This article reflects the personal views of Harsh Thakor
IMMORTAL CONTRIBUTION OF C.P.I.(M.L.) PEOPLES WAR GROUP FROM 1980- reminding cadres of the outstanding role played by the ertswhile C.P.I.(M.L.) Peoples War group in budding the roots of the armed agrarian revolutionary struggle in Dandakaranya today and earlier in North Telengana.
Before the formation of the C.P.I.(Maoist) the Peoples War group made the greatest political contribution to the Indian Communist movement from 1980,taking the movement to a higher political level than any other group.
Gross errors but still made a remarkable achievement.The PWG brilliantly blended open and secret functioning possessing the planning of an architect with the creativity of a poet.
It has it's roots on the self criticism of 1977 written by Kondpali Setharamiah and the outstanding mass work of the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L.) Peoples War group.From 1980-98 the PW group traversed the hardest barriers to practice armed struggle and most creatively created students,youth,peasant and cultural organizations.
Without doubt ,in spite of later being crushed;they sowed the seeds for emergence of revolutionary democracy like in Karimnagar or North Telenagana and Dandakaranya.
No doubt major mistakes occured like anarchist armed actions, incorrect approach towards mass organizations or insufficient democracy within them , not sufficient mass movements ,big brotherly or incorrect approach towards other groups,inter-group clashes.inadequate involvements of masses in actions etc
I don't agree with the insistence of Mao Zedong thought in the manifesto of Virasam and Andhra Pradesh Radical Students Union and feel there was not enough independent awarded to mass organizations..Strong tendencies of functioning as party front organizations prevailed Some wrong actions took place against cadres of other groups and against class enemies like landlord Satyam in Srikakulam
Even if vitiated by left adventurist or anarchist tendencies it would be historically wrong to dub their practice as 'left-adventurist' or 'terrorist' as in many respects they incorporated important aspects of mass line and protracted peoples war.
They proved in many ways the role of armed squads for a movement. They displayed genius by turning a tiny armed squad force in Bastar intoa strong army, like a stream turning into an ocean. Who can deny the great mass mobilizations they launched on peoples causes and their overall political influence.
The Karimnagar peasant movement and rytu coolie sangham conferences of 1985 and 1990 are a testimony to this.where 10 lakh people were mobilised.The Andhra Pradesh Radical Students Union also wrote a new epoch in the history of the student movement initatiting go to village campaigns and with theRadical youth League ressurecting the flame of Naxalabri movement and Chinese revolution.;The APRSU staged 9 state conferences and could mobilise around 10000 deelgates.
Another achievement was the formation of the All-India Peoples Resistance form in Kolkata in 1994 and the 1 lakh rally.The 1999 all India campaign of A.I.P.R.F. opposing state repression in Bihar ,Dandkaranya and Andhra Pradesh was a historic event in the annals of Indian revolutionary movement .major conferences were led in districts of Bihar ,Andhra Pradesh and Punjab.It was the 1st all-India sustained campaign aginst state repression by a front of revolutionary groups.Another remarkable event was the staging of event on the 50th th anniversary of Independence in Mumbai in 1997.where the face of the true character of the independence we achieved , the nature of the state e and the revolutionary movement was painted to perfection.
No organization before 2004 after naxalbari made such a great contribution to the Indian Communist Movement.
It literally moved like a fish in water displaying creativity at it's highest zenith.It developed mass-political movement and armed struggle to a level no revolutionary group did.Gross errors made but still had outstanding achievements virtually writing a new epoch.
Displayed death defying courage defying state repression particularly from 1991 to 1995 and earlier in 1985 reminiscent of how the Vietcong fought the American enemy decades earlier. and the Chinese red army against the Kuomintang and Japan.
Resisted like a boulder withstanding a gale and ressurected themselves often like a phoenix from the Ashes.It also displayed the innovation and ceativity of a great musical composer.
Even comrades from other streams like Amolak Singh of Punjab and Sunder Navalkar of Maharashtra spoke volumes of the work of this group.
Professor Amit Bhattacharya is convinced that no organization played a grear role in the post-naxalabri phase of Indian Communist Movement as it created a level of mass –political movement no revolutionary group could.
In his vew both the M.C.C.or the PU groups did not reach the heights of the PWG.In 1992 -93 I remember even St Xavier’s professor and a student colleague not associated with any movement or group admiring the Organization.
Writer Srigendu Bhattacharaya . an author of a book on the Lalgarh movement felt it was only because the PWG arrived was a shape and direction given to the Lalgarh movement Carved a permaent niche in the glorious history of people combating the opressors.
Sadly it received a major jolt when 3 central committee members were assainated namely Murli,Sham and Mahesh and were virtually wiped out in North Telenagana.
It made a self-critical review in 2001 conference and 2007 plenum..This exposed it’s practice of the correct military line ability to replenish losses and have sufficient development of peoples democratic and mass revolutionary movement .
Heroic retaliations but still not sufficient mass mobilization.In this context a through study of Devullapali Benkatsewar Rao’s ‘Telengana aermed Struggle’ and ‘Basic Documents’ in regard to protracted peoples War has great relevance.
There was a strong tendency to publically be critical of their actions by the then Chandra Pulla Reddy and Pyla Vasudeva Rao’s groups in the early 1990’s who openly in mass meetings propagated that their actions acted aginst the revolutionary trend and openly dubbed them as terrorist.UCCRI(M.L.) sections too propogated this ,but at a lower level.Fasinatingly the Red Star group of K.N .Ramchandran was one of the most vocal in defending them.
Pages of journal ‘Red STAR’ upheld their heroic retaliation in 1989-90.One sided phenomena in the early 1990’s was the group classes between the Resistance C.P.Reddy group and the PWG and fact finding tyeam wa ssent for this purpose.PWG sympathiser felt that it was a strughgle on class lines but mnay democrats s were critical of the clashes.I wa spresnt in ameeting in Nanded when 2 speakesr of C.P.Reddy group called for the Adivasis to reject ‘terrorist’ line of P.W.G.This was uncalled for.
I am reproducing an excerpt from Amit Bhatacharya 's 'Storming the Gates of heaven.'
Jaggtiyal yatra Praja Panchyats,or peoples courts,were set up as parallel bodies to the landlord dominated ones which had hitherto ruled the village.The landlords were physically brought to public meetings amd made to apologize for crimes and injustice they ad commited on the people.
The peasants moved in big rallies with red flags ,occupied wastelands and government land sunder landlords occupation.
This was accompanied by the strikes of labourers at beedi-leaf collection centres in many taluqs of Karimnagar and Adilabad.' Panchayat' is a traditional village institution of the Telengana region where any petty dispute is publicly adjudicated wit the landlord presiding judgement .
This symbol feudal authority over the village was overturned and replaced by the peasants.Over 800 acres of land was occupied and lakhs of rupees colected as refunds by the landless peasants in 30 villages of Jagatiyal itself.
In the end on 7th September 1978 35000 people marched to Jagatiyal town painting it red.
The mass upsurge forced the landlords to retreat to the cities, while others retaliated with the connivance of the police.A sitiation erupted where 3000 peasnts from 75 villages were impicated in false cases and Sircila and Jagatiyal were declare as disturbed areas.
The revolutionary forces learn through their long experience of struggle against state repression that some basic change in perspective was the need of the hour and in 1979 the AP state commitee presented a plan for development of military perspective for the movement which came to be known as the 'guerilla zone perspective.'The party drew lessons from history and came to the conclusion that it was imperative to develop some work in the forest areas surrounding these regions so that mass base created by the forests could serve as a rear area for the squads to retreat in the face of severe enemy attacks in plains.To progress,the revolutionaries had to make necessary preparations to combat not only the landlords but also the poice and paramilitray forces.Thus the need of the hour now was need of military preparation by the party It implied not only acquisition of weapons ,but alos political,organizational, and militray consciousness that enhance the party's striking capacity.In June 1980 7 squads of 5 to 7 members each,entered the forests from different directions.,The work began in Gadricholi in Maharashtra,Bastar in Madya Pradesh and Koraput in Orissa.To begin with it was an extension of the Karimnagar and Adilbad struggles.The response to the Adivasis was quick and positive,leading to the creation of vast guerila zone in the Dandakaranya region.The Maoists drew another important lesson about the ability of mass movement to sustain itself.
Prior to 1978,peasant movements always broke down in the face of severe repression.
Earlier,the naxalites responded by guerilla attcks and annihilations both of the class enemies and police forces.However,the events of karimnagar and Adilabad made it clear that the mass movements and even some level of mass organization scould be sustained and effectively used to combat police attack.In the new stage,guerilla attcks were not initially part of maoist tactics,.In the plain areas,atacks on agressive landlords and police informers took place but the primary task of the party was carrying out the mass movement.
