For Whom the Bell Tolls

by Lawrence Lifschultz

Frontier | Vol. 50, No.2, Jul 16 – 22, 2017

On more than one occasion since India’s Emergency began in June, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has commented how, in her view, many people, particularly in the West, “seem to have different standards for India than for other countries.” In late September, however, when Franco’s fascist Government executed two Basque Nationalists and three Marxist-Leninist rebels, India joined in that common standard of international indignation and outrage over the killings. Demonstrations swept Europe and public fury compelled governments to review diplomatic relations with Madrid. Franco stood condemned and isolated.

But hardly two months after “El Caudillo’s” last act of vengeance ended with five riddled bodies lying dead in a Spanish field, Mrs Gandhi’s frequently repeated claim, about the hypocritical standards of international opinion was never more evident than on December 1 when the Indian Government hanged two middle-aged peasants named Bhoomaiah and Kista Gowd. After the executions, New Delhi calmly basked in the double standard Indian officialdom has been so quick to condemn. The world said not a word. In the international press there was not even a negative editorial comment. And no government was reported to have reviewed diplomatic relations.Read More »

India: Fifty Years On, Naxalbari Veteran Shanti Munda is Still At War With Injustice

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The Wire | July 12, 2017

“In those days, exploitation used to take place right in front of our eyes. We knew who the exploiters were. That is not the case now. Our exploiters are too many: the government, officials, powerful companies, real estate dealers.”

Shanti Munda. Credit: M. Suchitra

In the third of her series of interviews on the 50th anniversary of the Naxalbari uprising, the author speaks to Shanti Munda, one of the original participants in the armed clashes that took place with the police in West Bengal in 1967, and a close associate of the legendary Naxalite leader Kanu Sanyal.

Read More »

India: Jayakka and the Story of the Women Rebels of Srikakulam

The women who fought against exploitation and the poor families who took in their children, bringing them up on their own, were making history even if none of them appear in its annals.

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The Wire | July 09, 2017

A former Naxalite, one of several women in Marippadu village in Srikakulam with a revolutionary past, speaks about her life. Credit: Suchitra M.

In the first part of her journey tracing the activities of Srikakulam’s revolutionary women on the 50th anniversary of the Naxabari uprising, the author interviewed Chandramma, who was a full-time fighter till her arrest in May 1975. In this second and concluding part of the narrative, Chandramma, who gave up her daughter Aruna in the heat of the revolutionary movement, introduces us to some of the other women who fought alongside her during those days.

Srikakulam (Andhra Pradesh): An auto rickshaw was arranged to take us to Boddappadu village. A young driver. Chandramma called him Buji. His full name was Malleswara Rao. He will always be there, whenever Chandramma wants to go somewhere.Read More »

India: In Srikakulam, A Mother Relives Choices She Made 50 Years Ago – To Pick up a Gun, To Give up a Baby

Chandramma, a former revolutionary, speaks of the trials and tribulations of her time underground as a Naxalite in Andhra Pradesh five decades ago.

The Wire | June 20, 2017

Srikakulam (Andhra Pradesh): Aruna Athaluri. Media person. My friend. She was working with a Telugu television news channel when I first met her. Now she is with the Telugu daily, Sakshi. Despite being friends, we had not spent even four hours together during my four-year stay at Hyderabad.

Both of us had tight deadlines to meet, almost always. At that time, I was working with Down To Earth magazine as its senior special correspondent for southern India. I would be on assignments and travelling most of the time.Read More »

50 years of Naxalbari Movement in India: In Search of ‘Maoist Revolution’

[Integration with the peasantry. Hence first Jhargram, and then Haroah, Sandeshkhali, Minekhan. Two districts at two ends of West Bengal and two different experiences.]

by Timir Basu

Frontier | Vol. 50, No.1, Jul 9 – 15, 2017

It is not enough to call that period a turbulent one; it was a period of tremendous restlessness. After entering the Presidency College, I quite naturally got involved in the student movement. I got attached with the left student movement, although in the campuses of the College and the University of Calcutta, the rightists were holding sway. When we were endeavouring to build up a leftist student organisation in the Presidency College, ‘Naxalbari’ was yet to happen. Yet we earned the stigma of ultra-left, because we had become vocal against the bureaucratic central leadership.Read More »

Naxalbari: Achievements and Challenges

by P Varalakshmi

Frontier | Vol 49, No.52, Jul 2-8, 2017

This is the 50th anniversary of the spring thunder over India. ‘Naxalbari’ carved the path of Indian revolution by restoring the essence of Marxism on this soil and it was the great turning point in Indian political scenario. The spark has spread to various regions throughout the country withstanding ruthless violence and repression unleashed by the state. The movement rose suffered again in some areas where it suffered setback. Even though it was suppressed badly in some places it could constantly spread to new regions and could also develop as the alternate political force of the masses.

