Hail the 30th Anniversary of Party Formation
Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [People’s War]
Three decades back, on the birth centenary of the great Lenin, April 22, 1969, the CPI (M-L) was born. After forty years of revisionist domination of the Indian communist movement this historic break changed the entire course of India's political development. Never again has Indian polity been the same. It brought the path of armed struggle on to the agenda, extracting Indian politics from the stagnant, putrefied filth of the Indian parliament, and giving it a nascent freshness. It injected a new life into a dispirited, disillusioned country, dispelling the pessimism of two decades of fake independence. It inspired an entire generation of youth to a new world, built on justice, equality, truth and freedom.
The party, built on the foundations of the great Naxalbari uprising and cemented together with the ideological struggle against revisionism, chartered a new path for India's future. Charu Mazumdar, its pioneer, gave it its roots by his historic eight essays against the revisionists and by initiating the armed struggle in Naxalbari. The setback in 1972, caused by a combination of brutal fascist attacks and incorrect tactics, does not in any way detract from the party formation's historic significance. The lives of over ten thousand comrades martyred has not gone in vain; as the CPI (M-L) [People's War], drawing lessons from the left sectarian errors of that period, has marched forward in the spirit of Naxalbari and along the basic line chalked out at its first Congress (the Eighth Congress) in 1970. Developing the strong points, rectifying the errors, learning from experience and basing on Marxism-Leninism-Mao ZeDong Thought or Maoism, communist revolutionaries, primarily from Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Bihar, advanced forward along the path of armed struggle and re-established centres of the original CPI (M-L).
The November 1995 Special Conference of the erstwhile CPI (M-L) [People's War], the August 1998 merger between it and the erstwhile CPI (M-L) [Party Unity] and the formation of a provisional central committee of a re-constituted CPI (M-L) [People's War] are important steps forward along the path established by the party formation in 1969 and its first Congress in 1970.
Naxalbari and party formation are two sides of the same coin. Naxalbari, without party formation, would be like a shot in the dark - an isolated event. Without consolidation of all anti-revisionist forces throughout the country, which took place only through the process of party formation, the fruits of the uprising would have frittered away. And party formation was inconceivable without Naxalbari, which helped dispel four decades of entrenched revisionism through a living example of the new path of armed struggle. The 'Spring Thunder over India' was the clarion call to all genuine communist revolutionaries of the country; party formation was its consolidation.
After 1972, with the decimation of the bulk of the party, the revolutionary forces slowly began to recoup. While one section of the CPI (M-L), continuing with the Left line got wiped out, another section went back into the muck of parliament, and, from a right deviation soon landed in the lap of revisionism. Only a few amongst the CPI (M-L) continued along the revolutionary path, while correcting the Left errors. Of these, the major two forces were the erstwhile CPI (M-L) [People's War] and CPI (M-L) [Party Unity]. Of the non-CPI (M-L) forces a major revolutionary group that grew was the MCC in parts of Bihar.
Today, the unified CPI (M-L) [People's War] has two primary level guerilla zones - and five regions which are at the preparatory level of guerilla zone. Besides, there are party units developing mass activity and revolutionary struggles in seven more states of India - i.e. West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi. The party brings out three central magazines in English (also in Hindi) and eight state-level magazines in six different languages. Though the party has recovered after the 1972 setback, it is still a very small force relative to the entire country. Yet, on this 30th Anniversary of Party formation it can be said that, not only has the party once again attained its former stature, it has grown considerably.
The heart of the party are the guerilla zones developing in the three regions of the country. In these areas in the villages, the mass organisations - i.e., the youth organisations, the peasant organisations, the women's organisations and in many places also the children's organisations - developed first. Built mostly around partial demands of the masses and while simultaneously fighting against feudal and state authority in the areas. With the growth of this movement and with the smashing of feudal domination and the weakening of state control in the area, there developed the parallel administrative structures - the Village Development Committees (VDCs), the Justice Committees, the Education Committees and various credit and cooperative societies. All these developed under continuous police and paramilitary counter-insurgency operations. Also there developed the village militias and self-defence groups - the Gram Rakshak Dals (GRDs).
