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Kewal Singh Purewal died in Stratford on Avon, not far from his home in Coventry, on September 21, 2005, at the age of 68.
Kewal Singh came to Coventry as a young man from Punjab, India. He was a cherished activist of RCPB(ML) from its founding in 1979 until his passing. A Coventry bus driver, he affirmed himself as a fighting member of the British working class and was widely respected as such. For nearly two decades he was President of the Indian Workers Association (Great Britain). He worked tirelessly for its programme, fighting for the rights of the entire working class and people, defending the interests of the Indian and other national minority communities against state organised racist attacks and discrimination and for their full participation in the political affairs in Britain and the affirmation of their rights second to none.
An ardent Indian patriot and proletarian internationalist, he devoted his efforts to the liberation of his motherland and of all countries. A boyhood friend and classmate of the late Hardial Bains, founder and leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist Leninist), he upheld the principles Hardial had fought for until his own last days.
Kewal Singh Purewal who died on September 21, 2005, at the age of 68
Honouring Kewal Singh Purewal
Well over 100 people attended a Memorial Meeting in Coventry on October 22 to honour the life and work of Kewal Singh Purewal, late president of Indian Workers Association (Great Britain), marking the first anniversary of his passing. The meeting was organised by IWA(GB) and hosted by the local Coventry branch.
The front of the hall was tastefully decorated with red cloths, beautiful flowers, and a fine portrait of a smiling Kewal Singh Purewal. The meeting was chaired by Ajmer Singh Bains, General Secretary of IWA(GB), a long time comrade and friend. Ajmer Singh spoke movingly of the admirable qualities of Kewal Singh, a man of great sincerity and integrity, Ajmer Singh said, highlighting how much he had learned from him.
View of the Hall
The family were very well represented, with Kewal Singhs widow and three generations of family members present. First the eldest son and later a great nephew spoke eloquently to the gathering on behalf of the family. Representatives of the local branches of IWA(GB) then came forward to give their tributes. They were followed by a succession of comrades and friends from Coventry itself. All spoke movingly of their respect and affection for Kewal Singh, some with stories of great humour. They painted a vivid picture of a man who could never do too much to assist in even the smallest problem in the community, and at the same time concerned himself with the profound issues facing the community, the working class of which he was a fighting member, and the worlds people at large.
Many spoke of the significance of his lifelong friendship stretching back to schooldays with Hardial Bains, the late founder and leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). Some, such as the former Lord Mayor of Coventry, Sucha Singh Bains, said they did not share all of Kewal Singhs views but treasured a lifelong friendship based on common goals and struggle to achieve them. Activists from other communities spoke of the unstinting support they always received for their various campaigns from Kewal Singh. Local comrades also presented poems and songs, some written especially for the occasion.
Sucha Singh Bains
The presentation to the Memorial Meeting on behalf of RCPB(ML) by its National Spokesperson Chris Coleman was warmly received. Chris Coleman began by saying that he was proud to be there on behalf of the Party along with the family, friends and comrades to honour the life and work of Kewal Singh Purewal, late President of IWA(GB), who was a cherished activist of RCPB(ML) since its founding, and a dear personal friend and comrade from the first day he had met him in the spring of 1972.
When one looked at the figure of Kewal Singh, he said, one saw not only a person of great nobility to be admired, and of course remembered with the greatest and deepest affection, but a truly inspiring guide and model who rose to the occasion whenever a stand was required to resolve the problems which face the working people at every level of their lives in Britain, in India and elsewhere. It is to this that Kewal Singh so selflessly dedicated his entire adult life, Chris Coleman said.
Addressing the challenges which todays world presents, Chris Coleman emphasised that Kewal Singh never wavered in his loyalty to the principles upheld and formulated by his childhood friend and lifelong comrade Hardial Bains. As a communist worker and fighting member of the British working class; as an activist of IWA(GB) implementing its programme of fighting for the rights of the entire working class and people, defending the interests of the Indian and other national minority communities against state organised racist attacks and discrimination and for their full participation in the political affairs of the country and the affirmation of their rights second to none; as an ardent Indian patriot and proletarian internationalist; he would never cease to inspire us all with his noble deed and great integrity, Chris Coleman said.
