Bhasin passes away
-- By Y.P. Chhibbar and Surendra Mohan
Prem Bhasin, one of the first members of the PUCL and a member of its
National Council from Aligarh, UP, who fought against slavery, injustice
and exploitation all his life died on 25th January, in a hospital in Noida,
U.P. He had been ailing for ten days and was suspected of having struck
by bronchial pneumonia. He was over 85 years of age, and is survived by
his wife, son and daughter.
Bhasin joined the freedom struggle actively in 1939, after he secured
Master's Degree in Political Science when he started to work as a full-timer
of the Congress Socialist Party. He came from a family of freedom fighters
and took to revolutionary work, under the direction of the Party. He was
arrested in 1941 and was released in 1946. During the jail term, he and
other socialists went on a hunger strike in sympathy with the hunger strikers
detained in the Deoli camp jail in Rajasthan under the leadership of Shri
Jaya Prakash Narayan. After the demands of the detainees in Deoli were
conceded and the camp jail was dismantled, the detenues in Gujarat also
ended their fast.
After release from jail, Bhasin continued to work as party organiser in
the Punjab and was elected to its National Executive Committee in the
Kanpur National Conference. In the Nasik Conference of the Socialist Party,
he was appointed as one of the Joint Secretaries, a post he held till
1953 and later from 1954 to 1963, when he was elected as General Secretary.
In 1952, the Party took the name of Praja Socialist Party as a result
of unification with the KMPP and the Forward Bloc. He gave up that office
in 1971 after the unification of the PSP with the SSP. Thereafter, he
was Chairman of the Parliamentary Board of the Party for a couple of years.
He suffered incarceration on several occasions during 1947-1970. Although
he remained as a centre of contacts for workers during the internal Emergency
imposed in 1975, he was not put behind bars. In the 1977 parliamentary
general election, he campaigned for Janata Party candidates in Assam and
Orissa. He was offered Ambassadorship and Governorship in 1977, but refused
to accept the offer. He also turned down similar offers in 1990.
Shri Bhasin was an ardent defender of civil liberties. He always supported
the PUCL. As editor of the Janata, English weekly for several years, he
raised his powerful voice against the suppression of the democratic rights
of the people. Owing to several factors related to personal domestic problems,
he had left active political work in 1980. Four books penned by him have
been published. They are 'Socialism in India', 'Politics: National and
International', 'Riding the Waves' and 'Profiles in Courage'.