Excerpts from an article defending the achievements of the peoples war group in 'Voice of the Vanguard.'in Nov-Dec 1997 from a strong criticsim of their practice of massline by New Democracy Group.
The most important achievement of the party is the land occupation struggle in the guerilla zones.Strugggles for the occupation of WATS lands,temple and endowment lands.tankbeds,and forest lands resulted in takeover of more than 3 lakh acres The party successfully prevented the sale of the land by landlords since early 1980's.The patta land of landlords were seized in a big way since 1990.Around 40000 acres of Patta land were occupied by the people of North Telengana in 1990 alone.It inspred the masses throughout AP.They also shattered the base of landlords in the villages of North Telengana and landlords fled to the cities or surrendered themselves to the commitees.
1.AP-DK movements are based on the line of armed agrarian revolution as the axis of NDR.and protracted war is the only path to reach that goal.It is the same as that of Telengana armed struggle.
2.The anti-feudal struggle was taken to a higher stage in Karimnagar and Adilabad in 1980.By mid-1988 five districts of North Telengana namely Karimnagar ,Adilabad and Warangal,Nizamabad and Khammam were turned into a preparatory guerilla zone area.Intensification of anti-feudal and anti-imperialist struggles and the formation of mass organizations;armed struggle becoming the main form of the struggle,guerilla squads becoming the main form of organization,people's active support to armed struggle and guerilla squads and mass struggles in a wide contiguous area were the features.
.Our party weilds considerable influence in an area covering about three lakh square km with a populatinof around 60 million.
The intensification of the land occupation struggles shook the ruling clases and para military forces were used to defaet the struggle.Even withthe aid of the police and the paramilitray the landlors could not regain the land due to resistance of guerilla squads and the people.In the past 2 yaers people have been cultivating at least half the occuppied land by offering collective resistance.1500 acres of land in other ares of AP have been occupied.
4.Village development Commitees Education commitees Coperatives etc are being formed to take up several developmental activities through active involvement of people.Schools were run by gramrajya commitees.
5.Village courts which served to defend the political hegemony of the landlords were converted into peoples courts .A classic example was in Jagatiyal.
6.We combated the police and para -military forces inspite of ban imposed in May 1992 and losing about 1300 members.We defeated the enemy offensive ,developed armed resistance and increased the number of our armed squads.
.By staging relentless resistance to the police and para-militray forces we have not only advanced the path of New Democratic Revolution in our country,but also instilled revolutionary confidence amongst various sections of the opressed masses.We proved in practice that we could counter the enemy offenisve by intensigying armed struggle through guerilla methods based on revolutionary massline.
We have commited some mistakes in political,organizational and militray spheres in course of building guerilla zones but these errors were reviewed in the plenums and conferences.On some occasion swe made open self-criticism which was afeature in the 1995 All India Conference .Consitently rectifying and learning lesson sfrom the past we have ressurected Telengana ,Naxalbari and Srikakulam struggles to a higher plane.
COMPILED FROM AIRSF BOOKLET COMMEMORATING 30 YRS OF NAXALBARI IN 1997
The Student Movement
Once the left line was rectified, students who had been inspired by Naxalbari and Srikakulam and the RWA and JNM, surged forward in their thousands. Initially the students of the CP Reddy group and those with the AP State Committee worked under one banner – the Progressive Democratic Students Union or PDSU. But, as the differences grew sharper and working within one organisation became difficult (with continuous contradictions) the revolutionary students left and formed the Radical Students Union or RSU. This organisation grew with such speed and gained such support that even today activists are popularly known as Radicals.
The Radical Students Union was formed on October 12, 1974 and the first State Conference was held in February 1975. This first conference released a manifesto exposing the various revisionist tendencies and holding aloft the banner of a revolutionary student movement. Hundreds of students inspired and Mao Ze Dong Thought attended the conference. The biggest contingents were from Telangana, specifically form Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam and Nalgonda. Large numbers also came from Ananthapur, Tirupathi and Vishakhapatnam.
After the conference and before the next academic year, the Emergency was declared and the RSU had to face the full brunt of the repressive machinery. More than 500 students were subjected to inhuman torture, and 70 were thrown into prison. Four young students, Janardhan, Murali Mohan, Anand Rao and Sudhakar were taken to the Giraipally forests and shot dead by the police. Student activist, Nagaraju, was also arrested and shot. Yet RSU re-organised secretly and continued agitations specifically in their two strongholds – the Regional Engineering College of Warangal and the Osmania University in Hyderabad. They also started a magazine ‘Radical’ which was widely distributed amongst students.
After the lifting of the Emergency student agitations swept the state around a number of issues : In Hyderabad it was around the Rameejabi rape (in police custody) case, in Kakatiya University it was against the Hindu fundamentalists, in Bellampally in support of the workers strike, in Mahaboobnagar in support of the hotel workers – also there were state-wide agitations on ITI and Polytechnic students’ issues and a state wide strike for students demands for better social welfare benefits.
The second conference was held in Warangal in February 1978. In preparation to this conference a big debate took place as certain units said that mass organisations should confine themselves to partial demands and not propagate revolutionary politics. The two views were debated in all units, and finally the second conference rejected the proposed changes. Lenin’s writings on the nature of a revolutionary student movement were widely circulated to educate students and activists on this issue.
The mass upsurge of students throughout 1978 and the active ‘boycott election campaign’ to the state Assembly culminated with the third state conference of the RSU held in Anantapur with 2000 delegates. This was preceded by district conferences in 13 districts. With the sweep of the revolutionary student movements RSU (jointly with PDSU) began winning all the student union elections. The 1981 RSU state conference at Guntur was preceded by 16 district conferences. Prior to this conference RSU had organised a meeting of 10,000 to condemn Soviet Aggression of Afghanistan.
From 1981 the ABVP (student wing of the Hindu fundamentalist BJP) organised systematic assaults on RSU activists and even killed some leaders.
The police stood by and watched. The RSU replied – first with a systematic exposure of the ABVP; and then they also resisted the physical assaults and wherever necessary retaliated. With this resistance campaign the movement spread to the High Schools.
In the 1982 student elections the RSU achieved unprecedented victories in Osmania University (Hyderabad) and in the towns of Warangal, Karimnagar, Nalgonda, Mahaboobnagar, Adilabad, Guntur, Chittoor, Kurnool, Cuddapah and Khammam districts. The student union election victories further facilitated the spread of revolutionary politics in the educational institutions. The inaugural functions, cultural events ….. all became centres of revolutionary enthusiasm spreading the movement to every corner of the state. By the time of the 5th
State conference, RSU had spread to 18 out of the 21 districts of AP. In 1984, 25000 polytechnic students from 47 colleges went on a 104 day strike and achieved their demands. Even high school students went on an indefinite strike to get their syllabus reduced. In February 1985, at the initiative of the RSU the All India Revolutionary Students Federation (AIRSF) was established at a conference held in Hyderabad. But by mid-1985 the police launched its massive attack on the party and a chief target was the RSU. Police raided schools, colleges and hostels, arresting students and brutally torturing them.
Since then, the RSU has been pushed underground and had to change its style of functioning from large open meetings to small secret meetings, class room meetings, etc. In 1985/86 a number of students leading the RSU were killed in cold blood – Nageshwar Rao, Shyam Prasad, Sreenivas, Yakaiah, Ramakanth, Muralidhar Raju and Satish fell to enemy bullets. Nageswar Rao was the state vice-president of RSU. Since then all conferences of the RSU have been held secretly.
(5) ‘Go to the Village’ Campaigns
The ‘Go to the village campaign’ was an ingenious method discovered by the AP Party to effectively integrate the students with the ongoing peasant movement. It was also a brilliant method to push ahead the organisation amongst the peasantry with enormous speed. In the summer holidays students scheduled to go on a campaign would first go through an intense one weak political school. In this school the method of conducting the campaign would also be informed. Also in this school they would be informed about the subject to be taken for intense political propaganda amongst the peasants. After this they would be broken up into batches of about seven each and proceed to the villages covering an area as per the party plans. In the village campaign they were also to set up youth organisations wherever possible and keep a note of the names of all potential activists. These names would then be handed over to the local party organiser who would follow up and deepen the organisation.
The first such campaign began in the summer of 1978. In the first campaign 200 students participated. The aim of this campaign was the propagation of the politics of agrarian revolution and the building of RYL (Radical Youth League) units in the villages. The campaign went on for one month and culminated in the holding of the first RYL Conference. The significance of this campaign was that it helped trigger off the historic peasant struggles of Karimnagar and Adilabad.
