Some Memories of Red Politics in Shikarpur
Some Memories of Red Politics in Shikarpur are memories written Paryal Mari a progressive activist. He recounts event of eighties particularly about Dr Qasim Brohi, otherwise a hidden charachter.
Translated by Shahnilla Fayaz
The Shikarpur city has been the center of literature, commerce, trade and politics. When the Lenin-led Bolshevik revolution in Russia pushed Tsar Shahi, to the defeat, the currency of Tsar Shahi was available here with the Hindu Seths of Shikarpur, who were doing business with European countries including Iran, Turkey and Russia through Dar Bolan. There was also a branch of Bank of India in Shikarpur.
The beauty of Shikarpur a small town was much know across the then India.
Near railway station, in Brohi Colony lived an educated family of Kako Yar Mohammad Brohi and Essa Khan Brohi.
Muhammad Qasim was among the three sons of Kako Yar Muhammad Brohi.
Dr. Muhammad Qasim Brohi received his early education from Shikarpur and intermediate, in 1973 he joined Liaquat Medical College. His first contact was Khari Muhammad Juno then vice president of Sindh National Students Federation a Left students’ organization. From here he started Left-wing politics.
This was the time when hippy culture started in Europe. There was a fashion among college students to have long hair and to wear bell bottoms and also wearing a bandage on head was counted as fashion. Some of them used to sell marijuana or hashish which was often used by youngsters. We also saw Dr. Muhammad Qasim Brohi in this practice. While going to college mostly traveling by train.
My first meeting with Qasim Brohi was at the house of Javed Bhutto, (who later did masters in philosophy, and migrated to US, where he was murdered.)
The Railway Station, Cafe of Ejaz Lakhi Gate, Essa Khan Hotel near Rustam Chowk were main sitting places. Shikarpur was the center of progressive politics and nationalism. PPP workers were also active in politics.
After completing his medical education, Dr. Qasim joined civil hospital Shikarpur as doctor, it was to be one of the biggest hospitals in Sindh where surgeons like Dr. Naik Muhammad Sheikh, Qazi Nabi Bakhsh, Dr. Gulzar Sheikh and Dr. Qayoom Taraz were specialists. Dr. Qasim Brohi availed the opportunity to work and live with them.
He appeared in commission, as a solid comrade had his own comradely thoughts about religion. During viva viva, on a question related to religion he got stuck with the examiner and had to lose his job.
Activists of eighties
After leaving his job he set up his own private clinic at Brohi Colony near railway station which was very successful and at the same time he started politics regularly. We were all members of the Communist Party- Dr Shams Siddiqui (he did MMBS from Chandka and opened clinic in Shikarpur), Rahim Bux Jafri, Javed Bhutto, Shahid Bhutto, younger brother of Javed Bhutto, and had later founded Voice Group for revolutionary singers, Saeed Anwar Pathan, then a school teacher, Ayaz Abro (now he has opened a book shop in Qasimabad Hyderabad), Aijaz Mangi (now a known columnist– some of them were sympathisers.
Surkh Parcham readers
Communist Party used to publish a monthly underground magazine namely “Surkh Parcham (Red Flag). Shaheed Nazir Abbasi, Professor Jamal Naqvi, Sohail Sangi, Badar Abro, Shabbir Shar, Kamal Warsi and some other comrades were arrested for publishing this communist magazine. Nazir Abbasi was tortured to death during interrogation, while others were tried in the Special Military Court in the case known as Jam Saqi case.
In Shikarpur, there were more than 30 reading members, Dr. Shams Siddiqui and Rahim Bakhsh Jafri’s Otaqs, or Mumtaz Mangi’s shop. Mumtaz Mangi is elder brother of Aijaz Mangi, and now doing construction business in Shikarpur. Dr. Muhammad Qasim’s Hospital and Javed Bhutto’s house were places of our regular sittings and political discussions.
Comrade Rahim Buksh Jaffery was a representative party on open fronts- working in PNP, ANP or National Progressive Party. Comrade Rahim Buksh always held the post of Central Joint Secretary.
