Kishan Lal Chatterjee

Anirban Biswas

Kishan Lal Chatterjee, a well-known Naxalite leader of yesteryears, passed away on 26 March in Suri, Birbhum. He was about seventy-eight at the time of death.

He came from a small village near Suri and studied at Birbhum Zilla School, Vidyasagar College, Kolkata and then at North Bengal University where he stood first class first in Physics at the post graduate examination. While a student of the University, he became associated with the left movement, and after the Naxalbari uprising, supported it and came out of the CPI(M). At that point of time, he was a PhD student there. His humane approach to social problems made him immensely popular among university students as well as among the peasantry of that region. In late 1967, he was arrested under the infamous Preventive Detention Act and spent about one year in jail.

Then he bade good bye to his academic career for ever and began to work among the peasant masses of Birbhum and Santal Parganas. In September 1971, he was arrested in the latter region and spent seven years in prison.

What is notable is that during this fairly long span of time, he never tried to make any compromise with the authorities in order to secure his release. After coming out of prison in 1978, he at first joined the PCC- CPI(M-L). But after a short period dissociated himself from it. The various divisions in the international communist movement and transformations of the post-revolutionary societies left a depressing effect on his mind and he began to search for a new orientation of work. He started a new journal for this purpose, which did not, however, last long.

Aug 2, 2020