Today we commemorate the 25th death anniversary of Comrade Nimmala Krishna Murthy who till his last breath was a crusader for the massline and liberation of the Adivasis..Inspite of baring all the adversities or twists and turns with the courage of a soldier and skill of an architect he carved out his course of struggle. At the time of his death he served as secretary of the Girijan Sangam and member of the area Committee of the Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist) in Vizianagaram-Srikakulam districts. He breathed his last in Mundenkhal hospital, near his native village Valasaballeru.
Born in 1931-32 in an agency area. Comrade Krishna Murthy hardly received any formal education, learning to read and write from his father.
What was remarkable was the manner Comrade Nimmala Krishna Murthy withstood or confronted setbacks at every juncture, clawing the movement back from the deepest depths of despair. When the ship appeared to be sinking the valiant comrade would revive it. He displayed the tenacity of a rock. The manner he overcame various twists and turns to knit the Girijan movement is an ideal illustration of the power of Marxist Leninist dialectics. Even in the gravest circumstances he could galvanise forces to give crystallisation to the movement. Nimmala Krishna Murthy blended the tenacity and courage of a soldier with the organisation and skill of an architect. His life’s work had a consistent symmetry and executed with geometric precision. I would have loved a poem to have been written reflecting the story of his life.It is a perfect illustration of how events shape the course of man’s life and vice versa.
The valiant comrade gained his baptism in politics through his soul touched at the very core on witnessing the miserable plight of the Girijans.He dipped his first feet in the water of the revolutionary movement as a member of the Girijan Sangam in 1958.In 1960 he received his first political induction in the Communist party of India .He served it with the iron discipline of a soldier and in 1964 went over to the side of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Penetrating into the heart of the mass Girijan revolutionary struggles propelled his later career, organising struggles on issues like higher salaries for farm servants, abolition of bonded labour, higher wages for agricultural labour etc,The assassination of Comrades Koranna and Maganna marked the turning point in his political career, joining the armed struggle declared on 11th November 1968.
It is noteworthy that Comrade Nimmala Krishna Murthy was part and parcel of the very fabric of the Srikakulam movement and participated in the first important armed action in 1968 in Pedagottili. Few comrades revealed as compact durability or could confront the enemy with such a magnitude of tenacity. It was his very experience of armed actions not integrating with the skin of the mass movements that enabled him to extricate himself from wrong trends to join the Andhra Pradesh Coo-ordination Comate of Communist Revolutionaries led by T.Nagi Reddy/DV Rao.He is thus an example of how the line of Nagi Reddy had the essence of massline character and how left deviation began within the C.P.I. (M.L.) before 1970 itself. He played an important role in the party medical team during the Srikkaulam armed struggle from 1968-1972.As a volunteer he saved many a life. Comrade Krishnamurthy was part of the central squad formed under the leadership of Vemputapa Satyam.The Girijan movement due to facing severe repression fell into the depths of despair, Comrade Krishna Murthy like a boulder resisting a thunderstorm revived the movement from dire straits, to set it back on the track..He demonstrated great prowess in performing a repair job to replenish the armed squads by stitching the wounds. In 1972 he was convicted and arrested in the Paravithipuram Conspiracy case and placed in Vishakhapatnam central jail. On release in 1975 he immediately reverted to taking on re-organising the Girijan movement. The most important feature was his demarcation from left adventurist line of ‘annihilation of class enemies.
It is worth for any cadre to study the tortuous path Comrade Nimmala Krishna Murthy traversed to combat the left adventurist “annihilation ‘ line of the C.P.I.(M.L.) in the early 1970’s and later the right deviationist trends within the Girijan Sangam in the mid1980’s that used the platform of the organization for setting up parliamentary candidates In the midst of a series of splits after 1975 in the Unity Centre for Communist Revolutionaries of India. Comrade Krishna Murthy with the tenacity of rock withstood all attempts to derail the course of the Girijan movement with the surgical precision of a surgeon. Few comrades exuded such patience or so painstakingly educated comrades to knit the fabric of the Girijan Sangam and movement. He showed exemplary courage in joining the Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India (CCRI) in 1988, withstanding strong right deviations it currents which prevented comrades from joining the organization that was the chief protagonist of the mass proletarian revolutionary line. In my view his joining first the CCRI and then the CPRCI (ML) was an illustration of the mass line orientation of those groups re-organising the Girijan movement and how it was the Nagi Reddy trend that propelled massline.I hold Comrade Nimmala in high esteem for being so distinctive of the mass line trend. He played an important part in guiding first the area Committee of the Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India (CCRI) which turned into the Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist) in 1995. (CPRCI-ML).
