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May 22, 2019

Veteran leftist leader Rahim Bakhsh Azad dies


May 22, 2019

Veteran leftist leader, journalist and literary figure Rahim Bakhsh Azad passed away on Tuesday in Lyari. Azad had suffered a cardiac arrest and was subsequently shifted to hospital, where he breathed his last. He was 77. He has left behind a widow, five sons and six daughters.

Azad was laid to rest at the Morho graveyard (Shershah) the same day. His funeral was attended by a large number of residents, representatives of different political parties, and labour and civil society leaders.

His soyem will be held tomorrow after Asar prayer at the Hari (green) mosque, in Kumhar Wara, Lyari. Azad was born in 1942 in Lyari’s Dhobi Ghat nieghbourhood but he grew up in the Singu Lane area.

He was known for his association with a number of leftist, trade-union and nationalist movements and literary circles. He was also part of the Leningrad Circle in Lyari formed by Lala Lal Bukhsh Rind, Barakzai, Mohammad Baig and Yosuf Naskandi in the late 1950s.

Since the beginning, he had been affiliated with the socialist groups and closely associated with Tufail Abbas, a known trade unionist. Azad started his struggle by organising cinema workers in Karachi and formed the first cinema employees union. He also helped with the formation of unions of port workers and tannery workers.

He also worked as a journalist and served as an associate editor of acclaimed research journal ‘Pakistan Forum’, edited by Dr Feroz Ahmed. Azad also remained editor of the known monthly magazine ‘Jafakash’, which focused mainly on issues relating to labourers, human rights and underprivileged communities, published by Idara-e-Amn-o-Insaf, a Christian charity.

Ramazan Baloch, a researcher and activist, in his recent book ‘Baloch Roshan Chehray’, also profiled Azad, saying that for the past five decades, Azad’s residence in Singu Lane had been a centre of political, literarily and cultural activities.

On the literary front, he was a multi-lingual poet and had written poetic work in Balochi, Urdu and Sindhi. He played a key role in the publication of Balochi magazines ‘Balochi’, ‘Labzank’ and ‘Sachan’. He also assisted in publishing Sindhi magazines ‘Tehreek’ and ‘Sadenth’.

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