Thursday, December 12, 2013

India: Lessons on massline from past revolutionary peasant struggle in Bihar by Indian Comrade

Below I am submitting a struggle report from a very old issue of the jounal ‘The Comrade’ (No 3 March-1989) from a Northern region of Bihar, in Khagaria district. Originally from 1981 it was led by the  erstwhile C.PI. (M.L.) Party Unity (then called ‘Unity ‘group) which launched the Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti (worker-peasant organization)in 1979 which was banned in 1986, but resurrected as the Mazdoor Kisan Mukti Manch. 

From late 1988 however the leadership of the struggle in this area was taken over by the Centre for Communist Revolutionaries of India.(C.C.R.I.-formed in 1988 ) Although again from around 1992 the Party Unity group re-captured the leadership of the struggle and organization from the C.C.R.I. 

However  even when C.C.R.I started it’s work in Northern Bihar morally  the line of the C.P.I(M.L.) Party Unity(later merged with   the C.P.I.(M.L.)-Peoples war group in 1998)was practiced. 

This report displays the importance of mass revolutionary resistance struggles which have to combine with armed activities of village red self defense corpses.

I consider this struggle report although old still of important significance with regards to mass line in Communist revolutionary movement.

It gives a most analytical account of, the various methods and stages of building revolutionary peasant struggle and organization   in light of the revolutionary ideology of Marxism- Leninism -Maoism.

To me it is one of the most outstanding examples of implementing revolutionary massline in peasant struggle.We commemorate 25 years since some historic captures of the harvest took place in 1988 in Bihar.

We also commemorate 20years since land seizure programmes took place in Bihar in 1993..

An important role was also played by the red defense squads.

Struggle report

About  842 families inhabited  Biharpada with the total population being 5302. Combining it with several small villages of adjoining Chotagaon a panchayat was constituted and the total population becomes 9000. 

It constituted 51% farm labourers;9 % poor peasants possessing about 14 bighas of land and 7 kathas of land:21% middle peasants possessing about 184 bighas of land:about 8% in –service people possessing about 37 bighas of land:4 % business persons  and other occupants possessing about 2 bighas of land.The surplus land possessed by landlors is 619 bighas Land possessed illegally by rich peasants is about 7 bighas,and thatby middle peasanst 6 bighas.

The masses were subjugated to various types of oppression like: molestation of women-folk :not paying due wages; ruthless usury; usurping land meant for pastures and pathways, devouring most of government aids; availing the fictitious loans for boring,damaging crops of poor etc. Administrative authorities always took the side of the feudal when injustice was protested against.

The main cause of mass frustration was low wages, inciting of communal riots; usurpation of pastures by feudal and land meant for pathways;restrictions on cutting grass,plucking of vegeatables and use of pastures;inciting of quarrels among the poor ,entangling people in false legal cases, molestation of the women folk etc.

The masses adopted many forms of protest like mass propaganda assembly, procession gherao, demonstration, crop seizure, wall-poster,hand-bill distributions, crop-dage,exposure of superstitions,progation of scientific views Against the armed feudal attacks when no other method is left-the masses added the method of armed self-defence.

The mass struggle was carried out by the worker- peasant organization under the leadership of the party.The main underlying probem is the disparity of land distribution. Whatever the disparity landholding ,there was time in the past when this land belonged to the ancestors of the poor. 

The land got ransferred from the ancestors of the poor through deception or it was forcibly ploughed. After rendering them landless the sons and daughters of the same peasants were harnessed for labour from birth.The feudal grew wealthier and wealthier and kept permanent share-croppers.

In these circumstances the sharecroppers united to forcibly fight against the landlord tyrant Vikram Singh and Pratap Singh.

In November 1988 the share-croppers sowed the crop and in December the feudal sold the land out of fear.The local feudals then destroyed the crop with the help of illegal rifles and goondas,and re-sowed their crop.

At the end of December ,the activists of the peasant organization roammed door to door in 3 villages explaining the masses about the injustice meted out. Handbills were distributed.

The feudals retaliated by putting the false charge of ‘naxalite’ on the group and approached the police,collector and several ministers.Criminal goondas were posted in several villages at the old ‘kachery ‘of the zamindars.

