanis, Tatas and Birlas in whose interest the whole country is being turned into an imperialist egg., with their virtual monopoly. 
They pump massive amounts of money into the electoral process to ensure that only those individuals and parties who champion their interests get elected. They exercise a complete monopoly over the media organizations, which only publishes news which promotes their prospects,. The police and the army act as their instruments to mercilessly supress working people who pose a threat to their profits. The politicians act as agents of the capitalist class, sit in the parliament and draft laws to snatch working people’s rights, ensure unemployment stays high so that wages remain low. There is no path for progress, freedom and human emancipation in such a world. Only the rebellion of the youth can transform a society trapped in such a morass of stagnation and decay and perform the task of transforming this oppressive system into an egalitarian social order. The wise and courageous sons and daughters of the working people will have to come forward and take the message of revolution to every house and to every person from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Assam to the Gulf of Kutch. They will not only have unite and fight for their rights, but they will have to participate in the struggle for justice of every section of the society. They will not only have to serve the toiling masses but become one with them by becoming a part of their lives and their struggle.
Speaking about the program of the NBS, the activists said that the main slogan of NBS is Equal Education for All and Employment for All. NBS is raising people’s consciousness of their democratic rights like right to healthcare, water, electricity etc. and lead struggles to obtain them. NBS has formulated a programme of continuous campaigns for a new revolutionary enlightenment among the youth through the channels of libraries, study circles, publicity campaigns, pamphlets, magazines, books etc. financed through public contributions. It is arming them with the weapons of a scientific temperament and the correct historical perspective. NBS is running wide publicity campaigns against alcoholism, dowry system, caste system, untouchability and all social evils. But all this is not sufficient. 
The activists said that the task of NBS is to knit all these struggles and campaigns together to construct a broad platform to overthrow the brutal anti-people capitalist system and establish an egalitarian social order. This was the dream of our martyrs. Speaking to the public, the activists of NBS and SML appealed to the youth to join Naujawan Bharat Sabha pledge their to the struggle to build a free India, the India of Bhagat Singh’s dreams. NBS collected hundreds of voluntary financial contributions during the 5 day program in which many individuals praised the activists for carrying out such a program. Many dozen people also provided their contact details expressing a wish to join the organization.
I was impressed with this programme from a qualitative viewpoint admiring the tenacity of the organisers and activists to confront the Neo-fascism prevailing today. Majority of the participants were under 25 .It is admirable that the organisation in a very systematic manner organised a preparatory campaign and conducted a programme in accordance or in tune with the ground reality. Also impressive participation of female students. It reflects the resurrection of youth in the revolutionary democratic fold. It is admirable that these groups are at grassroots level creating class consciousness with dedicated mass work., in Mumbai, which is the very egg of imperialism. Such youth constitute the best sons of our country to emancipate our country from the yoke of imperialism and Hindutva fascism and is of importance for Bhagat Singh’s ideas to be brought to the forefront by connecting his ideology with the day to day struggle of the masses.
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Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India

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