15th August 1947..... The
Union Jack is lowered, the tri-colours unfurled. A hope is awakened.
Independence, freedom and a better life is expected and promised by the
new rulers. A great enthusiasm envelops the country. Time passes and so
does Nehru, the first Prime minister of the country. Slogans of
socialism, non-alignment of the Nehru era give way to Shastri's Jai
Jawan, Jai Kisan and then Indira Gandhi's Garibi hatao. Now, twenty
years have passed, a full two decades. The situation remains the same.
The hopes are dashed, the expectations turn to frustration. The British
are gone, but their capital remained, their laws remained, their
colonial structures remained.... merely added was the parliamentary
edifice. To British capital, was added American capital. While people
continued to live in grinding poverty, the Tatas, Birlas of the country
filled their coffers with enormous wealth. People's cries for justice
were as ruthlessly suppressed, as in the British Raj. The slogans of the
rulers remained as mere slogans, the reality seemed different. The
people were now searching, seeking something genuine, seeking real
answers. The people's frustrations was reflected in the results of the
February 1967 general elections; when, for the first time, non-Congress
governments were formed in eight states. And then in the spring of 1967,
a new ray of hope, shattered the darkness engulfing the country. A fresh
breeze from the East began to displace the stagnant, putrid air of the
past twenty years. The veil of lies and deceit behind which our rulers
took protection, was torn asunder. A clap of thunder struck the remote
village of Naxalbari in North Bengal, and its reverberations shook the
conscience of the entire country.
18th March, 1967.... The red
flag is hoisted. The peasant convention of the Siliguri sub-division is
in session, at Naxalbari. Five hundred delegates, some armed with bows
and arrows, chalk out a new path for their future. Revolutionary leaders
explain the bankruptcy of the CPI (M) and the peaceful path to change.
The Chinese revolution is given as an example of how the poor can seize
political power in a backward semi-feudal country. The convention ends
with a call for the immediate seizure of land and the setting up of
liberated base areas. The peasants prepare for launching their offensive
against the landlords of the area..