AIFRTE Condemns the Murder of Comrade Govind Pansare

February 23, 2015

AIFRTE Condemns the Murder of Comrade Govind Pansare

All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) expresses its deep condolences on tragic death of veteran communist leader, trade unionist and prominent critic of right wing forces, Comrade Govind Pansare following a murderous attack on February 16. In an attack reminiscent of the murder of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar in 2013, Comrade Pansare was attacked by motor-bike borne assailants in Kolhapur as he was returning from his morning walk with his wife Comrade Uma Pansare. The pistol-toting, muffler-covered gunmen repeatedly shot at him. Comrade Pansare was struck thrice on his chest and neck, while Comrade Uma Pansare suffered a depressed skull fracture on the left side of her head.

We condemn this cowardly murder of 82-year old leader of the people of Maharashtra. Comrade Govind Pansare was an uncompromising fighter for the rights of the most marginalised sections of society and an indefatigable propagandist for peace and secularism. He was closely associated with various social movements, especially the movements of the unorganised sector workers, such as farm laborers, domestic helps, auto-rickshaw union, milk producers, slum dwellers and others. Recently, he was leading an anti-toll agitation in Kolhapur. He was also a very prolific writer and very popular public speaker. One of his most popular writings was a book on Chatrapati Shivaji, ‘Shivaji Kaun Hota?’ (Who was Shivaji?). Basing himself on historical documents, he had shown in this book how Shivaji was an extremely secular and people’s king, as against the portrayal of Shivaji as a Hindu king by communal outfits. Communal outfits were strongly opposed to this secular portrayal of Shivaji, and had repeatedly tried to obstruct the sale of this book, despite which the book sold a record one lakh copies in Maharashtra, apart from being translated into several Indian languages.

With the rise of right wing forces in the country, and their coming to power both at the Centre and in Maharashtra state, Com. Pansare had launched an aggressive campaign to expose their real pro-corporate and anti-people agenda. He had launched a campaign against the two-faced strategy of the BJP using the name of Mahatma Gandhi on one hand and glorifying Nathuram Godse on the other.

Pansare had received numerous threats for his bold stand against right wing forces. Only recently, he had been threatened with dire consequences during a lecture in Shivaji University, where he had condemned the exercise of glorifying Gandhi’s killer in the strongest words.

First the killing of Dr. Dabholkar, and now this murderous attack on Com. Govind Pansare, are an indication of the growing offensive of fascist forces in the country. Fascist right-wing forces are out to strangulate and silence voices that are speaking out in defense of rationalism, secularism, democracy and socialism, fundamental tenets of the Indian Constitution. We strongly condemn these attacks, and pledge our support to the struggle of these stalwarts, and reiterate our resolve to advance their struggle.

AIFRTE Presidium

Dr. Meher Engineer, West Bengal, Chairperson, AIFRTE; Ex-President,Indian Academy of Social Science; Kolkata

Prof. Wasi Ahmed, Bihar, Former Joint Secretary, AIFUCTO; Patna

Sri Prabhakar Arade, Maharashtra, President, AIFETO; Kolhapur

Prof. G. Haragopal, Andhra Pradesh, National Fellow, ICSSR; TISS, Hyderabad

Prof. Madhu Prasad, Delhi, Formerly Dept. of Philosophy, Zakir Husain College, Delhi University

Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Madhya Pradesh, Former Dean, Faculty of Education, Delhi University; Bhopal

Prof. K. M. Shrimali, Delhi, Formerly Dept. of History, Delhi University

Dr. Anand Teltumbde, West Bengal, Professor of Management, IIT Kharagpur