By Harsh Thakor
On September 26th, we commemorated the 35th martyrdom anniversary of Comrade Baldev Singh Mann, who succumbed after waging a valiant battle against the Khalistani terrorism. On the night of 26th September, 1986 he fell to the bullets of the Khalistani Commando force. He was the Amritsar district secretary of the C.P.I. (M.L) Chandra Pulla Reddy group. and editor of party magazine ‘Hirawal Dasta.” Till this very day his memories shimmer in the revolutionary camp like an extinguishable flame , being amongst the most popular youth leader sever in Punjab. The Comrade was simply the epitome of the all-round skill of a revolutionary.
Mann was part of the trend in the Communist revolutionary camp that uncompromisingly challenged Khalistani terrorism and state terrorism. Later comrades belonging to the same group were martyred like Jaimal Singh Padda and Sarabjit Singh
From his very inception into the movement in his youth, he deployed every ounce of energy towards serving the people’s revolutionary cause. He made an immense impact on shaping the minds of youth in his time and after his martyrdom. His powerful voice struck a chord in the broad masses, in the most challenging times.
Baldev Mann was born on 9 July 1952. He was the son of Inder Singh. He lived in the village Bagga Kalan Tehsil Ajnala, Amritsar. He completed his primary education at the village school he matriculated from government high school at Raja Sansi. He then went to Khalsa College, Amritsar, where he had to face detention from the college during the time of ‘the Emergency’, and graduated in 1983
While at Day College, he came in contact with the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) of Chandra Pulla Reddy -SN Singh. He organized young people in his village under the banner of ‘Naujawan Bharat Sabha’, a left-wing Indian association that sought to instigate revolution against the British Raj by gathering together workers and peasant youths.
While at Amritsar he was held and tortured at Amritsar’s interrogation centre, but released in 1975.
Approximately two years before his death, Mann married Paramjit Kaur, with whom he had a daughter. She was one week old when he was murdered while on his way to his village, Chinna Bagga, in Amritsar.
During the Emergency Mann was arrested for his writing was considered seditious and conflicting with that of the government. Due to torture his eyesight suffered very badly. Following his interrogation in Amritsar he was released in 1975 and cleared of all accusations, but he then plunged into the struggle for justice led by CPIML with great passion.
In 1980, comrade Mann contested for the Punjab State Assembly where he won with a resounding margin of 10,000 votes, a feat never witnessed before by the general masses. Again, during the communally vitiated atmosphere of 1985 he proved to be a strong contender for the Raja Saansi Assembly constituency. Again, in 1985, he contested for the MLA elections. He won many a heart and was labelled the ‘People’s Man’.
From 1982 Mann joined the Kirti Kisan Union,a farmers organization. In 1983 Mann helped Punjabi farmers oppose increases in electricity tariffs, and led a large rally as the Kisan union leader of Punjab from CPIML. Further rallies were organised on 19 March 1983 in Chandigarh and on 9 April a second big rally was held in Jalandhar which forced the government into action. Comrade Mann played a vital role in the struggle of Punjab peasants against intolerable tariff raise for electricity in 1983, furthering his belief in his cause. In 1979, he helped Punjab Police to further the process of amending the extant policies for the better functioning of the Police forces.
In 1983 when farmers of Punjab had been financially squeezed between excessive rates of power (electricity) for their largely mechanized farms and un-remunerated for their produce, a huge campaign was organized, led by him as the Kisan Union Leader of Punjab. Chandigarh Kisan rally.
During the dark days of the Khalistan movement Mann led many a public rally or adressed many meetings, pledging for Communal Harmony. At many points he openly confronted or challenged Khalistani forces and played an instrumental role in building bastions of secular resistance in villages. His powerful voice touched the very core of the soul of the Punjab farmers, taking secular spirit to a crescendo. Mann’s voice revealed the intensity of a thunderstorm, delivering a striking blow to the enemy at it’s hardest point.
Baldev singh Mann was gunned down by Khalistani terrorists on September 26, 1986 in his native village Channa Bagha near Pakistan border.
The meeting staged in his commemoration had an attendance of around 20000 people in October 1986 and October 1989.The memorial meeting of 1986 in his village Channa Bagga in Amritsar was most unforgettable, with a representative from every section of the Communist and revolutionary democratic camp. Mann was part of a contingent of Communist leaders who challenged Khalistani forces in their very hotbed as well as exposed state terrorism, fluttering the red flag of secular democracy. Most notable messages a huge contingent of leaders within the Communist Revolutionary camp..There was also a well attended meeting staged by Navnirmana Sanskritik Manch in Bombay in 1986.Movie ‘In Memory of Friend’s by Anand Patwardhan projected Comrade Mann’s martyrdom-,as a part of it’s theme.
A letter he wrote to his daughter is one of the most inspiring ever in the Communist movement. It is heart touching that today his very daughter Sonia Mann, an actress is resurrecting the very teaching s or values of her slain father.Inspite of being an actress, she is devoting her utmost energy working in the Kirti Kisan Union,to support the farmers movement. It gives vibrations of her taking over just where her father left off. There could not have been as ripe a time for Sonia Mann intervening in the movement than today, with Hindutva fascism penetrating unparalleled proportions.
Today we need characters like Baldev Singh Mann to re emerge, to sharpen the sword to cut the tumours of Saffron fascism growth.
It was the meticulous work of comrades like Baldev Singh Mann, which sowed the seeds for revolutionary roses to bloom in later years, like in Punjab today. A very illustrative biography has been written on Harbhagwan Bhikhi. portraying the very essence of the life of Mann.