Corona Kills

Abhey Singh Sandhu

Chaman Lal

Around six pm on 14th May, an unpleasant news of passing away ofAbhey Singh Sandhu, a worthy son of Martyr Bhagat Singh family, was being posted by many people on social media-Facebook and WhatsApp. Since the news was not posted from the family members of Bhagat Singh, it was difficult to believe. Of all the horrible news of Corona times, at personal level, this was the worst news!

Abhey Singh Sandhu was born on 20th October 1956 in the family of Kulbir Singh, immediate younger brother of Bhagat Singh. He was one of four siblings. His elder brother Babar Singh had predeceased him many years ago. Two of his sisters-Varsha Basi lives in USA and another Rubi in Ludhiana. Of his own two children-Abhitej Singh Sandhu died in an unfortunate road accident in Himachal Pradesh five years ago in 2016 and a daughter Anupriyalives in Ludhiana after marriage and has a six-year-old child. Abhey Sandhu was married to Tejvinder Sandhu from a Communist family.

Abhey Sandhu was a politically active personality and he took some major steps in promoting Bhagat Singh ideas in society. During Bhagat Singh birth centenary in 2007, he got Jail Notebook of Bhagat Singh published from both Punjab and Haryana Governments with Punjabi and Hindi translation along with Bhagat Singh’s own handwritten pages in beautiful handwriting on one side and on facing page, printed translation in Punjabi and Hindi. These publications from both Punjab and Haryana Governments were for free distribution to people and perhaps can still be acquired free from both state governments stores! The whole Bhagat Singh extended family including Abhey Sandhu and his wife, had joined the function to inaugurate Bhagat Singh tall 18 feet bronze statue installed in Parliament complex on 15th August 2008 by then President Pratibha Patil. Unfortunately, Bhagat Singh statue has also now become victim of so-called Central Vista of Modi Govt.

 At the time of formation of Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP) by Manpreet Singh Badal, after splitting from his uncle Prakash Singh Badal in 2011, Abhey Singh Sandhu was one of its founders and Manpreet Badal still feels proud of having Abhey Singh Sandhu as his co-worker in PPP. After PPP got dismantled with Manpreet Badal joining Congress party, Abhey Singh Sandhu got weaned towards AamAadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab. He contested elections to Punjab assembly from both PPP and later AAP but failed to score victory. However, his son Abhitej Sandhu was more successful in his political venture, he started working in the youth wing of Aam Admi Party (AAP) and made a niche for himself in short time travelling all over India and getting followers for himself on his own. He was close to the central leadership of AAP also and was a likely candidate for Punjab assembly elections in 2017, had the cruel hands of death not snatched him in 2016 accident. After the tragic death of Abhitej, both parents set up Abhitej Foundation and made a mission of carrying forward the tasks set up by Abhitej in his youthful activities of promoting Bhagat Singh thought among Indian youth through his mass appeal.

 With this mission in mind Abhey Sandhu, his wife and daughter all participated in farmers movement and showed their solidarity with the movement by regularly visiting Sanyukat Kisan Morcha sit-ins on Delhi borders. They were honoured by SKM on 21st February 2021 on the occasion of 140th birth anniversary of Abhey Sandhu’s grand uncle Ajit Singh, who had launched PagdiSambhal Jatta movement in 1907 to oppose three anti- farmer laws of British times. Irony is that even British colonial rulers repealed three laws within three months, but Modi Govt. is proving crueller than British Govt, which is refusing to repeal the three black laws in the face of much stronger and wider movement than British times.

 As per information gathered from his daughter Anupriya, Abhey Sandhu was kept in Corona ward till 25th April or so, during which his wife and daughter could only had video chat with him, but around 27th April he was declared Corona negative and shifted to other observation ward. He could meet his wife and daughter there, but not for long time. He still had health problems, he was given palates regularly and his health suddenly deteriorated and he passed away on 14th May evening.

Sanyukat Kisan Morcha in a statement has said that Abhey Singh Sandhu was a big supporter of farmers movement and had even offered to go on indefinite hunger strike if farmers’ demands were not met. They termed it a big loss for the movement. ooo

[Chaman Lal is retired Professor from JNU and is honorary advisor, Bhagat Singh Archives and Resource Centre, Delhi Archives, 9868774820]

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Vol. 54, No. 7, Aug 15 - 21, 2021