With a relative consolidation of these organisations and with the growth of the party's political influence in the area, reflected in the formation of party cells at the village level, the parallel organs of power began to grow - the Gram Rajya Committees (GRCs). The GRC is a united front of all anti-feudal (anti-imperialist) classes at the village level, under the leadership of the landless and poor peasants.
The main organising factor in a given area is the armed squad, which has a jurisdiction extending from 40 to 60 villages. The overseeing of the entire political and organisational work of one squad area is looked after by the party Squad Area Committee (SAC) within each squad. Military command lies with the commander and deputy commander. Though, as yet, there is much overlapping between the two, the objective is to separate the two responsibilities for greater effectivity.
All SACs come under the Divisional/District Committees (DCs). A DC has anything from four to eight squads under it. The two Guerilla Zones are looked after by Special Zonal Committees (under the CC) each of which have 4 to 5 DCs under them.
Now let us look at the growing revolutionary movement in India with particular focus on activities during the last year or two. We will give examples of a few incidents to help give a more concrete picture of what is going on.
Growing Mass Movement
The mass movements are basically of three kinds: First, struggles against the local class enemies; second, against the state; and third, widespread political campaigns. Often, the first two overlap as the state intervenes on behalf of their class associates.
In the rural areas the chief struggle is for land - i.e., seizure of landlords land and occupation of government/forest/waste land. Regarding landlords' land it is a see-saw battle of seizure, police / landlord intervention and re-taking of the land, fight for the crop, again seizure and so-on. Regarding government/forest land hundreds of thousands of acres have been occupied in both the primary and preparatory levels of guerilla zones. To take some examples of struggle from last year.
In Nizamabad district (NT) between January and March '98, 916 acres of the land of landlords in 18 villages were seized and distributed to 540 families. Another 20 acres of forest land was distributed; and 40 acres of fruit orchards, three tractors and two sugarcane crushers were retained as the collective property of the concerned village.
In a village in Karimnagar district (NT) 16 acres belonging to the landlord were occupied by 200 landless and poor peasants. A five member 'land struggle committee' has been formed, and they collectively till the land using 20 ploughs.
In another village in Warangal district (NT) confiscated landlord's land was forcibly taken back in 1992 using police and paramilitary forces. The landlord again began cultivation. As struggle intensified the government intervened by buying over the landlord's land at hiked rates and selling it to their stooges. The party warned that the land should not be sold. As this was ignored the local party unit decided that the crop should be seized. Once the crop was harvested the peasant organisation seized all the 138 bags (14 tonnes) of paddy and distributed it among themselves.
Besides the land question the organisation takes up a host of other issue like - wage rates, for agricultural labour, wage rates for forest work, remunerative price for agricultural pro-duce, lowering cost of inputs, anti-famine, anti-drought struggles, etc. Let us look at a couple of examples from last year.
In NT there were numerous struggles to raise the wages of bonded and daily wage-labourers. In a village of Karimnagar 200 bonded labourers struck work for two days and organised a mass meeting. The landlord and rich peasants then agreed to hike the yearly payment to Rs. 12,000 and also accepted the other demands. In several villages, after labourers struck work from 2 to 5 days the daily wage-rates were increased - for men from Rs. 25/- to Rs. 35/- and for women from Rs. 20/- to Rs. 30/-.
Throughout NT and DK, as is the case every summer, there were widespread mass movements to raise the wage-rate for Tendu leaf (used to make a type of local cigarette called bidis) picking. In DK, during the summer of 1998 the tribals organised themselves into "tendu leaf workers' struggle committees" in about one thousand villages in Gadchiroli and Bhandara districts. After numerous strikes, while the Maharashtra government announced a hiked rate of 66½ paise per bundle. the masses extracted from the contractors 135 paise per bundle. In NT, in Warangal, for example, 11 struggle committees were formed and the contractors were forced to give 140 paise per bundle. In the MP part of DK the government cancelled all picking resulting in huge rallies and the burning of millions of rupees worth bamboos stocked in government godowns.Last year there were horrible droughts and famine conditions specifically in DK and also in NT. The government did nothing.
