India: Voices from the Inside Out

by Anup K Sinha

Frontier | Autumn Number 2018 | Vol. 51, No.14 – 17, Oct 7 – Nov 3, 2018

I grew up in a house in North Calcutta in the Shyambazar locality, on what was then called Upper Circular Road. The address was 158/A. It was an apartment building with eight flats that were rented out by the owners. It was a six storied building quite tall by the standards of those times. The building was constructed in 1939. This building was well known to people involved with the Communist Party of India, since Ajoy Ghosh used to live there for a while. Later another left intellectual associated with the CPI, Chin Mohan Sehanavis lived there until 1959. My parents, who lived in the same building, were both connected with the communist movement in the 1940s and 1950s. I grew up in a politically charged atmosphere and had the opportunity to see many stalwarts of the early left movement in India. I was too young to understand politics at that time but most of the CPI leaders were “uncles” or “aunts” to me. On the opposite side of the main road was a sprawling slum where migrant workers lived—mainly from Bihar—who worked in the large number of flour mills and oil mills in the neighbourhood. Skirting the slum were about half a dozen tea stalls which hardly did much business. My father told me that most of them had been set up by the Intelligence Bureau of the police to keep a tab on the happenings at 158/A.Read More »

During West Bengal’s Naxalbari Movement, Women Were Not Merely in the Background

by Mallarika Sinha Roy

The Wire | October 04, 2018

During West Bengal's Naxalbari Movement, Women Were Not Merely in the Background

Let me begin with the ‘parable of elephant hunt’, popular among Naxalites of the 1960s. The parable was lucidly elaborated as the revolutionary strategy in Utpal Dutt’s play on Naxalbari, Teer (Arrow) (1967). Dutt points out through this parable the distinction between the bookish knowledge of metropolitan Naxalites about guerrilla warfare and the interpretation of Maoist guerrilla tactics in everyday language by the tribal guerrillas. In one scene, Devidas, the urban Naxalite leader, tries to explain the strategy of ‘people’s war’ by reading from party booklets, but his peasant comrades fail to comprehend such grandiloquent language. Finally, Gangee Orain stands up and starts speaking. Let me quote an excerpt from this scene:

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India: An Unusual Journey–Tale of a Rebel

by Arup Majumder

Frontier | Vol. 50, No.46, May 20 – 26, 2018

I joined the naxalite movement like thousands of students in my school life itself. It was a wave. So I can’t assure you that I was consciously got involved in the movement. Like many other novices I was also got arrested and just by chance my life was saved. Then after experiencing the famous treatment of Runu GuhaNeyogi in Lalbazar lock-up, I was detained in Presidency jail with many co-travellers. Finally the court considered the best possible justice can be given to me and many others were to be detained in MISA.

From there itself my true political life starts. I came across many leaders of varying viewpoint and different political background. At that time we were told in jail that our liberation army was marching in the villages. Though Charu Majumdar declared that India will be liberated within 1975, but we were believing that People’s Liberation Army may reach Presidency jail much before that, they will liberate us. Masses will gather outside the jail and there will be a grand reception for us.Read More »

The Dream That Failed: Voices of Naxalbari across the 50 Years–II

by Nazes Afroz

Frontier | Vol. 50, No.45, May 13 – 19, 2018

The First Public Cracks in the CPI(M-L) appeared with the start of the 1970s. Satyanarayan Singh, the party’s secretary in Bihar, denounced the annihilation line, and formed a parallel central committee that “expelled” Charu Majumder. Majumder retaliated by expelling Singh from the CPI(M-L). Some party leaders broke ranks to join Singh’s splinter group. Other leaders who began to criticise Majumder, including Ashim Chattopa-dhyay, were expelled too.

Charu Majumder was arrested from a hideout in Kolkata on 16 July 1972, on information from a comrade who cracked under police torture. By then he was suffering from acute cardiac asthma and needed constant medical supervision. The police interrogated him for 12 days. It is widely believed that his medication and treatment were stopped in custody, leading to his death from cardiac arrest on 28 July.Read More »

50 Years of Naxalbari: Haam nehee hategaa, I shall not retreat, Declared Jangal Shaaotaal, Naxalbari leader

Second of three interviews from the cradle of the revolutionary uprising

by | March 19, 2018

Aneek, an independent, radical Baanglaa monthly from Kolkata, India, in its 53rd years of publication, interviewed three leaders of the Naxalbari Uprising. The leaders with working class background were organizing armed struggle of the poor-landless peasantry in the Naxalbari region since the earliest days of the revolutionary initiative. Following is Khemoo Singh’s interview, the second of the three, conducted by Arijit and Subhasis from Aneek, and published in the monthly’s May 2017 (vol. 53, no. 11) issue. The interview was conducted in May 2017 at Khemoo Singh’s village home in Siliguri, more than 450 km north of Kolkata. All the interviews were video recorded; and its audio parts were transcribed by Subhasis, and were vetted by the interviewees. None of them denied any part of respective interview. The interview is translated from Baanglaa by Farooque Chowdhury. The first of the three interviews was carried by, an e-journal from South India, and Frontier, the radical weekly from Kolkata, on November 20, 2017 ( and December 31-January 6, 2017 (vol. 50, no.26, respectively.Read More »

‘Naxalbari 50’–1 Repertoires and Politics in the Time of Naxalbari

by Ranabir Samaddar

Frontier | Vol. 50, No.31, Feb 4 – 10, 2018

The time of Naxalbari calls back to us the past narratives of how Bengalees became radicalised. Historians of Bengal agree that one of the characteristic ways in which Bengalees were radicalised was through the adoption of a critical, interrogative mode. In the process it may have gone at times to extreme length, but time does all the corrections in life. In the long run, the interrogations became part of the common sense of the people. Yet this is not all. Since interrogation and questioning imply acceptance of no final truth, the critical mode has meant a permanent workshop of ideas and a permanently dialogic mode. Once again, dialogues at times became quarrels, inter-sect strife, and battles over ideas to the point of death. But in this case also, time has been the healer. It is an irony thus that the time of Naxalbari with its extremely critical attitude to the period of what is called the Bengal Renaissance resembled in many ways the latter and exhibited the same critical attitude that latter had shown through figures like Akshay Dutta, Vidyasagar, and others.Read More »

50 Years of Naxalbari: Tale of a Roving Rebel

by I Mallikarjuna Sharma

Frontier| Vol. 50, No.30, Jan 28 – Feb 03, 2017

It was in 1967-69, when I was a student in Regional Engineering College, Warangal, AP, that I was attracted towards the communist extremist movement and in course became a staunch activist. In those days it was more fervor bordering on high fever than cautious and broad study and analytical reasoning—more of an emotional and romantic attachment to the ideal of socialism which could free all sorts of fetters and create a new society, etc. First in Marxist Party which split away from the CPI, soon we began to support the Naxalbari movement and its consequent developments. Sri K G Satyamurthy was our local leader—he was a close associate of Kondapalli Sitaramaiah (KS), a sort of father figure for the naxalite movement, especially the Maoist party, in Andhra Pradesh, but later estranged.Read More »