Lucknow- Popatrao Alhat, a longtime associate of Manyavar Shri Kanshiram, recently passed away. He breathed his last on January 19, though his demise went largely unnoticed due to his limited exposure to social life.
Hailing from Maharashtra, Alhat served as the personal secretary of Manyawar Kanshiram and continued his association with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) after Kanshiram's demise.
Few are aware that Alhat, employed at the ammunition factory in Pune while Kanshiram worked at the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), played a pivotal role alongside figures like D.K. Khaparde and Dina Bhana in shaping Kanshiram as a leader.
A significant episode in Kanshiram's life unfolded when officials at DRDO cancelled the holiday for Ambedkar Jayanti. This move sparked mobilization among supporters of Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar. Khaparde, Dina Bhana, Popatrao Alhat, and Kanshiram waged a prolonged battle. After an argument with an officer, Kanshiram was suspended while Khaparde was transferred but they were successful in reinstating the holiday. Alhat had narrated the story of this crucial episode of kanshiram’s life In a Marathi newspaper in 2016.
Alhat and Kanshiram first connected during their simultaneous employment at DRDO and the ammunition factory, respectively. Kanshiram would visit Alhat's home on Bhandarkar Road in the city, even coming on a cycle. The mooknayak spoke to Kiran Alhat, Popatrao Alhat's son and an active BSP worker, who recalls Kanshiram organizing the first SC/ST meeting at Anand Housing Society near their home in 1971. Kiran credits his father for playing a pivotal role in organizing that meeting. Additionally, on October 14, 1971, Kanshiram organized another meeting for soldiers and defense personnel from the SC/ST community, where Popatrao Alhat played an instrumental role.
In his later years, Alhat became less active and made fewer public appearances. With his passing, the Dalit movement has lost another veteran.