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Blwe_torch

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Man behind the spring thunder': Obit on Kanu Sanyal
« on: March 24, 2010, 05:46:40 PM »

Man behind the spring thunder'


SILIGURI: "A peal of spring thunder has crashed over the land of India. Revolutionary peasants in the Darjeeling area have risen in rebellion... "This was how the People's Daily, the organ of the Chinese Communist party, described the incident of Naxalbari in 1967. And those in the forefront of that "rebellion" included Kanu Sanyal.

Born into a middle-class family at Kurseong in 1932, Naxalite leader Kanu Sanyal joined the communist movement in the Fifties and left home to work among the peasants. Like Charu Majumdar, he was also a senior leader of CPI's (and later, CPM's) Darjeeling district until he left the party during the peasant uprising in Naxalbari in 1967 when the first United Front government was in power in Bengal.

"Kanubabu and myself joined the CPM after it was formed in 1964. Later, we formed a committee within the party to continue with the inner party struggle against revisionism. Some of us continued with the theoretical debate while Kanu Sanyal kept working among the peasants to show them the way. For we believed that a step to revolution is more important than a dozen programmes. Sanyal dumped the party when police opened fire on peasants demanding land to the tillers. That was on May 24, 1967. Eleven peasants were killed in the incident. The killings firmed up the peasants and the movement spread to other parts of the state. Kanu Sanyal led the peasant movement that culminated in the formation of the CPI(M-L) on April 22, 1969," said Ajijul Haque.

Sanyal was arrested in August 1970 and was put behind the bars for seven years in connection with the Parvatipuram Naxalite Conspiracy case. He was released in 1977 after the Left Front came power in West Bengal.

Recollecting Sanyal's political contribution, Haque pointed to the leader's thesis Eleven great deeds in Naxalbari. "In his writings, Sanyal showed how peasants irrespective of their political affiliations came together to take part in sanitation activities, digging up ponds and even setting up health centres. He spoke about demolishing the old regime of the oppressive jotedars, and also about construction of a new society with poor peasants at the helm," Haque said.

Lamenting his death, CPI(M-L) leader Santosh Rana said his well-wishers had been insisting the ailing leader to come to Kolkata for treatment. "We were ready to bear the expenses. Even some doctors of the SSKM Hospital were eager to treat him. But Sanyal wouldn't leave his village and the men with whom he worked. He was a true communist who never asked for favours. A dedicated soul Sanyal spent his life reorganising the revolutionaries all over the country and stood by the poor till the last day," Rana said.

Writer Saibal Mitra is yet come to terms with Sanyal's suicide. "It is unbelievable. Sanyal did not bow his head ever. Even in his old age he resisted a dacoity while travelling in train to Kolkata. Sometime ago the commune he stayed in was ravaged by elephants from the forests. But he didn't ever think of leaving the place. Party was his life. He was a true professional revolutionary as Lenin used to call communist wholetimers," Mitra said.

Mitra would call Kanu Sanyal and not Charu Majumdar the architect of the Naxalbari uprising in the late sixties. "Sanyal's thesis as he elaborated in his writing More on Terai Movement' is that peasants in Naxalbari wanted to establish their right to till on vested lands. It was not a movement to grab state power as Charu Majumdar espoused. He worked among the peasants and tea garden workers and seldom came to Kolkata to participate in intellectual discourse. He even refused treatment when his friends and well-wishers wanted to bring him in the city," Mitra said.

Months before his death, Sanyal had told TOI that he was in favour of more autonomy to the Hill people of Darjeeling Kalimpong and Kurseong. The Naxal leader said he recognised the right to self-determination but did not endorse the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's demand to include parts of the Dooars in the proposed Gorkhaland.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata-/Man-behind-the-spring-thunder/articleshow/5717596.cms
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Re: Man behind the spring thunder': Obit on Kanu Sanyal
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2010, 05:48:01 PM »

Top Naxal leader Kanu Sanyal found dead in his house

SILIGURI: Veteran Naxal leader and one of the founders of the CPI(M-L) Kanu Sanyal was found hanging in his house at Sephtulajote village in Naxalbari on Tuesday where he worked among the peasants till his last. His health was failing since 2009 after he suffered a massive stroke. Sanyal's neighbours fear that the leader killed himself because he was unable to bear with his failing health any longer.