Organising labour unions
Meanwhile party decided to work on labour front. Dr. Muhammad Qasim Brohi was assigned this job as he was a doctor and a public figure who is generous with regard to the treatment at his hospital.
He was associated with the poor and needy people, as well as he was friendly with common people. So under the leadership of Dr. Qasim the Municipal Committee labor union was registered. With Asim Soomro, Lal Hari Lal, along with hundreds of workers launched movement to fight for workers’ rights. With help of two friends of Dr. Brohi – Lahoti and Lalo, we succeeded to form Shikarpur Tanga Union and it was also registered.
Peoples’ politics seemed to work in a people’s style led by Dr Qasim Brohi, in Shikarpur.Mumtaz Mangi formed Mechanical Workers Union, likewise some friends of Sindh Watan Dost Party, which was led by Dr Arbab Khuhawar formed a union in Wapda. To strengthen Dr. Qasim Brohi’s efforts at municipal union, we used to visit the Christian colony of sanitary staff. We used to have friendship and community based relations with the sanitary workers. We used to have social gatherings and attend marriage ceremonies.
Once one of our workers from the colony was intoxicated and was on his way to Railway Colony, some friends of Brohi community were sitting at the hotel in Saddar area. Very enthusiastic to see they shouted slogans in favor of Dr. Mohammad Qasim- “Bhangi -Broh Bhai Bhai”. Brohi Community expressed displeasure on these slogans.
It was decided at the general body meeting of the Municipal workers union that a charter of demands would be presented by the union demands regularisation of work charges workers/employees, action against sexual harassment of women workers and medical facilities for municipal workers.
It was the time of Zia dictatorship. Haji Moula Bakhsh Soomro’s special person Seth Abdul Sattar Sheikh was the chairman of the city municipal committee. A complete strike was observed to press the demands and workers and their supporters also observed carried out to protest the hunger strike. Dr. Qasim Brohi was arrested along with other union officials.
To weaken the union, the municipal administration intervened and through Nazir Soomro, the then central in-charge of sanitary section, formed a pocket union in which Vishnu Advocate also played the role to help pocket union.
Jam Saqi’s Tour of Sindh
When Comrade Jam Saqi was released from prison, he launched extensive tour of Sindh and held big gatherings at dozens of place across the province. Comrade Ghulam Rasool Sehto was supporter of Jam Saqi. As at that time differences surfaced, and a split known as majority and minority within the Communist Party of Pakistan was seen. Drafts policy documents were under discussion when Jam Saqi with Imdad Chandio and other comrades toured Sindh.
A big public meeting held at Ganesh Park, Lakhi Dar in Shikarpur and a large procession was brought to the venue. Comrade Jam Saqi was then taken to the Christian Colony where the workers including men and women warmly welcomed him. A reception was hosted by the party at the bungalow of Agha Ghulam Nabi Pathan.
In entire arrangements major contribution was of Dr Muhammad Qasim Brohi and his union colleagues. On party decision Dr Qasim contested the LB election in Shikarpur.
LB polls contest
Nasarullah Lodhi from PPP and Muhammad Yousuf Sonaro from Soomro group were also in run. PPP was request to withdraw it candidate in favour of Dr Brohi, but request was not positively responded. The result was
Yousuf Sonaro won the election and PPP candidate and Dr Brohi both lost.
Later, Dr Brohi once again joined government job and after hard work he became a psychiatrist. He specialised in this field by further studies and practice and now is known as specialist of mental health.
He spent most of his service time in Sir Cowasjee Mental Health Hospital generally known as Giddu Hospital.
He run clinic regularly in Hyderabad, but on Sunday mornings and the rest of the evenings in Sukkur.
Dr Brohi has recently retired from government job. He has exposure of a number of countries during government job as well as later on. Now he is serving his hometown in Shikarpur.
Dr Qasim is a silent philanthropist who still treats poor patients free of cost and also provides medicines. He has always been a source of joy, who is true to his profession, so also his political commitment – to serve the people.
Paryal Mari author of this article is activist and journalist