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Punjab’s Dalit Movement

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Santosh K Singh’s article “Dalit Politics and Its Fragments in Punjab: Does Religion Hold the Key?” (EPW, 1 September 2018) included interviews with three Dalit activists, namely L R Balley, M L Mahey and P S Kainth. To put them together, however, in a common bracket of Dalit activism, will be erroneous.

Out of the three, Balley, my father and an octogenarian now, had met B R Ambedkar several times, the last meeting being on 30 September 1956 when the latter was critically ill. Balley, an avowed promoter of Ambedkar’s philosophy, started by publishing the Bheem Patrika in 1958 in Urdu, Punjabi, English, and finally Hindi. He recompiled 21 volumes of Ambedkar’s writings and speeches in two volumes, and published Dr Ambedkar: Kalam Ka Kamal, which created enormous awareness about Ambedkar’s philosophy among the Dalit masses. The translations of other books written by Ambedkar were also published in the Bheem Patrika.

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