Comrade & member, Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Tikender Singh Panwar
In university, I was jailed for 2 years on a frivolous charge. In actuality, it was because I was leading the students’ movement in Himachal Pradesh. Apart from the hardship of jail, it was also personally difficult for me. Barring my mother & brothers, the rest of my family refused to either help or intervene. This was but natural, because I joined the students’ movement against their wishes. They were keen that I become a professional.
To top it all, I joined the Left who my family was deeply antithetical to. After all, we were from a so-called royal family & had lost considerable land during the land reforms & tenancy movement spearheaded by the Left in. For me to join the Left was simply unimaginable! My family wasn’t apolitical, and they were certainly anti-Left. They vehemently opposed my politics.
These tensions intensified when I married the person I loved. Most of my cousins didn’t even turn up for our wedding because she was not born in “true blue-blood” family, rather in a dalit family.
But I didn’t care! I was always a ‘krantikari'(revolutionary) at heart. Everything about the Left attracted me- the literature, the slogans, the activism & the sheer vibrancy! I was acutely aware of disparities between the circles my family moved in & the rest of society. I was also witness to the inhuman practice of begar which aroused me to the imagination of an egalitarian society and not based on the system of social exploitation.
As I became entrenched in politics, I realised just how deep these inequities were. I distinctly remember the Kinnaur struggle against hydro-power projects on the Sutlej basin. The myriad of problems that ordinary citizens faced were just lost in the craze to modernise at any cost. Enormous pressures were brought to bear on them & no one cared about them. To my peers, these problems were irrelevant. In fact, their practiced apathy to that problem extended to India’s other faultlines- whether it was caste or class or gender divides.
I simply couldn’t tolerate these. Given what I myself had faced & seen, how could I not fight for my fellow beings?