Fifty years is not a big period in the larger history of human society but it is indeed a considerable journey. In India the period has witnessed considerable developments in socio-economic and political aspects. Due to the complexity and heterogeneity of Indian society, one can say every region is a society of its own variety. The systemic changes in these years have been making it even more complex and diverse. At the same time India continues to remain in the clutches of feudalism and imperialism.Read More »

‘Comrades and Companions’

by Ramchandra Guha

FrontierVol. 49, No.52, Jul 2 – 8, 2017

Identification with the Naxalites led me to my third field site in Calcutta, the circle around the radical weekly, Frontier. The journal was run from one long room in the heart of the city, some six miles north of Jadunath Bhawan. The first time I visited the Frontier office, I was irresistibly reminded of a description in Leon Trotsky’s autobiography of the journal Iskra, run in exile by a handful of Russian revolutionaries. Frontier was housed in the back of a building set apart from a small lane, itself hidden by a huge cinema house from the bustling main street. I felt palpably a part of an underground operation. This feeling was made more intense when, on entering the office, I was introduced to a lean, intense man with sunken eyes and a goatee. He could very well have been the young Lenin in Zurich.

The man in the goatee now runs Frontier with a devotion and meagre financial reward almost unequalled in the world of Indian journalism. At that time, however, he was assistant to the editor, Samar Sen, one of the more remarkable figures in the history of Bengal Marxism.Read More »

Bhoomaiah, Kishta Goud, Bhabani Da and Sumanta

by Varavara Rao

Frontier | Vol. 49, No.51, Jun 25 – Jul 1, 2017

Sumanta Banerjee’s article ‘Remembering my old Comrades’ (on the eve of ‘Naxalbari 50’) took me also, down memory lane. It connects me to my acquaintances with Bhoomaiah, Kishta Goud, Bhabani Da and of course, Sumanta himself.

Let me first write about the peasant revolutionaries Bhoomaiah and Kishta Goud.  Bhoomaiah was from Muthunuru village of Peddapalli Taluq (now district, the place from where Kishanji and Vadkapuram Chandramouli also hail) of Karimnagar district on the banks of the Godavari. He comes from a ‘Jangama’ – a non-Brahmin priest  community. Kishta Goud was from Kannaram village of Asifabad Taluq, Adilabad district on the other side of the Godavari. Both were married. Bhoomaiah had children also. But most of their youthful life was spent in Telangana Armed Struggle (1946-51) till it was withdrawn.Sumanta Banerjee’s article ‘Remembering my old Comrades’ (on the eve of ‘Naxalbari 50’) took me also, down memory lane. It connects me to my acquaintances with Bhoomaiah, Kishta Goud, Bhabani Da and of course, Sumanta himself.

It was as under trial prisoners in Secunderabad Conspiracy Case during May 1974 -1975, we six members of Virasam (Revolutionary Writers’ Association), K V  Ramana Reddy, Cherabanda Raju, M T Khan, T Madhusudan Rao, M Ranganatham and myself used to meet Bhoomaiah and Kishta Goud now and then on certain rare occasions though we were kept in a different barrack. During that period the Superintendent of Jail Kurudulkar was a liberal democrat and very humanitarian. He was a friend of M T Khan outside because of his interest in theatre. He used to enact Vijay Tendulkar’s Marathi dramas. Once he brought Vijay Tendulkar to meet us in jail, when he was in Hyderabad, in 1974.Read More »

A Few Letters From The Spring Thunder-Time

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Countercurrents.org | June 26, 2017

naxalbari

Sudeb, a young revolutionary walking along the path of proletarian revolution, was shot at and beaten to death by jotedar’s [owner of a large farm landholding or a de facto sub-proprietor, often with land leased out to sharecroppers] henchmen at Keshpur, Midnapur in June 1970, said press reports. Sudeb’s father wrote:

“Let no other father face the terrible task of having to recall the memories of a son after his death.…

“In his [Sudeb’s] opinion, the hour of revolution had already arrived, and to stand by at that moment was sheer stupidity.…

“Sudeb had another trait in his character – a stern and unalterable dedication to ideals….Read More »

Rambles Recollect

by Dipanjan Rai Chowdhuri

Frontier | Vol. 49, No.47, May 28 – Jun 3, 2017

I first met Charu Majumdar in 1968. Some students were going to a rural area for protracted political work and Charuda (Kaka, our leader, called him Charuda, and we usurped the name!) had agreed to a talk to orient their programme. At this time the supporters of Naxalbari were fragmented into sectarian groups. We did not belong to Charuda’s organisation, but the moment he started talking we understood he was speaking to us as our leader.

He said that our work was to take to the peasants the message of armed struggle to establish their own state . Organising economic struggles was not our task. The peasants might not listen to the message and start economic struggles. For example, they might want to take a deputation to the BDO to dig a culvert. You will say that nothing will come of this as far as changing  the nature of the state and the basic conditions of life of the people concerned, but you will accompany the peasant in his procession. The line presented here has been debated to bits but there can be little doubt that it was inspired by the mass line. He said nothing about the “annihilation” line.Read More »