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The new face of Naxalism

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

CMAS OrissaThe arrest of Kobad Ghandy has sent a shock wave nationwide. What was the London- educated son of an ice-cream magnate doing in the top echelons of the Communist Party of India ( Maoist)? Indeed, a look at the leadership of the Naxalite movement today does make Ghandy appear a little out of place.

But that is not how the revolution began. Many of Ghandy’s comrades in the 1970s – the time he joined the still nascent uprising – were intellectuals born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

Like Ghandy, they were the alumni of premier institutes such as Kolkata’s Presidency College and Jadavpur University.

Like Ghandy, they left their affluent backgrounds to pour into the villages and arouse the destitute to join a Maoist struggle.

Unlike Ghandy, however, most of them drifted away from the hard life of a revolutionary once the police crackdown began.

When Ghandy was learning chartered accountancy in London, his comrade Tapan Mitra, who later worked with leaders like Charu Majumdar and Shushital Roy Choudhury, was studying in Canada.

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, who left the country in the early 70s for advanced studies and also to escape arrest, belonged to a family that produced one of the most respected chief justices of the Calcutta High Court.

Bhaskar Mitra, a front- ranking Naxalite leader of the 70s, also studied in London.

Ashim Chatterjee set up his Naxalite base in 1970 in the Debra- Gopiballavpur region of Midnapore in West Bengal as the youngest member of the undivided Communist Party of India ( Marxist- Leninist). He was then still fresh from College Street – a hotbed of revolutionary student activity.

Comrade Kaka, as he was popularly known, was a bright student, whose teachers felt he had a bright academic career ahead of him. Instead, he took with him a bunch of similarly brilliant students to Gopiballavpur for an abortive bid to lead the farmers to revolution – on the path shown by Chairman Mao.

Four decades later, the mantle of leadership of the movement in this area has fallen upon Bikash, a tribal youth in his early 20s.

Most of Bikash’s comrades in the Midnapore- Bankura- Purulia special area committee, which is spearheading the ongoing Lalgarh movement, are either tribals or from poor farming families. None of them has gone anywhere near a premier Kolkata college, and most can’t pronounce their names.

” As the police began to crack down on us and differences emerged among the comrades, most of the students returned to the cities they came from,” says Partho Bandyopadhyay, a former state secretary of People’s War. ” They were arrested soon after their return, but were released after the 1975- 77 Emergency was lifted. However, they never returned to the revolution.”

Bandyopadhyay himself studied textile engineering in the 1970s, but did not pursue his career. He says even when the People’s War began its organisation in West Bengal in 1996, many comrades leading from the front were exstudents from rich families.

” Again, when the police began to crack down, most of them left the party. But local comrades, those who were from tribal or farming backgrounds, firmly stayed back.” But Ranbir Samaddar, a noted social scientist, differs. He says most students who went to the villages in the early days of the struggle never intended to stay back. ” They were part of Red Guard campaign teams who went to the villages for a few months and then returned. It is wrong to say they did so because they couldn’t cope with the hard life and the police assault.” Bandyopadhyay says the core leadership of the CPI ( Maoist) still has some former students who joined the movement in the 60s, 70s or early 80s. ” They form the politburo and the central committee. But the state committee and lower- level committees are mostly made up of people hailing from rural or tribal backgrounds.” Ghandy is one such politburo leader. As are Ganapathy, the general secretary of the party, and Koteswar Rao alias Kishanji.

Both were brilliant engineering students. For Comrade Kaka, the changing profile of Naxalite leadership is a natural progression. ” Students and intellectuals first carry the fire of revolution to the rural masses and workers. The consciousness takes time to develop, but you eventually get leaders from among the downtrodden,” says Kaka, who has no links with the Maoists now.

Lenin, he points out, hailed from a well- to- do family. But his mantle was carried by Stalin, who belonged to the poor cobbler class.

Courtesy: Mail Today

Last Of The Educated
Like Ghandy, these men, who are all wanted by the police, belong to the now-rare breed of educated Naxals

Milind Teltumde (52)
Post: Maharastra state secretary
Resident: Chandrapur
Qualification: IT engineer from Andhra university.
He used to work as a technical engineer at the coalmines in Chandrapur. He joined the Naxals in 1985 and was as a part time worker. He went underground in 1992.

Anjala Sontakke (in her 50s)
Post: Mumbai area committee secretary
Resident: Chandrapur
Qualification: MA and a teaching course
She was a college lecturer in Chandrapur and joined the Naxals in the 90s.

Mupalla Laxmanrao Ganpathy (65)
Post: General secretary
Resident: Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh
Qualification: MA
He was a known college lecturer in Hyderabad College for years. He had joined the organisation in 1980 and holds one of the top posts. He went underground in 1992. His brother is also a graduate and a Naxalite.

Kodeshwar Rao alias Ramji alias Kishan (54)
Post: General secretary
Education: M Tech
Resident: West Bengal
He is said to be one of the richest Naxals. He is from the Lavdhar area of West Bengal where his family owns over 100 acres of land and a number of factories and stores. His brother Venu Gopal Rao, a graduate, is also a Naxalite. He operates in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Kadri Satyanarayan Reddy alias Gopanath alias Kosa (58)
Post: General secretary
Qualification: Electrical engineer from ITI in Andhra Pradesh.
He joined the Naxals in 1977 and is among the senior most leaders.

About Arun Ferreira

Arun Ferreira, a Bandra resident, was arrested on charges of being the chief of communication and propaganda of the ultra Left wing of the Naxals.

He, along with three others Murali alias Ashok Satya Reddy, Naresh Bansod and Dhanendra Bhurle were arrested in May 2007, and are currently lodged in Nagpur Central jail.

He is a graduate from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. His first brush with social activities came in the ’90s after the infamous Elphinstone College rape case (a student was raped by her classmates during a garba festival.

The girl’s father withdrew the complaint bowing to pressure). Ferreira led the protests launched by a students’ union Vidyarthi Pragati Sanghatana.

Who is Kobad Ghandy?

Kobad Ghandy grew up in Mumbai in an upper middle class Parsi family. The Doon School and London-educated chartered accountant joined the Maoist movement in the 1970s.

He began his revolutionary career in the state’s Gadhchiroli district.

The 63-year-old leader was in charge of the South Western Regional Bureau coordinating the naxalite activity in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra.

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