A brief tribute

 Appeal to support families of Comrades died in accident  

Dear all

We have lost our four most brilliant comrades Abdul Salam, Najma Khanum, Rehana Kausar and Wahid Baloch in a road accident on 13th December 2009 near Ormara, Baloachistan. They were in the coastal region, one of the most deprived areas of the country, to organize the home based women workers (HBWW) on one plate form. They held two focus group meetings and a wider consultation on 11-12 and 13 December in port cities of Pasni and Gawadar. They also formed core groups and clusters of local HBWW and planned to organize more meeting in the region in month of January next year.

Comrades Abdul Salam, Najma Khanum, Rehana Kausar and Wahid Baloch were dedicated members of the team who lost their lives for the cause of downtrodden masses and were on mission till their last breath. Another member of team, Mohammed Rafiq Baloch, central president National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan (NTUF) survived but severely injured in that fatal accident.

Comrade Abdul Salam, Najma Khanum and Rehana Kausar were the staff members of Labour Education Foundation (LEF). While Wahid Baloch was trade union activist in industrial city of Hub and by profession he was a driver.

Abdul Salam, 29 was working as coordinator on peace, democracy and trade union issues. He was also elected central Finance Secretary of National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan (NTUF) in 2007. He was the Secretary of Labour Party Pakistan, Karachi chapter for 2007-2009. Comrade Abdul Salam had initiated number of awareness activities for the trade union members, young students and political activists. He conducted 6 regular monthly study circles on social, economic and political issues in different localities of working class. He was the guiding force behind his last initiative of six-month training course on labour laws for new and young trade union activists in a view to build a team of committed workers who represent workers in labour courts.

He was on the  of editorial board of weekly Mazdoor Jeddojehad for two years. He was also a regular contributor in respect of articles to Mazdoor Jeddojehad in Urdu and Pashto and was the main source for the LEF’s monthly “Newsletter’. He had translated a Pashto novel of Noor Mohammed Tarakai in to Urdu. He was Pashto poet of good repute and organizer of the “Jurs”, a progressive Pashto literary forum in Karachi. He belonged to working class family and started his career as textile worker in Al Karam Textile Mill, where he was expelled from job nine year ago because of trade union activities. He contested the management in court and won the case in October 2009.

 Najma Khanum, 38 was social activist and was the former local body's councilor of the area, mainly comprising of working class. She had been staff member of LEF since 2003. She was the social Mobilizers to organize home based women workers. She was the leader of her community and always at the forefront of all political, trade union and woman rights related rallies and demonstrations. She formed a women theatre group of young girls with the title of “Apna Theatre”, means “Our Theatre”. Their performances on May Day, Women day and on other important events were always important portion of the programs. She was also a former member of Pakistan National Squad of women field hockey. She served LPP as women secretary of Karachi chapter for two years from 2007 to 2009. She had been running the home based women workers cooperative in Yousuf Ghoth for four years.

Rehana Kausar, 26 was one of the youngest staff member of LEF. She started to work as part time teacher at adult literacy center in Gadap town and become social mobilizer in 2006. She was very energetic and committed with the cause and a great fighter. She was also active member of LPP.

Wahid Baloch, 40 was basically trade union activist and was sacked from job by the Bawani Air Products manufacturing company three years ago where he worked as a driver. His only crime was that he was trying to form union in the factory. No factory was inclined to give him job in Hub city industrial area due to his union related activities. He was involved in all activities of National Trade Union Federation and partly worked as driver with NTUF. All the comrades were from very poor and working class families. Three were working with full time for LEF and fourth one, the driver was an unemployed trade unionist.

Comrade Abdul Salam leaves behind two little kids, two and four year old and a young widow. Salam was the only one working. Najma leaves behind three children but to some extent grown up, from 13 to 20, all are studying. Her husband has job of contractual nature with very little earnings, living in rented house. Driver Wahid Baloch leaves behind 6 young kids, the eldest is only 14. Wahid was only the source to run the home. His old father and mother also live with his family in rented house. While, Rehana was not yet married, but one of the nine sisters and brothers and one of the two bread winners among them. She was also only hope for her old aged bedridden mother and father.