In the next year, the ‘village campaign’ of April to June 1979 was for the first time jointly conducted by RSU and RYL. This time preparatory classes were held in 15 centres in which 500 students and youth participated. Besides propagating the politics of agrarian revolution the campaigners strived to expose the “Soviet-backed Vietnamese aggression against Kampuchea” – they sold Pol Pot badges in the villages. The campaign focused on “Soviet Aggression against Afghanistan” and also expressed solidarity with the nationality movement of Assam.
The 1981 campaign exposed police brutality in the wake of of the massacre of tribals in Indervelli in Adilabad district. The campaign mobilised support for the tribal movement being led by the CPI (ML) (PW) in the Dandakaranya forests. In 1982, the theme of the campaign was the unconditional release of KS and other political prisoners and demanding a judicial enquiry into ‘encounter’ killings in the state. The teams also helped mobilise workers for the first State Conference of the Coal miners union SIKASA (Singareni Karmika Samakhya). The 1983 campaign exposed the repression being unleashed by the Telugu Desam government and explained that political leaders like NTR cannot usher in all-round development of the Telugu nationality.
The 1984 campaign, the last that was possible before the all-out onslaught unleashed in 1985, focused on government repression and demanded the withdrawal of the CRPF from Telangana.
With each campaign the number of student and youth participants increased, inspite of the fact that in each successive year the police attacks were getting more and more vicious. In 1983/84 it was a virtual hide-and-seek between the police and the campaigners.
In the 1984 village campaign about 1100 student and youth participated, organised into 150 propaganda teams. That year alone they carried the message of agrarian revolution to 2419 villages.
The staging of the 1987 conference has historical significance if you consider the repressive conditions prevalent. Various district conferences were held in preparation. In the 7th state conference held in February in 1987 the expansionist policies of theCongress govt. were condemned, including the Baliapal Missile bae project and Nageshwar Rao’s death was commemorated. Methods of Struggle were devised to combat the repression .
A political resolution was passed in thwarting the attempts of the ruling classes and advancing the movement on the revolutionary path. A report was read out of the role played by the APRSU in Statewide issues like resvations,Karamchedu massacre,N.GO’S strike and Social WelfareHostel’s students struggle. Political resolutions were also launched against Rajiv Gandh’s national Chauviism, aand war hysteria used to divert the peole fro thir main styruggles.Later in 1987 struggles were launched on issues like scholarships. Police were combated in campuses, The New Education policy was also exposed. An Extensive propaganda campaign was also launched against brutal state repression carried out on 50 Girijan villages in Chintapalli agency in March and June 1987.A propaganda campaign was launched in the villages.
In the conference the deleagates narrated their experience in overcoming the fascist onslaught. The conference displayed the resilience with which the Radical Students withstood the state’s attempt to liquidate the student movement. As part of the undeclared war of the government ont he people .It also described how new forms of struggles were adopted in the changed scenario.
In 1987 Ananthapur high school students agitated for better hostel facilities on 8th July.
. In 1988 and 1999 APRSU launched struggles of issues like BC Scholarshiops,,opposing closing of BC hostels, canceling of loans of peasants, opposing the nuclear plant in Nagarjuna Sagar,opposing the 59th Amendment bill Students converged into Nagarjuna SAgar in August 1988 to oppose the plant, in a joint front with other progressive organizations.
In May 1992 the A.P.R.S.U.was officially banned. What is significant is the way comrades revived the work of the organizations inspite of being banned and still staged state level conferences .From 1992, it heroically held underground conferences.It smajor leaders have been killed.In 1996 on December 5th,6th and 7th the A.P.R.SU.held it’s 10th State Conference.12 resolutions were passed .Earlier that year in East Godavari district the organization conducted a “Go to Villages Campaiggn’ in Anantpur.Inspite of combing operations the teams were successful.Politics of New Democratic Revolution was propogated and people were urged to organize into Rythu Collie Sanghams.Villagers helping the students were arrested.
1980-84 FIRST STEP TOWARDS GUERILLA ZONE
By the end of 1979 itself it became apparent that the government and landlords would resort to much more brutal repression for snuffing out the peasant struggles of Karimnagar and Adilabad. In order to face this situation it was imperative that, apart from extending the area of operation, the peasant movement be raised to a higher level.
In the course of any revolutionary movement critical moments are reached, when hard decisions have to be taken to advance the movement to a higher stage, or, get pushed back by the enemy forces. At such critical moments any faltering, any hesitation to advance, leads to the loss of initiative on the part of the revolutionaries and can lead to confusion and disarray in the ranks.
The movement in AP by 1979 had reached such a critical stage. To advance, now meant, making necessary preparations to take on, not only the landlord classes, but also the police and para-military forces. Preparation for such an eventuality, meant not only adoption of new forms of struggle, not only new methods of organisation, but also the military preparation of the party.
Military preparations not only implies acquisition of weapons, but the political, organisational and military consciousness which enhances the Party’s striking capacity. Above all, it meant, that the people had to be mentally prepared to take on such a struggle.
To take a correct decision at such a crucial moment was a key factor to determine whether the movement would advance or retreat. It was, infact, at such crucial moments that the Indian Communist movement has faltered. On a number of occasions the anti-feudal, struggles had reached a high pitch, but when the Indian state machinery intervened with all its might the movements were either crushed, or, the leadership beat a hasty retreat.
During the earlier Telangana movement (1948 to 1951) the leadership betrayed the movements, while the numerous anti-feudal struggles in the wake of the Naxalbari uprising were brutally crushed. It is in this context that the Party’s document ‘Perspective for a Guerilla Zone’ has a historical significance. The general line of taking the movement towards a guerilla zone and liberated base areas already existed in the tactical line. What was more relevant was to work out the concrete political, organisational and military details to take it in that direction. The guerilla zone document fulfilled this task. That too, at the right moment.
Guerilla Zone Perspective
Though the movement in Warangal and Khammam districts was at a lower level than that in Karimnagar and Adilabad the document combined all four districts in the proposed Guerilla Zone. The districts were closely interlinked and had a contiguous forest area. In order to take the movement towards a guerilla zone the document first and foremost, focussed on building the party deep amongst the masses. It outlined that not only all the mass organisations should be built at the village level and made functional, but also the village-level party cells should be built with part-timers. It also focussed on the chief party organisers, now called Central Organisers or COs, who were to move as a sort of mini-squad 1CO+2 Squad members) all of whom would be armed. Each CO group was to be allocated a fixed number of villages (15 to 20) to develop.
The document foresaw the fact that, when the government repression intensifies in the four districts it would become necessary to build a rear in the forests on the other side of the Godavari river – i.e. in the Dandakaranya forests. Given this reality, the document pointed out, that it was necessary to immediately make proper arrangements for such an eventuality.
Having said this, the document right away went on to outline the tasks of the squads that were to enter the Dandakaranya forests. It said, that these squads should take on the following tasks :
1) To provide protection to squads that temporarily retreat from the four districts of the guerilla zone and to help them to counter-attack the enemy.
2) To organise tribals in the forest areas and to extend the struggle, building the Party and revolutionary army from among them.
It also added, that as the prominance of point (2) increases, the task of the Dandakaranya movement would move in the direction of taking it to a higher plane.
Finally the document concretely suggested, that one-third of all organisers and committee members from North Telangana should be organised into squads and sent to the forests.
In accordance with this document, which had been thoroughly discussed throughout the Party in 1979 itself, in June 1980 seven squads (of about five to seven members each) entered the forests. Initially they faced immense problems in getting roots amongst the tribals, specifically in the light of the police repression and combing operations, that started immediately. Yet, before the enemy’s first suppression campaign began in 1985, the movement spread like wildfire, even beyond the Party’s expectations.
In North Telangana, the movement extended to all the talukas of Karimnagar and Adilabad district, except one taluka in each. In Warangal district the focus developed from an urban to a rural movement. The movement in Khammam during this period faced some losses but that of Nizamabad saw big gains.
The working class movement saw big gains amongst the one lakh and ten thousand coal miners in the Singareni coal belt.
In the Dandakaranya forests, the movement spread to the Gadchiroli, Chandrapur and Bhandara districts of Maharashtra; Bastar, Rajnandgaon and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh, and to Koraput district in Orissa. In Andhra Pradesh the movement spread to the East Godavari and Vishakhapatnam forest areas.
In Dandakaranya the movement was initiated by fighting against the arbitrary authority of government officials of the forest, revenue and excise department who had been ruthlessly plundering the tribals. Also, struggles broke out against the management of the paper mill and contractors exploiting the forest produce. Big movements were built for enhancing the wage rates for tendu leaf collection. Also, peasants were mobilised for raising the support price of cotton. From the very beginning land struggles was a major issue. Within the very first year the tribal peasantry stopped paying a variety of taxes to the forest department and began occupying forest land for cultivation. Within one year two lakh acres was occupied. Some land, forcefully occupied by traders and moneylenders was taken back. Also lands occupied by middle and rich peasants from the plains (non-tribals) was divided equally (50:50) amongst them and the problem settled. Anti-famine struggles took two forms – first, through the collection of paddy from donations; also paddy banks were started, where the peasants pool some amount of paddy in these banks at the time of the harvest and then draw on the stocks in times of need. Second, through famine raids on the houses of landlords, moneylenders and traders who hoarded grain. Thousands took part in the famine raids. Apart from these struggles, struggles were also taken up to stop the building of roads and cutting of forests and also for the recovery of losses suffered due to bauxite mining in Bailadilla (MP).