His presence and speech n the 2nd conference of the Malkangiri Zilla Adivasi Sangh in 1992 played an invaluable role in it’s success .Com.Krishna Murthy narrated the ups and downs of the Srikakulam movement and summarized important aspects of mass agrarian revolutionary line. He thus ignited a spark that made the conference a true festival of the masses.
His loss possibly caused a dent in the Girijan Sangam blossoming to the full,. It is sad we hardly even hear about any constructive movement led by the organisation today.
Nimmala Krishna Murthy’s protracted resistance against both left adventurism and right opportunism still form a vivid picture in my mind, displaying outstanding examples of mass revolutionary approach. I can’t forget how as a secretary of the Srikakulam Girijan Sangam with the surgical skill of a spider knitting a web, he galvanised the democratic forces to most methodically confront deviationist tendencies. Comrade Krishna Murthy would never directly condemn the depradationist actions of the armed squads of the C.P.I. (M.L.) Peoples War Group, but with meticulous painstaking approach attempt to rectify their approach. Few comrades as dialectically or surgically dealt with leftists and rightist deviations, inculcating correct approach to debate and self-criticism. He would chalk out the leaflets and handbills either adressed directly to the Peoples War Group or for all sections. It is still fresh in my memory the handbill he drafted addressing the PWG on agitational issues and the other one questioning the revolutionary legitimacy for an armed squad action undertaken by the Peoples War Group. .Both handbills revealed great polemical Marxist-Leninist mastery in adressing massline.The 2nd one at the very backbone explained how such an annihilation undertaken by the Peoples War Group was not a component of the mass line. This was a perfect illustration of correct methodology in mass democratic revolutionary approach in debating legitimacy of armed actions of squads in perfect contrast to clashes of armed squads of revolutionary groups. Till his last breath he strived to rejuvenate the Girijan movement in the agency area and his party, the CPRCI (ML).
Although not quantitatively so large I was greatly appreciative to the successful staging of the 2nd conference of the Srikakulam Giriijan Sangh conference On October 31st 1989,which was of historic importance to the building of the massline.It was attended by comrades from Maharashtra, Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. Around 2000 persons attended it. The Sangh passed resolutions on opposing the scrapping of article 1/70, which ensured land rights to the Girijan community and even launched an agitation. It hardly got support from sections like the C.P.I. (M.L.)Prajapandha group or the late C.P.I(M.L.) Peoples War Group. In great detail its handbill formulated why the act was imperative for the sheer survival or democratic assertion of the Girijan community. The conference played an important role in elevating democratic consciousness of cadres and in distinguishing between mass line and armed actions of revolutionary squads. A most illustrative aspect of our beloved comrade’s work was his methodical approach in dividing blocks to make pocket wise committees instated of district ones and not giving one sided emphasis to just a particular area. With exemplary skill he carried the legacy of the massline of T.Nagi Reddy. and later Comrade Vasantada Ramalingachari.
It is a regret that today in very few areas of India does true practice of mass agrarian revolutionary massline blossom whatever the heroic sacrifices of the Maoist forces in Dandkaranya ,or dedicated agitational work by other streams within the Indian revolutionary camp. Today the stream of the Adivasi movement is either dominated by Maoist armed squad guerrilla actions or agitations by groups in the Communist revolutionary camp belonging to right deviationist streams which resort to open party functioning.
