Don't copy us, Mao had told Indian Maoists
Mao Zedong may have clandestinely backed the Naxalite movement but the Chinese revolutionary leader told Indian Maoists in the late 1960s not to blindly copy the tactics that brought him to power.
Mao Zedong's advice was given to a four-member delegation of Maoists when they met him and Zhou En-lai in Beijing in 1967, just months after the rebellion in Naxalbari in West Bengal.
"Forget everything you have learnt here in China," Mao told the Indian revolutionaries at the end of their three-month stay in China, says a book on Kanu Sanyal, who led the Maoist delegation.
"Once back in Naxalbari, formulate your own revolutionary strategies, keeping in mind the ground realities over there," Mao is quoted as saying in the 248-page biography on Sanyal (Sage Publications).
A close associate of Maoist legend Charu Mazumdar, Sanyal was the one who announced at a rally in Kolkata the formation of the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) in 1969.
Sanyal committed suicide in 2010 after remaining politically active, despite failing health, almost till the end of his life.
Mao also told the delegation that if Maoists seized power in India, "China would amicably resolve the territorial dispute (between the two countries) to the benefit of both the countries".
The delegation of Naxalites that went to China illegally via Nepal also included Khokhon Mazumdar, Khudan Malick and Deepak Biswas, the last a confidant of Charu Mazumdar.
According to the book, authored by Kolkata-based journalist Bappaditya Paul, the Indian delegation made it to Beijing after approaching the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu.
The embassy sent a Mandarin-speaking guide who helped the four Maoists to enter Tibet from Nepal. After an arduous trek that involved crossing hills, they were transported further inland in Chinese military vans.
While in Beijing, the delegation was surprised to meet another Indian Maoist, Krishna Bhakta Sharma, another Charu Mazumdar loyalist who had crossed into China earlier but then disappeared.
Sharma told Sanyal that he was about to be shot dead by Chinese soldiers who mistook him to be a spy when he broke down and pointed repeatedly at a Mao badge one soldier had - forcing them to change their mind.
Both Sharma and Sanyal's team were given ideological and military training. But Sharma was not granted an audience with Mao, says the book.
"Sanyal and his comrades were imparted training in operating machine guns, automated rifles, lobbing grenades and planting mines," the book says. "They were also given hands-on training in making explosives."
But despite being bowled over by Communist China, Sanyal gave it back to a Chinese military officer who told them to "eat as much as you can now" because "we know there is scarcity of food in your country".
Sanyal told the author: "His comments hurt my sentiments very deeply and I told the PLA (People's Liberation Army) commandant right on his face that we were in China to acquire lessons on Mao Tse-tung Thought and not because there was dearth of food in India."
In 1970, another CPI-ML leader, Sourin Bose, went to China and met Zhou En-Lai and Kang Sheng who denounced Charu Mazumdar's ideological standing and anarchic activities.
"On hearing them, an already unwell Mazumdar complained of uneasiness," the book says. "(It) left him extremely disheartened; his health condition deteriorated overnight."
(Posted on 22-08-2014)