In the Dandakaranya region two big mass organisations were built – the Dandakaranya Adivasi Mazdoor Kisan Sangh (DAKMS) and the tribal women’s organisation KAMS (Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sanghatan). The Sangams grew in stature to become symbols of struggle to the tribals. Slowly all disputes began to be settled by the sangam, whether a village dispute, a family dispute, a marriage dispute, a caste dispute or something related to tribal customs or community affairs. Also a relentless struggle was waged against backward tribal customs and traditions like human sacrifice, witchcraft, superstitions resulting in ill-health and disease and against practices which do not allow women to fully cover their bodies.
In 1980, six party members, organised as a squad, crossed the Godavari and entered Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. Squad members recount how the tribals just on seeing them would flee into the hills. When they entered villages there would not be a person left, except may be a few very old and some children. Chatting with the old, playing with the children, sometimes physically catching hold of tribals and forcing them to listen, was how the ‘Annas’ ( i.e. big brother as they are known) found their way into the hearts of the tribals…. and came to be loved by them. But, within six months of entering the area the 18 year old Peddi Shankar was shot in the back and became the first martyr on Maharashtrian soil. But, the movement grew, and with it Shankar became a legend……..a part of tribal folklore. By the time the Kamalapur Conference was called in 1984 the movement had grown like a tornado. The government banned the conference, sealed all roads leading to the village, arrested the speakers, journalists, students, folk artists-infact anyone who was moving in the direction of Kamalapur. From three days before the conference, police reinforcements combed the forests attacking and dispersing the tribal processions which flowed like streams, from all directions, towards Kamalapur. They encircled Kamalapur. Yet, on the day of the conference, playing hide-and-seek with the police, 10,000 tribals reached Kamalapur
and hoisted the DAKMS flag. The police lathi-charged…..the flag fluttered and then fell……but the conference was held…..not in Kamalapur but in Nagpur jail.
Specifically notable about the Dandakaranya movement was the awakening of women. The Sangam stood against forced marriages, against child marriages, and against all the age-old customs that degraded women. The KAMS became a powerful force with its own organisers, its own structures and its own revolutionary programme linking women’s liberation to the new democratic revolution. When the suppression began in 1985 the KAMS was as brutally attacked as was the DAKMS.
(2) North Telangana
While in this five year period the movement took roots in Dandakaranya, in North Telangana (NT) the movement spread and also grew more intense. In NT thousands of acres of government land (occupied by landlords) were distributed to the landless and in some areas even landlord’s land was seized. When the landlords began fleeing the villagesand tried to sell their land, the party imposed a ban on the purchase or sale of all
PART — 7
1990 — A BRIEF REPRIEVE
In 1990, due to the contradictions within the ruling classes, and because of the growing pressure of the peoples’ movement, the new Congress government in AP eased the repression for a while. So, during this brief period, which did not extend even to a full year, some open mass activity and mass meetings were allowed.
Whatever, in this brief period the party acted quickly to consolidate its mass base and also use the opportunity for a massive mobilisation of the people. The party concentrated on building the party leadership at the village level, by imparting training (political and military) to the village defense squads and village militants.
This time the big sweep in the land occupation movements was for the occupation of landlords (patta) land. Thousands of acres of land were occupied in AP and Dandakaranya. Also lakhs of people were mobilised on peasant issues like power cuts, writing off loans, remunerative prices for agricultural produce, reduction in rates of water cess, etc. The struggle against arrack contractors now became a struggle for the imposition of a total ban on the sale of liquor. The strike activity of the Singareni coal miners also reached a feverish pitch culminating in the September 1990 strike on workers’ varied demands. The strike involved 80, 000 workers and continued for 42 days until the major demands were won.
On the other hand, mobilisation of the masses in rallies, conferences, public meetings had reached a crescendo, disproving the lie that the People’s War Party was a terrorist group, with no mass base. This propaganda was widely disseminated not only by the government, but also by some revolutionary groups, and some who had deserted the party. In times of acute repression the legal mobilisation of masses in meetings etc., is not always possible. Without a mass base and a mass line no guerilla war can survive for long. Yet, when the repression was partially lifted by the new Chenna Reddy government, the masses rallied as never before in a display of affection for the party and as a symbol of condemnation against the inhuman attacks of the past five years.
The first meeting held was that of the RWA in January 1990 at Hyderabad which drew one lakh people; 2 lakh people attended the 18th anniversary celebration of the JNM on February 20 at Hyderabad; the April 20 Indravelli memorial meeting was attended by over one lakh people; the 22nd April meeting at Bellampalli was also attended by one lakh people; the meeting at Mandamarri by 50, 000.
All these meetings finally culminated with the 3rd Conference of the Rytu Coolie Sangam on May 5/6 at Warangal with a rally the size of which has never been seen in the history of AP.
The Conference was attended by 700 delegates and the public meeting and rally by over 10 lakhs ( i.e. one million) people.
Seeing the massive upsurge in the revolutionary movement the government was shaken, besides it had no need to continue with its demagogy as it had already come to power. By May 1990 itself the repression was stepped up; and in the May-December period alone ten thousand people had been arrested and six thousand implicated in false cases. Villages were again being raided and people being indiscriminately beaten and tortured. To terrorise the masses, they began shooting down sangam leaders in front of the people. By December 1990 all open activity throughout the state was being ruthlessly suppressed and once again, repression on an even higher scale than 1985, was unleashed.
PART — 8
1991 TO THE PRESENT — SECOND ROUND OF SUPPRESSION
Tasks in the New Conditions of Repression
Growing Armed Resistance
Till 1991, police operations were run separately by the respective state governments.
But now the Central government set up a ‘Nodal Cell’ directly under the Home ministry, and a Joint Command of Operations came into being for the ongoing war of suppression. In December 1991 it rushed battalions of the BSF (Border Security Force) and ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) to Telangana to reinforce the already existing large force of CRPF, CISF and APSP. In May 1992 the AP government imposed a ban on the CPI(ML) (PW) and seven other revolutionary mass organisations (including RSU, RYL, RCS, JNM, SIKASA).
Thus, what was earlier an undeclared war, was now turned into full scale counter-insurgency operations. Mass scale horrors, ‘encounter’ killings and forced ‘surrenders’ became the dominant feature for the suppression campaign. Within ten months about 160 encounters were staged killing over 200 persons. Thousands of people were arrested and tortured, houses were ransacked and crops and properties worth millions destroyed.
The method adopted was to encircle villages and then attack. The BSF, CRPF and the local police would gather forces ranging from 200 to 600 men and would suddenly swoop down and encircle a village or a group of villages, ransack all houses, destroy property and molest the women. Then, some suspect youth would be tortured and humiliated in front of all. All villagers, and especially the relatives of activists, would be served ultimatums to surrender the wanted persons. Some youth would be whisked away. In some villages this would be repeated a number of times in a single month.
Together with this suppression they combined vile propaganda, ‘reforms’, and set up their own rival ‘mass’ organisations. (eg. Janjagran Abhiyan in MP, and Shanti Sena in Maharashtra). The police officers themselves brought out handbills in the name of ‘praja vani’ (people’s voice), printed books, did propaganda through video films and through cultural troupes. The ‘reforms’ undertaken by a host of bodies (govt and semi-govt), involved giving grants varying from Rs. 20000 to Rs. 3 lakhs in the name rehabilitation, allotting house sites, granting land to chosen peasant youth – all with the aim of building a network of police informers in the villages.
All these ‘reform’ schemes were run under direct supervision of the police. The police began setting up various organisations in the villages to try and isolate the revolutionaries, or, at least, build some support for their anti-people campaigns – the ‘village protection committees’ to gather information on squad movement, liquor prohibition committees, to create a network of informants amongst women, the so-called ‘Citizens forum’ to rival the village committees utilising the Sarpanchs and village elders and the Rajiv youth brigades to sponsor sport, drama, etc to wean away the youth.
