Comrade Moni Singh
A revolutionary and a hero
When the whole world is facing disaster caused by unprecedented pandemic and big failure of big world power in providing health care to its own people, we definitely understand the responsibility of state in relation to public health. When fanatic forces dare to demolish Bangabandhu's sculpture on the eve of 50 years of independence, we are compelled to understand the grave danger of religious extremism and terrorism. Politics of Comrade Moni Singh is very much connected with these two phenomenons as they both are simultaneously global and national issues today.
Moni Singh in his whole life struggled for combating fanatic horror, Pakistani and British occupied forces with a strong belief in socialism where health care is by default a basic right, not a commodity. As an eminent freedom fighter he not only contributed to our struggle for independence but devoted his whole life for the emancipation of working class of our society. When we read the political history of our country, his name comes with a strong message of sacrifice, dedication and patriotism and especially of class-struggle.
We often fascinated with stories of foreign revolutionaries but sometimes fail to notice the heroic chronicles of revolutionaries of our soil. 31st December 2020 is the 30th death anniversary of legendary Bangalee revolutionary Comrade Moni Singh. Born in a middle class family in Kolkata on 28th July of 1901, young Moni Singh moved to 'Susong Durgapur' of the then Mymensingh district (now Netrokona) due to untimely death of his father. School-boy Moni Singh took part in the struggle against British colonial rule. He joined anti-colonial armed group 'Anushilon (practice)'.
In his autobiography he admitted that the spirit of 'Khelafat Movement' and 'Non-Cooperation Movement' against British Raj highly influenced young Moni Singh. Consequently, he became one of those young revolutionaries who took the risk of life to make free the country from British colonialism. British government of that time declared arrest warrant against Moni Singh and other revolutionaries. At that time this type of arrest warrant was equivalent of capital punishment, since the British colonial rulers considered that democratic struggle for freedom equivalent to treason.
Bearing this arrest warrant young Moni Singh continued tireless political campaign all over the country for freedom and self determination. In 1921 he simultaneously organized peasant movement in his own locality of Susong Durgapur and labour movement in Kolkata. By his brilliant understanding over labour movement young trade unionist Moni Singh even compelled Netaji Subhash Basu to fulfil the demands of textile workers.
By this time the overwhelming wave of the Russian Socialist revolution reached in oppressed India and young Moni Singh was strongly influenced by the thoughts of that revolution and later in 1925 he met with renowned revolutionary Gopen Chakravarty. After discussion with that revolutionary leader he took Marxism-Leninism as his political ideology. Obtaining a membership of Communist Party was very difficult at that time.
In 1928 Moni Singh dedicated himself as a full-time activist of the Communist Party and closely involved with trade union movement in Kolkata. His vibrant role in this struggle made him enemy of the ruling class and he was imprisoned for five years in 9th May of 1930. He was released from jail in 1935 but remained house-arrest till 1937 in his maternal home Susong Durgapur. During his captive-time in Susong Durgapur he again started mobilizing peasants and 'Khetmajur' (agricultural workers) to protect their rights. This time his maternal-uncles, who were jamindar (land lord) of Susong Durgapur became his opposition. Despite strong obstacle from own family revolutionary Moni Singh courageously stood for the just cause of rural poor. This made him a well-known peasant's leader of that area.
During that time he again imprisoned for one and half years for demanding proper price of Jute. He was given membership of the Communist Party after his release from jail in 1937. Then he decided to restart trade union movement in Kolkata but indigenous communities of Susong Durgapur like 'Garo' and 'Hajong' seriously requested him not to move Kolkata but to start a movement against 'Tonk System' (a coercive taxation on peasants by local land lords). Comrade Moni Singh could not ignore this appeal from the rural poor. He wholeheartedly concentrated his activity on 'anti-Tonk movement' and became the unanimous leader of this movement.
When this movement went its peak level Moni Singh was again arrested in 1941. In 1944 he was elected as member of presidium of the All Bengal Kishan Shava (National Peasant Association). In 1945, as a Chairman of reception committee of All India Kishan Shava Conference in Netrokona he played a significant role to enhance peasant movement of undivided Bengal. Renowned politicians Comrade Mujaffor Ahamed, Comrade Har Kishan Sing Sujeet, Lily Jogi and many other leaders participated in this conference.
British colonialism defeated but left behind its residuals, from that debris communalism erupted and so-called two nation theory evolved, which realized by the creation religion based Pakistan. Moni Singh and many of his fellow comrades did not accept so-called 'two nation theory'. They continued struggle for secularism and socialism. Consequently, Pakistani authority declared Communist Party outlaw and issued arrest warrant against him. This difficulty compelled Moni Singh to remain underground and thus he had to stay underground about 20 years since the inception of Pakistan.
Despite this repression Comrade Moni Singh played pivotal role against Pakistani military autocratic regime. In 1968 he was arrested by Pakistani authority and released in 1969 by the mass upsurge but again arrested in the same year. When the Liberation war began in 1971 prisoners broke Rajshahi jail and freed Comrade Moni Singh.
At the Liberation War Comrade Moni Singh organized freedom fighters, established special Guerilla Force of NAP-CPB and Chattra Union. He also made remarkable contribution to organize support from Soviet Union and Socialist countries in favour of our liberation war of 1971. He was elected as Advisor of the then Mujib Nagar government. In the Independent Bangladesh, he continued the struggle for true democracy and exploitation-free society. For this reason he criticized some wrong policies of government which practically benefited reactionary forces.
Comrade Moni Singh was elected as the President of the Communist Party of Bangladesh in 2nd Congress (national conference) in 1973 and subsequently in 3rd Congress in 1980. After the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman the Communist Party was declared illegal by the military government and during the military rule of Lt Gen Ziaur Rahman in the middle of 1977 Comrade Moni Singh was again arrested at the age of 77. This legendary revolutionary was politically active up to the age of 84. In 23rd February of 1984 he became seriously sick and breathed his last in 31st December of 1990.
Life of this revolutionary is yet a strong source of inspiration for all patriots of this country. His whole life is full of sacrifice and love for oppressed people. From British to Bangladeshi rulers, no rulers spared him. His life partner eminent peasant's leader Comrade Anima Singh also strengthened his struggle for a just society. When politics carry equal meaning of hypocrisy and corruption, when honesty and patriotism has been exiled from politics, leader like Comrade Moni Singh becomes more venerated. 'Comrade Moni Singh Museum' has already been established in Susong Durgapur of Netrokona District with support from govt of Bangladesh for preserving his contribution in the history of freedom and justice. That is why still the babies of Susong Durgapur love to hear the heroic tale of 'the White horse-rider'--Moni beta.
Red Salute, Comrade Moni Singh.
The writer is a lawyer at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Joint Secretary, Democratic Lawyers Association of Bangladesh