ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Maoist 'Revolutionary Violence' in India

Red and Green: Five Decades of the Indian Maoist Movement by Manoranjan Mohanty, Kolkata: Setu Prakashani, 2015; pp xviii + 512, Rs 950.

May 2017 will mark 50 years of the Maoist movement in India. The Naxalbari rebellion, in full bloom in May 1967, collapsed in the face of full-scale, armed police action that began on 12 July of that year. The setback notwithstanding, Charu Mazumdar (CM), the leader of the young activists who spearheaded the movement—Kanu Sanyal, Jangal Santhal, Khokan Majumdar, and two others—and who subsequently became the General Secretary of the new party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist)—CPI(ML), that was formed on 22 April 1969, said in the autumn of 1967: “...hundreds of Naxalbaris are smouldering in India...Naxalbari has not died and will never die” (Banerjee 2008: 112).

As we approach the 50th year of the Maoist movement in India, CM’s statement seems almost prescient; certainly, he was not daydreaming. In late 1967–early 1968, an ongoing struggle in Srikakulam led by two schoolteachers, Vempatapu Satyanarayana, popularly known as “Gappa Guru” and Adibhatla Kailasham, and organised by the Ryotanga Sangrama Samiti with guerrilla squads in self-defence, mobilised “almost the entire tribal population in the Srikakulam Agency Area” (p 80). And Warangal, Khammam, Mushahari, Bhojpur, Debra–Gopiballavpur, Kanksa–Budbud, Ganjam–Koraput, Lakhimpur–Kheri and other “prairie fires” soon followed. The origins of the CPI (Maoist), now reckoned by the political establishment as India’s “biggest internal security threat,” must be traced to some of the above-mentioned struggles.

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