As personified in the figure of Kewal Singh, he went on, side by side with his constant comrade Ajmer Singh Bains, IWA(GB) gained over decades a proud reputation for being in the forefront of political affairs not just in the Indian community, but among all the national minority communities and wider in the entire workers movement. This followed in the great tradition of the Indian community in this country, playing a role in political affairs far in excess of its numbers, and typified in the entire Indian diaspora by such figures as Hardial Bains and the great martyr Udham Singh, both of whose links with Coventry are well known.
Kewal Singh's great nephew
Speaking of todays problems, Chris Coleman pointed out, even just one year after Kewals sad and untimely passing, we see a huge intensification of the offensive against the peoples and new and greater challenges facing the progressive forces. Recklessly, and with no care for the catastrophes being caused, the Anglo-American imperialists press ahead with their agenda of war, violation of sovereignty and all international law, of long-outlawed torture and massacre, in attempting to impose the rule of the great corporations over the people of the entire world. At home they intensify their attacks on the rights of the people, particularly at this time attacking the Muslim community, especially young Muslim men and women, as part of the attack on the rights of all the communities and people. In trying to cause divisions among them, they attempt to criminalise the very concept of the right of conscience, belief and ideology.
Chris Coleman pointed to the succession of government Ministers, culminating in Blair himself, who in the past week were launching such attacks, mainly on the issue of Muslim women and the veil, which have nothing to do with having a civilised "debate" as they claim. They are an attack, even an incitement to violence, against the very right to be and to affirm ones cultural identity.
Ajmer Singh Bains
Another of the scandalous attacks, he said, was the call of Communities Minister Ruth Kelly for university staff to spy on Muslim students for the state. Such is the pressure of this incessant offensive against the people and their interests, he said, so great the disinformation about all matters of concern spread by the bourgeois politicians and media, that people very often simply cannot think, cannot see a clear path ahead. It was against such things that Kewal Singh took a stand. In this regard, it must be emphasised, Chris Coleman said, that such retrogression which characterises the entire agenda of the bourgeoisie and its government, such throwing aside of all the progressive achievements of humankind, does not have to be accepted, even at a time of what we call retreat of revolution, when in the main the oppressors hold the advantage. In fact such retrogression cannot be accepted and is not accepted, as the huge anti-war demonstrations, the growing protests against government policy on all fronts in this country and throughout the world clearly show.
In this regard, he said, Kewal Singh joined us in solving the problems which face the progressive forces: how to politicise this growing movement, how to give it direction and coherence which will bring the just sentiments of its activists for another world into fruition. Kewal Singh knew that great work has to be done to take a bold step in defence of the rights of all, for the workers to take up politics which truly defend their interests and the rights of all by fighting for political renewal. Kewal Singh precisely took up the politics which do not conciliate with the aims of the bourgeoisie and their agencies, do not hand our destiny over to other forces, but empower the working class and people, lead to guarantees of peace and of the rights of all and contribute to the political renewal of the society to serve the interests of the working class and people at home and abroad.
The Party is very confident, Chris Coleman said, that IWA(GB) will continue to rise to the challenge presented by todays situation as Kewal Singh did. This will no doubt involve great political discussions and deliberations on the way forward and the step by step strengthening of the organisation in the course of developing the work. But the Party is sure that, with the spirit which imbued the life and work of Kewal Singh as guide and model, the work of IWA(GB) will meet with great success.
On behalf of RCPB(ML), Chris Coleman concluded by wishing IWA(GB) success in its work and pledged to stand shoulder to shoulder with IWA(GB) in all its endeavours. "We shall, like you and with you, continue to draw inspiration and strength from the example of our dear comrade Kewal Singh," Chris Coleman concluded.
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