Throughout DK the tribals came out in big rallies and demonstrations against the government demanding compensation and relief for famine victims. They also participated in large numbers in raids against big landlords and hoarders, confiscated their grain and property and distributed it amongst the poor. Throughout DK over 1,00,000 people were mobilised. 'Anti-famine struggle Committees' were formed in several places which collected 100 tonnes of foodgrain and Rs. 1.6 million cash and distributed this to the famine stricken people. For example in the Kunta squad area of MP (DK), 20,000 people from 180 villages participated in a rally in Kunta town carrying their traditional weapons. In Malkangiri town of Orissa (DK), a 10,000 strong rally was held. The entire mobilisation was done by the powerful peasant organisation namely DAKMS and the women's organisation KAMS. In fact the major participation was by the women.
Besides, last year in NT there was a massive movement of the peasants for better prices of agricultural produce, for regular supply of electricity to pump-sets, and for reduction in prices of inputs.
In Bihar, where feudalism and big-landlordism is deeply entrenched the erstwhile CPI (M-L)[Party Unity] has been battling the land-lord armies. Having effectively combated the earlier formations, in 1994 the landlords organised the sophisticated and most cruel Ranvir Sena (RS). Backed by landlords of all castes and tacitly supported by the political parties and government the RS has been on a spree of mass massacres killing even women, children and the old. They entered PU's areas of influence in end 1996 and started their terror against the landless and poor (dalits) in 1997. Here there have been big struggles for land, specifically for government lands occupied by landlords. Effective economic blockades have been imposed on selective landlords and reactionaries. The RS began its killing spree particularly in those areas where the economic blockade was most effective. It first chose village Jalpura (Patna district) where landless and poor peasants have been fighting to take control of the 700 acres of gair-mazura land (i.e. common land occupied by landlords) on the banks of the river. People had won this struggle. The district administration in order to divert the struggle intervened and distributed 150 acres of land among the landless. The landlords and reactionaries were beginning to surrender.
People were resisting the move of the administration and were demanding that the entire land be distributed. It is then that the RS intervened taking the assistance of reactionaries from nearby villages, looted the property, and forced them to flee the village. On February 1, 1997 the armed squads of the erstwhile PU attacked the supporters of the RS who were forcibly cultivating a part of the disputed 700 acres. An encounter ensued between the armed guerilla squads and the RS-Police combine. Soon 200 police reinforcements arrived. In the ensuing 7-hour battle 5 RS men and one policeman were annihilated.
Further, the PU responded with a massive mass mobilisation against the RS in Ara. This was viciously attacked by the police and hundreds were arrested. Yet 1000 gathered in Ara. Also, the PU retaliated with a series of actions throughout 1997. In 4 actions during 1997, 22 RS goons were wiped out, and another 7 in end 1998. During the latest two massacres in 1999, the reconstituted CPI (M-L) [People's War] has once again retaliated inspite of the massive police force sent to the area.
Besides this rural work, workers, students and women are being mobilised in the urban areas. Notable amongst this is the huge coal miners' union SIKASA, involving over 1,00,000 workers spread out over the north NT region. Their continuous battles against the management and government have become a bright example before the Indian working class. Also numerous intellectuals and civil liberties organisations actively oppose state repression and lend support to the movement.
As a rule, mass campaigns are held in all areas, which helps raise the level of struggle and build people's consciousness. Every August 15th ('Independence' day) and January 26th (Republic Day) are held as Black Days exposing the fake independence, and the nature of imperialist hold on the country today. May 1st is commemorated to help build solidarity with international working class and oppressed people's movement. March 8th is celebrated to expose patriarchy and draw larger number of women into the struggle. December 6 (the day Babri Masjid was broken down) is observed as anti-communal day to build a consciousness to fight back the Hindu-fascist onslaught and in defence of minorities. In May 1997 huge rallies were taken out commemorating 30 years of Naxalbari. But, the major two political campaigns are those observing martyrs' week every July (Com. CM was martyred on July 28, 1972) and the vast boycott-election campaigns.
