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A Critical Study on Naxalite Movement in India

The Historical Context Of The Peasant Movements In Bengal And Their Connection To The Naxalite Uprisings:

  1. Indigo Revolt (1859-1860):
    • Cause: The British East India Company imposed an exploitative system of indigo cultivation in Bengal and Bihar. Peasant farmers (ryots) were forced to grow indigo instead of food crops, leading to cycles of debt and exploitation.
    • Nature of Revolt: In 1859, ryots in Bengal's Nadia district refused to grow indigo for European planters. This movement, known as the Neel Bidroha or Indigo Revolt, spread to other indigo-growing districts.
    • Newspaper Events: Bengali intellectuals like Harishchandra Mukherjee highlighted the peasants' plight in newspapers like "The Hindu Patriot." The play "Nil Darpan" by Dina Bandhu Mitra further drew attention to the harshness of the indigo system.
  2. Pabna Peasant Uprising (1873-76):
    • Cause: Peasants in the Yusufshahi pargana (now Sirajganj District, Bangladesh) revolted against oppressive Bengal zamindars.
    • Leader: Ishan Chandra Roy, known as the "Bidrohi Raja," led the uprising.
    • Newspaper Events: The plight of peasants was reported in newspapers, shedding light on their struggle against exploitation.
  3. Connection to Naxalite Uprisings:
    • The grievances of peasants during these movements laid the groundwork for later radical movements like the Naxalite uprisings.
    • The Naxalite movement, which emerged in the late 1960s, drew inspiration from the struggles of the oppressed, including peasants and tribal communities.
    • The Naxalites aimed to address land reforms, social justice, and economic inequality, echoing the historical grievances of Bengal's peasants.
These movements, fueled by economic exploitation and social injustice, left a lasting impact on Bengal's history and contributed to the broader narrative of resistance against oppressive systems.

Visionary Leaders Who Shaped The Naxalite Movement:

The Naxalite movement in Bengal emerged as a radical response to social and economic inequalities.

Let's explore the key founder leaders and their contributions:
  1. Charu Majumdar:
    • Role: Charu Majumdar was a central figure in the Naxalite movement.
    • Contribution:
      • Ideologue: He theorized that India was ripe for an armed people's war, inspired by the Chinese Revolution (1949), the Vietnam War, and the Cuban Revolution.
      • Historic Eight Documents: Charu Majumdar authored the Historic Eight Documents, which laid the foundation for the Naxalite movement in 1967.
  2. Kanu Sanyal:
    • Role: Kanu Sanyal was another prominent leader in the Naxalbari uprising.
    • Contribution:
      • Naxalbari Uprising: Along with Charu Majumdar, he led the Naxalbari uprising in 1967 in the village of Naxalbari, West Bengal.
      • Protracted People's War: Sanyal advocated for a protracted people's war in India, similar to the Chinese revolution.
  3. Jangal Santhal:
    • Role: Jangal Santhal was a tribal leader and active participant in the Naxalite movement.
    • Contribution:
      • Naxalbari Uprising: He played a crucial role in mobilizing tribal peasants during the Naxalbari uprising.
      • Representation of Marginalized Groups: Santhal's involvement highlighted the movement's focus on representing the poorest and most socially marginalized members of Indian society, including tribal communities and Dalits.
These visionary leaders shaped the Naxalite movement, advocating for radical change and challenging oppressive systems. Their commitment to social justice and revolution left a lasting impact on India's history.

Impact and Achievements of Naxalite movement:

The Naxalite movement in Bengal, which began in the late 1960s, had significant impacts and achievements:
  1. Land Reforms and Peasant Rights:
    • Objective: The Naxalites aimed to redistribute land from big landowners (zamindars) to the landless laborers and tilling farmers.
    • Impact: Although the movement faced challenges, it brought attention to the plight of peasants and their struggle for land rights. It influenced discussions around agrarian reforms and social justice.
  2. Awareness and Mobilization:
    • Role of Leaders: Visionaries like Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, and Jangal Santhal mobilized people for armed struggle against oppressive systems.
    • Spread: The Naxalbari uprising in 1967 marked the movement's beginning in Darjeeling district, West Bengal. It later spread across the state and other regions.
    • Legacy: The Naxalite movement's legacy influenced literature, songs, satirical art, and films in Bengal and India.
  3. Empowerment of Laboring Classes:
    • Shift in Power Dynamics: The movement empowered laboring and oppressed classes. It challenged existing power structures.
    • Quality of Life: However, material conditions in villages did not significantly improve due to the Naxalite leaders' focus on revolution rather than development.
  4. Impact on Indian Politics:
    • Left-Wing Ideology: The Naxalite movement introduced a radical left-wing ideology, emphasizing armed struggle against the ruling elite.
    • Youth Sympathy: By 1971, the concept of armed struggle had spread to schools and colleges in Kolkata, gaining sympathy among the youth.
  5. Long-Term Influence:
    • The Naxalite movement remains relevant today, with intermittent activities by Maoist-oriented groups.
    • It shaped discussions on communism, Maoism, and social justice in India.