The goondas threatened the people and warned them that they would face dire consequences if they entered the villages.

On February 13th,the masses retaliated and captured the kachery of the feudal,beating up the goondas ,and capturing their arms.Panic was now  created in the group of the feudal whose limitations were exposed.

8 peasants were implicated after feudal beat 7 people by attack in the night.The women resisted this and the next morning 50 women gheraoed the police inspector responsible for the night –raid.

All the respondents were sent to jail. The government set up police camps in the fields of landlords for protecting the crops.

On 1st March the masses like a surging torrent went to the fields and harvested the crop.The police prevented them but only with great resistance from the people.

On 15th March hundreds of men and women went to harvest the crop and the police arraived.
A major battle took place .one policeman was hurt .The masses returned after harvesting the crops.5 acres of crops were harvested.

On March 18th, the police tried to arrest the people by raiding their houses in the night.6 innocent peasants were arrested.ome of the crops ripened under the protection of police camps;while the zamindars seized the crops with the aid of guns.

On March 20th the angry masses gheraoed the collector protesting against the false arrest of 6 peasants and submitted  a memorandum.The collector sympathized with the masses but never really acted.

The struggle had it’s birth right from 1981.The struggle was launched against tyrant Vikram Singh. A decision was taken to capture the entire land but the arrest of leading comrades postponed the struggle. In October 1985,the crop was sown after capturing the land.

Vikram Singh retaliated with his lackeys but was thwarted by the resistance of the people.The leading activists of the organization displayed great moral courage.

In January 1986,the masses seized the entire crop. The masses numbering hundreds twice captured the kachery of the landlord and captured his entire crop and property.

For selfish interests a section of the feudals supported the struggling people. They played the role of middlemen but the masses detected their ploy and boycotted the compromise.

Later the administrative officials along with the feudal tried to break the unity of the masses.They propogated that the victories of the struggle would only benefit the Harijans,as the government would only distribute land to them.

The main local leadership exposed this conspiracy in a meeting explaining that only a collective onslaught of protracted nature would gain victory.

In October 1986 the crops were again sownwhile from February to March 1987 ,the struggle started on the question of crop seizure.The masses seized several acres of crop.A police camp was laid at the kachery of the zamindar for protecting the crop.The police prevented the masses from harvesting the crop and promised them the crop at the time of ripening.The masses naively believed him.

Later,when the crop was ready to be harvested,the landlord aided by the police cut and carried of the harvest.When the peole heard this they lost faith in the adminstartion.

In October 1987 the fields were again sown while in February-March 1988,the people captured the entire harvest. On several occasions the armed might of the masses overcame the police who were patrolled at the Kachery of the landlord.

In the course of the struggle the authorities promised the masses that the land would be distributed. However they failed to live up to their promise. All the orders agreed to were still on paper inspite of a list submitted to 210 people giving details of the claim sof the people to land.Inspite of the people gheraoing Yamuna Rama,minister of Bihar,the peole’s demands were not met.

Some months later after seizing the entire crop, the women were one day going to harvest for wages when the police force and goondas attacked them.13 women and one peasant were arrested. In response, hundreds of people gheraoed the S.D.O. as the collector was absent,and submitted a memorandum The following day all were arrested.

It is important to understand why a section of feudals came to the side of the struggling peasants. Before the struggle was initiated the feudal were split into 2 groups . Both groups wished to have the land of this landlord transferred to their name and wanted their dominant position. One section, which superficially supported the struggle, lacked the might of the lathi. 

The other, enemy section possessed the lathi.Thus the weaker feudal tried to infiltrate the organization to use it for their own ends. Although they marginally helped the organization to some extent, the enemy camp of feudals got this section entangled in litigation cases.

When the enemy feel they are unable to tackle the might of the people in a confrontation they entrap them in litigation cases and finish their strength in that process.

In March, 1988 there were 2 instances when nothing would stop the people from capturing the harvest and that the zamindar was defeated. A vanguard section of women met and resolved that for for 3-4 months it may not be necessary for them to attend  the fields. As many of them are share-croppers they could capture the crop and divide it among them-selves. 

