Published: New Age, No. 14, June 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Over 1,500 people packed Birmingham Town Hall on Sunday June 17th to pay tribute to Comrade Jagmohan Joshi, General Secretary of the Indian Workers’ Association (GB), a great leader of the national minority communities in Britain and communist fighter.
His widow, Comrade Shirley, made a moving speech where she pointed out, “The greatest contribution we can make to his memory will be to carry on the struggle.”
Comrade Avatar Johal, President of the IWA, read a statement from the Central Committee pointing out both comrade Joshi’s role in building the IWA and in the class struggle generally. He pledged the IWA to carrying forward Comrade Joshi’s political line of upholding Marx, Lenin and Mao Zedong.
Comrade Teja Sahota, President of IWA, spoke in detail of some of the work Comrade Joshi had been involved in against Racism in Britain and imperialist exploitation of India.
Representatives of Bangladeshi, Kashmiri, Afro-Caribbean and Azanian organisations all paid tribute to Comrade Joshi.
A representative of the Azanian People’s Revolutionary Party said that speaking to Comrade Joshi about the struggles of his people was like speaking to a fellow Azanian.
A speaker from the AfroCaribbean Self-Help Organisation (based in Birmingham) spoke of the friendship Comrade Joshi cherished for his organisation and said, “Comrade Joshi’s death was a great lose to the Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities in the Midlands.”
The General Secretary of the Bangladesh Workers’ Association praised Comrade Joshi as the leader of all national minority organisations in Britain and stressed his devotion to the struggle. Advised by his doctors to rest he had said, “I have responsibilities; I must go to London.” (It was while leading a 4,000 strong demonstration against state racism in London on June 3rd that Comrade Joshi suffered a heart attack and passed away.
There was also a speaker from Bharabiya Dalit Alliance, an organisation of Dalits (untouchables) initiated by the IWA and various community and religious organisations.
Amrit Wilson spoke on behalf of AWAZ (Asian Women’s Group) and pointed out how Comrade Joshi fought against male chauvinism and was anxious for women to play a full part in political life.
A speaker from the Communist Workers’ Movement said that for members of the CWM, “the very name of Comrade Joshi was and is synonymous with the struggle against racism.”
He pointed out that Comrade Joshi had put into practice the Leninist line of uniting the struggle of the working class in the advanced capitalist countries with those of the oppressed nations and peoples. He spoke glowingly of Comrade Joshi’s work to build the IWA, unite the national minority communities and unite them with the rest of the working class, uphold Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong thought and build the revolutionary Communist party in Britain and stressed that Comrade Joshi had made, “important contributions to the struggles of the British and international working class.”.
The CWM speaker also spoke of Joshi’s support for all struggles against imperialism and many in the audience broke into applause when he said, “More recently – to support the struggle of Democratic Kampuchea and the Kampuchean people against Sovietbacked Vietnamese aggression.”
He concluded, “Defying illness, displaying great personal courage, Comrade Joshi lived and died a Communist fighter, a soldier in the great army of world revolution and provided an example for us all to seek to follow.”
Comrade Chris Burford spoke on behalf of the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain. He stated that Comrade Joshi had been a great communist who integrated theory with practice and followed the mass line. Comrade Burford pointed out that Joshi had firmly supported Socialist China and upheld the theory of three worlds.
Maurice Ludmer, Chairman of the Birmingham Trades Council and editor of the anti-racist journal ’Searchlight’ said, “My association with Comrade Joshi goes back 22 years... Unlike many who the press and the race relations industry claim as immigrant leaders, Joshi genuinely had a mass base.”
“The IWA (GB) played a major role in the Trade Union movement of Britain...Many of the sweatshops, were organised for the first time by Indian workers. Comrade Joshi stood shoulder to shoulder with the whole working class in this country.”
Mr. Ludmer said that Joshi had joined those people of who it could be said, “All my life and all my strength has been devoted to the greatest cause on earth, the liberation of mankind.”
There were other speakers from the Labour movement including a white worker who related how he had worked with Comrade Joshi in the 1960’s to ensure that there was no racial discrimination in local working mens’ clubs.
Many IWA branches from all over the country paid tribute to Comrade Joshi often by poem or songs in Urdu and Punjab.The highlight was a song written by Joshi to hail the Naxalbari Peasant uprising in 1967 sung by Comrade Tara Singh Tara and a chorus of IWA youth dressed as Red Army fighters.
A number of anti-racist committees including the Birmingham Campaign against Racism and Fascism made statements as did the Wolverhampton Anti-Nazi league.
A leader of the Sikh Temple in Smethwick spoke, testifying to Comrade Joshi’s ability to unite all who could be united.
The Banner Theatre Group sang three songs from their antiracist play, “The Great Divide.” One of the songs stressing the importance of unity between black and white workers had been inspired by Comrade Joshi.
A Jagmohan Joshi Memorial fund was established at the meeting to enable publication of Joshi’s poems in a hard-back book in Urdu and Punjabi. Over £4, 000 was collected in the meeting. (Cheques/PO’s payable to IWA (GB) should be sent to 346 Soho Rd. Handsworth, Birmingham 21).
Despite the fact that the meeting was extended for an extra hour, there was not time for all the speakers to be heard.
The meeting closed with the platform leading the hall in giving Lal Salall! (Red Salute) to Comrade Joshi by shouting:
SATYE JOSHI ZINDABAD!
LONG LIVE COMRADE JOSHI!
LONG LIVE REVOLUTION!
Although we are filled with sorrow at the death of Comrade Joshi, we draw strength from his life, work and memory. In particular we will work to build a revolutionary communist party that our Comrade Joshi would have been proud of.
ETERNAL GLORY TO COMRADE JOSHI!