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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 44, October 23, 2010

Dr Suraj Bhan

Sunday 24 October 2010, by Ranbir Singh

TRIBUTE

The death of Prof Suraj Bhan, who passed away at the age of 79 years at Rohtak on July 14, 2010, has left a void which cannot be easily filled. He was an embodiment of courage, conviction and consistency. Dr Suraj Bhan could squarely fit into the category of academician-as- an-activist designed by the doyen of social sciences in India, Prof Rajni Kothari.

Prof Bhan, who had a Ph.D degree in Ancient History from M.S. University, Baroda, distin-guished himself as a teacher in the Department of History at Punjab University, Chandigarh and in the Department of Ancient History, Culture and Archeology, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra. Besides, he was an archaeologist par excellence and awarded Visiting Fellowship for three years by the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla in recognition of his contribution to the fields of Ancient History and Archeology.

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Dr Suraj Bhan never failed to stand by the Kurukshetra University Teachers Association during the phase of authoritarianism in Haryana (1972-77). He championed the cause of the non-teaching employees of Kurukshetra University and always raised his voice against their repression from 1981 to 1988. He was a Member of the Panel of Independent Historians of India who called the bluff of the communal historians regarding the presence of a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya at the place where the Babri Masjid had been constructed during Mughal rule.

Prof Bhan was, indeed, a radical reformer of Haryana who was always there to fight for the women whenever and wherever they were deprived of their human rights by the Khap Panchayats. He was the first to stand up against the atrocities on the Dalits in Haryana, whether it was at Dulina or Gohana.

But far more important than these was his role as an activist. He dedicated himself with missionary zeal in the activities of Gyan Vigyan Samiti and SEARCH, an organisation fighting illiteracy in Haryana. This embodiment of courage always stood by the poor, the weak, the exploited and the repressed in their fight against the forces of casteism, communalism, fundamen-talism, feudalism and capitalism.

Above all, he was a good human being, a sensitive soul and a compassionate person. He never hesitated to pay the price for adhering to his principles.

Last, but not the least, he was one of those rare Haryanvi intellectuals who never hankered after positions of power and profit.

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