Now this is blasphemy of another kind. From Narendra Modi to Kanu Sanyal; from a RSS full-timer to the Naxalite ideologue and one of the founders of Communist Party of India ( Marxist-Leninist ) – it’s a full circle. For some it may seem bizarre, for some it is hara-kiri of the worst kind, but this is me. Though I am not a follower of Communist or Naxalite ideology, but my ideological differences are not going to prevent me from paying respect and tribute to the departed soul, who was a leading luminary of the naxalite movement during my student days. Though he belonged to the other spectrum of the political firmament, I respect him for the tenacity of his views and the honesty and simplicity, which were his hallmarks.
Yesterday I read few postings on my Twitter account regarding death of Kanu Sanyal. I was shocked to know that he committed suicide. He was suffering from cancer, and was unable to bear the excruciating pain at the age of 82. So, he ended his life. When I went through the morning papers today and saw his photographs, a gentle breeze of memory caressed me and left me alone on the island of my thoughts and I was transported to the year 1969, my adolescent days in Allahabad. He was the hero of some of my friends, who used to lionize him. My friend and NCP’s national spokesperson D. P. Tripathi was one of them. Kanu da, along with Charu Mazumdar and Jungle Santhal, started India’s first radical Left movement at Naxalbari and spearheaded it from 1667 to 1973.
Let me dwell on the history of Naxalite movement. On May 25, 1967 farmers of Naxalbari attacked the landlord of the village. Many of them were killed in police firing. At that time Kanu Sanyal was the member of the Darjeeling district committee of the CPM. He severely criticised his communist government for firing and was summarily expelled by the party for supporting the movement. On April 22, 1969 he, along with Charu Mazumdar, formed Communist Party of India ( Marxist-Leninist ), an euphemism for Naxalite movement. According to some other members of CPI( M-L ) he and not Charu Mazumdar, was the man who started Naxalite movement in 1967 in Naxalbari, a small village in the northern part of West Bengal. He kept himself in the background and allowed Charu Mazumdar to hog the limelight. But eventually he expressed his doubt about some of the policies of Charu Mazumdar, like individual killing. In the later years he criticised Maoist guerrillas and their techniques of extortions.
The Naxalite movement faded slowly. Charu Mazumdar died in 1972 in police custody. Jungle Santhal was imprisoned and after his release after a decade, became alcoholic and died in 1981. Only surviving member of that ultra left movement was Kanu Sanyal. He was imprisoned for 7 years by the government of Andhra Pradesh. After his release, he slowly faded into oblivion and started living a retired life in Hathigada village in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district. His hut was made of mud with tin roof. He used to sleep on the mud floor. He had few plastic chairs and a cot for the guests. His party used to foot all the medical bills and paid for his day-to-day frugal expenses. He led a spartan life till the very end.
After his death the customary obituary columns started coming in daily papers. When I saw his one room hut, made of mud and having tin roof, in the morning papers, I was moved to tears. Photograph of an ageing and frail Kanu Sanyal sitting on a plastic chair in front of his humble dwelling in his native village traumatized me to no end. Here was a man, who once upon a time shook the ruling oligarchy of their deep slumbers, who had capacity to galvanised millions of people at any given time, was sitting all alone in his village looking helplessly in the void. Minister of state in MEA, Mr. Shashi Tharoor tweeted that ” his life was a failure , changed nothing ” . It means, he was a failed ideologue. Yes, he failed. Because at the time of his death he had no palatial bungalows, no heavenly farm houses, no swiss accounts and no investments in companies and no stakes in the IPL , definitely he failed. Compared to the Congress leaders, he did fail.
Farewell Kanu da !!
Though you lived a life full of pain, poverty and misery, though unable to bear pain you ended your life, but still you lived a life worth living. There won’t be any one like you because they don’t make anyone like you any more. I don’t believe in your ideology but I do believe that people like you are needed and you shall always be considered and recognised as a fragrant flower in the colourful garden of this holy land. Life was cruel, history will be no less cruel to you. Shashi Tharoor’s tweet is a grim reminder.
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