Senior leader of the Communist Revolutionary Movement of India and of CPI(ML)-New Democracy, Com. Umadhar Prasad Singh, died on June 18, 2014 in a hospital at Patna. He had suffered a heart attack on June 16 and was brought to Patna from Darbhanga on June 17.
In his death, CPI(ML)-New Democracy and the whole communist revolutionary movement lost a leader of eminence, ability and perseverance in the cause of struggling workers and peasants of the country. Com. Umadhar Singh was well renowned as a Naxalite leader in the country, particularly in Bihar. Party and the communist revolutionary movement lost a stalwart and one of the last organizational links with the days of Naxalbari – Mushahari struggles was snapped. His life was a long saga of struggle, in its different phases Com. Umadhar Singh acquitted himself successfully with determination and heroism, braving hardships and offering sacrifices.
Umadhar Singh was born in a peasant family in Sighwara village in Darbhanga district on December 21, 1938 to Shri Bilat Singh and Shrimati Jewardevi Kunwar. In his childhood he was schooled in the anti-colonial struggle led by socialists of the time. His elder brother Shri Ganga Prasad Singh, who died recently after completing 100 years, was an established leader of the socialists led by J. P. Narayan and Lohia. Child Umadhar used to do courier work for the underground socialists during Quit India movement taking food and delivering messages for the underground anti-colonial socialist leaders. He came in contact with prominent leaders of the anti-colonial struggle in early childhood.
Com. Umadhar Singh was sharp as a student. He did his BA (Honours) in Economics from CM College Darbhanga and his MA in Economics from Bihar University Muzaffarpur. He had deep understanding of Economics and his essays on the subjects bear testimony to his good grasp of political economy and also in the trends in contemporary economic policies.
His student life was marked by Umadhar Singh maturing as a powerful student leader of Bihar and prominent among young revolutionary communist leaders. He was president of SF (led by CPM) in Bihar in 1965-’66. Under his leadership a strong student movement led by SF was conducted against the then Chief Minister of Bihar, K.B. Sahay. This movement spread to all districts of the then Bihar with massive mobilization in Patna where students were lathi charged by police. Com. Umadhar Singh was charged with setting fire to the then CM’s house.
Naxalbari armed peasant struggle, a turning point in the Indian communist movement, enthused and showed the way to communist revolutionaries, then in CPM, throughout India. At the time a meeting of prominent student leaders of CPM throughout India was held in Delhi where CPM theoretician M. Basavapunniah tried to convince the participants against Naxalbari uprising. Umadhar Singh strongly opposed Basavapunniah in that meeting and left CPM. Umadhar Singh also took up the flag of Naxalbari and become one of the close associates of Com. Satya Narain Singh, then leader of communist revolutionaries in Bihar. He was a member of Bihar Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (Bihar unit of AICCCR).
Bihar comrades took up the task of building Naxalbari type of struggle in Bihar and took Mushahari as the area of such struggle. Com. Umadhar Singh was associated with this struggle and was one of the prominent leaders of this struggle (other being Com. Raj Kishore Singh of Mushahari) under the leadership of Com. Satya Narain Singh. He led the team in its first action in Mushahari. He led the anti-landlord struggle in Darbhanga which resulted in the annihilation of Balani, a hated tyrant Marwari landlord owning thousands of acres of land, on November 2, 1969. He was arrested in this case on November 30, 1969 from Vidyapati Railway Station in Samastipur district. In the court he accepted the charge of killing Balani and was sentenced to life imprisonment and kept in solitary confinement. He was projected by the police at the time as a dreaded Naxal leader and used to be presented in Court with hands and feet chained. In jail also he was continuously kept with his legs chained. He remained in jail upto September 1977.
After Emergency, CPI(ML) led by Com. Satya Narain Singh pioneered a movement for release of Naxalite prisoners. Some liberal leaders and civil rights activists supported and participated in this campaign. Com. Umadhar Singh refused to give an undertaking for his release which was being demanded by the then Govt. His release was therefore somewhat delayed. This refusal showed his deep commitment and clear understanding on the issue. Though in jail he supported Com. S.N. Singh’s struggle for mass line, he did not agree with giving undertaking for the withdrawal of case and release from jail.
After his release from jail, Com. Umadhar Singh became part of the Bihar state committee of the CPI(ML) led by Com. Satya Narain Singh. In 1978, he led Ratnopatti peasant movement in which 25 bigha of land of a landlord, Hari Mahato, was seized and distributed among landless peasants. In 1978 he organized workers of Ashok Paper Mill in APM Kamagar Union and also organized Metia Palledar Thela Kamgar Union of unorganized workers. He also contested by-election from Samastipur parliamentary constituency in 1978 as a CPI(ML) candidate.
In 1979-’80, when the party faced a division on the issue of united front with a section of ruling class, Com. Umadhar Singh opposed this line. However, his objection was deeper. He opposed the very concept of exclusive hegemony of one imperialist power over the country. At that time, our Party used to treat feudalism vs broad masses of people as the principal contradiction in the country. Com. Umadhar Singh on this basis opposed the very concept of exclusive hegemony.
For some years, Com. Umadhar Singh, led a CPI(ML) section in Bihar. In this period in 1985, he contested and won from Hayaghat constituency in Darbhanga for Bihar assembly. He was the first ML leader to be elected to Bihar assembly. In this period (1985-’90) he used the rostrum of Bihar Assembly to highlight people’s issues, exposed the anti-people policies of the state govt. and set a good example of utilization of assembly for revolutionary cause. Later he became part of COI(ML) when it was formed and was a member of its Central Committee. He however, disagreed with dominant leadership of COI(ML) on the question of treating China as a socialist country, terming CPI(ML) formed in 1969 as a terrorist organization and on their election line. In 1992, he joined CPI(ML)-New Democracy. He was a member of the Central Committee of CPI(ML)-New Democracy for several years. He was also a member of Bihar State Committee of CPI(ML)-New Democracy till his death. He was again elected as an MLA from Hayaghat in 2000.
Determination of Com. Umadhar Singh was legendary. He led a party demonstration at Chodadano in East Champaran in which thousands of people participating in the demonstration were lathicharged. He sustained serious injuries along with several important leaders of the party state committee along with a prominent journalist. He led a sustained movement against this lathicharge and led another rally at the same venue on the same issue.
Com. Umadhar Singh’s commitment to people’s causes was exemplary and passionate. He led workers’ movement of Ashok Paper Mill from 1978 upto his death. This Mill was closed in 1982 throwing hundreds of workers out of employment. Com. Umadhar Singh led several struggles and even forced state govt. to make payment to workers. This is unique example of a continuous struggle of workers against closure spanning over three decades and it has been possible because of untiring leadership of Com. Umadhar Singh. He fought in BIFR, High Court and ultimately in Supreme Court where the case has been going for over two decades. In 1996, Supreme Court approved a scheme of rehabilitation enlisting a private capitalist for the purpose. This fraud capitalist in league with officials of industry dept. of Central Govt. and Bihar state govt. sought to gobble up the Mill property without making any effort to restart the production or making any payment of arrears to the workers. Com. Umadhar Singh took up this issue before the Supreme Court and frustrated the capitalist’s efforts to gobble up the property. In the process workers and their families obstructed taking out the machines, in which the son of a worker was killed by police and goondas of the capitalist and several workers were injured.
People’s causes were always dear to Com. Umadhar Singh. Many areas of Darbhanga suffer from floods every year and remain under water for months. Com. Umadhar Singh not only exposed that losses from these floods are due to faulty policies of saving the cities by drowning the surrounding villages but would spend many days on boats providing relief. Com. Umadhar Singh remained engrossed in people’s issues including land issues of the landless and poor peasantry.
During the last years, his health was failing. He had diabetes. He also suffered from lung and cardiac ailments. However, he never allowed his ailments to come in the way of his commitment to people’s issues and would not bother about his health when issues of workers and peasants demanded his attention and efforts.
In Umadhar Singh, the party has lost a stalwart and a leading light. His theoretical clarity and his drive in the course of people’s movements will always be remembered and continue to guide the party. In Umadhar Singh, communist revolutionary movement of the country has lost a vital link with its turning point. In Umadhar Singh people of Bihar and particularly of Darbhanga have lost an unfatiguable champion of their causes. In Umadhar Singh, workers and peasants have lost a worthy and passionate leader of their issues. In departing from us Com. Umadhar Singh has bequeathed a rich legacy of people’s struggles and life long commitment to revolutionary goal. Party pledges to uphold his positive legacy and work with renewed vigour to realize the dream for which he tirelessly worked throughout his life.
Central Committee pays its homage to the revolutionary memory of Com. Umadhar Singh and vows to continue the struggles of workers and peasants with which he was closely associated and intensify new democratic revolutionary movement for which he remained committed and labored and sacrificed throughout his life.
Com. Umadhar Singh is survived by his wife and a son. CPI(ML)-New Democracy offers its condolences to them and other members of his family.
Red Salute to Com. Umadhar Singh!
Long Live CPI(ML)-New Democracy!
Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought!
Victory to New Democratic Revolution!
March forward on the path of Protracted People’s War!
Hold high the banner of Revolutionary Mass line!
June 18, 2014 Central Committee,