The struggle to build and maintain martyrs' columns is a running battle with the police. They break them, the people build them. The column is also an emotional and living symbol of the goals of the movement. In end July thousands of functions take place before the memorial to the people's heroes where the masses once again pledge to carry on the struggle for which their dear ones laid down their lives. For example, on July 31, '98 in Kamareddy squad area (NT) a memorial was built, hundreds of flags fluttered, banners paying homage to martyrs hung from trees, and photos of CM and others decorated the column. A big procession of 2000 from neighbouring villages shouted slogans, sang songs and danced. Elaborate food arrangements were made. Like all such public functions in the guerilla zone, three hours of activity took place without knowledge of the enemy, though police patrols exist a short distance away. Yet, as with all such meetings, strict security precautions were taken with 10 sentries guarding the meeting place and claymore mines planted on all approaches.
An example of a boycott campaign was during the 12th parliamentary elections in February '98 in DK. The DAKMS and KAMS took an extensive campaign throughout the 60 parliamentary constituencies of DK urging the people to reject the anti-people parliamentary institutions and to establish their own organs of democratic people's power in every village. Though in Gadchiroli district (DK), in addition to the existing 40 police stations, 40 special reserve police camps and 15 CRPF companies were deployed, not a single candidate ventured into the area.
In South Bastar division (DK) 50 propaganda teams campaigned for a week prior to the elections. In Bastar parliamentary constituency as a whole, votes polled were just 27% - the lowest in the country.
Fighting Social Evils
With feudal traditions deep-rooted in the countryside, the party has been combating various forms of backward thinking and social oppression - particularly against women and dalits (untouchables).
Women's organisations have been at the forefront combating all forms of patriarchy. Thereby they are now actively participating in the socio-political life of the village. Many are joining the squads. They have also been in the forefront of the massive anti-liquor campaigns and against drunkenness. Besides, the party takes continuous campaigns against superstition and development of a scientific consciousness particularly on health-care and hygiene.
With the smashing of feudal authority, though the practice of caste oppression and untouchability no longer exists, various forms of caste discrimination continue - particularly in the realm of eating, marriages, etc. To break taboos the mass organi-sations in NT evolved a novel method during 1997/98 - collective feasts, with dalits (the 'untouchables') serving the meal.
In addition, campaigns are taken on environmental questions, literacy programmes, scientific agricultural methods etc. The party has issued a total ban on felling the forest and 'forest protection committees' have come up in many areas.
In both guerilla zones, the VDCs, under the leadership of the GRCs (where they exist) and the party have conducted extensive developmental programmes. In doing so, the party is developing the communistic spirit of working cooperatively and for the community at large. It has also helped raise the standard of living in the area. The building of roads, schools, irrigation schemes (tanks, wells, dams) are some of the construction work done by the people contributing their labour. Also various types of cooperatives for seeds and grain distribution, mutual work teams for agricultural work, cooperatives for sale of forest produce, etc have come up. Also credit societies are coming up filling the vacuum created by the removal of the moneylender. Let us look at some examples during the previous year:
A school building was built in a village in Warangal (NT). Fed up with petitioning the government to extend the one room that existed, the people decided to build it themselves. First, half an acre of the landlord's land was taken over on which to construct; then two landlord's compound walls were broken down and the stones used as building material. Rs. 30,000 was confiscated from the village headman (sarpanch) who had misappropriated government developmental funds; three sugarcane businessmen were tried in a people's court for high rates and fined Rs. 15,000 which was also used. Then the villagers worked on a road contract and earned Rs. 10,000 jointly, which was also pooled. With this, the 300-member village peasant organisation worked for 10 days and built the school building worth Rs. 1 lakh.
A 11 K.m. road linking Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts was built under the leadership of the Bheemgal SAC (NT) in July '98. 115 people worked day and night in three shifts contributing free labour. Within 10 days the road, at an estimated cost of Rs. 35 lakhs, was built.