Born in a middle-class family in Siliguri, Sanyal left his house to work among the peasants soon after he joined the communist movement while he was a student in the fifties. Sanyal was a district organiser of the CPM's Darjeeling district like Charu Majumdar till he broke away from the party during the Naxalbari peasant uprising during the first United Front government in 1967. Like Majumdar and one of his comrades Jangal Santhal, Sanyal believed that peasant revolution was the axis of change in Indian society, the signs of which were evident from the Naxalbari uprising.

"Kanubabu was then with the CPM. He dumped the party when police opened fire on peasants demanding land to the tillers. That was on May 24, 1967. Eleven peasants were killed in the incident. The killings firmed up the peasants and the movement spread to other parts of the state. Kanu Sanyal led the peasant movement that culminated in the formation of the CPI(M-L) on April 22, 1969," CPI(M-L) leader Santosh Rana said.

Lamenting his death, Rana said that his well-wishers had been insisting the ailing leader to come to Kolkata for treatment. "We were ready to bear the expenses. Even some doctors of the SSKM Hospital were eager to treat him. But Sanyal wouldn't leave his village and the men with whom he worked. He was a true communist who never asked for favours. A dedicated soul Sanyal spent his life reorganising the revolutionaries all over the country and stood by the poor till the last day," Rana said.

However, Rana was taken aback with Sanyal's committing suicide. "I am shocked. He has never compromised on ideology and even in his life," the CPI(M-L) leader said, while reminiscing the days when he came closer to Sanyal during their days in jail in the seventies.

Writer Saibal Mitra is yet come to terms with Sanyal's suicide. "It is unbelievable. Sanyal did not bow his head ever. Even in his old age he resisted a dacoity while travelling in train to Kolkata. Sometime ago the commune he stayed in was ravaged by elephants from the forests. But he didn't ever think of leaving the place. Party was his life. He was a true professional revolutionary as Lenin used to call communist wholetimers," Mitra said.

Mitra would call Kanu Sanyal and not Charu Majumdar the architect of the Naxalbari uprising in the late sixties. "Sanyal's thesis as he elaborated in his writing 'More on Terai Movement' is that peasants in Naxalbari wanted to establish their right to till on vested lands. It was not a movement to grab state power as Charu Majumdar espoused. He worked among the peasants and tea garden workers and seldom came to Kolkata to participate in intellectual discourse. He even refused treatment when his friends and well-wishers wanted to bring him in the city," Mitra said.

Months before his death, while talking to TOI, Sanyal said that he was in favour of more autonomy to the Hill people of Darjeeling Kalimpong and Kurseong. The Naxal leader said he recognised the right to self-determination but did not endorse the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's demand to include parts of the Dooars in the proposed Gorkhaland.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Top-Naxal-leader-Kanu-Sanyal-found-dead-in-his-house/articleshow/5715411.cms
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Re: Man behind the spring thunder': Obit on Kanu Sanyal
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2010, 05:49:27 PM »

Naxalite icon Sanyal steered clear of dogmas
Subodh Varma, TNN, Mar 24, 2010, 04.27am IST

Almost 43 years ago, on 25 May 1967, police opened fire on protesting peasants in an obscure north Bengal village called Naxalbari. The 1967 protest was led by three men — Charu Mazumdar, Jungle Santhal and Kanu Sanyal. They were to become legends for a short time, leaders of the Naxalite movement, known in their current avatar as Maoists.

Mazumdar died in police custody in 1972. Santhal spent about a decade in jail, became an alcoholic on his release and died in 1981. Only the diminutive Kanu Sanyal survived. After spending seven years in jail he meandered through various forms of left politics, operating from his village near Naxalbari. Disillusioned and depressed, he reportedly committed suicide on Tuesday, by hanging himself in his home. He was 82.

Charu Mazumdar, the fiery ideologue of the Naxalites, in a rally in Kolkatas maidan in 1969, introduced Sanyal as the man behind the actual mobilization of sharecroppers in the north Bengal area. It was in this rally that Sanyal announced the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), better known as the Naxalites.

Their objective was leading a revolution in India by overthrowing the feudal order through a protracted peoples war. Such was the pull of this romanticized vision that dozens of middle class intellectuals signed up. The event became international news when the Chinese Communist Party in an editorial in its main paper heralded it as "spring thunder breaking over India."

The police cracked down on this violent movement immediately and all three went underground. Within a short but bloody span of three years, all three were behind bars. The rudderless Naxalites started disintegrating into over 40 groups, bitterly fighting with each other.

Sanyal was ultimately released in 1977, at the initiative of Jyoti Basu, chief minister of the first Left Front government. He publicly renounced the Charu Mazumdar line of individual annihilation of class enemies and floated a new left group called the Organising Committee of Communist Revolutionaries.

This went through the usual course of merging and splitting off from other Naxalite organizations right till his death. He allied with the Left Front for a phase in the 1990s but soon became disillusioned. Since 2003, Sanyal had been working as general secretary of a new version of CPI(ML).

In recent years he had protested against the Singur land acquisition for Tata's Nano plant. He also espoused local causes in 2006, he was arrested while trying to stop the Guwahati Rajdhani in protest against the closure of tea gardens.

Recent documents of his party reveal that there was open criticism of Sanyal for remaining confined to his area and taking up local causes, neglecting national duties. But, perhaps, that was his forte — and his nemesis. He was an organizer and motivator of people, he was loyal to a nebulous notion of the revolution but he never developed a political vision that could give shape to a great organization.

Unlike many ultra-left elements he was not dogmatic. He abandoned his close associate Charu Mazumdar's
incendiary line early on and throughout his life attempted to hammer out some workable strategy for his dream of a revolution. But that was not to be — these dreams remained forever deferred and forced Sanyal to a lonely death.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Naxalite-icon-Sanyal-steered-clear-of-dogmas/articleshow/5717797.cms
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Re: Man behind the spring thunder': Obit on Kanu Sanyal
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2010, 05:54:20 PM »

When I met Kanu Sanyal
Avijit Ghosh,  23 March 2010, 04:01 PM IST

I met Kanu Sanyal only once. In May 2007 I was assigned to do a full-page story on the 40 years of the Naxalbari movement. I knew that talking to one of the tallest leaders of the armed struggle would be invaluable for my story. A journalist-friend from Kolkata had given me his landline number. On reaching Siliguri in north Bengal, I called him up from my hotel room. Sanyal himself picked up the phone. “Come in the evening. We will talk,” he said.
 
The bus dropped me off at a point that I don’t remember by name. When I mentioned Kanu Sanyal and Hatigisha to villagers, they immediately showed me a narrow road that snaked past bamboo groves, a rivulet and small hamlets. It was a two-km walk in tranquil surroundings.
 
Sanyal, then 75 plus, was sitting outside a sparse mud house, which also served as a one-room party office in Hatigisha. The sun was dying and fearing it would get dark soon, I immediately clicked his photographs.


Sanyal said he had been ailing for some time. He looked frail. In the sixties, the bylanes of Calcutta and the paddy fields of Naxalbari echoed the slogan “Jail ka tala tootega/Kanu, Jangal chhootega (The locks of prison will break, Kanu and Jangal Santhal will be freed). One wondered how he would have looked then.
 
What followed was a 60-minute interview. It could have been longer but I was worried if I would get a return bus. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I will send someone to escort you back.” Two things were clear during that interview – the radical Left leader’s mind was as sharp as ever and that he remained committed to the revolution through mass struggle.
 
Excerpts from the interview, parts of which were published in The Times of India in May 2007:
 
What are your memories of May 25, 1967, the day the Naxalbari movement began?

 
For us, May 24 is the Naxalbari day. That day, the police were informed that some leaders of the Naxalbari movement were hiding in Boro Jhorojote village. There were no leaders there but a huge gathering of peasantry and tea garden workers. One police officer was killed there. Since the peasant understood and accepted our politics and took up arms on their own, we celebrate that day as a victory of our political ideas. Other groups observe May 25 as Martyrs’ Day, when 11 activists were killed.
 
