March 24, 2024

Comrade Jaisingh Mali

Ashok Dhawale

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COMRADE Jaisingh Mali, who was a member of the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee for over two decades, former district secretary of the CPI(M) Dhule-Nandurbar district committee, and for long one of the vice presidents of the AIKS Maharashtra state committee, passed away at his home in Mod village of Taloda tehsil of Nandurbar district, due to a sudden heart attack on March 16, 2024. 71-year-old Jaising Mali was one of the senior most adivasi comrades in Maharashtra, who joined the Party over 40 years ago in 1982. He was one of the closest comrade-in-arms of former Central Committee member Comrade Kumar Shiralkar.

Jaisingh Mali was born on April 10, 1953 in a poor peasant adivasi family. At the age of 18, in 1971 he joined the struggle against landlord oppression led by a prominent adivasi leader of Nandurbar district, Ambarsingh Maharaj. On May 1, 1972, Kumar Shiralkar, Jaisingh Mali, and others formed an organisation in Nandurbar called the ‘Shramik Sanghatana’. It led the bitter class struggles of adivasi and dalit agricultural labourers for many years against their economic exploitation and social oppression by the landlords, in which many of them were badly beaten and some even killed. There were serious physical attacks on Jaisingh too.

In the Emergency, Jaisingh and his comrades were underground for several months. After the Emergency, in 1978-79, they took part in the struggle for the renaming of the Marathwada University after Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, and were arrested for several days. After the lifting of the Emergency and the defeat of the Congress in the 1977 elections, there was an ideological churning in the Shramik Sanghatana. Some members favoured remaining in small local organisations. But Kumar, Jaisingh, and their comrades, after careful study and discussion, joined the mainstream Left and the CPI(M) in 1982.

The AIAWU was formed in 1982. Its first state conference was held at Shahada in Nandurbar district the same year, and Jaisingh was elected to its state council. In 1983, a year after Jaisingh and others joined the CPI(M), the shocking Shelti massacre took place in Nandurbar district. The goons of the ‘Purushottam Sena’ of the landlords killed five adivasi agricultural workers in the village Shelti over a wage and land dispute. Jaisingh was also targeted to be killed, but he miraculously escaped. The CPI(M) immediately organised a massive statewide protest march on the state assembly in Mumbai to denounce the Shelti massacre.

Both the then CPI(M) adivasi MLAs Lahanu Kom and J P Gavit raised hell in the state assembly on the issue, and Lahanu Kom even brandished a chair to attack the ringleader of the massacre and MLA, Purushottam K Patil, in the state assembly. It was Patil’s first name that was given to the Sena which had killed the adivasis. Strict action was taken against the culprits.

Jaisingh and other comrades built up the CPI(M) in Dhule and Nandurbar districts through a team of fighting activists. He was the Party district secretary for a number of years, and was elected to the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee in the 1990s. In 1992, the Party set up the B T Ranadive High School at Mod, and Jaisingh served as secretary of the educational institution which ran the school very well for the last 31 years, till his demise.

From the AIAWU, Jaisingh Mali branched out to lead the formation of the AIKS in Nandurbar district. He led several struggles of the peasantry on issues like land, Forest Rights Act (FRA), irrigation, power, debt relief, and remunerative prices. He was one of the senior vice presidents of the AIKS in Maharashtra for several years.

Jaisingh Mali was the Party’s candidate for the vidhan sabha a number of times. He was elected sarpanch of his village for over 20 years. For over 23 years, from 1999 to 2022, he was elected director of the Taloda Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), and he was its vice chairman for one term. He was also elected chairman of the Taloda Tehsil Milk Producers’ Cooperative Society for a number of years.

Hundreds of peasants and agricultural workers attended Mali’s funeral at Mod on March 16. They were led by CPI(M) state secretariat member Nathu Salve, district secretary Shamsingh Padvi, and other leaders. Jaisingh Mali was buried next to his closest comrade Kumar Shiralkar in the grounds of the BTR High School. On March 27, a large condolence meeting will be held, to be addressed by the CPI(M) and AIKS state leadership.

The CPI(M) and AIKS Maharashtra state committees pay their respectful homage to Comrade Jaisingh Mali, and share in the grief of his wife and comrade Tapibai Mali and their family.






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