It is sad that his contribution is hardly given adequate publicity to cadres with no English or Hindi mass publication of his life story. I am also unhappy that in no revolutionary journal in recent times have we seen reports of any mass agitation struggle of the Girijan Sangam.In many ways Nimmala Krishna Murthy was an equivalent or similar to West Bengal peasant leader Gundahar Murmu, another crusader for mass line. We need more comrades to ne re-born to plant the seeds for rejuvenating mass line, with right opportunism at a crescendo today.
I recommend all a cadres to intensively study the summary of the Girijan Sangam leaflets below which touch massline at the very backbone with the precision of an architect. To a considerable extent history repeated itself in Orissa in Malkangiri with the Adivasi Sangh adopting a similar approach to the actions of PWG armed squads.
The 1st handbill in a most organised manner sums up how mass agitation is imperative and legitimacy of armed squad action could be adjudged only on it’s integration with it. Similar to functioning like a fish within water. The 1st leaflet addressed only to the PWG most dialectically dissects the positive and negative experiences of armed agrarian revolutionary movement,counterposing the individual armed squad action s with those of the masssline.It firmly asks the PWG for what strategy they would adopt to integrate with the mass movements. The history of the methods through which the Sangam was woven into a coherent force was narrated.
Most relevant how the 2nd handbill illustrate solidarity with the Vietnam war by the Sangam and with dialectical materialist methodology differentiates or illustrates the distinctive or defining factors of massline.It brings to light whatever the immortal sacrifices the military line of the erstwhile C.P.I. (M.L.) Peoples War Group was vitiated with defective tendencies with masses or tribals often remaining mere spectators.
LEAFLET ONE OF GIRIJAN SANGAM ADRESSED TO THE PWG
The following leaflets were issued by the Srikakulam Girijan Sangam in the Bhadragiri Agency area in October 1991.This area had been the focal point of the Srikakulam Girijan peasant struggle.
In 1992, squads of the C.P.I. (M.L.) Peoples war group toted the area and exhorted the girijans to support their group, stating they possessed the required armed strength, both in quality and quantity to match the might of the ruling classes and the government.
They were either critical or appreciative of the leadership of the Girijan Sangam and the communist revolutionary leaders like T.Nagi Reddy.
Their visits created confusion amongst the girijans of that area.
In response the Girijan Sangam gave an open letter to the Peoples War group, narrating the experiences of the Srikakulam Girijan peasant armed revolutionary struggle since 1959.They included the positive experience of the mass revolutionary line followed for a decade from 1959, as well as the subsequent negative experience of line of armed squad actions incorporating politics of annihilation of class enenies.”
In that time hostility existed between factions of various communist revolutionary group and every group suspiciously viewed the entry of another group into it’s area of work. The group already working in an area views the entry of another group as an intrusion in it’s own domain and similarly views it’s own extension into areas of other groups, as a method of dislodging the groups already working in that region.
This led to inter-group clashes of squads of revolutionary groups .The people were reduced to mere spectators without having any say in the issues of contention. The Girijan Sangam issued this leaflet, in the overall context of conditions existing in light of mass movements.
This leaflet has a significant message as it projects a revolutionary-democratic approach to the problem faced by the girijans.It places the issues before the struggling masses to judge the merits of the policies of the communist revolutionary groups.
1st letter addressed to Comrades of the C.P.I. (M.L.)Peoples War Group(October,1991)
“In addressing you as comrades’, we have to make our context clear. Today, all those who are raising crops-are not able to enjoy the fruits of their labour. With most of the cultivable land in the hands of the landlords, the landlords expropriate the land of the labouring masses, themselves to dire poverty and hardships
‘In those days ,under the leadership of Vempatu Satyam,the Girijan Sangh began to work with the view that there should be a change in the lives of the Girijans,and that for such a change to come about all the lands under the occupation of the landlords in the agency should be appropriated by the Girijans.
At that time, when the Girijans were waging hard struggles against the landlords, comrade Vempatu Satyam told us that all of us who participate in struggles against exploitation by the landlords, that whether we are Jatapus or Savaras or any others,we are all one We are all “comrades” and should call each other so.
