ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Lahori Ram Balley (1930–2023)

A Reputed Ambedkarite and Social Activist

As a committed follower of B R Ambedkar’s vision, Lahori Ram Balley (1930–2023) devoted his life to advancing the cause of social justice and equality. He passed away at 93, leaving behind a legacy of activism and leadership that inspired many in Punjab and beyond

Lahori Ram Balley (also known as L R Balley), a veteran Ambedkarite and social activist, passed away on 6 July 2023. He was a household name among the Scheduled Castes (SCs) of Punjab, a state known for its largest concentration of SC population in India. He was held in high ­regard in several other states as well as among the SC diaspora.

Born on 20 July 1930, to Premi Devi (mother) and Bhagwan Dass (father) at Nawanshahr, Balley inherited political activism from his grandfather, Chaudhary Inder Ram, who was associated with Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia, the founder of the historic Ad Dharm movement, in generating social and political consciousness among the so-called lower castes in Punjab in the late 1920s. Balley traced the Ad Dharm Mandal report, a rare primary document, from the scattered papers of his grandfather and gave it to Mark Juergensmeyer, a reputed American academic and pioneer of Dalit studies, who visited him in the early 1970s during his doctoral research on the formation of Dalit consciousness in Punjab. Eventually, the Ad Dharm Mandal report became the forte of Juergensmeyer’s classic entitled Religion as Social Vision: The Movement against Untouchability in 20th Century Punjab, published by the University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, in 1982. However, Balley’s interest in B R Ambedkar’s mission was ignited by his paternal uncle, Hakim Gurcharan Dass, an adept admirer of Ambedkar, who was also closely associated with Seth Kishan Dass, the main fin­ancer of the Ad Dharm Mandal and the founder president of the Punjab Scheduled Caste Federation (SCF) in 1942
—the maiden Ambedkarite political party in Punjab.

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Updated On : 27th Jul, 2023
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