Today on February 12th, we commemorate the 25th death anniversary of student leader and youth leader Anil Ojha, of Bihar.
He fell in the early morning hours on February 12th, as a result of severe head injuries. He had been admitted to hospital a week previously. He languished in hospital without receiving any proper treatment. It was diagnosed that sheer apathy of the police and the lackadaisical or insensitive treatment of the hospital administration led to Anil’s demise. The proper diagnosis of what caused Anil’s injury was not unearthed. However without doubt his death was patronised by the ruling classes.
Anil Ojha shimmered torch of Naxalbari through shaping movements of mass character in a wide spectrum of society –be it peasants, agricultural workers, students, youth or women. I can never forget story in 1998 issue of cultural journal ‘Aamukh’ which recounts the manner Anil Ojha crystallised a spiritual transformation within students and projected his inner transformation. Even if a person disagreed with Anil Ojha’s politics, he cannot dispute that till his last breath he was valiant mascot of people’s emancipation and as an example for all democratic youth to cherish.
In the time of Anil, mass movements were still predominant feature in the mist of state repression on scale unparalleled in Bihar. I can’t forget the frequent reports of struggles aged n every sphere in journal ‘Mukti Marg. A midst considerable state repression, confronting the most tortuous paths, he waged resistance. He was manifestation of the mass movement organised by erstwhile CPI (ML) Party Unity, which fluttered the flag of liberation on all fronts and symbolised the spirit of revolutionary youth. Joint resistance of the Democratic Students Union, Bharat Naujvan Sabha , Nari Mukti Sangh and Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Parishad were the order of the day. The movement of the Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami character had a genuine mass character, particularly in Jehanabad.
Regretfully in later stages the movement led by CPI (ML) Party Unity, inclined or took a turn towards armed squad actions, which vitiated the mass movement, and after merging with the CPI (ML) Peoples War, became obsolete.
Anil Ojha was in the forefront in building resistance against the monopoly to the mafia in Patna. He organised a struggle exposing the nefarious designs of the principal of Patna Arts college.Waris Hadi and his criminal henchmen were responsible not only for the extraction or looting of funds but for the murder of the previous principal. The high court had proclaimed an order rusticating Waris Hadi from the post of principal, but later reverted the judgement.
Born in Kumhela village in Chapra district Anil came to Delhi in 1986.Restlessness was a major characteristic of his nature. Anil Ojha gained his political baptism in the Vikapl Sanskriti Kendra and the Bharat Naujavan Sangh in 1990.Wholeheratedly he integrated with the very soul of the work and wrote and performed cultural plays encompassing a huge range of themes. He was instrumental in nurturing new cadres, building them theoretically .Anil evolved into a most sensitive and creative organiser. He played a major role in the first ever ‘Go to Village’ campaign in Palamau in 1992,where the seeds were sown for revolutionary peasant movement by the integration of students and youth The Students and youth from Delhi immersed in the very thick of the skin or kernel of the lives of the peasantry ,and organised a campaign exposing the semi-feudal oppression.
After returning to Bihar Anil Ojha knitted units of the Bharat Naujwan Sabha, building units in Patna, Auranagabad, Daltangaunj, Jehanabad , Khagaria ,Gaya etc, Struggles were waged against corruption and condition, in hospitals, monopoly of upper caste mafia, rapes, political repression, black laws etc.Cycle rallies were held condemning Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992 Sustained programmes were launched condemning caste massacres ,like in Laxmanpur Bathe.
Under Anil Ojha’s tutelage the Democratic Students Union was constructed in 1995, which openly waged struggles on issue of fee-hike, corruption of administration, castesim in education and integrated with the peasant movement o the Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Parishad. Important struggles had been waged for minimum wages, proper health and literacy, protection against floods land distribution, punishment of upper caste landlord senas.
Democratic Students Union organised Go To Village campaigns in Khagaria, Jehanabad, Bhagalpur .Protracted campaigns wee undertaken against floods ,drought, political repression, Hindutva Comunalism .Students explained to the peasantry how the socio-economic order patronised calamities, economic disparity and tyranny of upper castes. In a flood affected area of Fakaria, in Khagaria district, struggle committees were constructed which exposed the pitfalls of the flood relief programme. They connected economic issues with the politics of the naxalbari struggle and contrasted land reforms with those undertaken in China after 1949.Important protests were also organised challenging merciless attacks of the police and unofficial ban of democratic mass fronts. Revolutionary Student organ ‘Kalam’ in late 1990’s gave regular reports of the Go to Village campaigns and other mass campaigns.
In 1996 Anil Ojha was arrested with six of the students and youth when conducting a struggle in Palamau among Biddi Patta workers, as part of a Go to Village campaign, with false cases foisted in all of them. Languishing in prison with relentless zeal he welded several protests demanding basic rights and amenities for prisoners’ .A year before he was arrested from the Lok Sangram Mocha office, after a raid conducted. After procuring his release he rose like a bolt from the blue to organise students and youth in Patna and Khagaria.He propelled struggles against privatisation, commercialism and anarchy in education system, which were simmering at the fore.
Harsh Thakor has covered mass movements in India and studied revolutionary movement in Bihar in detail .Visited Patna in 2001 to study mass movement.