Comrade Rampadarath Ji passed away on the night of 15 June 2019 at his home in Pratapgarh District in Uttar Pradesh. He was about 85 years old. He was born in a landless dalit worker family at Tahsil Raniganj in the District. He started his political life with the CPI. While in the CPI he raised the voice of the poor against feudal oppression. He also mobilized the people for struggles for revolutionary social reforms. In 1972 he waged a successful struggle against the demeaning practice of forcing Dalit women to cut the umbilical cord during delivery and to dispose of carcasses of dead animals, without any wages for such work. Women who conducted deliveries at home were subjected to sexual harassment. Leather goods and agricultural implements—such as vessels for drawing water from wells, leather plough-belts, shoes and chappals—had to be given away free, in return for the right to lift and carry away cattle carcasses. Comrade Rampadarath organized a social ‘hartal’ in Patti Tahsil against these practices. This awakening and struggle by dalits resulted in the mobilization of feudal forces in the entire area who organized an attack on dalits in all villages which they called a ‘Chamar Sudharo’ (Correct the Dalits) campaign. Comrade Rampadarath led a gherao of the Raniganj Thana to protest against these attacks. The police and the local feudal forces attacked Rampadarath in the Thana itself and beat him up brutally with lathis, leaving him half-dead. Thousands of people led by Rampadarath once again held a dharna protest at the District HQs. A group of casteist-minded lawyers attacked the dharna but this time the lathis of the people proved stronger than the lawyers. In the end the struggle was victorious and the administration had to act against the caste atrocities.
Comrade Rampadarath was greatly influenced by the Naxalbari movement. He was a close friend of Jumai Khan Azad, the creator of the song ‘Badi Badi Kothiyan Sajaye Punjipatiyan’ (Capitalists dwell in luxurious mansions) and used to sing this song as well as labouring songs (such as katni, davni and lavni) with workers. He also often sang about social inequality - ‘Chhuve pave na basanva kavan manai’. He joined the CPIML in the 1980s. He served as the Vice President of the Uttar Pradesh unit of IPF. He fought the Assembly elections twice as the candidate of IPF and CPI(ML). He also led several successful struggles on the issues of land, wages, and feudal oppression. He organized a strike and succeeded in securing a wage raise in that area. Despite not having received schooling, he learnt to read after he joined the Party. He used to regularly read the daily newspaper, Party literature and official magazine of the Party and participate in discussions. In 2002 he suffered an accident during building construction work, breaking his spinal cord and becoming paralysed.
Comrade Rampadarath’s faith in the Party was firm. He used to keep himself updated on political developments through the phone. He used to participate in local programs on a wheelchair aided by other comrades. Under his leadership, Ambedkar Jayanti and Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom anniversary was observed every year in Raniganj. He received the affection and cooperation of shopkeepers, poor, and progressive thinkers in society, and of the Muslim community which knew him as a firm friend. He never lacked for money for any event that he planned because people would readily contribute when he asked for funds. He had a strong memory and was mentally extremely active. Even physical disability could not shackle him, due to the limitless love, affection and cooperation he received from the people. The people used to spontaneously arrange for money for his treatment and other expenses and because of this he was able to lead a long life. His personality will always remain an inspiration for all of us.
Red Salute to Comrade Rampadarath!