We as representatives of LEF, NTUF and LPP jointly pledge to do our best to cater the needs of their families and to work hard for the accomplishment of the cause for which they scarified their lives. In this respect we need your help. We appeal to entire circle of our friend, comrades and well wishers to come forward to show their solidarity with families of our shining comrades. We are launching this appeal to all of you to support us for raising 3,000,000 Pak Rupees (35,300 US$) for the permanent well being of the four families. Our plan is to deposit fixed amounts in saving accounts bank in the name of their immediate family members so that they get a regular monthly income and an increased amount after a certain period of time. 

In joint meeting of LLP, NTUF and LEF comrades on 19 December in Karachi they have promise to contribute PRs 605,000 (7,120 US$) in response to this appeal.

Your contribution will accommodate financial needs of families of our departed comrades, strengthen the confidence in movement and further the cause working people of Pakistan.

Labour Education Foundation (www.lef.org.pk) is a social organization set up in 1993; its main work is to strengthen trade unions in Pakistan. It has done great work to unionize many unorganized workers and strengthening trade unions especially National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan (NTUF) in Pakistan.

You can send your contributions to the bank account of LEF as per following details.

A/C Title: Labour Education Foundation

A/C Number: 01801876



Looking forward for your encouraging responses.

Farooq Tariq                    Nasir Mansoor      Spokesperson                  Deputy General Secretary                      LPP                                      NTUF                                              

Khalid Mahmood                                                                        Director                                                                                     LEF

Death of brilliant Comrades;Tragedy for the workers movement

It was fate full rainy evening of 13 December at Coastal Highway near “Ormara Naval Base” in Balochistan where we had had lost our two comrades of fighting sprit and an union activist in a fatal road accident and than lost another brilliant young revolutionary Comrade Salam on December 14.

Comrade Abdul Salam, Najma Khanum, Rehana Kausar of Labour Education Foundation and Rafiq Baloch, President of National Trade Union Federation and Wahid Baloch were the group formed to go to different cities and towns of coastal belt of Balochistan to organize home based women workers on one plate form. In this process two meetings were held in Hub on 7 and 9 December, all the meetings’ proceedings were conducted by Comrade Najma and actively participated by the Comrade Rehana and Comrade Salam.

Their next step was the remote corners of the coastal belt of extreme south of Pakistan near to Iranian boarder where home based women workers from fisheries have invited them to hold consultation meetings in Pasni, Gawadar and Ormara towns. They had held successful meetings on11, 12 and 13 December 2009 with women workers formed their core and cluster groups for further activities; it was first time that they have organized themselves in organization with the strong support of Labour Education Foundation (LEF) and National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) having strong unions connections in Pasni and Gawadar harbor and in boat building workers. Comrade Salam also conducted meetings with trade union activists of different unions in Pasni and Gawadar and recorded interviews of office bearers for Mazdor Jedojehad and the Newsletter of LEF.

Comrade Salam from Pasni informed Zehra Khan at 3pm on 13 December that meeting was ended and they were leaving for Karachi. On their way from Pasni to Ormara at small locality called “Bassol” near Ormara their car crashed with the wall of small bridge to avoiding the animals on the road at the front of car, driver had applies the brakes, tyre was busted so failed to control the car and fell in 20 meters ditch, Comrade Najma and Rehana died on the spot due to serious head injuries and Salam, Rafiq Baloch and Driver Wahid Baloch were injured. Rafiq Baloch and Wahid get out of car and removed Najma, Rehana and Salam from the rare seats of the car and went up to road for help. The naval coast guard check post near the accident spot rushed to the place and picked all of them to near by Rural Health Center (RHC) in Ormara. Where doctors put gave oxygen to Najma and Rehana  but with no response. Doctor pronounced Najma and Rehana dead and given first aid to Comrade Salam, Rafiq Baloch and Wahid Baloch but after an hour of accident Wahid succumbed to chest and head injuries. Comrade Salam and Rafiq Baloch were given injection and initial treatment; here Comrade Salam passed urine and took some juice. Rafiq Baloch informed from RHC through phone at 8pm to Ghani Zaman, Secretary General NTUF in Karachi and to Shahid Ali of Union leader in Pasni about the accident. Ghani Zaman and Shahid inform Zehra Khan the sad news. I and Comrade Sherbaz was informed by the Ghani Zaman at 820pm when we were with Comrade Abira in meeting. We were informed that two female comrades and driver were expired and comrade Salam was injured but in stable condition and in his conscious. There was no ambulance to carry them to Karachi, Rafiq did his best to request the RHC to provide them ambulance but failed to get it. He called Shahid in Pasni and Comrade Ghulam Mustafa in Winder (near Hub) asked them to rush to Ormara with ambulances and vehicles to carry the injured and bodies of comrades to Karachi. He also collected all the belongings of the comrades from the spot. Ghulam Mustafa from Winder reached with two ambulances at health center at 12.30am of 14 December. They completed police formalities there.

