Uncategorized

Naxalbari 50th anniversary

About Naxalbari, and the spark that set a subcontinent on fire.
Some fire: it still burns 50 years later, even as India seeks to sit on the high table of global affairs, as an overwhelming vote at home for inclusive progress turns out to have been interpreted by the victors as a mandate for exclusive persuasion.

It began as a farmers’ protest from a cluster of three villages near Naxalbari in the Dooars region of northern Bengal, west of the regional airport at Bagdogra. In one district, Darjeeling, of one state, West Bengal.
After five decades of undeniable socio-economic development, avatars of the rebellion—or “Naxalite” movement—that spread after leftwing radicals co-opted that farmers’ protest, continues to mark the failures of India as a nation. Last year, the ministry of home affairs (which tellingly has a Left Wing Extremism Division) recorded leftwing rebellion of various degrees of intensity in 106 districts across nine states. Seven years earlier, that count was nearly a third of India’s 600-plus districts, across 14 states.

The fount remains Naxalbari.
“Do you remember what happened that day?” I asked Punjab Rao when I visited him some years ago.
Rao knew what I meant, this former Indian Army soldier from the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra who settled down in these parts after being decommissioned, and became a farmer-revolutionary.
“Twenty-fourth of May, 1967. Just up the lane from this house,” he pointed behind him, ageing eyes alight, voice sharp. “Landless peasants had had enough.”
His rundown hut was a few yards off the road near Naxalbari, one that travels northwest to Nepal’s eastern borders; another sliver travels southwest towards Bihar, linking northern Bengal through forest, farmland and the region’s mainstay, tea gardens. A patchwork of farms are still worked by poor, mostly tenant farmers. The Naxalbari of revolutionary grammar was really a cluster of villages and hamlets with quirky names from nature and history: Hatighisa, after elephants; Phansidewa, literally, hanged; the railway hub of New Jalpaiguri—the place of olives.
Anger had been brewing over scarcity of food, issues of landlessness, share-cropping and bonded labour for about a year up to May 1967, Rao recalled. “There was talk of revolution, but they just wanted to assert their rights. They had taken over land. Then the police came, called by the jotedar.”
“As soon as we heard about it, we set off with whatever we had—swords, bows and arrows, spears, farming implements. The people with us, as soon as they saw the group of police and landlords, they let the arrows fly. One hit the landlord, another hit someone on the leg. The police ran away. That was the beginning.”
The police returned in large numbers the next day, and destroyed houses, broke what they could, mixed rice and lentils with dirt, destroyed all other food. By then the spark had spread to Bengaijote, just beyond Naxalbari. Eleven protestors died by police firing that day.
“Naxalbari had its first martyrs,” said Rao. “And the Naxalbari movement was born. Bas.”
There is a memorial to the eleven in Bengaijote, by the Tukruria forest, a once-dense tract that proved to be a good hiding place for rebels—from the nearby villages as well as Kolkata and elsewhere. Unlike their rural comrades who fought for their lands and livelihoods, the urban guerrillas were driven by idealism layered with the rhetoric of Mao Zedong. Or those of Charu Mazumdar, a parent of the extreme movement that broke ranks with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to formally establish the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)—the “Naxalite” party.
The hamlet of Bengaijote is mostly a scattering of huts, a handful of brick houses, and inhabitants a mix: some impoverished Rajbongshi tribals, indigenous to this area, some Santhal tribals, brought in generations earlier as labour for tea gardens. You may hear Nepali pop music.
In a small clearing is a makeshift flagstaff with a small red flag, and four pedestals painted blood red with busts on each. Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Mazumdar. To the right of the Naxalbari pantheon is a memorial to the 11 killed on “Historic 25th May 1967”. All unarmed protestors, women and men: Dhaneshwari Devi, Seemaswari Mallick, Nayaneswari Mallick, Surubala Burman, Sonamati Singh, Phoolmati Devi, Samsari Saibani, Gaudrau Saibani, Kharsingh Mallick. “And two children”.
Several thousand have followed in India’s greatest war with itself: innocents, rebels, and those tasked to combat them. They die every other day, statistics over solutions.

Advertisements

Discussion

Comments are closed.

Important CPI (Maoist) documents

"Against Proposed Aerial Attacks on Adivasi Areas"

Red Homage to CPI(Maoist) Central Committee member Comrade Sridhar Srinivasan!

“The closure of three thousand schools and ashrams by the CG government is a symbol of the economic and academic bankruptcy and its anti people character”

“In Support of the Australian Indigenous Peoples’ Struggle Against Adani”

“Rise Against the Proposed Salva Judum-2 with the name Vikas Sangharsh Samithi (Committee to Struggle for Development)! — An appeal to the people, democrats, progressive intellectuals, writers, teachers, lawyers, media personnel, human rights organizations, adivasi, non-adivasi social organizations, sarv samaj, sarv adivasi samaj”

“A Call to the People to Fight Back the New Form of Salva Judum and the Supportive Organization of Greenhunt, Salva Judum-2”

“Boycott the Visit of Modi, the Prime Servant of CBB and MNCs to Chhattisgarh”

“Against the Family Planning Murders of Women”

“Condemn the Limitation on Buying Paddy”, in support of the peasant’s struggle

“Against Harrakoder Fake Encounter"

MIB Interview with Comrade Ganapathy: “Building on the new, unique and unprecedented achievements of the last decade, Indian revolution will certainly overcome the difficult situation to win newer, larger and more glorious victories”

Unite, Fight Back and Defeat ‘OGH—Third Phase’ of the Fascist Modi Government

Fight Back [against] the Anti-Working Class Amendments to Labour Laws by the NDA Goverment! Vikas model of Modi is Vinash for the people of India and Vistar for the imperialists and compradors!

CC Collected Statements: Volume 1 (September 2004 - February 2007)

CC Collected Statements: Volume 2 (March 2007 - July 2010)

CC Collected Statements: Volume 3 (August 2010 - August 2014)

Collected Interviews — September 2004 - August 2014

Message to the Milan International Conference in Solidarity with the People’s War in India

A Call to the People of India! Shatter the shackles of imperialism and feudalism, Destroy this rotten system! Build your future and that of the country with your own hands!

Statement in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) on September 21, 2004, issued by the Odisha State Committee of the CPI (Maoist) -Hindi

Pamphlet in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) on September 21, 2004, issued by the Odisha State Committee of the CPI (Maoist) -Hindi

Condemn the Invasion of Gaza and Massacre of Palestinians by Zionist Israel! Hail the Heroic National Liberation Struggle for Independent Palestine!

Pamphlet and in honor of Com. Barunda (Sushil Roy), put out by the Odisha State Committee of the CPI (Maoist) -Hindi

Jan Sangram Issue4 July 2014 -Hindi

CC CPI(Maoist) Statement on the Lok Sabha Election Results

Jan Sangram 2014 March - Special Election Boycott Issue -Hindi

Jan Sangram, 2014 Pamphlet On International Day Of Support -Hindi

Tongpal Ambush is the Consequence of White Terrorism of the Indian State in the name of Operation Green Hunt — ‘War on the People

Merger Declaration of the CPI(Maoist) and CPI(M-L)Naxalbari

Boycott the sham parliament & assembly elections!

Comrade Abhay Interview on General Elections — 2014

Condolence Message of the CC, CPI(Maoist) on the Demise of Comrade S. A. Rauf

The message for the International Conference in Hamburg by the Secretary, CPI(Maoist)

The Call of the CC, CPI(Maoist) to celebrate the 9° anniversary of the Party

On the PLGA Attack of May 25

%d bloggers like this: