Monday, January 16, 2006

Who created the Naxal Frankenstein

An interesting letter to The Statesman editor by a retired IAS officer. Naxalism, it appears, is a Frankestein created by the CPM. The Communists expected to lose the state elections in 1967 and one of their chief ideologues, Pramode Dasgupta, chalked out a strategy to destabilize the incoming Congress government. The poverty of the tribals would be exploited, they would be promised land and egged on to attack government installations. However, the Communists ended up as a part of the ruling coalition and decided to pull back. The monster refused to listen to his creator, the result : tens of thousands of dead people. What is ironic is that the movement was supposed to reflect the "land hunger" of the landless, a government survey found that most of the leaders of the Naxalbari movement were landowners.

Landing rights of the CPI-M (The Statesman, Nov 11,2005)

Landing rights of the CPI-M

Sir, — This is with reference to your editorial “Our land, their FDI” (7-8 November). I wouldn’t call the Naxalbari movement of 1967 an “agrarian uprising”. Before the assembly elections in February that year, the CPI-M had calculated that the Congress would return to power in West Bengal with a reduced majority. Land was a sensitive issue and Naxalbari was chosen as a suitable area to try out Promode Dasgupta’s theory of warfare. Kanu Sanyal, Jangal Santhal and others were asked to organise the tribals to start the disturbances immediately after the elections. However, the CPI-M’s calculations went wrong. The Congress was defeated, and the CPI-M joined the first United Front government. As part of the establishment, the party stopped supporting the movement it had encouraged. This was a letdown for Kanu and Jangal. They were unable to rein in the tribals who had been promised land. Harekrishna Konar, who had taken over as land and land revenue minister, tried to persuade Kanu to call off the movement, but failed. Sonam Wangdi, a police inspector, was killed. And a Cabinet team arrived in Siliguri to defuse the crisis.
Darjeeling’s deputy commissioner asked the SDO, Siliguri, to prepare a report on the CPI-M’s “land- hunger” theory. The report pointed out i) that most of the leaders of the Naxalbari movement were holding land; (ii) land prices had remained steady for 25 years; (iii) the population growth was at par with the state average in 1951 and 1961 census; (iv) vesting of land and distribution of vested land to the landless and the poor in Naxalbari, Kharibari and Phansidewa was better than in neighbouring areas and (v) the numbers of landless was normal. In July 1967, the then chief minister had read out parts of the report in the Assembly to rubbish the CPI-M’s theory of land-hunger.
— Yours, etc., Dipak Kumar Ghosh,
IAS (retd), now MLA,



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