While the year 1947 is notable in India for achieving independence from a protracted era of colonial rule, it also marks the beginning of another era. Just a month after India attained freedom, an Informatory Conference was held in Poland under the leadership of the Soviet Politburo official, Andrei Zhdanov. This September 1947 conference openly heralded the death of the wartime honeymoon between USSR and Allied Powers. In the conference, Zhdanov blasted America as a warmonger and imperialist and declared that only socialism will ensure true democracy and peace in the world. The “‘staunch champion(s) of the liberty and independence of all nations, and a foe of national and racial oppression and colonial exploitation” included such nations as the USSR, Yugoslavia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Albania, Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary.
The USSR had fired the first shot via the conference.
February 24 – 27, 1948: Calcutta
Event: South East Asian Youth Conference
This was a conclave of policymakers which included significant attendance of the Russian Communist Party members to flesh out details of the “communist policy applicable to Asiatic countries.” Accordingly, a resolution of sorts was adopted at this conference. It was more in the nature of a call to action: the communist parties in South East Asia should “initiate and lead violent insurrections and civil wars in the South and South-East Asiatic countries.”
In April, violent uprisings erupted in Burma; in June, a rebellion in Malaya, and in September, in Indonesia.
However, India presented a different case because by the end of the Second World War, the Communist Party of India was completely discredited for its role in sabotaging the Indian freedom struggle and going against the nationalist impulse that was coursing through the country. By 1947, it had further lost whatever vestiges of support it had enjoyed because of its naked support for the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan. Apart from Nawab Nehru, not everybody were fooled when it cunningly transformed its slogan of fighting the “Imperialist War” to “People’s War.” As Minoo Masani who wrote a fine history of the Communist Party of India (CPI) notes, its recurring subterfuges and chameleon-like actions “opened many eyes to the bonds that tied the destinies of the [Communist] Party to the Kremlin. The general elections to the Central Legislative Assembly in 1945 showed that they could not carry a single constituency.” [Emphasis added]
Therefore, Zhdanov’s clarion call for domestic terrorism was music to the CPI’s ears.
The Treacherous Calcutta Political Thesis
But what is notable is the swiftness with which the Communist Party of India acted—almost immediately—after the aforementioned conclave concluded. Exactly a day later.
On 28 February 1948, the second Congress of the Communist Party of India was held in Calcutta. It was attended by 800 Indian delegates and fifteen foreign delegates from countries including Australia and Burma. This gathering then issued the deadly Calcutta Thesis, a faithful vomit of Zhdanov’s words. Here is how Minoo Masani describes it:
[Zhdanov said that] ‘though the bourgeois leaderships parade the story that independence has been won, the fact is that the freedom struggle has been betrayed and the national leadership has struck a treacherous deal behind the back of the starving people, betraying every slogan of the democratic revolution’. It condemned the Indian socialists for openly preaching ‘the illusion that socialism may be achieved by constitutional means’ and called upon the communists to forge a ‘Democratic Front’ of all militant sections…to launch the final struggle to win real freedom and democracy. [Emphasis added]
As is obvious, it leaves nothing to the imagination. A senior (now-deceased) academician I knew in my growing up years used to say that “if Moscow farted, our Communists would shit Russian loyalty on Indian soil.” The exact line sounds even more graphic in Kannada. Accordingly, the Central Committee of the CPI issued a statement condemning the draft Constitution of India as drafted by the Constituent Assembly. Let’s read what happened next in the blow-by-blow account given by Minoo Masani:
The Communist Party was now purged of all ‘reformist’ elements and a period of such complete dictatorial control of the party and its policies followed such as even the communists in India had never known.
[B.T.] Ranadive felt confident that the time was ripe and his was the responsibility to engineer the final revolution in India like the October uprising of 1917 in Russia. Shock brigades and guerrilla bands were organised and, with the orthodox Lenin-Stalin brand of dogma…as his guiding light, he initiated a programme of reckless violence and insurrection which aimed at the overthrow of the Indian Government.
