The Naxalite movement derives its name from a small village Naxalbari on the tri-junction of India, Nepal and what was then East Pakistan, where tribals took up arms against the oppression of the landlords in 1967. The movement spread like wildfire to different parts of the country. Some of the finest brains and the cream of India’s youth in certain areas left their homes and colleges to chase the dream of a new world, a new social order. Two decades had passed since the dawn of independence and yet large segments of the Indian population – peasants, workers and tribals – continued to suffer the worst forms of exploitation. The peaceful political process, it was felt, would not be able to bring about the necessary change because vested interests controlled the levers of power, regulated the wheels of industry and had a feudal stranglehold over the predominantly agrarian economy. An armed struggle was the only way out, they thought.
The Santhal tribals of Naxalbari, armed with bows and arrows, forcibly occupied the land of the kulaks and ploughed them to establish their ownership. Demonstrations were organized against persons holding paddy in their godowns. In many cases, the entire stocks were lifted and distributed or sold locally at cheaper rates. There were violent clashes. Between March and May 1967, nearly a hundred incidents were reported to the police. The situation progressively deteriorated. After some dithering, the West Bengal government ordered the police to take action. The movement was squashed, but “Naxalbari exploded many a myth”.
The extremists, following Mao’s dictum that “if there is to be revolution, there must be a revolutionary party”, formed, on April 22, 1969, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). It was declared that “the first and foremost task of our Party is to rouse the peasant masses in the countryside to wage guerilla war, unfold agrarian revolution, build rural base, use the countryside to encircle the cities and finally to capture the cities and to liberate the whole country”.
The Chinese Communist Party welcomed the formation of the CPI(ML). The Marxist-Leninist groups of other countries like UK, Albania and Sri Lanka also extended their recognition.
The Naxalite movement, drawing inspiration from the Maoist ideology, had a meteoric phase for about two years from the formation of the party till the end of June 1971. The ripples starting from Naxalbari spread in ever-widening circles to practically all parts of the country. The only areas which remained untouched were the north-eastern states and the Union Territories of Goa, Pondicherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The dominant strand of the movement was the annihilation of class enemies. It was was viewed as a “higher form of class struggle and the beginning of guerilla war”. Charu’s assessment was that “every corner of India is like a volcano” about to erupt, that “there is the possibility of a tremendous upsurge in India”, and he therefore called upon the cadres to start as many points of armed struggle as possible. “Expand anywhere and everywhere” was his message. Such expansions were particularly noticeable in Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh, Debra-Gopiballavpur in West Bengal, Mushahari in Bihar and Palia in Lakhimpur district of UP.
The Naxalite violence was at a peak from about the middle of 1970 to the middle of 1971. It is estimated that there were a total of about 4,000 incidents in the country from the middle of 1970 to the middle of 1971. The bulk of these were from West Bengal (3,500) followed by Bihar (220) and Andhra Pradesh (70).
The political parties realized the emergence of a new force. The government became conscious of a new threat not only to law and order but to the very existence of the democratic structure of the country.
The Government of India organized joint operations by the army and the police in the bordering districts of West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa which were particularly affected by Naxalite depredations. The operations were undertaken from July 1 to August 15, 1971 and were code-named Operation Steeplechase. The broad strategy of the Security Forces was to surround as large an area as possible and seal the routes of entry and exit. The Army formed the outer cordon and the CRPF the inner ring. The local police, which was generally accompanied by a magistrate, carried out thorough search of the area. Suspected Naxalites were arrested, illicit weapons, ammunition and explosives seized. Wherever possible, simultaneous action was taken in the neighbouring area also so that the Naxalites sneaking out were caught while attempting to escape. These operations covered Midnapur, Purulia, Burdwan and Birbhum districts of West Bengal; Singhbhum, Dhanbad and Santhal Parganas of Bihar, and Mayurbhanj of Orissa.
The operation achieved the desired results, though not to the extent anticipated by the administration. The organizational apparatus of the Naxalites in the aforesaid districts was thrown out of gear and the party activists fled from their known hideouts to other places in search of safety. Violence registered a drop. Incidents of arms-snatching fell down. Above all, it restored the confidence of the people in the strength of the administration. Charu Mazumdar was also arrested by the Calcutta Police detectives on July 16, 1972. A few days later, he died. Charu’s death marked the end of a phase in the Naxalite movement. The period following his death witnessed divisions and fragmentations in the movement.
1971 r sei uttal samayer chalachitraya rup holo Mrinal sen r kolkata 71.1972 r swarnakamal jayi chobi.Mrinal Sen nirdeshito asadharan bangla chobi gulir madhye eti anyatama...asha roilo apnader valo lagbe...
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