The bulk of these organisations withered away with time, for lack of cooperation in the villages. But, during this period, through their informer network, they were able to apprehend and kill a number of leading party members. In January 1993 Com. Balanna, Warangal party district committee secretary and regional committee member, along with squad member Padmakka were murdered; on January 26, 1993, Com. Sankar, district committee secretary of Nizamabad and regional committee member was killed; Com. Vishwanath, of the Hyderabad city committee was murdered; also squad member Yerra Prasad and squad commander Naganna. But now, with each killing the funeral processions were turning into big political events. Breaking prohibitory orders, thousands and thousands would join the funeral procession, where hundreds would pledge to continue the work started by their heroic martyr. Between June 91 and end of 92 over 300 comrades had been killed.
This time the masses did not become frightened as in 1985….they were being steeled in armed struggle and slowly being drawn into the armed struggle against the state. But, with this new round of suppression, new tasks had to be formulated.
Tasks in the new conditions of Repression
The party had already declared that the Dandakaranya and North Telangana movements had reached the primary level of a guerilla zone. A guerilla zone is an area where both the revolutionaries and the ruling classes contend for power. In order to consolidate the primary level of guerilla zone reached by the movement in NT and DK, face the increasing state repression, and move to a higher level of guerilla zone, the party outlined the following tasks :
(i) To build two to three local guerilla squads under the central guerilla squad functioning at present, to gradually develop them into platoons
(ii) To separate political and military tasks in the squad area committee and to develop political and military leadership
(iii) To develop a military command from bottom to top
(iv) To consolidate the party organisation at the village level
(v) To establish the united front of revolutionary classes at the village level with the aim of establishing their political power through building the Gram Rajya Committees and to destroy the state power of the comprador bourgeoisie and landlord classes.
(vi) To establish peoples’ power by building village development committees, village defence squads, panchayat committees etc., under the leadership of the Gram Rajya Committee.
But once again during this period of severe repression the party was plunged into another internal crisis, this time led by the secretary of the CC KS and Company. While fighting KS’s opportunism and disruption within the party, it successfully faced the enemy onslaught by implementing the above guidelines. Though the movement faced problems, it was not as severe as in 1985. Though the peoples movement receded temporarily, this time there were no problems of food or providing protection to the squads.
In the initial phase of the repression a lot of the land occupied lay fallow. But slowly, due to the efforts of the local organisation, cultivation of these lands once again began. By end of 1994 land occupation struggles also picked up. Many landlords also began surrendering before the peasant associations. During this period the party worked out a policy on how land distribution should be done and the political and ideological criteria for this was set.
On peasant issues, a big movement developed for the reduction of fertiliser prices. With the government bowing to World Bank pressure the subsidy on fertilisers had been reduced and prices shot up. As the government did not restore the subsidies, merchants began selling fertilisers at exorbitant black market prices. Thousands rallied under the leadership of the sangams, raided fertiliser and pesticide shops and seized large stocks of fertilisers and pesticides. The peasants resisted the police lathi charge. Due to these movements blackmarketeering was reduced. In some areas peasants also refused to pay back bank loans and the hiked electricity charges. Besides, there had been big movements for the regular supply of electricity which was essential for running the water pumps.
On the workers front, besides the coal miners, RTC (bus transport) workers and bidi workers were organised in a big way during this period. Between 1990 and 1995 SIKASA had organised 1, 825 strikes which reached a new peak on April 14, 1995 when one lakh workers went on a twenty day strike demanding settlement of the 5th wage board agreement. Though the strike was opposed by the official trade unions over 90% of the workers struck work. This strike forced the wage board agreement on April 28 in Calcutta. But as the agreement was a sell-out, the strike was revived from October 16 to November 14, 1995. Big successes have been achieved through these struggles. The RTC drivers and conductors have been facing humiliating conditions of work under the establishment unions. Slowly, the workers have been shifting towards revolutionary politics and in some districts, like Nizamabad underground unions like AKASA (APSRTC Karmika Samakhya) have been established. In 1996 this union formed a front which led a series of agitations around a 60-point character of demands of which many have been granted. Bidi workers, mostly women, have also been organised around their demands.
Another unique struggle that took place during this period was the struggle of the prisoners. On the eve of the TDP’s electoral victory in 1994, the revolutionaries in jail sent an open letter to NTR, placing a charter of 54 demands, of which eleven were political, while the rest related to jail conditions.
On December 26, 1994 revolutionaries lodged in the central jails of Secunderabad, Chanchalguda, Vishakhapatnam, Rajahmundry, Warangal and district jails of Cuddapah, Nellore and Karimnagar jointly launched an indefinite hunger strike. The hunger strike received immense support from the other prisoners particularly the Muslim TADA detainees. Outside the jail, democrats swung into action in support of the prisoners movement. On January 4, 1995 the Home minister accepted 42 demands.
Later the government back-tracked. On January 12, 1995 12 life-convicts in Hyderabad jail went on a fast-unto-death. The revolutionaries organised the prisoners for relay hunger strikes. From February 1, the prisoners went on an indefinite hunger strike, supported by relay hunger strikes outside prison. The movement gathered momentum outside the jail.
The government reacted arresting intellectuals, writers, artists and other democrats. On February 9, prisoners resorted to a ‘Jail Bandh’ boycotting all daily duties. On February 15 a statewide bandh was called by the CPI (ML) (PW) in support of the struggle. On February 21 a ‘Chalo Secretariat’ rally and public meeting was organised. Finally, the government bowed down accepting, in writing, 40 of the demands.
Till today the masses continue their struggles. They have their ups and downs, depending on the intensity of repression….but already they have won large benefits to the oppressed masses.
Growing Armed Resistance
It is September 1993. Village Padkal in the Sirnapalli area of Nizamabad district. Meetings and discussions are just over. It was getting dark and just as the squad was preparing to leave the shelter on the outskirts of the village, all of a sudden hundreds of police surround the house and begin a barrage of fire on the house. Two of the women comrades are caught, mercilessly beaten and kept hostage by the police. The squad returns the fire but a burst of fire from the window of neighbouring house kills Sanjeev, the Deputy Commander.
Now the police are also on the terrace, lobbying into their room tear-gas shells. It becomes unbearable and the bullets are running out. In spite of the heavy firing by the police, the squad stops the return of fire. It is 4.00 a.m. The police hearing nothing from the house decide to enter. As they rush up the stairs one policeman is shot dead. Others retreat, and as an act of vengeance they brutally kill the two women comrades.
The non-stop firing, tear-gas continues. It is 8.00 the next morning. Three comrades are left. But Com. Gopi gets hit by a bullet and is seriously injured. Squad commander Swamy and Com. Kranti continue the battle. It is now 1.00 p.m. in the afternoon. The DIG arrives and calls out the Swamy and Kranti to surrender, promising safe passage. Kranti decides to surrender, Swamy tries to persuade him of the futility. He hesitates, but after half an hours discussion (under continuous fire) he surrenders. Meanwhile, as Swamy is fighting the enemy single handed he finds Gopi trying to shoot himself. He prevents him. Gopi says that anyway he will fall into the enemy’s hands, so it is better to die. Swamy, consoles him and pervades him to fight to the end. Some time later, Gopi pulls the trigger with his foot and dies.
It is now 7.00 p.m. on the second day. The police set fire to a part of the house. He walks towards the staircase and finds the dead policeman’s A.K-47. He picks it up. Suddenly, sending a burst of fire, Swamy jumps over the broken walls of the house, and makes a drive for the bye lanes of the village. The police, stunned fire in his direction. But swamy has escaped into the lanes. The village is surrounded. No chance of getting out. He hides in a haystock. But soon thirst is killing him. Over 24 hours and not a drop of water. He comes out towards the nearest house. They give him water, but, terrified, ask him to go. He finds a garbage dump, covers himself with cowdung, and hides there the whole night. Meanwhile the police are searching every corner of the village, particularly the haystacks.
It is morning of the third day. The mother of the house comes to wash the vessels. As she throws the waste water on the garbage heap, it moves. She yells with fright. Swamy come out, explains that he is ‘anna’. He tell the frightened mother, he will go. She runs after him, saying, wait, they will kill you. After much hesitation, fear, she keeps him in a safe place. During the whole day she gives him food. She gives him the information that they have killed Kranti and cremated all five comrades. She asks him to leave at night. He does not, as he would be caught in the uniform. The next day the mother brings him a dress, she plans a disguise and leads him through a safe path into the forests. A few days later, militants come and take away the A.K-47 hidden in the village.
And so the Padkal encounter has become a landmark in heroism and courage. But Swamy is not alone. Last year the SIKASA DCM, Com. Sammi Reddy (alias Ramakant, Ashok) was similarly surrounded by over 500 police while he was taking shelter in the heart of the coal mining colony in Mancherial. In broad-day light, in front of thousands a nine hour gun battle ensued. In it, Ramakanth killed CI and a constable. Finally, the police burnt the house down, killing him and the lady sympathiser.