Thankfully, the Indian Government in 1948 was not the Congress Government of Sonia Gandhi held in the lethal thrall of third-generation brood of these early Communist extremists. So it acted quickly and by March – April, it jailed the top leadership of the CPI including the terrorist, S.A. Dange. The response of the Government to these CPI terror acts is of comparative historical interest. Here’s Kiran Shankar Roy, Home Minister of West Bengal justifying the arrests:
The Communist Party’s long term plan is to wage a ceaseless campaign, open and underground, for the next six months, in preparation for a projected armed rising and a violent seizure of power.
They further show that armed mass risings all over India are the ultimate aim of the Party.
Next, we have a statement of the Madras Government, which
accused the communists of terrorising people in outlying areas and setting up parallel administration…They have stirred up class hatred and unleashed violence. They have strangled the productive machinery of the country by their policy of sabotage. They have challenged and attacked the very foundations of democracy and virtually declared war on the popular Government.
Contrast the situation in India seventy years later. The Indian state finds itself helpless to take any concrete action against Communist nation-wreckers, and traitors like Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, and Varavara Rao because of the obvious reason that everyone knows but none dares to voice: these Communist terrorists have widely, deeply, and successfully infiltrated the administrative and in many cases, even the judicial machinery of the country. But to return to 1948, here’s a representative sample of the situation that existed, as recounted by Masani:
Sabotage, incendiarism, loot and murder became a daily feature of the Indian scene for the next year and a half. Several leaders escaped arrest and went underground to direct the agitation. The areas most affected were West Bengal, mainly Calcutta, Andhra and Malabar in Madras, Ahmednagar district in Bombay, the eastern parts of the UP, Amritsar districts in the Punjab, Manipur on the Indo-Burma frontier, and Hyderabad. Several State Governments banned the Party. They were West Bengal, Madras, Hyderabad and Travancore-Cochin. The Party was also banned in Indore and Bhopal States. By August 1949, the total number of communists under detention was about 2,500.
Inside the jails there were frequent clashes between the communist detenus and jail officials…In Sabarmati Jail in Bombay State, police had to open fire. Two persons were killed and forty-two injured, including police. In Cuddalore in Madras, one person was killed and more than eighty injured. In Dum Dum Jail also in Bengal, three were killed and eighteen injured. These…were minor prototypes of a technique now internationally well known as the result of the incidents in the prisoner of war camps in Koje island off Korea.
But the worst excesses of Communist terrorists occurred in Telangana. It was so brutal and widespread that the Hyderabad Government (as it was called then) published a monograph titled, Communist Crimes in Hyderabad detailing the extraordinarily cruel atrocities inflicted by the CPI there. Here is a sample:
From 15th August 1946, to 13th September 1948, they brutally murdered nearly 2,000 persons, attacked 22 police outposts, seized and destroyed village records, manhandled a large number of village officials, burnt “chadris” and Customs outposts, captured 230 guns, looted or destroyed paddy and robbed cash and jewellery worth more than a million rupees . . . They attempted large-scale disruption of communications and lines of supply and transport and steadily and systematically adopted the technique of guerrilla fighting with the arms and resources at their disposal.
More than 500 armed communists raided the tillage Peddavid, Huzurnagar Taluq, Nalgonda district, murdered ten villagers, including women and children and severely injured ten others. Children were thrown into the fire. Seventy houses had been set fire to and all of them were gutted. This incident was a reprisal as one of the villagers of Peddavid had previously given information to the police about the presence of Kot Narain, a notorious communist outlaw, in the neighbourhood.
Sixteen people including a woman were kidnapped by communists at a place near Pengot and were taken to Lingagiri. The men were murdered and their bodies were set on fire. The burnt bodies were later found lying near Lingagiri border. There was no trace of the woman … A party of twenty-five communists entered the village Dhamipahad at night, caught hold of an aged Muslim woman, took her to the jungle and speared her to death.
This is just the tip of the proverbial genocidal iceberg.
The Government of India also published a separate monograph titled, Communist Violence in India to educate the public about the true horrors of Communism. And so, all of this…actually almost the entire corpus of the traitorous misdeeds of the Communist parties is available in public domain. And this is not including what its critics have written about it. Records of speeches, pamphlets, monographs, propaganda material, internal communications…the whole hog in their own words. This then is the other great success of our Communists: the manner in which they have been highly effective and successful in pulling off what’s known as hiding in plain sight.
To be continued