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Naxal father Kanu Sanyal hangs himself at home

Kanu Sanyal,one of the founder members of the Naxalite movement in the late 1960s-early 70s,was found hanging from the ceiling of a room in his house in Hatighisa village in Naxalbari in North Bengal this afternoon....

Written by Ravik Bhattacharjee | Kolkata |
March 24, 2010 2:23:36 am

Kanu Sanyal,one of the founder members of the Naxalite movement in the late 1960s-early 70s,was found hanging from the ceiling of a room in his house in Hatighisa village in Naxalbari in North Bengal this afternoon.

Police said it appeared that Sanyal,who had been ailing for a long time and suffered from acute depression,had committed suicide. He was 78.

Police said Sanyal had lunch around noon. A party worker who used to attend to him then left the house. When she returned 30 minutes later,she found Sanyal hanging and raised an alarm.

North Bengal IG K L Tamta said: “A preliminary investigation reveals he committed suicide. But no suicide note has been found. Our personnel are still there at the spot. The body has been sent for post-mortem.”

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Sanyal’s residence was also the party office of the CPI-ML (Kanu Sanyal Group) in Hatighisa in Naxalbari under Siliguri sub-division.

It was from Naxalbari that the Naxalite movement began on May 25,1967 under the Communist group led by Sanyal and Charu Majumdar. They were to chart a violent course through armed struggle during the tumultuous 70s.

They broke away and formed the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR) which later gave birth to the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) in 1969 and Majumdar became its general secretary.


Sanyal was arrested in August 1970 and spent time in jail in Andhra Pradesh until 1977. He was released after the Central and Bengal governments intervened. The late Jyoti Basu played an active role in his release.

The death of Charu Majumdar was followed by the break-up of the Naxalite movement. Sanyal claimed to have abandoned violent means and accepted parliamentary democracy. In 1985,Sanyal’s faction and five other groups merged to form the Communist Organisation of India (Marxist-Leninist). Sanyal became the leader of COI (ML). Later,he formed the CPI-ML (Kanu Sanyal) party. More recently,he took part in agitations against land acquisition in Singur.

Dipu Haldar,district committee member of the party and close aide of Sanyal,said: “This (the hanging) is shocking. We never thought he will take such a step. Of late,he used to be very depressed. He used to tell us that the direction in which the Left movement is going is wrong. He was suffering from multiple ailments. He also had a cerebral attack recently.”


Close friend Azizul Haque,once a fellow Naxalite,said Sanyal was depressed by the “exploitation” in the name of Naxalism. “A leader like him can never die. I don’t think it was mere physical pain that led Sanyal to commit suicide. He was depressed for the past few years… He thought the present Naxal/Maoist movement is not on the right path. It was a movement of which he was one of the founding fathers,” said Haque.

Ashim Chatterjee,a fellow traveller in the 70s,said: “It is a shame for all Naxals in the state that Sanyal had to take such an extreme step. I personally feel guilty and shocked. Had we Naxals stood together since the 70s,and not broken into fragments as we are today,he would have lived longer. He was a true Communist of Bengal. In the hard times,he showed the path. I do not believe that a man of his stature would commit suicide because of ill-health.”

Chatterjee recalled that Sanyal,after his “differences” with Charu Majumdar,used to say that “Naxalbari agitation took place in spite of Charu Majumdar.”

“There were two separate lines. His line was the peasants’ uprising which took place in Naxalbari in May 1967 while Charu Majumdar did a parallel uprising in Islampur that was an armed revolution. Ultimately,Sanyal’s movement bore fruit in Naxalbari,Majumdar’s line failed,” Chatterjee said.

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First published on: 24-03-2010 at 02:23:36 am

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