They had deployed their optimum effort in this struggle. The party leadership explained the need for a collective fight. The next day the people went to harvest in small numbers. Then the police attacked them, and the people understood the message of the party and learned from their mistake. Finally,all the people united to capture the harvest and they succeeded.

The main features of the struggle was that it gained support from other classes, democratic individuals etc and benefited from the leadership of the party. Throughout  the struggle the movement consistently trod on the path of mass –line. Legal and Illegal methods were appropriately combined. Effective support was also received from the armed volunteers of the village self-defense corpse.

The lesson that has been learnt most is that if the masses do not get the leadership to match the strength of the movement, their consciousness and demands –or, if the leadership lags behind –then people blame such a leadership  and restore faith in parliamentary parties. It is evident that because of enemy terror ,or because of weaknesses in propaganda ,or lagging consciousness or because demands are not properly formulated, the people retreat in a struggle.

In case of success of the struggle people are all praise for the revolutionary leadership but in case of defeat throw curses on the organization leading the struggle.

Only in the course of struggle has the organization grown and people become more conscious of the exploitative enemy classes. In the course of struggle so much is gained on all sides by the people that witnessing these gains one gains an insight into the bright future ahead.

The leadership of the party can only base the struggle on the poor and landless peasants .When in the road of the revolutionary movement ,different classes align themselves there is help from all sides. It is like the relation of bone and muscle.

Translation for  foreign readers

‘Zamindar’ means landlord

‘Kachery ‘is a landlord’s house

‘Gherao’ mean surround

Further peasant struggles(from journal ‘mukti marg’)commemorating 20 years since 1st land seizures.

In 1993 the first central land seizure movement was launched in Bihar by the Mazdoor Kisan Mukti Manch-the ressurected form of the Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti.The red defense squads too made an important contribution.The major landlords were identified and targeted. The land seizure programme was innaugurated in July 1993 and on 8th July 1993 about 1000 people planted red flags owned by Sudama Singh,a notorious landlord.A police camp had already been set up and they intervened after the first flags were planted by the peasants in the house of the landlord,threatening them with dire consequences of death.The red peoples defence intervened at this juncture and enabled the peasnts to complete planting the flags2 days later 1000 acres of Kameshawar Baccha were captured in the same village in another block.

Later a historic capture was made of landlord Budhinarayan Sah who owned 1799 acres and lived in Kharaundi village in Bhavantahapur.He used to tie rebellios peasants to huge anthills of red ants  and sprinkle gur on their bodies.From 1991 he people struggled against his tyranny and in 1992 ransacked the house of the landlordand seized his arms.Inspite of a police camp being set up on 25th May 1993 burnt down his palatial house and on 18th July planted flags on his land.From July 8th tp 2nd August 1993,7000 acres of land belonging to the most notorious of landlords of the Palmau -Garwah region was captured.

Similar land struggles took place in 1993 in Jehanabad, Gaya, Ptana, Khagaria, Begusura,Buxar,Rohtas,Bhabhua and Aurangabad districts.

This year we commemorate the 20th anniversay of the martyrdom of Suresh Yadav and 3 members of the red defense squad, Suddeshwar Paswan, Dharmendra Singh and Suryadeo Paswan in fake encounter by the Bihar armed police. 

It took place in context of of major land struggle for capturing 500 acres of land in Gulzarabigha village of Haspura block of Aurangabad district.

In 1993 the revolutionary peasant organization countered the issue of famines in major way,mainly in Palamau,Garwha and Lohardagg districts.

Firtsly pamphleting and postering was done to educate the masses.

Secondly, flood relief was organized 

Thirdly through demonstrations dharnas,public meetings pressure was placed on the administration to implement reforms.

Fourthly,the people were mobilised to seize the stock sof the landlords and hoarders Nearly 2000 mahua trees were seized, several hundred quintals of rice and wheat were seized in a programme which involved thousands of people. 

Notable struggles were those launched against Dharmender Baccha of sunlight Senain the massive fort-like Khalihan of the Ranka estate. 60 acres of land was also seized from Lallan Singh,one of the cruelest leaders of the Sunlight Sena.

The harvesting of his land was carried out during a prolonged battle between the police and the red defense squads of the people.

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