When President General Ayub Khan started allotting the lands of Golarchi tehsil in Sindh province to the retired employees of Punjab province as governmental gifts, he revolted against such a bigoted act of the then government.
Shaheed Fazil Rahu’s deep affection and sympathy for Sindhi peasants against the invincible forces of their times have made him an immortal vision that will always provide solace to the miserable masses in this land of sorrow. Though he no longer belongs to us, he will always belong to the ages.
This year marks 34 years since the passing of Mohammad Fazil Rahu, a most prominent leftist politician and peasant frontrunner, stood firm for the rights of downtrodden, deprived, and abandoned masses of Sindh.
The chowk (marketplace) where he was martyred on 17th January 1987, people are still chanting slogans against his cowardly murderers saying “Today, every peasant of Sindh is Fazil Rahu, in fact, entire Sindh is Fazil Rahu so which Fazil Rahu you choose to assassinate now”. People in thousands have dropped anchors in Rahuki village of district Badin today to pay homage to this brave son of the soil.
His death was a plotted controversy against a good-hearted and altruistic leader, who never bowed down to feudalism, social inequity and zealotry.
Fazil Rahu was born in 1934 in a village namely Rahuki of District Badin in the house of a middle-class landowner, Ahmed Rahu. Fazil Rahu acquired his education from his native village where he studied for his first four years. Since childhood, Fazil Rahu was aware of the significance of humanity and he felt the pain of the subjugated masses of Sindh’s rural areas.
Shaheed Fazil Rahu belongs to the caliber of Shah Inayat Shaheed, Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi and Shaheed Mai Bakhatwar Lashari. Very few leaders of such a level have emerged in the country who categorically fought with firm determination for the rights of indigenous communities who have been contributing more than others to the holistic development of Sindh.
During General Ayub Khan’s regime, Fazil Rahu took part in B.D elections in 1962 and was elected as a member of Union Council Tarai. Later on, in 1965 he became Chairman of the same Union Council. It was his first step in kicking off a death-defying but long-lasting political journey. He founded Hari Tehrik (peasant movement) against the unfairness of the regime in favor of deprived Sindhi peasants. Fazil Rahu was confronted with influential landlords and iniquitous bureaucrats for the rights of peasants.
When President Ayub Khan started allotting the lands of Tehsil Golarchi to the retired employees of Punjab province, he revolted against such an unfair decision. He held massive sit-ins and protested against the government’s announcement. In those protests, he repeatedly demanded that the land of Sindh province which belongs to the government should be given to the indigenous Sindhi people who were dwelling there for centuries. Eventually, the government couldn’t resist this movement which was being led by Fazil Rahu, and resultantly it had to withdraw from its decision.
Fazil Rahu often used to say to his movement fellows ‘what we have left to be deprived of more, our lands are grabbed, we have been mismanaged by others. If truth be told, we are in all sorts of troubles if you don’t revolt against this unfairness now it will be too late one day. So don’t be afraid of the consequences just fight against the injustice and raise a voice for your rights’.
During General Zia’s incumbency when the country was going through a quagmire, Fazil Rahu along with his other compatriots took heart against the injustice of the dictator through establishing a left-wing political alliance which was called Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD). He actively participated in the movement and lent a hand to his movement fellows. Fazil Rahu also sustained pungent consequences for that but didn’t compromise on the reinstatement of democracy in the country. In 1979, Fazil Rahu gathered a massive crowd of his supporters against General Zia in Rahuki in which more than 10,000 soul mates of Fazil Rahu participated from all over the Sindh.
He was the founder of Sindhi Hari Tehrik (SHT) and also became the first President of this movement which was initiated for the rights of peasants. During his intrinsic political tenure, he was associated with Awami Tehrik as ‘General Secretary’ which was being supervised by Rasool Bux Palijo. He also remained Senior Vice President of Awami National Party (ANP).
All through his life he struggled for the sheer objective to entitle the neglected and landless peasant communities of Sindh with the rights parallel to the elite class of the country. He often used to sit with laborers and peasants of his constituency for hours to heal their wounds and make them mobilize regarding their rights. Mr. Ali Ahmed Jokhio, a companion of Fazil Rahu recalls his memory with Fazil Rahu and says “I had a cycle puncture shop in Golarchi. Fazil Rahu often used to come there and sit for hours. During those hours, people from different peasant communities of Sindh come to him, he never distinguished between anyone. He used to pay attention to their miseries and guide them accordingly”.
In a Sindhi book Keyi Sij Ubhary Wiya which is the collection of essays about the life events of Shaheed Fazil Rahu by different visionary activists, a renowned personality of district Badin and a companion of Fazil Rahu’s opinionated movement wrote “Every moment of Shaheed Fazil Rahu’s entire life was a remarkable devotion towards Sindh and the people of Sindh. He was a bona fide man of actions, not like mundane political leaders of nowadays who only give statements but don’t do anything for their countrymen practically”.
Fazil Rahu was well aware that how crucial the role of women and youth in politics is. He admired the role of women, students, and children in politics and shaped a platform for them in the form of ‘Sindhyani Tehrik’ for women, ‘Sindhi Shagird Tehrik’ for youth/students and ‘Sujaag Baar Tehrik’ for children so that they all can also play an active role in transforming the low-spirited society.
Fazil Rahu along with his other family members including his wife, son, daughters, and others had to pay the piper in the shape of political imprisonments on numerous occasions throughout his political existence but neither he nor any of his companions or family members accepted the government’s bigotry that was ‘wrong against right’.
Shaheed Fazil Rahu spent a major part of his life in different jails of Pakistan where he used to organize study circles for the inmates so that they can be remodeled into useful gentlemen, not only this but he also remained engaged throughout his jailing period in looking after the inmates.
It is a general misconception that after the demise of Fazil Rahu, he along with his virtuous movement might be coming to an end but these memoirs, commemorations, and slogans that pay tribute to this mighty soul are the eye-opener for those who think that he and his cause have been forgotten amongst the people of Sindh.
(The writer is a Pakistan-based columnist and he can be reached at email@example.com)