History has always been written by the victors, but the times have changed and so have the idea of history and what it means to be victorious. In today’s socio-economical paradigm, the importance of reincarnating history as a tool to propagate an altered version of the same has become synonymous with the academic and the media elite.
We as a society put heavy emphasis on education and it has been one of the cornerstones of our civilization. That is precisely why we tend to nod whenever we read or hear a person with decorative academic background and never once do we feel the need to verify or counter-check the claims made by ‘the educated man’.
This presumption on behalf of the general populous that the ‘educated man’ being above scrutiny and is always rational gives way to snobbish attempts by the elite to manufacture narratives and engineer consent. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in media and academia – Institutions which are responsible for rationalizing young minds and make them informed individuals.
This phenomenon gets amplified manyfold when it comes to movements of the Left which have been radical and claimed thousands of lives in the past. ‘The educated man’ more often than not will try to depict such murderous movements in a better light and do so in a subtle but substantive way.
The 1917 ‘revolution’ which, for whatever reason, we in Indian celebrate as this great victory for the proletariat and the workers of the world, was actually a minuscule and contained attempt by a few hundred of Bolsheviks who had next to nothing presence in the vast rural lands of the Zar ruled Russia.
After taking hold of government offices in the town of ‘Petrograd’, the Bolsheviks with their allies ‘the left socialist revolutionaries’, who were an overwhelming majority in the ‘soviet’, promised free and fair elections and abolished private ownership of the land and proclaimed “rarely has an insurrection succeeded so well”.
Ironically or rather expectedly the Bolsheviks managed to get only 24% of the votes in the subsequent elections and lost miserably. In the most communist pattern possible, Lenin then ordered the ‘red guard’ (his personal army) to shut down the elected assembly. Following the shutdown, he installed himself as the Dictator and forced Russia into a civil war between red and white communist. What ensued can best be described by quoting the lines of a columnist for the Express Tribune:
“Everything material was in short supply in the brave new world of Communism. Except for blood, which was the motif of the Revolution. In July 1918 the royal family, including the five children, were shot, bludgeoned and bayoneted to death in the basement of a building in Yekaterinburg. They swapped the Romanovs for the Red Tsars of Communism. All 1917 brought the world was oppression, blood, and tragedy.”
Now, most of us are not aware of this aspect of the revolution, is because the ‘educated man’ chose to showcase a utopian rendition of the reality.
American ‘journalist’ John Reed’s eyewitness account of the revolution, “10 days that shook the world”, depicts a gleeful and emotional projection of the revolution and the same has been done by hundreds after him.
They do not talk about how the sailors of the Kronstadt naval base, who were initially staunch supporters of the revolution, overnight became ‘nationalist paramilitary’ and ‘black hundreds’. They do not talk about how the Red guards killed and imprisoned thousands of these sailors. This partial amnesia is not coincidental or rare – the same pattern can be seen around the world for every left induced massacre.
Case in point would be the terrible tale of the Naxalbari movement, which has been morbidly romanticized by generations of people through poems, books, and articles. If one disassociates the romanticizing aspect of the ‘revolution’ which we as younger generation look for be it in a woman, war or revolution, it was an appalling secessionist movement which claimed thousands of young lives.
From the initial days, the connection and influence of China were apparent. The main ideologues Charu Mazumder and Kanu Sanyal publicly expressed their ideological leaning towards the Chinese Communist Party and their Chairman Mao Zedong.
In April 1967, Charu Mazumder entrusted his Nepali comrade Krishnabhakta Sharma from Kalimpong with the task of carrying eight documents which Mazumder believed to be ‘guiding principles of the planned revolution’, to China. After 52 days of travelling, Sharma reached the offices of CPC. He came back with a copy of ‘the red book’ signed by Mao.
When the uprising broke out, CPC mouthpiece ‘People’s Daily’ published in its July 5th 1967 edition the infamous article titled “Spring Thunder over India” openly lending their support to the band of ‘revolutionaries’ that Mazumder has formed. The article pointed out the inner division of the then undivided communist party and much like the old tradition of communists, here also the fight would eventually devolve between Chinese and Indian communists and impressionable young minds would be sacrificed at the sacrosanct altar of communism.