We participated in struggles as a single entity, as comrades. In our opinion, you too want to end this feudal exploitation. That is why we address you as “comrades.”
‘Those who have entered the agency area in the name of trade have resorted to cheating the Girijans by taking advantage of their innocence. Multiplying usurious debts and interest rates, they have illegally usurped all the lands that the Girijans had brought under cultivation by clearing the forests. The Girijans were driven to live wretchedly at the mercy of these traders-landlords—and to do bonded labour.’
‘Thus under the leadership of the Girijan Sangh ,the Girijans,gradually understood the perpetual deception and exploitation by these landlords, began to unite and started to wage struggles against the deception and expoitation.Right from 1959 the landlord’s government used to foist cases against us and dump us into jails. Every passing day there used to be a larger or smaller Girijan Trek between the jail and one or their village of the Agency.’
‘Courts and jails could not stop the struggle by the Girijans.Under the leadership of the Sangh,the Girijans marched forward in struggles against the illegal possession of the landlords, against the unjust usurious interest rates, against the minimal labour wage rates and the dismal wages of farm servants and to re-occupy lands usurped by the landlords through extortions. While fighting against the atrocities by the forest officials and the police, the Girijans achieved victories against feudal exploitation.’
‘In 1967, when preparing to hold the Girijan Sangh conferences and deliberate on the problems of the movement, the landlords attacked the delegates going for the girijan conferences at Laevedi. All the delegates gathered in hundreds at Mondemkhal to attend the Girijan conference .Comrades Koranna and Mangana were martyred in the shots fired by the landlords .In retaliation all the Girijan sheld demonstrations with arms, in the villages and intensified the seizure of crops and occupation of lands.
All the usurious debts of the landlords were rescinded. Effective controls were laid down to ensure fair prices were delivered at village fairs. The victories being achieved by the Girijans in the fight against feudal exportation in the Agency are inspired the Harijans,the Girijans,and all other rural poor into action in the Vatturu-Bhoomini area adjoining our agency. The people of that area took to struggle and occupy the Banjars that were illegally occupied by the landlords. They too gained some victories.’
The class foundation s of the agency area had begun to shiver and the government prepared for a large-scale offensive. Then it started to attack but the leadership of the Girijan Sangh initiated a retaliatory counter –attack. In those conditions, it was necessary to safeguard the gains and victories achieved in the struggle against feudal exploitation. It was necessary to organize resistance for self defence from the state’s attacks.
It was necessary to rally the rural poor in the adjoining areas of the agency, who were already in the move, into revolutionary action for land occupation. Some advocated that we should fight the government and conduct raids on the landlords. Already being in intense struggle, we thought that this would advance as a struggle which would completely demolish feudal exploitation and form a people’s state.Girijans participated on large scale in the attacks on the landlord’s houses. In those attacks the debt-deeds that heaped mountain-loads of burdens on the Girijans were destroyed then and there.
‘Gradually, the attacks started on the houses of landlords in the areas adjoining the agency. They took the form of attacking the landlord’s houses, murdering somebody or the other, and snatching the material wealth. They turned into actions unrelated to life patterns and practices of the people of those villages. Gradually the Girijans participation in these attacks declined .Such actions conducted in other districts were portrayed here as extension of the revolutionary movement to those villages.’
‘In such conditions, where these attacks themselves became the main task, the task of mobilizing the people and extending the foundations of the movement receded. The government took this as the excuse to intensify it’s attempts to base themselves in this area, which in many ways was the centre of the movement.’
‘In such circumstances, thousands of Girijans from this agency area were imprisoned and packed up in Vishakapatnam and Rajahamundry jail.120 girijans were martyred, including comrades Vempatu Satyam and Adibhatla Kailasam.’
When the Girijans were released the landlords re-usurped their lands with the aid of police camps in villages The Girijan Sangh called for resolution on land issue again. Having faced immense repression and losing lives in the struggle the Girijan Sangh faced an immense task to re-start it’s activities. There was hardly support from other areas.
