06 June 2017

The Revolutionary Legacy of Naxalbari

May 25 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the great Naxalbari uprising, the uprising that had begun in the foothills of Darjeeling as a militant peasant movement for land and tenancy rights and gone on to spread like a prairie fire across the country. For the first time since 1947, the call of revolution rent the air, the oppressed began to rise in revolt and urban youth fanned out in rural India to fight shoulder to shoulder with the landless rural poor. Independent India had never experienced such social churning and political rupture. The slogans were so direct and...

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We Need The Radical Energy Of Naxalbari Today

Dipankar Bhattacharya It is now 50 years since Naxalbari, an otherwise obscure area near the India-Nepal border in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, had stormed its way into India’s political vocabulary. It was a peasant uprising with a difference that raised the question of changing land relations to the level of a change in the class configuration of state power. The state did all it could to try and crush the communist-ledupsurge right at its inception. Custodial killings, fake encounters, mass extermination of young activists and their family members, third degree torture, indiscriminate indefinite detention without trial – much...

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Remembering Rashmoni

(Excerpts from a poem written by Sameer Roy in 1968 during the Naxalbari movement – in memory of Rashmoni, a woman of the Hajong tribe who was killed by the police during the Tebhaga movement in 1946–47) Comrade, how old are we Why not take a stock. My mother, sitting by the wretched flicker of a fire, Counts the age of Heeren, Nripen, Shyamal and Sameer— Why do not you bother a little and count. Rasmoni of Hajong died with an ill fate— Other than the National Library and the hills of Hajong, There is no picture of hers in Bengal. …Why not recite her name to Shantilata, Jiad’s wife Fatema …Why not now with Rasmoni’s name covertly in our pockets Let us slip into a village a few miles away. …Shantilata, Jiad’s wife Fatema— Could be more incisive than the bow. Comrade, let us from the old history book Tear out Rasmoni’s picture And march ahead, more surreptitiously than...

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My Memories of the Early Days of Naxalbari

Abhijit Mazumdar [What was the impact of the Naxalbari movement on family members of CPI(ML) leaders? Here, Abhijit Mazumdar, that speak of his memories of his father Comrade Mazumdar, mother Leela Mazumdar and the impact of the Naxalbari movement on his childhood. Comrade Abhijit is now a Central Committee member of CPI(ML) Liberation. These remarks are excerpts from an interview with Comrade Abhijit by members of the Paschimbanga Gana Sanskritik Parishad during the Jan Jagran Padyatra that took place between 19-21 November 2016 in the historic Naxalbari villages of Naxalbari, Kharibari and Phansidewa.) The Atmosphere in Our Home When...

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Naxalbari Movement’s ‘People-First’ Patriotism

(‘Mukt Hobe Priya Matribhumi’ – The Beloved Motherland Will Be Free was one of the favourite songs of the Naxalbari movement’s revolutionaries, and it best embodies the movement’s spirit of ‘people-first’ patriotism.) The beloved motherland will be free – That day is not far today! Look, the red light of the red sun Shines there beyond the eastern ocean! Light spreading in all ten directions Dispels the darkness of night, The red rays of the sun Will bathe the motherland in luminous freedom! Workers and peasants, oppressed era after era, Resoundingly sing the song of liberation! The blood-soaked red flag, shining in glory Flies high in the air and touches the sky! We have to bring about that dawn of light Bring about that day full of light Put all your strength to the task comrade! The beloved motherland will be free – That day is not far today! See, great Bharat’s people are great, Bharat will belong to its people! Great Bharat’s people are great, Bharat will belong to its...

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One Year of Naxalbari Struggle — Charu Mazumdar

Full one year has passed since the peasant struggle in Naxalbari began. This struggle is different from all other peasant struggles. Where is the difference? Peasants have always struggled against various injustices and oppressions. This is the first time that the peasants have struggled not only for their partial demands but for the seizure of state power. If the Naxalbari peasant struggle has any lesson for us, it is this: militant struggles must be carried on not for land, crops etc., but for the seizure of state power. It is precisely this that gives the Naxalbari struggle its uniqueness. Peasants in different areas must prepare themselves in a manner so as to be able to render ineffective the state apparatus in their respective areas. It is in Naxalbari that this path has been adopted for the first time in the history of peasant struggles in India. In other words, the revolutionary era has been ushered in, and this is the first year of that era. It is for this reason that the revolutionaries of all countries are heartily welcoming the Naxalbari struggle. India has been turned into a base of imperialism and revisionism, and is acting today as a base of reactionary forces against the people struggling for liberation. That is why the Naxalbari struggle is not merely a national struggle; it is also an international struggle. This struggle...

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Naxalbari – Past and Present

(Excerpts from a piece by Vinod Mishra, Deshabrati, September 1990) Naxalbari means the beginning of a revolutionary political stream in national politics based on this peasant awakening. Naxalbari did not mean just fulfilling a few economic demands of peasants on a local basis. Those who wanted to create an alternative political stream in hills and jungles based on “red army and base areas’ all failed to do so. Now, it is not politics that controls the gun in those areas, on the contrary it is the gun that is running politics. Naxalbari does not mean a victory in any abstract struggle between Marxism and revisionism, armed struggle and parliamentary path. But this is what petty-bourgeois revolutionism takes it to mean, which is why it thinks that Naxalbari can be recreated any and every where through revolutionary zeal and a handful of basic Marxist tenets. … Naxalbari’s roots lie deep in the contradictions of the social structure of rural India, with the long history of peasant struggle, the continuity of Tebhaga-Telangana behind it. Behind Naxalbari is the process of protracted struggle between the two contending tactical lines in India’s communist movement. In a specific political conjuncture this resulted in the Naxalbari uprising. To understand Naxalbari, we need to understand all this. Will the democratic revolution be completed by the awakening of the mass of toiling peasants, or will the initiatives...

