Monday, June 22, 2009

‘Lalgarh can’t be compared to Naxal movement of 70s'

Mouparna Bandyopadhyay Posted online: Monday , Jun 22, 2009 at 0047 hrs

Kolkata : Back in the 1970s, Kanu Sanyal and Asim Chatterjee, along with the late Charu Majumdar, spearheaded the Naxalite movement in West Bengal. But both now feel that the Maoists in Lalgarh led a ‘movement’ that was myopic in scope and attempted to rob the democratic rights of the common man.

“When they called for boycotting the polls it was a huge mistake. Terrorising people and not allowing them to vote in 15-16 booths did nothing for their cause,” says Sanyal, one of the best known faces of the Naxalite movement. Sanyal, 81, resides in Naxalbari in Darjeeling district, which saw the birth of the Naxalite movement, and is closely following the developments in Lalgarh from his home.

Asim Chatterjee, too, holds similar beliefs. “If you negate the rule of law or the common man’s democratic rights then any movement will fall flat on its face,” says Chatterjee.

“In areas like West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, political parties have used the Maoist forces in their own interest and, in turn, Maoists have acted in favour of various parties to capture certain areas,” he says.

Both former leaders feel that it is not right to compare the Naxalite movement of the 1970s to the situation in Lalgarh. “Our struggle was not limited to any particular community, like the tribals. We believed in class struggle and for that, we tried to mobilise the masses to change the land ownership system in the state. But here, they are banking on the problems of a particular community in a particular area,” says Sanyal. Chatterjee believes that one of the most glaring shortcomings of the movement is that the Maoists have been depending on weaponry and the geographical characteristics of a place. “That is the reason why the struggle is limited to jungles and areas with difficult terrain,” observes Chatterjee.

Both leaders condemn the use of violence and intimidation. “They can kill, threaten and force people to leave the CPI(M), but the movement cannot be sustained this way. This is one serious mistake on their part,” says Chatterjee. “This is the line of Charu Majumdar, the line that I felt was not right even 30 years ago,” echoes Sanyal.

However, both leaders feel that bringing in the CRPF and paramilitary forces was a mistake on the part of the Government. “When the tribals came with their grievances, there was some dialogue but nothing concrete happened due to the dilly-dallying of the Government. Now they are trying to show that there was no other way but to bring in Central forces into the area,” says Chatterjee. “If they are using terror, even the Government is using force. This will lead to many casualties,” notes Sanyal.

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