And so, the squads are learning to fight back. The government has been getting more and more ruthless. In the 1985-89 period 250 comrades were killed; in the 1990-94 period 500; and in the two years upto mid ’96 another 210, in the last eight months about 100. These include leading comrades like Puli Anjanna, AP State Committee Secretary, Comrades Venkataswamy, Reddappa and Sudarshan – AP State Committee members; Regional Committee member Com. Shankar, District Committee members Comrades Sammi Reddy and Allam Manohar, a number of leading lady squad members like Swarupa, Rukma bai, Lalita …..
With such a brutal offensive of the government, the Party has also been giving experience to hit back. In just the nine months between March 1996 and November 1996 the guerilla squads have conducted four raids on police camps – on Potkapally PS in Karimnagar district, on Yellavaram PS in East Godavari district, on Manpur PS in Rajanandgaon district of MP, and on Sirpur PS of Adilabad district – seizing 97 weapons of which 26 were semi-automatic SLRs. This was followed by the Karakagudem raid in Khammam district in January 97 giving a further cache of weapons. Besides these major raids, several Sparrow actions were conducted in North Telangana resulting in a further 20 weapons in 1996 and killing of 25 policemen in October/November ’96.
In any guerilla war, it is the enemy that is the main source of weapons. In the unequal war between the poorly-trained, ill-equipped guerillas with an inferior numerical strength on the one hand, and the well-equipped, highly-trained, overwhelmingly superior enemy force on the other, it is only by means of innumerable guerilla attacks, that the people’s armed forces can gradually accumulate strength.
The author bows down to the immortal sacrifices of the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L.) PWG and does not underestimate the importance of armed struggle.
Posted in light of 50 years of naxalbari and neccesity for building massline.No doubt the Peoples war made the greatest contribution to building the revolutionary movement in Andhra Pradesh in their era and many comrades from other region sin other groups praised their work.However they were vitiated by wrong trends.
PEOPLES WAR GROUP
This note reflects on the weakness of correct military line in relation to the mass revolutionary movement. The role of armed squads is debateable but I cannot deny the bravery of the PWG in withstanding the enemy forces.
EXCERT REPRODUCED FROM JOURNAL COMRADE OF 1992 AND 1993.
Srikakulam Girijan Sangh upheld a mass revolutionary political approach. Above all it was an ideal illustration of mass revolutionary democratic political approach asserting the role of preparedness of masses and building of peoples mass movements.
The author wishes readers to refer to notes written by the late Comrade Tarimela Nagi Reddy in the early 1970’s on the mass line in armed struggle, combating the left adventurist line of Charu Mazumdar.
The Sangh reflected great clarity and grasp of mass line and above all never resorted to slandering the PWG,which so many groups did in the 1990’s.
In the end I am posting a small tribute to it’s secretary who was martyred in June,1996. and another veteran comrade.
In 1958 the Srikakulam Girijan Sangham was formed. This was a separate organization formed for the protection of the tribal´s rights.
The Sangham was formed in 1958 under the leadership of the Communist Party of India.
The Issues included illegal taxes and extortions by landlords, vetty (Forced Labour),unfair practices in the purchase of minor forest produce gathered by the Girijans, and wages for Agricultural labour.
The first Girijan Public meeting was held at Mondem Khal in 1961 when 4000 people from hundreds of villages heard about the Conspiracy of the landlords and the Girijan Resistance.
The base of the Girijan Association was enlarged and the non-Girijans of the plains began to support the movement. At the 1964 Panchayat Elections, the Girijans participated around such democratic issues and defeated the landlord candidates.
However the village Girijan committees proved more effective as means to represent Girijan demands and implement them. The Girijan Village Committees had begun to function as parallel courts in the late 1960´s.
Now the Girijan Resistance took shape of a major agrarian movement. Land was re-distributed, village level defence squads were set up People´s Courts were launched.
These Peoples Courts were known in Telegu as the Ryotanga Sangram Samiti. The Government counterattacked launching a fresh bout of repression. Mass arrests took place. Villages were raided, police camps were set up etc. False Encounters were staged. In Maripadu and Boddapadu villages whole communities were illegally held.
Police Forces would surround villages by night and randomly picked up people giving them prolonged detention and torture Villages sympathetic to Revolutionaries were attacked in the Vietnam style.
From late 1988 the Srikakulam Girijan Sangh launched an agitation to protect regulation 1/70 that protected the land rights of the Girijans.The agitation had a significant impact on the girijans and had enormous political significance with certain groups like C.P.I.(M.L.) Prajapandha group, not supporting the agitation and the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L.) peoples War group virtually shying away from it.
In July 1989 the Srikakulam Grijan Sangh held it’s 2nd conference with 2000 delegates and it’s membership and activities were regularized.
The following leaflets were issued by the Srikakulam Girijan Sangh in the Bhadragiri Agency area unOctober 1991.This area had been the focal point of the Srikakulam Girijan peasant struggle.
In 1992 ,squads of the peoples war group toted the area and exhorted the girijans to support their group, stating they possessed the required armed strength, both in quality and quantity to match the might of the ruling classes and the government.
They were either critical or appreciative of the leadership of the Girijan Sangh and the communist revolutionary leaders like T.Nagi Reddy.
Their visits created confusion amongst the girijans of that area.
In response the Girijan Sangh gave an open letter to the Peoples War group, narrating the experiences of the Srikakulam Girijan peasant armed revolutionary struggle since 1959.They included the positive experience of the mass revolutionary line followed for a decade from 1959,as well as the subsequent negative experience of line of armed squad actions incorporating politics of annihilation of class enenies.”
In that time hostility existed between factions of various communist revolutionary group and every group suspiciously viewed the entry of another group into it’s area of work. The group already working in an area views the entry of another group as an intrusion in it’s own domain and similarly views it’s own extension into areas of other groups, as a method of dislodging the groups already working in that region.
This led to inter-group clashes of squads of revolutionary groups .The people were reduced to mere spectators without having any say in the issues of contention. The Girijan Sangh issued this leaflet, in the overall context of conditions existing in light of mass movements.
This leaflet has a significant message as it projects a revolutionary-democratic approach to the problem faced by the girijans.It places the issues before the struggling masses to judge the merits of the policies of the communist revolutionary groups.
1st letter addressed to Comrades of the C.P.I.(M.L.)Peoples War Group(October,1991)
“In addressing you as comrades’, we have to make our context clear. Today, all those who are raising crops-are not able to enjoy the fruits of their labour.With most of the cultivable land in the hands of the landlords, the landlords expropriate the land of the laboring masses, themselves to dire poverty and hardships.
‘In those days ,under the leadership of Vempatu Satyam,the Girijan Sangh began to work with the view that there should be a change in the lives of the Girijans,and that for such a change to come about all the lands under the occupation of the landlords in the agency should be appropriated by the Girijans.
At that time, when the Girijans were waging hard struggles against the landlords, comrade Vempatu Satyam told us that all of us who participate in struggles against exploitation by the landlords, that whether we are Jatapus or Savaras or any others,we are all one We are all “comrades” and should call each other so.
We participated in struggles as a single entity,as comrades.In our opinion ,you too want to end this feudal exploitation. That is why we address you as “comrades.”
Those who have entered the agency area in the name of trade, have resorted to cheating the Girijans by taking advantage of their innocence. Multiplying usurious debts and interest rates ,they have illegally usurped all the lands that the Girijans had brought under cultivation by clearing the forests.T he Girijans were driven to live wretchedly at the mercy of these traders-landlords—and to do bonded labour.’
‘Thus under the leadership of the Girijan Sangh , the Girijans, gradually understood the perpetual deception and exploitation by these landlords, began to unite and started to wage struggles against the deception and expoitation.Right from 1959 the landlord’s government used to foist cases against us and dump us into jails.Every passing day there used to be a larger or smaller Girijan Trek between the jail and one or their village of the Agency.’
‘Courts and jails could not stop the struggle by the Girijans.Under the leadership of the Sangh,the Girijans marched forward in struggles against the illegal possession of the landlords,against the unjust usurious interest rates, against the minimal labour wage rates and the dismal wages of farm servants and to re-occupy lands usurped by the landlords through extortions. While fighting against the atrocities by the forest officials and the police, the Girijans achieved victories against feudal exploitation.’
‘In 1967, when preparing to hold the Girijan Sangh conferences and deliberate on the problems of the movement, the landlords attacked the delegates going for the girijan conferences at Laevedi. All the delegates gathered in hundreds at Mondemkhal to attend the Girijan conference .Comrades Koranna and Mangana were martyred in the shots fired by the landlords .
In retaliation all the Girijan sheld demonstrations with arms, in the villages and intensified the seizure of crops and occupation of lands.
All the usurious debts of the landlords were rescinded.