In retrospect, do you think that Charu Mazumdar's “annihilation of class enemy” line was a historical error?
 
It was not only a historical error but also a fundamental deviation from Marxism-Leninism and the thoughts of Mao. But remember we did not follow the annihilation line (forming small squads and killing landlords, policemen and other class enemies) in the Naxalbari struggle. Only one landlord was killed during the struggle. In practice, the annihilation line was first followed in Srikakulam area of Andhra Pradesh in late 1969.
 
Why did the Naxalbari movement fail?
 
We had a strong base among the peasants and the tea garden workers. But we carried on the movement without a proper party structure. That was the main reason.
 
What are the long-term gains?
 
There was no protection to sharecroppers earlier. We captured land in Naxalbari and the peasants are still in control over the land. After 1977, the West Bengal government was forced to bring the Bargadari Act through which some hereditary rights were given to the sharecroppers. Another question that came up is that if we want to lead an agrarian revolution, we need a strong party. Consequently, the CPI (ML) was formed in 1969.
 
But that too wasn't successful in the long run because Charu Mazumdar's annihilation of class enemies line prevailed. In a very subtle way, he said that peasant committees and associations are not necessary. Neither were mass organizations necessary. Only form small squads and start annihilation of class enemies. So I don't agree that after forming CPI (ML) agrarian struggle started in new areas. Mobilising and organizing peasants and taking them ahead in the struggle was not done.
 
Did you meet Mao secretly in 1967?
 
Yes. It was a 45-minute meeting. We went by road to Kathmandu. From there Chinese comrades took us by jeep to Peking. We stayed in Tibet too. We reached China on September 30. The next day we saw them celebrate October 1 as National Day. I could see people weeping after seeing Mao. We met Mao, Chow En Lai and the commander in chief. Mao's advice was: whatever you learn in China, try to forget it. Go to your own country, try to understand the specific situation and carry the revolution forward.
 
If you were the chief minister of West Bengal today, how would you have dealt with Nandigram?
 
I can only answer the question from a peasant organiser point of view. I feel the issue cannot be resolved. If you think deeply, Nandigram isn't just about the March 14 police firing. It is a question of policy. They say that agrarian reform is done. So we are opting for industrialisation. But the truth is that they have not completed the task of agrarian reform in West Bengal. Besides, thousands of industries have been closed. The entire 150-year-old tea industry is facing a deep crisis but the CPI (M)-led state government has been unable to resolve the problem. We should be asking whom does the industrialization benefit. During the French revolution, under the leadership of the bourgeoisie, land was given to the tillers. They should follow the French model.
 
What is the larger point emerging from Nandigram?
 
India still needs an agrarian revolution. Without solving the agrarian problem, you cannot develop the country by industrialisation.
 
The Maoists are present to a greater or lesser degree in over 150 districts. What is their future?
 
The Maoists are sure to meet with failure. In an Andhra Pradesh village, where they are very powerful, I found out that some peasants were not tilling their land. I asked them, why? They said, “If we do so, the landlords will come and ask for the produce. And if we do what the Maoists tell us, the forces will come.” The Maoists, in spite of having guns, have failed to assure the peasants that they should serve a radical land reform in the countryside. Back in 1969, when CPI (ML) was formed, we used to say after one action in a district that agrarian revolution is going ahead. And that guerrilla warfare has started. The Maoists have started the same thing in a wider form. Only now guns are more easily available. But I can say that they are detached from the people.
 
The Maoists cannot see. Earlier this month people revolted in Ranchi against Reliance Retail. The Maoists are active in the areas in and around Ranchi but they cannot see what is happening. They just want state power first. They feel that by killing some policemen and blasting some police jeeps, the agrarian revolution is going ahead. In Iraq, people have no option but fight the American forces. That's what the Iraqi people are doing. They feel if we kill more and more foreigners, they will go back to their own country. Such an option is justified in Iraq. But not in India.
http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Addictions/entry/when-i-met-kanu-sanyal
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