H.L. Khurana

The death occurred of Comrade H.L. Khurana on 26th February after a short illness. He was born in Mandi Bahuldin, District Gujarat, West Punjab. As a schoolboy he was given the responsibility by the Congress Party of looking after the requirements of the family of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. H.L. Khurana completed his schooling in Lahore. From his student days he identified himself with the CPI. With the partition of the country he and his family migrated to Delhi where they faced grave financial difficulties. H.L. Khurana had to combine support of his family with his studies in the Camp College established for refugees by Punjab University. In 1948 he joined service as a clerk in the Indian Railways. In the 1950s he was the party organiser in the All-India Loco Running Staff Association. After the infamous Kalka Firing Incident where several railwaymen were killed he was removed from service for the first time. In 1962 he became a founder member of the CPI-led Northern Railway Worker's Union. With the split in the CPI he identified with the CPI(M). In 1974 H.L. Khurana became a member of the National Coordination Committee of the Railway Struggle and was arrested on 14th May prior to the Railway Strike of that year. The Store Division of the Northern Railway of whose union he was the convener did not open their shutters for ten days. For the second time H.L. Khurana was sacked which led, once again, to severe financial hardship. Only the advent of the Janata Party to power in 1977 led to his reinstatement and his becoming a gazetted officer. As a result of his exemplary probity and integrity he was given appointments in sensitive posts. In his union work he eschewed narrow economism and infused democratic values in the workers' movement. He was known for the interest he took in the grievances of the scheduled caste workers and for his staunch defence of the principle of reservation. In November 1984 during the massacres of the Sikh community he undertook measures to ensure the safety of the community in the vicinity of the Sabzi Mandi Railway Station where he resided. He retired after 38 years of service in the railways and thereupon undertook the responsibility of office secretary in the Delhi state committee of his party. The onset of perestroika provoked a number of nagging questions in his mind about the negative developments in the USSR. Finding that his queries did not lead to any serious response he determined to leave the party. He now began the distribution of progressive literature in Delhi University. He had the objective of creating a democratic culture amongst the student youth, particularly for the Hindi-reading students. In his activities he strove to widen the social basis of the communist movement and to create a progressive scientific and secular understanding amongst the youth. This work culminated in the founding of a bookshop which became a democratic centre of the campus. In addition H.L. Khurana organised the sale of democratic literature at the progressive functions, the workers' and peasants' rallier as well as publishing popular scientific literature. These efforts never broke even in financial terms and to cover the losses he had to regularly dip into his pension. In this period H.L. Khurana moved over to communist revolutionary positions on the major political questions, always upholding the heritage of Lenin and Stalin and the revolutionary stream in the national movement. His persistent questionings on perestroika led to the reprinting of an article on this subject from the Albanian newspaper Zeri i Popullit in 1990. He took great interest in the orientation and contents of each issue of this journal. He is survived by his daughter Vipin. Revolutionary Democracy lowers the red banner in honour of the memory of Comrade H.L. Khurana.

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