I and Sherbaz informed Mr Ayub life partner of Comrade Najma, Rehana’s family and comrade Hanan, comrade Salam’s brother about the accident. We reached at Comrade Najma home to pick Ayub sahib to proceed to Hub city to know more information about the accident.

At 12.30 am Rafiq Baloch informed me in presence of Comrade Hanan that they were leaving for Karachi and when I asked him about the condition of comrade Salam he told me he was stable and there was no complication in respect of Comrade Salam’s health and he was out of danger. He informed me that after Ormara there were no mobile signals so they were not in position to have communication with us and would be in contact when they would reach near “Winder” 180 Km from Hub. I estimated and other confirmed that it will take them at least six hours to reach Hub because of small ambulance of hi roof made, of heavy rain and slippery road due to the fat sludge of fish spread on all over the road. It meant they reach as schedule at 7am of 14 December.

Friend from Landhi along with Comrade Hanan was also present there in NTUF office in Hub, family members of Najma and Rena were also with us in the office. It was expected the ambulances and vehicles would reach in Hub at around 6 to 7am in morning. In between we all had had tries to get in contact with Shahid, Rafiq and other but there was no response.

We tried number of time with Edhi trust, police stations, ARY TV to give us information if they have had about the where about of the comrades but all were ignorant about the situation. After 7 am there was panic among us so again called the police station at Liyari Lakra whether they had any clue about the where about of our comrades. They were also clueless.

At 9am we get to knew from the coast guard check post at ‘Phohr Nadi” rainy river, 180 KM from Hub, that our comrades were standard on the other side of river due to high flood in the river. They were force to stopped at the bank of river on other side; water was so high that no vehicle or person would be in position to cross it and it was very unfortunate there was no signals and communication means to inform us the situation. Comrade Salam again asked for urine pass and said he wanted to eat some thing, Mustafa want to get some biscuits which he ate and also took some juice.

 At morning Comrade Mustafa crosses the river with the help of stick and requested the check post people to inform us the situation, the check post person passed on the information to their main office and they inform me the whole situation at around 8.45am. They had asked us to come to the river with Land Cruiser Make (Diesel) ambulances so to cross the river. We rushed to Edhi center and they immediately arranged the vehicles from Karachi. We rushed to the river side along with 30 comrades in five vehicles and some comrade stayed at Edhi center to catch the ambulances. We all reached at the point at 11.45 am and we saw that they had already crossed the river. It was all due to the courage of Mustafa and other friends of NTUF and the BNP members they jumped in the river made shield to make the way for the vehicles to cross the river. They also used the rope to cross the river.

First of all and in hurry Rafiq Baloch took the Salam in car to rush to Karachi with company of Ghani Zaman, at that moment when Sherbaz spoke with Salam he wave his hand. Ghani Zaman was with him in car and had had last conversation; he was inquiring about his comrades and told Ghani Zaman that he felt some pain in chest. We were with the dead bodies and when we reach near Murshed Hospital in Baldia Town, where Comrade Salam was supposed to be admitted, Ghani Zaman gave the sad news of Comrade Salam’s death in hospital at 1.05pm.

We have lost our beloved comrade at a time we need them very much. They lost their lives in struggle and they were never faded away in our memories and thoughts. We are the touch bearers of their lofty goals of revolutionary struggle and the red flag for which they stood restlessly, we will never let it down. We will take care of their families and near dears in all respects. Their courage and revolutionary zeal give us strength to fight against the capitalism and for the emancipation of working class of Pakistan.