The article stated:
“A peal of spring thunder has crashed over the land of India. Revolutionary peasants in the Darjeeling area have risen in rebellion. Under the leadership of a revolutionary group of the Indian Communist Party, a red area of rural revolutionary armed struggle has been established in India. This is a development of tremendous significance for the Indian people’s revolutionary struggle.”
This section of the article points out the earlier mentioned inner rift between the different sects within the undivided communist party of India-
“The Indian reactionaries are panic-stricken by the development of the rural armed struggle in Darjeeling. They have sensed imminent disaster and they wail in alarm that the peasants’ revolt in Darjeeling will “become a national disaster.” Imperialism and the Indian reactionaries are trying in a thousand and one ways to suppress this armed struggle of the Darjeeling peasants and nip it in the bud. The Dange renegade clique and revisionist chieftains of the Indian Communist Party are vigorously slandering and attacking the revolutionaries in the Indian Communist Party and the revolutionary peasants in Darjeeling for their great exploits. The so-called “non-Congress” government in West Bengal openly sides with the reactionary Indian Government in its bloody suppression of the revolutionary peasants in Darjeeling. This gives added proof that these renegades and revisionists are running dogs of U.S. imperialism and Soviet revisionism and lackeys of the big Indian landlords and bourgeoisie. What they call the “Non-Congress government” is only a tool of the landlords and bourgeoisie.”
After the Naxalites formed a party and named it CPI (Marxist-Leninist) on April 1969 the activities of this organization became much more coordinated and they started to target the educated youth of Kolkata (then Calcutta). They started publishing a monthly propaganda publication called ‘LIBERATION’ which carried articles written by Mazumder himself.
As a result of the inciting nature of this publication, it was forfeited by the Calcutta Police by a notification in the Calcutta Police Gazette of September 18th, 1969. The streets of Kolkata and the walls of the city were covered with graffiti proclaiming Mao Zedong as the people’s chairman, A phrase coined by Charu himself in one of his articles.
In response, in their first congress CPI (M-L) in May 1970 the party called upon its followers to launch an attack on the police and seize their arms to build up an arsenal. By the end of October 1970, at least twenty five policemen were killed, and three hundred and fifty injured in these urban actions by the Naxalites.
The targeting of the Policemen went to such alarming level that Calcutta Police Gazette on 22nd October 1970 The then police Commissioner R.K.Gupta issued an order.
The order read:
“Going to cinemas, theatres or in such functions where officers and men are to stay for a considerable period of time, should be avoided. In this regard even if the family members are insistent, they should be dissuaded from such simple desires of theirs….”
The entire city of Calcutta was transformed into a battle-zone. Curfews, violence and picket points went up throughout the city. Eventually, Charu was captured by the Calcutta Police on 16th July 1972. He died of a heart attack on 28th July 1972.
Charu famously stated:
“He is not a true Communist who has not dipped his hands in the blood of the class enemy.”
The dream of armed revolution and toppling the state did not actualize and it can be argued that the leaders did realize that from the very beginning that the Chinese used them as their proxies to further their own narrative in the Indian sub-continent.
The real tragedy, however, is the loss of young lives. Thousands of students from eminent universities in Calcutta joined their ranks, brain-washed by the pamphlets and romanticization of revolution.
A prime example for which can be found in the statement of historian Dilip Simeon, Simeon was a student in St. Stephens College, New Delhi when he dropped out to join Mazumder. He states:
“(1968) was the year of the Prague Spring, the Tet offensive by the National Liberation Front in Vietnam, the May uprising by students and workers in France, the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Cultural Revolution in China, the Black Power salute by US athletes at the Mexico Olympics.”
Till this day, this idea is being kept alive by people who still harbour anti-state feelings and the ‘educated man’ is always more than happy to lend support in forms of literature that makes treason a matter of pride, and death, a yearning. What we see today is a repeat of the very propaganda that painted Calcutta red. If we aren’t careful, 1969 is not far from being repeated. After all, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.