In a number of villages of NT credit societies have been set up with a corpus built from : shares by the members, confiscation of funds from local corrupt gentry, party donations, etc. In 1997/98 these societies that came up were used chiefly to purchase seeds/fertilisers during the sowing season. After the harvest all members pay back the loan with interest charged at the rate of 2% per month. The capital generated is ploughed back into the society which results in a larger amount of fertiliser being distributed in the following year.
In DK, which is one of the most backward regions of the country, most developmental work is geared to increasing agricultural production. Last year, throughout DK, people of 237 villages participated in the construction of 99 tanks. Half of these were for irrigation purposes and the rest were for water for cattle and for fish breeding. While 46 were constructed by people of individual villages, the other 53 were the result of the collective effort of people belonging to 2-12 villages.
Tank Construction Committees were elected to oversee the work. An example is the tank in a village in Basaguda in South Bastar. Around 400 people from 9 villages participated in construction work for 26 days. They raised Rs. 60,000 locally. In addition 7 tonnes of rice were collected from the local rich peasants and traders. 1 kg rice was given to the volunteers participating in construction. Half-way through, the government offered Rs. 1.4 million which was rejected by the people. In tanks used for collective fishing 3 lakh fish seedlings were sown in 1997 and collectively harvested last year.
In DK, cooperative activity has been developed to grow vegetables and fruit; to build common cattle sheds, schools, wells and people's health centres; for animal husbandry and for afforestation programmes. In addition, work teams have been initiated, involving 3 to 7 households per team, to jointly do farming, bunding, firewood collection and for grass collection for thatching houses. In 1998, in DK in 220 villages work teams functioned to prepare the land for farming; in 211 villages work teams jointly harvested the paddy; in 138 villages the women jointly collected firewood; and in 56 villages grass collection was done collectively. In addition, seed cooperatives have been set up and also cooperatives to market forest produce are gradually developing.
It was only in 1995 that the organs of power, the GRCs, began developing in DK. In 1996 a big campaign was taken to begin developmental activity and it was in 1997 that the schemes were started. That too, it has been uneven in its scale depending on the intensity of repression. Yet, even under intense repression, with a growing consciousness the people are slowly participating in large numbers.
The Armed Struggle
The uniformed armed squads is the backbone of these big advances made. Without them it would not be possible to take even one step forward. The inhuman and genocidal repression of the state has been successfully met by the politico-military offensive of the Party and its squads with its deep roots amongst the masses.
After all, since 1972, 3000 martyrs have contributed to the building of this vast movement. In just the last two years 600 have given their lives for the cause of revolution. In the first nine months of 1998, in AP alone 150 were martyred. These included 23 leading party members - i.e., one SZC member (Special Zonal Committee member); three divisional/City committee secretaries; 4 district committee members; 6 squad commanders and 9 SAC members (Squad Area Committee members). Besides, of the 150, 30 each were squad members, Party members and village-level militants while 24 were mass organisation leaders / activists.
On March 6th, 1999 the general secretary, and president of the AP Radical Students Union (APRSU) were arrested in Kurnool district and the next day their bodies were found in neighbouring Mahaboobnagar district. The police quietly disposed of the bodies. Such killings have become routine, and have, in fact, been stepped up in the last year.
Arrests, tortures, molestations, murders, deportation, destruction of property, etc have become the order of the day. Draconian laws, prohibitory orders and special opera-tions/campaigns are used to terrorise the masses and target the activists and even their families.
Besides the local forces, the government has pressed into service special anti-Naxalite forces and large numbers of paramilitary forces. In addition they have built a number of armed formations comprising the worst lumpens and criminals. A vast network of informers and spies act to provide them with information. It is a full-fledged war against the people.
But the people are not silent; they are learning warfare through warfare. While the guerilla forces lead the armed resistance, the village defence forces (GRDs) assist and harass the enemy while the masses put up mass resistance in the face of attacks and arrests.