Long live Comrade Salam

Long live Comrade Najma Khanum

Long live Comrade Rehana Kausar

Long live Comrade Wahid Baloch  

Red salute to brave daughters and sons of working class

A brief tribute 
organizing home based women workers till last Four LEF leaders died in road accident

Najma Khanum,  Rehana Kausar and Abdul Salam Salam along with their driver Wahid Baluch lost their lives in a tragic traffic incident at Omara in Baluchistan on 13 December evening. Their car trying to save a donkey turned upside down that came suddenly on the main road. Comrade Abdul Salam was seriously injured, while going to hospital, the ambulance got stuck at a place where there was a overflow of water in a stream that has blocked the road.  He spent whole night at the place as there was no way out; he died in the morning at a hospital on 14 December. While, Mohammed Rafiq Baluch president National Trade Union Federation, received minor injuries during the accident is out of danger. The driver Mohammed Wahid Baluch was younger brother of Mohammed Rafiq Baluch.

All five were returning from a consultation meeting at Gwadar on the issue of organizing home based women workers. The meeting was organized by Labour Education Foundation and 31 trade unions, social activists and government labour official participated in the day long consultation on government home based workers national policy document. Earlier, the five attend two other meetings of home based workers in Pasni and Gawadar to discuss the expansion of Home Based Women Workers Association, an organization that was set up few months back in Pakistan.    

Najma Khanum joined Labour Education Foundation in 2003 and was one of the senior staff members at Karachi LEF office. She was elected counselor from Gadap Town Karachi and a known social activist. She had participated actively in lawyer’s movement and was part of the rally on 12 May 2007 that came under fire from MQM goons. She narrowly escaped at the time. Najma Khanum joined Labour Party Pakistan in 2007 and took part actively in all the demonstrations and rallies of LPP in Karachi. She travelled extensively in Sind to organize the work of LEF and also the political work of LPP. Najma Khanum was part of the delegation from Pakistan which attended the People SAARC Sri lanka in 2008.

Rehana Kausar (26), a young women activist joined LEF in 2007 and later became member of LPP as well. A fine orator, she was very active in the formation of home based women workers in the province.

Comrade Abdul Salam Salam was former secretary of Labor Party Pakistan Karachi chapter. He recently voluntarily paved the way for a younger comrade Mukhtiar Raho to be elected as secretary LPP in Karachi. Comrade Salam was member of editorial board of Weekly Mazdoor Jeddojuhd and was a leading trade unionist at a textile factory. He recently won his reinstatement at the factory by an order of a labour court after few years of fighting for his reinstatement. He joined LEF as a union organizer and was instrumental in helping many trade unions in training and registrations.  He was running a literary website in Pashto language.

Comrade Wahid Baluch was younger brother of Rafique Baluch, the main leader of one of the radical trade union federation of Pakistan, the National Trade Union Federation. He was always there to help his elder brother by driving him around the province.

All the four dead had a dream of building a strong union for the home based women workers. They had already held a very successful convention with over 500 women at Hyderabad to start the Home Based Women Workers Association last month. They were travelling in several cities and towns to organize this most unorganized sector.

LEF and LPP lost their four of their best comrades in Sindh. The three had made LEF and LPP work in Karachi and Sindh as a main priority of their lives. The working class in Pakistan is poorer now without these four untiring crusaders of their class. They all believed in a Socialist society free of exploitation and for free education and health facilities.

They all lost their lives to safe the live of one animal, a donkey. The very poor infrastructure of the roads in Baluchistan means accidents like this very often. Comrade Salam lost his lives waiting on the road side for the whole night where his ambulance was stuck because of over flow of a stream. He was also a victim of very poor infrastructure.

I have met all of them many times. Comrade Salam was the intellectual backbone of LPP and LEF in Sindh, while Najma Khanum and Rehana Kausar were tireless activists for women and workers rights. Najma Khanum was particularly known in her community for social work and political education. She was always ready to talk politics and activities to promote politics and workers rights.

Red solute to comrades who are no more with us now.

By: Farooq Tariq




        Hearing the Unheard




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