In summary, the Naxalite movement left a lasting impact on Bengal's history, challenging oppressive systems and advocating for the rights of the marginalized.

End Of The Movement:

The Naxalite movement in India, which originated in the late 1960s, experienced several phases and factors that contributed to its eventual decline:

Initial Rise and Ideological Zeal:

  • Origin: The Naxalite movement began in 1967 after a peasant revolt in the Naxalbari village of West Bengal.
  • Leadership: Under leaders like Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, and Jangal Santhal, the movement gained momentum.
  • Ideology: The Naxalites supported Mao Zedong's political ideology and advocated for radical change through armed struggle.

Challenges and Decline:

  • Blind Adherence to Maoist Ideas: The Naxalites rigidly followed Maoist guerrilla warfare tactics, leading to chaos and a lack of clear party structures.
  • 1971 Shift: Around 1971, reverence for China and Mao waned, contributing to a decline in support for the movement.
  • Terroristic Conspiracy: The movement faced allegations of terroristic conspiracy, further weakening its position.

Government Measures and Improved Presence:

  • State and Central Response: Both state and central governments took measures to combat Naxalism.
  • Improved Presence: Through concerted efforts, authorities significantly improved their presence in Naxal-infested regions.
  • Mineral-Rich Lands: The government regained control over mineral-rich lands previously held by militant groups.

Long-Term Impact:

  • Current Status: While Naxalites still operate in isolated regions, their influence has diminished.
  • National Security Threat: Despite reduced visibility, they remain a substantial threat to India's national security.

In summary, ideological zeal, government responses, and internal challenges collectively shaped the trajectory of the Naxalite movement, leading to its eventual decline.

Charu Majumdar, born into a progressive landlord family in Siliguri in 1918, played a pivotal role in India's radical political history. His journey is one of transformation-from privilege to aligning with the mass struggle.
Let's delve into his story:

Charu Majumdar and the Naxalite Movement

Early Years and Communist Ideals:

  • Background: Charu Majumdar was part of the Indian Independence Movement and embraced communist ideals.
  • Naxalbari Uprising: In 1967, he became a central figure in the Naxalbari uprising in the Naxalbari village of West Bengal.
  • Ideology: Majumdar envisioned a protracted people's war in India, inspired by the Chinese Revolution (1949), the Vietnam War, and the Cuban Revolution.

Historic Eight Documents:

  • Authorship: Charu Majumdar wrote the Historic Eight Documents, which became the foundation of the Naxalite movement.
  • Impact: These documents outlined the revolutionary path, emphasizing armed struggle against oppressive systems and the need for radical change.

Legacy and Controversy:

  • Champion or Traitor?: Majumdar's legacy remains complex. Some view him as a champion of the masses, while others consider him a traitor to the state.
  • Father Figure of the Movement: He was often compared to Chairman Mao on an Indian scale, acting as the father figure of the Naxalite movement.
Charu Majumdar's ideas and actions left an indelible mark on India's political landscape, igniting a flame that rapidly spread from West Bengal to other states. His commitment to radical change continues to be debated and analyzed.

The Historic Eight Documents:
The Historic Eight Documents, authored by the Indian Maoist revolutionary Charu Majumdar, outline the ideological principles on which the Naxalite militant communist movement in India was based. These documents played a crucial role in shaping the movement's direction and strategy. Although the specific content of each document is not widely available, their significance remains profound:

The Eight Documents:

  • These monographs provided a theoretical framework for the Naxalite movement.
  • They emphasized the need for armed struggle, land redistribution, and radical change.
  • Charu Majumdar's ideas resonated with those seeking a more militant approach to social justice and revolution.


  • The Historic Eight Documents inspired Naxalite cadres, intellectuals, and activists.
  • They fueled discussions on class struggle, agrarian reforms, and the role of violence in achieving social transformation.


  • Despite their limited availability, these documents remain a cornerstone of Naxalite history.
  • They symbolize the radical spirit of an era when marginalized voices sought to challenge oppressive systems.

In summary, the Historic Eight Documents encapsulate Charu Majumdar's vision for a revolutionary India, where armed struggle would dismantle existing power structures and pave the way for a more equitable society.

Charu Majumdar, the Indian Communist leader and founder of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), met a tragic end. According to official records, he died of a massive heart attack at 4 AM on July 28, 1972 in Calcutta, West Bengal. However, various factions of Naxalites believe that his death was a custodial murder. They contend that he was denied necessary medication while in police custody, leading to his demise. His body was cremated at the Keoratola crematorium under the watchful eyes of armed police and paramilitary forces. Charu Majumdar's writings, particularly the Historic Eight Documents, continue to shape the ideology of several political parties in India.

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