However again the activities of the Girijan Sangh were revived and the girijans re-launched struggle for their lands. Inspired by the leadership of T.Nagi Reddy they started seizing lands wherever they were in that area on a large scale.
The girijan Sangh was revived. The government now launched a series of programmes like distribution of house sites, digging of wells, setting up fish tanks, supplying rice, creating jobs etc to counter the work of the girijan sangh and divert the attention of the people. The government’s policy was not intended to solve the problem s of the Girijan masses of the Agency areas. That is why the Girijans of adjoining Orissa areas desire for incorporating their area into our region took place. These desires wee vented because of absence of capable leadership which could guide the people on the land issue.
Today openly these things are discussed in the papers. Previous methods of cheating over prices and weights in the purchases of the forest produce made by the Girijan Corporation are taking roots again. Today again it is very important to unite the people into a fighting force. It is only when all the rural poor reeling under the feudal rule in the plains get prepared to fight for the occupation of the lands of the landlords that there will be beginning of the end on landlord’s atrocities.
However, we have been observing your methods of work, but have no direct experience We are not able to understand the objective of those methods. For instance, the Regulation 1/70 has been providing a little protection legally on the issue of land, which is basic issue for Girijans in the agency area.N.T.Rama Rao when he was chief minister, withdrew the regulation 1/70.In response, the Girijans throughout the state, seriously agitated, and undertook an extensive organized agitation against the withdrawal of regulation 1/70.Even the established newspaper had opposed it. We fail to understand why you do not question the government, even by the methods you are following.
We do not think that, just by the regulation of 1.70 lands would belong to the Girijans.It is virtually a continuation of the 1917 regulation. The experiences we have gained so far teach us that only when all rural poor mobilize on the land issue, as we did, and rock the foundations of feudalism through their mass revolutionary actions in still wider regions, will the shattering of the foundations of the state that stands guard over feudal exploitation take place. Earlier possessions of land by Girijans occurred because of great sacrifices they made and the struggles they waged under the leadership of the Girijan Sangh.But though the foundation of the landlords was shaken they have not been destroyed and we harbour no illusions that there is security for us.
To the extent that efforts are made by anybody to unite the people on the problems faced by them and to prepare them for struggles, the Girijan Sangh will offer support to the efforts. Only recently, Girijans, Harijans and other rural poor in the plains area adjacent to us, mobilised to some extent on issue of land. The land-lords made severe attacks on the Girijans in the premise of the 1917 regulation. Similarly, now Regulation 1/70 can be an advantageous factor in the Girijan’s effort in the agency areas to intensify their struggle for land. To capture their lands they have to unite into a fighting force.
We request you to give us your opinion as to the tasks we need to take up in the present circumstances. We have been holding on to their lands seized with our long history of struggle.”
LEAFLET 2 OF GIRIJAN SANGAM ADRESSED TO ALL PERSONS
Below is another leaflet written by the Girijan Sangam in September 1992 where the Srikakulam Girijan Sangh deals with the concrete issue of squad actions in light of the overall context of the revolutionary movement. The Sangh upheld a mass revolutionary political approach. Above all it was an ideal illustration of mass revolutionary democratic political approach asserting the role of preparedness of masses and building of peoples mass movements. The author wishes readers to refer to notes written by the late Comrade Tarimela Nagi Reddy in the early 1970’s on the mass line in armed struggle, combating the left adventurist line of Charu Mazumdar.With great mastery it illustrates the distinction or distinguishing aspects between mass line and act of ‘individual annihilation.’ It demonstrates how armed actions have to integrate or be part and parcel of a sustained agrarian revolutionary movement, attacking not only the tree, but the entire forest.
2nd letter (September, 1992)
The news about the murder of Yedida Satyam by the Peoples war group on 28th August 1992 prominently came in the newspapers. We find it hard to agree with the political aims of the murder.For any organization which declares revolutionary politics as its basis of political conduct, it’s every act has to serve revolutionary political purpose. We asked whether this action constituted a part of the revolutionary movement.