Effective controls were laid down to ensure fair prices were delivered at village fairs. The victories being achieved by the Girijans in the fight against feudal expoitation in the Agency are inspired the Harijans,the Girijans,and all other rural poor into action in the Vatturu-Bhoomini area adjoining our agency.
The people of that area took to struggle and occupy the Banjars that were illegally occupied by the landlords. They too gained some victories.’
The class foundation s of the agency area had begun to shiver and the government prepared for a large-scale offensive. Then it started to attack but the leadership of the Girijan Sangh initiated a retaliatory counter –attack. In those conditions, it was necessary to safeguard the gains and victories achieved in the struggle against feudal exploitation. It was necessary to organize resistance for self defence from the state’s attacks.
It was necessary to rally the rural poor in the adjoining areas of the agency, who were already in the move, into revolutionary action for land occupation. Some advocated that we should fight the government and conduct raids on the landlords. Already being in intense struggle, we thought that this would advance as a struggle which would completely demolish feudal exploitation and form a people’s state.Girijans participated on large scale in the attacks on the landlord’s houses. In those attacks the debt-deeds that heaped mountain-loads of burdens on the Girijans were destroyed then and there.
‘Gradually, the attacks started on the houses of landlords in the areas adjoining the agency. They took the form of attacking the lanlord’s houses,murdering somebody or the other,and snatching the material wealth. They turned into actions unrelated to life patterns and practices of the people of those villages. Gradually the Girijans participation in these attacks declined .
Such actions conducted in other districts were portrayed here as extension of the revolutionary movement to those villages.’
‘In such conditions, where these attacks themselves became the main task, the task of mobilizing the people and extending the foundations of the movement receded. The government took this as the excuse to intensify it’s attempts to base themselves in this area, which in many ways was the centre of the movement.’
‘In such circumstances, thousands of Girijans from this agency area were imprisoned and packed up in Vishakapatnam and Rajahamundry jail.120 girijans were martyred, including comrades Vempatu Satyam and Adibhatla Kailasam.’
When the Girijans were released the landlords re-usurped their lands with the aid of police camps in villagesThe Girijan Sangh called for resolution on land issue again. Having faced immense repression and losing lives in the struggle the Girijan Sangh faced an immense task to re-start it’s activities. There was hardly support from other areas.
However again the activities of the Girijan Sangh were revived and the girijans re-launched struggle for their lands. Inspired by the leadership of T.Nagi Reddy they started seizing lands wherever they were in that area on a large scale.
The Girijan Sangh was revived. The government now launched a series of programmes like distribution of house sites, digging of wells ,setting up fish tanks, supplying rice ,creating jobs etc to counter the work of the girijan sangh and divert the attention of the people. The government’s policy was not intended to solve the problem s of the Girijan masses of the Agency areas.
That is why the Girijans of adjoining Orissa areas desire for incorporating their area into our region took place. These desires wee vented because of absence of capable leadership which could guided the people on the land issue.
Today openly these things are discussed in the papers. Previous methods of cheating over prices and weights in the purchases of the forest produce made by the Girijan corporation are taking roots again.Today again it is very important to unite the people into a fighting force. It is only when all the rural poor reeling under the feudal rule in the plains get prepared to fight for the occupation of the lands of the landlords that there will be beginning of the end on landlord’s atrocities.
However, we have been observing your methods of work, but have no direct experience We are not able to understand the objective of those methods. For instance, the Regulation 1/70 has been providing a little protection legally on the issue of land, which is basic issue for Girijans in the agency area.N.T.Rama Rao when he was chief minister, withdrew the regulation 1/70.
In response, the Girijans throughout the state, seriously agitated, and undertook an extensive organized agitation against the withdrawal of regulation 1/70.
Even the established newspaper had opposed it. We fail to understand why you do not question the government, even by the methods you are following.
We do not think that ,just by the regulation of 1.70 lands would belong to the Girijans.It is virtually a continuation of the 1917 regulation.
The experiences we have gained so far teach us that only when all rural poor mobilize on the land issue ,as we did, and rock the foundations of feudalism through their mass revolutionary actions in still wider regions, will the shattering of the foundations of the state that stands guard over feudal exploitation take place. Earlier possessions of land by Girijans occurred because of great sacrifices they made and the struggles they waged under the leadership of the Girijan Sangh.But though the foundation of the landlords was shaken they have not been destroyed and we harbor no illusions that there is security for us.
To the extent that efforts are made by anybody to unite the people on the problems faced by them and to prepare them for struggles, the Girijan Sangh will offer support to the efforts. Only recently,Girijans,Harijans and other rural poor in the plains area adjacent to us,mobilsed to some extent on issue of land. The land-lords made severe attack son the Girijans in the premise of the 1917 regulation. Similarly, now Regulation 1/70 can be an advantageous factor in the Girijan’s effort in the agency areas to intensify their struggle for land. To capture their lands they have to unite into a fighting force.
We request you to give us your opinion as to the tasks we need to take up in the present circumstances. We have been holding on to their lands seized with our long history of struggle.”
Below is another leaflet written by the Girijan Sangaham in September 1992 where the Srikakulam Girijan Sangh deals with the concrete issue of squad actions in light of the overall context of the revolutionary movement. The Sangh upheld a mass revolutionary political approach. Above all it was an ideal illustration of mass revolutionary democratic political approach asserting the role of preparedness of masses and building of peoples mass movements.
The author wishes readers to refer to notes written by the late Comrade Tarimela Nagi Reddy in the early 1970’s on the mass line in armed struggle, combating the left adventurist line of Charu Mazumdar.
The news about the murder of Yedida Satyam by the Peoples war group on 28th August 1992 prominently came in the newspapers. We find it hard to agree with the political aims of the murder..For any organization which declares revolutionary politics as its basis of political conduct ,it’s every act has to serve revolutionary political purpose. We asked whether this action constituted a part of the revolutionary movement.
In the 1962 Indo-China war border clashes started.Pichuku Naidu,a member of the Girijan Sangh heroically defended China when asked for monetary help for purpose of procuring arms from an officer to monetarily support the cause of India in the war.
He replied ‘Chinese people are our people. How dare you ask for money to buy arms to fight them?”The officer was alarmed and sped away on his bicycle. When America attacked Vietnam the Girijan Sangh made a straw-studded effigy of American imperialists and tied it to a post in the sun in front of the office of the Girijan Sangh.”The American imperialists shall roast in the sun for tow days.”
All the Girijans fighting the landlords in the agency area went from village to village proclaiming “’the American Imperialist as the big landlord of the entire world and thus the Sangh meted out punishment to him for his atrocities on Vietnam.
For 2 days the people thronged as if in a pilgrimage to the site of the effigy.
The consciousness demonstrated by comrades like Rengim who died heroically fighting the police face to face, by those who stood undaunted facing the police atrocities abd by those who refused to succumb to the brutal repression by police camps, was outstanding. When the movement was on the ebb hundreds were facing repression in jails, and slogans were raised of boycotting the courts.
The Communist Party of India persuaded people to defend the courts.The masses were unaware of the futility of the courts and wondered the purpose of boycotting the courts.The C.P.I made emotional speeches in public meetings thinking they would win over the Girijans .
However they could hardly provide the leadership to a programme.When Yediya Stayam murdered Korann and Mauganna,the girijans of the agency were outraged he girijan movement rose like a torrent .They occupied the lands on a large scale after returning from jails, striking at the foundation of the landlord class and not just assassinating Yediya Satyam as an individual. If such an individual is killed by a girijan it would be regarded as en expression of class hatred of a girijan.
However it becomes questionable if it is carried out as a main task of a revolutionary organization aiming to create radical transformation. We are unable to understand, what political purpose, such energy and capability as employed by the Peoples War Group will serve. It was not a part of peoples integral revolutionary practice and thus cannot be part of the revolutionary movement.
The PWG left a policy statement explaining why they assassinated Yedita Satyam.
However did they explain what they would do with the relation to 120 girijans killed and to the assassination of Vempatu Satyam and Adibatla Kailasam during the whole period of the struggle after the martyrdom of Korann and Maganna.
Such actions were executed when the struggle was at it’s peak Without people getting prepared for revolutionary action ,the landlord atrocities cannot end with warnings alone.
On the otherside, in the plains, in the village of Kassagdaba Valasa the landlords murdered 5 girijans in broad daylight. The landlords control most of the land, exploiting the labour and subjecting the people to all kinds of attacks and atrocities. The people were literally reduced to sheep and made victims of dire poverty, being denied proper food ,dwellings or medical facilities. The people are left with choosing dying of hunger, illness and landlord atrocities or combat the oppression of the feudal system.Only the immortal sacrifices of thousands of girijans who suffered in jails were any fruits attained. When the Girijan sangh was established the obstacles of landlord tyranny were a major obstacle which it boldly confronted.
