Monday, March 29, 2010

Why Kanu Sanyal’s Suicide Matters!

Like any normal day, I awoke on March 24th with having the set of newspapers before me-scanned first, THE HINDU, than The Indian EXPRESS and lastly The Economic Times to judge the authenticity of a rude shock that Kanu Sanyal opted for suicide as his last panacea. How shocking and odd was that sudden strucking with the news of his hanging in his office at Hatinghisha village near Silliguri-some distance away from his home {Sephtulajote} indeed marks tragic end to last of Naxalbari trinity after Charu Majumdar and Jagal Santhal. Charu Majumdar died in police custody in 1972 during the peak of Naxalbari movement in major eastern states-he was an elite face of movement while Kanu and Jagal was the real mobilizer which Charu himself used to admit in his lifetime. Though through sporadic state led developmental intervention, lot of things have changed in these hilly areas of Northern Bengal but in 1967, it was dominantly a rural landscape, where a tribal youth named Bimal Kisan obtained a judicial order to plough his land but that was stiffly challenged by the landlords-from March to May {1967}, conflict between feudal interest and the tribal access to land remained rampant.

Moreover, circumstances adversely engraved on May25, 1967 in a village known as Prasdujot and not from Naxalbari as it commonly known as-a police was killed in violence on May 24th, which next day tolled the eleven innocent {unarmed} lives including of eight women’s and two toddler. Kanu Sanyal along with Jagal Santhal had led the land to tiller movement under the CPI {Marxist}’s Darjeeling committee-Jagal was also a candidate of CPI {M} in State Assembly election of February 1967, but he lost the election theirs legislative quest halted on midway. Complexities of Naxal movement was way ahead now-Kanu Sanyal as front leader instead to influence the people’s mind about the existing juxtaposed reality chosen a very confused international route to broaden their impact in Indian condition. Kanu visited China in late sixties and met with Mao that prompted by the Beijing Radio and Peoples Daily as “Spring Thunder”-like the disastrous projection, Naxal movement suffered a complete setback with expected split among the cadres.The All-India C-ordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries {AICCCR} was formed in 1967 and broke away from its parent party-CPI {m}; stress was laid on armed insurrection and the denunciation of electoral politics.

Further on April 22,1969 {Lenin’s birthday}, the CPI{M-L} was formed and the AICCCR merged with the newly created CPI{M-L}although within short while factionalism got momentum with separation of Andhra cadres-the best practices couldn’t be placed on time that compelled the entire Communist movement in India to be fall apart. Ironically, Kanu too suffered from the same ire of factionalism and never accepted as an ideologue within the party in true sense-however he made efforts to falsify the opponents malice; in 1969, he submitted a comprehensive “Report on the Peasant Movement in the Tribal Region “which later renamed as “The Causes and Nature of Current Agrarian Transitions” and freely circulated before its publication from Oxford University Press {OUP} in 1986 {edited by A.R.Desai}.Kanu as true torch bearer was focused on tribal and local issues unlike the urban centric, Charu Majumdar, Mahadeb Mukherjee, Saroj Dutt etc-such concern initially fetched the huge respect of common men’s but alas! That intra-party proved disastrous in their optimum streamlining.

In1967, Kanu was arrested for the Parvatipuram {Srikakulam} conspiracy case, he spent next seven years in imprisonment before Jyoti Basu’s personnel intervention worked in his acquittal in 1977, this phase besides Charu’s death in 1972 completely changed his perspective as he was now in favour of mainstreaming of Naxal movement on democratic line. Out of Jail, he formed the “Organizing Committee of Communist Revolutionaries” which became the “Communist Organization of India {M-L} in 1985 and in 2003, the CPI {M-L, Unity Initiative}, that was based on the democratic model of his own Terai report. In true introspection, Kanu Sanyal’s vision is still relevant as it was forty –three years back, only missing is a meticulous choreography of idea and action under the canopy of pragmatism. Systemic failure in radical movements aroused from organizational discontents and frisking away from peoples issue that consistently eroded the mass base for these movements. Kanu Sanyal’s reclusiveness and his option of suicide is indeed a defeat for those who still believe in collective effort to shape the history in just way!
Atul Kumar Thakur
March24th,2010 {Wednesday}
New Delhi


  1. You have rightly pointed out that the isolation and chronic reclusiveness was the main culprit behind his lethal suicidal act-what it points out that a grave strain among the radical forces over the use of violence eventually distoted them.Infact Kany Sanyal's revelation for democratic participation was a true proposition but unfortunately very few have takers now..very odd with cirumstances.

  2. Demise of Kanu Sanyal marks an end of era that never met with its goal-in later phase,he tried best to focus on mainstream struggle but till than he had lost his grip over radical movement which he shaped.
    Ashutosh Thakur