In the 1962 Indo-China war border clashes started.Pichuku Naidu,a member of the Girijan Sangh heroically defended China when asked for monetary help for purpose of procuring arms from an officer to monetarily support the cause of India in the war.
He replied ‘Chinese people are our people. How dare you ask for money to buy arms to fight them?”The officer was alarmed and sped away on his bicycle. When America attacked Vietnam the Girijan Sangh made a straw-studded effigy of American imperialists and tied it to a post in the sun in front of the office of the Girijan Sangh.”The American imperialists shall roast in the sun for tow days.”All the Girijans fighting the landlords in the agency area went from village to village proclaiming “’the American Imperialist as the big landlord of the entire world and thus the Sangh meted out punishment to him for his atrocities on Vietnam. For 2 days the people thronged as if in a pilgrimage to the site of the effigy.
The consciousness demonstrated by comrades like Rengim who died heroically fighting the police face to face, by those who stood undaunted facing the police atrocities abd by those who refused to succumb to the brutal repression by police camps, was outstanding. When the movement was on the ebb hundreds were facing repression in jails, and slogans were raised of boycotting the courts. The Communist Party of India persuaded people to defend the courts. The masses were unaware of the futility of the courts and wondered the purpose of boycotting the courts. The C.P.I made emotional speeches in public meetings thinking they would win over the Girijans .
However they could hardly provide the leadership to a programme. When Yediya Stayam murdered Koranna and Maganna,the girijans of the agency were outraged he girijan movement rose like a torrent .They occupied the lands on a large scale after returning from jails, striking at the foundation of the landlord class and not just assassinating Yediya Satyam as an individual. If such an individual is killed by a girijan it would be regarded as an expression of class hatred of a girijan.
However it becomes questionable if it is carried out as a main task of a revolutionary organization aiming to create radical transformation. We are unable to understand, what political purpose, such energy and capability as employed by the Peoples War Group will serve. It was not a part of people’s integral revolutionary practice and thus cannot be part of the revolutionary movement.
The PWG left a policy statement explaining why they assassinated Yedita Satyam.However did they explain what they would do with the relation to 120 girijans killed and to the assassination of Vempatu Satyam and Adibatla Kailasam during the whole period of the struggle after the martyrdom of Korann and Maganna.Such actions were executed when the struggle was at it’s peak Without people getting prepared for revolutionary action ,the landlord atrocities cannot end with warnings alone.
On the other side, in the plains, in the village of Kassagdaba Valasa the landlords murdered 5 girijans in broad daylight. The landlords control most of the land, exploiting the labour and subjecting the people to all kinds of attacks and atrocities. The people were literally reduced to sheep and made victims of dire poverty, being denied proper food, dwellings or medical facilities. The people are left with choosing dying of hunger, illness and landlord atrocities or combat the oppression of the feudal system. Only the immortal sacrifices of thousands of girijans who suffered in jails were any fruits attained. When the Girijan sangh was established the obstacles of landlord tyranny were a major obstacle which it boldly confronted.
The atrocities of the landlords will not end without preparing the people for revolutionary mass action in a way that the lands of the landlords are seized and the class foundation of landlords destroyed. Checking the landlord atrocities without dismantling the feudal class structure is like getting rid of mosquito bites by catching and killing each mosquito that flies out of the breeding pits, without clearing the muck and filling the breeding pit, where the mosquitos continuously grow. When we attempt to fill that pit in which the mosquitos breed the mosquitos flare up desperately. Should we divert from attempts to cover up those pits by getting engrossed in killing these mosquito or to start sincerely covering up the pits. We must give importance to cover up the breeding pits.
Please give us a necessary explanation, if you think that the understanding and practice of the Girijan Sangam is incorrect.”
i.e.girijans are a tribal communist from Andhra Pradesh.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist.Toured India,particularly Punjab .Written on Mass movements ,,Massline,Maoism on blogs like Democracy and Class Struggle and frontierweekly .An avid cricket lover too who has posted writings on blogs like Pakpassion Indian Cricket Fans and Sulekha.com