Comrade Kumar Shiralkar

Comrade Kumar Shiralkar, erstwhile member of the central Committee of the Communist party Of India (Marxist), Joint Secretary of the All India Agricultural Workers Union passed away on 2 October after a protracted illness. He was 75.

Comrade Kumar was born in a middle class family in Miraj bordering Karnataka. He graduated in Mechanical engineering and enrolled himself as a post graduate student in I I T Mumbai after working in industry for 4/5 years to sustain his family. But he left the studies to join Baba Amte at Chandrapur.

The Aadivasis in Shahada, District Dhule were suffering large scale atrocities under the army of the kulaks called Purshottam Sena led by Congress leader P K Patil. The resistance of the Aadivasis was led by Ambersingh Suratvanti called Ambersingh Maharaj guided by Sarva Seva Sangh. Within a short time after joining Baba Amte Com. Kumar was sent to support the resistance. He sent a message to Baba Amte that he will not return to the Ashram as this struggle was more important.

The struggle was taken up for support by various organizations in Maharashtra. They appealed to the youth who were then gathering politically to join the struggle in the area. A group formed under the name, Magowa, by highly educated youth mainly hailing from the high class and high caste Maharashtrian society as a kind of revolt against the traditional left decided to join the struggle. Prafull Bidwai, Sudheer Bedekar, Suhas Paranjpe, Achyut Godbole, Bharat Patankar, Dilip Kamat, Ashok Manohar, Kanhere Brothers, Chhaya Datar were some of the active members of the group. They published a magazine called Magowa. Kumar joined the group. This group was formed at the backdrop of the world, the country, the sub-continent and the state in turmoil, people all over the world rising in rage against imperialism, capitalism and injustices of all kind.

This group decided to work at Shahada and many members of the group worked there as full timers of the Shramik Sanghatana formed at Shahada. This was the last major participation of the middle class youth in a left movement after the Freedom Struggle wherein the Maharashtrian middle class participated actively. It has remained the last one till today. Com. Kumar was an active participant in Shramik Sanghatana and the running of the group and the magazine.

The Magowa group was disbanded after a lot of debate and ideological differences. With Com. Kumar others like Sudheer Bedekar decided to join the C P M. However Bharat Patankar, Ashok Manohar and others decided to choose different political ways.

Com. Kumar had integrated himself in the Aadivasi society completely. He lived with them and led a very simple life. He engaged himself in organizing them against all kinds of injustice. He was assaulted many times by the feudal elements but he escaped these attempts on his life with the protection of the Aadivasis. He had lost hearing in one of the ears though in one of the assaults. He actively pursued other initiatives in education, health services, and environment in the area.