The atrocities of the landlords will not end without preparing the people for revolutionary mass action in a way that the lands of the landlords are seized and the class foundation of landlords destroyed. Checking the landlord atrocities without dismantling the feudal class structure is like getting rid of mosquito bites by catching and killing each mosquito that flies out of the breeding pits, without clearing the muck and filling the breeding pit, where the mosquitos continuously grow. When we attempt to fill that pit in which the mosquitos breed the mosquitos flare up desperately. Should we divert from attempts to cover up those pits by getting engrossed in killing these mosquito or to start sincerely covering up the pits. We must give importance to cover up the breeding pits.
Please give us a necessary explanation, if you think that the understanding and practice of the Girijan Sangham is incorrect.”
i.e.girijans are a tribal communist from Andhra Pradesh.
RETALIATORY ACTIONS AGAINST MURDER OF COMRADES BY POLICE
In spite of gross errors in military and mass line it is notable how the peoples War Group avenged the killing of 250 comrades from 1984-89 and 400 comrades from 1990-1995 by attacking police camps.
In December 1999 the PW group retaliated against the Killing of their 3 leading central Committee members.-namely Shyam, Murali and Mahesh.
A revolutionary journal ‘the Comrade’ (C.P.R.C.I.-M.L.) defended the revolutionary resistance in spite of endorsing the T.Nagi Reddy Line. “As expected of a serious communist revolutionary Organization, the Peoples War group undertook a retaliatory, military campaign which reflected a particular revolutionary political purpose and were selectively and specifically targeted to attack the properties of the ruling classes political and administrative reactionaries.
The state and the ruling class forces were completely shaken by the ferocity of the retaliation of the PWG. Particularly at Darakond village in Vishakapatnam.
Whatever be the might of the reactionary state it could not cow down the communist revolutionaries dedicated to fighting revolution. The PWG took retaliatory actions to a higher stage and several parliamentary politicians fled to the villages.
However, the communist revolutionaries must be aware that such armed actions of party guerilla squads themselves cannot eliminate the reactionary state and need to win over the admiration of the people who need to voluntarily participate directly or indirectly in such armed actions. In several protests the PWG is unable to involve the broad masses and only mobilize their members or supporters.
A PWG circular too was self-critical explaining their military actions were incorrect as they only organized their own cadre and failed to deploy adequate opportunities to educate and involve the people.”
CRTIIQUE IN FEBRUARY 2002 BY CHAKRAPANI
Why are the vast masses of people in the areas under the influence or control of Peoples War remain, largely as spectators or silent sympathizers?Why they find themselves helpless when confronted with the heavy arm of the state?
Thousands of acres of land remain fallow for years even in areas where the land was said to have been re-distributed and the landlords were chased from the villages.Why?
Many action s by the armed formation sof the Peoples war where they sought to dictate terms on the strength of weapon are dubious-assasinated individuals indiscriminately,mined the fields,blew up buildings and installations Etcthe way they carried out the election boycott line and verdicts of the Peoples Courts and the way they sought to assert and establish the revolutionary Supremacy over other organizations invited wide criticism,condemnation and even protest among the people,democratic and Progressive Circles.
The Peoples War leadership ,belatedly expressed it´s regret at some of them,but continued in some form ,or the other,the same practice even later.The Peoples War leadership without taking account of the level and nature of the movement with regards to the state of class Struggle and agrarian revolutionary Movement in their areas of Struggle.Their military formations and operations are not in relation to the level of class struggle and Agrarian Revolutionary Movement.Their types of activities and actions that their formations carry out do not take into account the people´s Consciousness and preparedness,organization and participation in the struggle to a higher level .Some of their armed actions dampen and even negate the People´s mass struggles. In reality the Peoples war Group although the Strongest revolutionary force in the Country suffers from sectarianism,militarism and anarchism. It has a big brother approach to other revolutionary organizations. Only when in dire need do they form united Fronts with other revolutionary Groups ,resorting to mass mobilizations on general issues. Their indiscriminate armed actions, assassination of Individuals and destruction of properties by thev armed bands may pose some trouble and loss, but they cannot pose a grave danger to the system as such.The Peoples war leadership claim to have vast areas under the leadership of their guerrilla Zones or areas of Influence.Theya lso declare that they have formed their own Peoples Guerilla Army.Howevever although they have a semblance to Mao´s line in reality they still have not developed the correct practice pf Maoist Protracted Peoples Military Warfare.
Quoting intellectual Tilak Gupta "A highly exaggerated notion about the revolutionary possibilities of the present national and international situation ,coupled with the narrowness of its experience in regions where pre-capitalist forms of exploitation and opression were acute,has often led the group to an adventurist course.It's excessive reliance on armed activities in promoting peoples struggles and undue emphasis on spectacular and armed actions in resistance to state repression have taken the group,perhaps pre-maturely beyond the stage of partial struggles without a corresponding preparedness among the masses.One only hopes that the C.P.I.(M.L.)-Peoples War ,presently engaged in self-criticism,will come out with a more flexible theoretical model as well as a set of tactics based ona realistic assesment of the current situation.
To overcome the present lull in the movement that has occured due to state repression ,the armed squads under the leadership have already begun guerilla type counter-attacks aginst the police and para-military forces.It considers legal party and parliamentary form of struggles in compatible with the path of peoples War.
This organization seems to be convinced that ,apart from small regions of capitalist development in agriculture, a Chinese model for agrarian revolution remains valid for the country.
REFUTING INTELLECTUALS WHO DENY PROTRACTED PEOPLES WAR STRATEGY IN INDIA-reproduced an excerpt from the basic documents of the C.P.R.C.I.(M.L.)
The experience of the revolutionary people's struggles of India in thepast, notably the Telangana peasant armed struggle (1946-51), the Naxalbariarmed peasant uprising (1967-68) and the Srikakulam peasant armed struggle(1968-70) clearly indicate the validity of the path of protracted people'swar for the People's Democratic Revolution of India.
Despite the historical limitations and other weaknesses of these struggles, all three of them positivelydemonstrated how the anti-feudal struggles of the peasant masses, under theleadership of the proletariat, when conducted on the basis of an agrarian revolutionary programme or perspective and imbued with the revolutionarypolitics of seizure of State-power, invariably tend to develop into armed agrarian revolts and guerrilla war against the reactionary Indian State.
The great Telangana armed struggle in particular, provided the most authenticpractical evidence of the feasibility of establishing parallel people's politicalpower in the Indian countryside by dint of the peasant-based and communist-led guerrilla armed struggle
Thus the existing socio-economic and political conditions and the pastexperience of revolutionary struggles of the Indian people both point out that the Path of Indian revolution is essentially, the Path of ProtractedPeople's War, as theoretically propounded by Comrade Mao Tsetung.
Not only the Chinese revolution could succeed following the Path of Protracted People'sWar as propounded by Mao but also the national democratic revolutions inVietnam, Laos, Cambodia could advance to success in the past by followingthis Path. Even now, the people's democratic revolutions in various semi-colonialsemi-feudal countries like Peru, Philippines, etc. are proceeding along thispath. In fact, in none of the semi-feudal semi-colonial countries whererevolutions succeeded, have there been countrywide insurrections.
Mao's theories concerning the strategy and tactics of people's war are the most developedexpression of revolutionary political-military thought of the proletariatto date and constitute the basic frame of reference for mapping out the generalcourse and plan of operational tasks for revolutions in all semi-colonialsemi-feudal countries.
2.8 It is our fundamental task to apply Mao's theories concerning strategyand tactics of People's War to the concrete practice of Indian revolution.The specific features obtaining in India are likely to necessitate some changesin form and thus even develop some special features of this Path of Protracted People's War in India, but the substantials of it would remain the same.
What concrete forms it takes in the earlier and later stages, the advanceof Indian revolution alone will decide. For the present, we have to firmlygrasp the main direction of revolutionary advance as already described,adequately sum-up the experiences of armed struggles that have taken placein India, particularly in Telangana, Naxalbari and Srikakulam, and betterwork out the concrete plan of tasks to prepare the people and lead the Indianrevolution along the Path of Protracted People's War. Obviously, it is essentialthat the entire tactical orientation of the revolutionary forces is imbuedwith the perspective of people's war path.
3. Every revolution has its own share of relative advantages and disadvantages.Revolutionaries always seek to make full use of advantages and overcome orneutralise disadvantages by working out correct strategy and tactics.
International support available to a revolution always constitutes a significantadvantage, whether it be a great or moderate one. As is the case with everyrevolution,
Indian revolution also will have international support. For allthat, Indian revolution will be won basically by the Indian people with theirown strength, while taking advantage of the national and international situation.This is fundamental in a revolutionary mass line; and the path of People'sWar is based on this line.
Only such an approach would prompt the Indianrevolutionaries confidently to handle the advantages and disadvantages athand.
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