Comrade Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri, veteran communist leader and the oldest surviving founder member of Communist Party of India (Marxist) passed away here on Monday night.
Lyallpuri, 96, breathed his last at his residence in Krishna Nagar at 11:30pm, due to failing health over the last few days. His last rites will be performed on Saturday.
He is survived by three sons. His two eldest sons, Jagdeep Singh, a retired engineer, and Sudeep Singh, a retired Colonel, live in the UK. Lyallpuri lived in city with his youngest child Dr Navdeep Singh Khaira, a nephrologist at Christian Medical College and Hospital, daughter-in-law Dr Parwinder Kaur, and two grandsons, an engineer and a doctor.
Throughout his illustrious career as an activist and a communist that spans over seven decades, Lyallpuri held several key posts including the general secretary of All India Kisan Sabha and, during the fag end of his career, the general secretary of the Marxist Communist Party of India (U) when the latter was formed in 2005.
Lyallpuri, a senior trustee of Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Commmitee, had been to jail several times, including during the pre-independence days and the emergency in 1975.
Born in Lyallpur, Pakistan on April 10, 1917, he qualified as a lawyer from Government Law College, Lahore, in 1940; he began his political career as a Congress party worker. He quit the job to become a co-opted member of the central committee of the Kirti Communist Party, when he was soon encrusted with the task of legal functioning of the Punjab Kisan Sabha.
When All India Kisan Sabha activists were arrested by the British rulers at the outbreak of Second World War, he abandoned his newly begun practice as a lawyer.
In 1920s, the Kirti Communist Party merged with the Communist Party of India and Lyallpuri remained a member until CPI split into two in 1964 when he, along with veterans such as Jyori Basu and AK Gopalan, founded CPI (M).
Lyallpuri had shifted to Ludhiana after partition in 1947, taking up residence first new Rakh Bagh and in 1974 in Krishna Nagar.
He remained a member of CPI (M) until 1985 and joined the Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI). When a new party, MCPI (U), came into existence, he was elected general secretary in 2005 and held this post until an end to an era was put on Monday. He is best remembered for his struggle for farmers' and labourers' rights. He was among the leaders who opposed the Khush Hasiyati tax imposed by the Punjab government after Independence.
He never applied for any benefit entitled to freedom fighter. In 2010, he brought out his autobiography titled My Life My Times.