Regular armed actions, through raids and ambushes, are conducted to seize weapons and ammunition and also to break the morale of the enemy forces. Also notorious class enemies, police agents and the leaders of armed gangs are being eliminated. Others with lesser crimes face punishments through the people's courts.
In the period between February and October '98 in DK alone a total of 28 policemen, including 6 officers were annihilated and another 39 policemen (including 3 officers) were wounded in guerilla attacks. In December '98 in two major raids on police stations in the Orissa region a large cache of arms and ammunition were seized. On this occasion only one policeman was killed, the others surrendered, and were told about the people's cause. In mid-March 1999 in a town in Adilabad (NT), in a simultaneous action two police outposts were attacked and arms and ammunition seized.
In Bihar, where repression by both police and landlord armies have been intensified in the last two years, the people have retaliated through greater resistance. In a recent massacre by the Ranvir Sena at Shankarbigaha (January 25, '99) 400 armed people from a neighbouring village retaliated. Earlier, in August '97 the party (then Party Unity) gave a call to seize arms from the police and reactionaries - in the 3 month campaign 56 arms were seized in Magadh alone. Similar successful raids were conducted in the Koel-Kaimur region.
Besides these armed actions, mass resistance to repression is growing. In all three regions of AP, DK and Bihar people are retaliating in numerous ways. Bandhs (i.e., closures) of entire regions for one to two days is a form of mass action. Often government property is attacked and destroyed. When youth are arrested from a village the entire village (particularly) the women surround the police and secure their release.
Road-blockades is also a common form of protest. In AP, a mass movement has grown around each 'encounter' killing where thousands upon thousands march to the police station, claim the body from the police (who try to surreptitiously dispose of it), and take out mammoth funeral processions calling for revenge and vowing to continue the revolution for which the comrades gave their lives. A vigilant civil liberties committee helps bring such incidents to light.
And so the class war intensifies in India. And as the masses gain in consciousness, their involvement in the armed struggle grows, the organs of parallel political power get consolidated. The lines between revolution and counter-revolution get more clearly demarcated.
Party, the Leading Factor
The merger of the two major CPI (M-L) formations in the country has aroused a great hope in the Indian people and inspired all the revolutionary and democratic forces. The unified party is continuing its attempts to unite with what remains of the genuine revolutionaries from its various factions, as also with the non-CPI (M-L) revolutionary forces like the MCC. Besides, the party is the leading factor in taking the armed struggle forward; in building unity with other democratic sections, particularly the nationality forces, and in uniting with the international proletariat, particularly the armed struggle under Maoist leadership.
The Indian democratic revolution is an important component of the World Socialist Revolution. The strengthening of the worldwide anti-imperialist forces and the forces for socialism assists the growth of the Indian revolution. So also the intensification of the Indian revolution strengthens the worldwide anti-imperialist forces. And as the crisis in the world imperialist system deepens, the forces of revolution and socialism will regain their earlier strength and prestige. The discredit of revisionist betrayals will get swept away by the revolutionary storms of the future.
The unification of two revolutionary centres within India stands out as a flaming star amongst the rot that has beset Indian polity. Not only are all the parliamentary outfits at loggerheads with each other, they are all deeply faction-ridden from within resulting in open revolts and splits. Never has the crisis of the ruling classes been so deep. Cracks and infighting are afflicting even the state machinery, including the armed forces. And as the rulers go all-out in their capitulation to imperialism, the stagnation in the Indian economy becomes more acute and, with it, all-round discontent is brewing in every section of society. Fascist repression, religious (Hindu) demagogy, and internecine strife instigated amongst the various castes and communities, is their last attempt to save their crumbling order.
Such attempts will, of course fail. With the CPI (M-L) [People's War] creating a strong alternative in the Guerilla Zones, building its armed strength enabling it to face the fascist onslaught and forging a wide united front with all democratic and patriotic forces within the country and also the nationality armed struggles the ruling class schemes will crumble like a house of cards. The road is tortuous, the path zigzag, the goal still far off but with the acute crisis the conditions for rapid advance are bright.
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