As Govind Pansare was consigned to flames and became a memory in the minds of thousands, Pansare’s supporters vow to not let his ideologies be forgotten.
Pansare and his wife Uma were shot at by two unidentified persons on a bike, when the couple was out on their routine morning walk on February 16th in Kolhapur. Pansare sustained three gunshot injuries on his neck, armpit and on his right leg. The 82-year old activist succumbed to injuries on February 21st. Doctors informed that his wife Uma is out of danger.
A veteran Communist leader and social activist, Govind Pansare gained the confidence of the less fortunate sections of the society through his works to empower them. Pansare was involved in an anti-toll tax campaign, an agitation against a road development company in Kolhapur. He was against the system of tolls as he believed them to be sources of corruption. Pansare was a trade union leader and was against Voluntary Retirement System (VRS) as he saw it as a way of removing healthy and willing workers from the company.
A silence of 18 months
In 2013, Narendra Dabholkar, an anti-superstition activist was shot dead when he was out for a morning walk, near his home in Pune. Though the case has been transferred from the Maharashtra police to the Central Bureau of Investigation as early as May 2014, no developments in the case has been registered. Dabholkar’s supporters and his family has constantly been exerting pressure to bring his killers to the books, but in vain.
Govind Pansare actively supported Dabholkar’s movement against superstition and Akhila Andhashrddha Nirmoolan Samiti, of which Dabholkar is the founder president. Echoing Pansare’s strong Marxist ideology, he fought for the eradication of superstitious beliefs and practices.
A forgotten tale
In 2010, Satish Shetty, an RTI activist was stabbed to death while he was out on his morning stroll. The police filed a closure report late in 2014 due to lack of evidence in the case. However, the CBI has informed that the case would be reopened in the wake of Govind Pansare’s murder, of the same nature.
The link between the two cases is IRB Infrastructure Developers, a company that Satish Shetty raised questions against, for their alleged land grabs in Lonavala. This is the company Pansare was protesting against just before his death. The point of convergence is the murder of three social activists in Maharashtra in the past five years, an alarming act to say the least.
Oh Comrade, My Comrade!
Abhay Nevagi, a junior lawyer to Pansare in Kolhapur in the early 1980s writes: “Even as he remained an idealist, Pansare was never dogmatic”.
Govind Pansare is sure to be remembered through his earnest contributions and through the books he has authored. A popular one being his work on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj titled Shivaji kon hota? (Who was Shivaji?), an attempt to testify that Shivaji wasn’t anti-muslim, but fought Muslim kings on purely political grounds. More copies of the book have been sold in the last week, a validation that his ideas will continue to make impact on people.
As Govind Pansare’s supporters, leaders of the Comminist party and others bid farewell to the much respected secularist leader, they chanted in unison : “Laal Salaam Comrade!”
One last time.