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The Cultural Aspect of The Naxalbari Uprising

(Excerpts from an article by Pranay Krishna (translated from Hindi) which appeared in the Deepavali Special edition of the Hindi daily Prabhat Khabar in November 2009) The Naxalbari peasant uprising of 1967 gave birth to a new imagination that left a deep, all-India impact on art, culture and literature. The creative imagination of movements inspired by Naxalbari, and the sky of their dreams are far more vast than their geo-political scope. For the leaders of the Naxalbari movement, it was clear that the long and glorious heritage of struggles of the country’s peasant and toiling people was the main...

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Hang Him

He says he wants bread and clothes Not only that, he wants justice too On top of that he wants genuine freedom too Hang him He says he wants regular work Not only work, he wants the fruits of his work And then he even wants untrammelled possession of both work and fruits Hang him He says he doesn’t want empty speeches Nor false promises, violent rule Nor a false democratic throne erected on The burning breasts of hungry and naked people Hang him He says he will march with everyone Will change the system founded on oppression He’s no doubt allied with some foreign force He will get just desserts for his treachery without delay Come, patriotic executioners! Trustworthy pawns of capital! Hang him – Gorakh Pande, 1978 (On peasant revolutionaries Kista Gowd and Bhoomiah being given the death...

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Naxalbari And India’s Democratic Rights Movement

(Liberation looks at the linkages between Naxalbari and the birth of India’s democratic rights movement.) Sattar mein kasa kalkatte par, kuch jawan umangon ke natey Kas gaya mulk ki gardan par, pachhattar ke atey atey… (The bloody hand gripped Calcutta in 1970, to crush some young dreams/Its grip tightened on the nation’s neck by 1975) – Lines from Gorakh Pandey’s poem Khooni Panja that traced the Congress’ bloody track record of state repression and communal violence The Naxalbari uprising is one of the most significant political events of independent India. It had a lasting impact on politics and culture,...

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Why Does The LDF Government Justify The Custodial Killing of Revolutionary Martyr Arikkad Varghese?

Arikkad Varghese was one of the young Naxalite revolutionaries organizing the oppressed adivasi people of Wayanad. The Naxalite movement in that area challenged the intense feudal oppression of adivasis who served as bonded labour for landlords. In the course of the movement, an oppressive landlord Vasudeva Adiga and a suspected police informer Chekkoo were killed. Varghese was picked up by the CRPF from a shelter and shot dead in a fake encounter in 1970. Years later, in 1998, a police constable, P Ramachandran Nair blew the whistle on the fake encounter. He publicly confessed that he had shot Varghese...

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Naxalbari Veteran Comrade Shanti Munda Remembers — 25 May 1967

(Comrade Shanti Munda is a veteran of the Naxalbari peasant uprising. Goutam Chakraborty and Basudeb Bose spoke to her at her home in Sebdolla Jote in Hatighisa village of Naxalbari to get a first-hand account of Naxalbari from this great fighter.) She does not remember the date or month of her birth, but she is aware that 2017 is the 74th year of her life. When and how did she join the Communist Party? Comrade Shanti Munda begins to tell us her remarkable story. “It happened ages ago. I must have been only twelve or thirteen then. I came...

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Saharanpur Carnage

Punishing Politically Assertive, Self-Reliant Dalits Who Refuse to be Foot Soldiers of Hindutva’s Hate Politics (On 5 May, Dalits in Shabbirpur village of Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh were attacked. A CPI(ML) team comprising comrades Afroz Alam, Bholaram Maurya, and Chunnilal visited Shabbirpur village and met the injured at the Saharanpur District Hospital after the incident. They prepared a fact-finding report on the incident. Later an AISA team comprising AISA National President Sucheta De and others also visited Shabbirpur. Below is a report by Sucheta De on the facts and implications of the Saharanpur carnage.) When BJP gains electoral...

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Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti Activists Being Forced to ‘Surrender’ As Maoists

(A fact finding team comprising environmental and social activist Priya Pillai, All India Progressive Women’s Association Secretary Kavita Krishnan, senior activist Chittaranjan Behera, Santi Snigdha Mohanty of Delhi Solidarity Group, student activist Birender and Comrade Loknath Nauri of CPIML Liberation visited the Niyamgiri region for three days between 14-16 May 2016 to investigate reports of human rights violations. A summary of the team’s report is below.) Arrest, Illegal Detention And Forced Surrender of Kuni Sikaka The team met Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti activist Kuni Sikaka to enquire into the circumstances of her arrest and detention from 1-3 May 2017. Kuni...

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India’s Human Rights Rhetoric And Reality

Kavita Krishnan Presenting India’s human rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process in May 2017, Indian Government representative, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi made several claims about India’s human rights record. Here is a reality check about his claims. “Culture of torture is completely alien to Indian culture” The GoI’s claim that torture is alien to “Indian culture” is a rather cruel joke. Has GoI forgotten the endless Indian popular movies that valorize custodial torture as a ‘normal’ part of police procedure and makes heroes of ‘encounter’ (custodial killing) cops? Has GoI forgotten the series of Chief Ministers who have publicly hailed custodial killings? Who is GoI fooling? All Indians know that torture is the undeclared ‘standard operating procedure’ of Indian police. In October 2015, a verdict by Justice Siddharth Mridul of the Delhi High Court cited the 2011 report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which recording 14,231 custodial torture-related deaths between 2001 to 2010. The Judge said, “The poor, the deprived classes, women and political activists are the worst victims of police high-handedness…One of the reasons why torture and custodial deaths are endemic in India on a large-scale is that the police feel that they are immune from the rigours of the law and are confident that they will not be held accountable, even if the...

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