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The Maoist ideologue and the tendu patta trader

Madhuparna Das of The Indian Express profiles the two other men convicted of seditionalong with Binayak Sen.

Written by Madhuparna Das | New Delhi |
December 30, 2010 2:49:20 am


Brain behind Naxal operations in several states

Narayan Sanyal,now in his seventies,is often described as a strategist who helped bring about the merger of various Maoist groups since 2000,a hardliner who believes in armed struggle rather than parliamentary democracy.

Son of a doctor,he was brought up in Daltongunj,Bihar,worked as a senior bank officer in Siliguri,and then quit the job to join the CPI(ML),apparently influenced by the Naxalbari movement and its pioneer Charu Mazumdar. In 1973,he was arrested in Bihar and lodged in various prisons of West Bengal and Bihar. He rose to prominence after his release in 1978.

The CPI(ML) had then split into 33 factions on ideological grounds. Narayan Sanyal is said to have differed with veteran leader Kanu Sanyal and insisted that the party operate underground. He formed a new party,Party-Unity,with Chandi Sarkar,now in Krishnagar Jail in West Bengal.

When Party-Unity merged with the People’s War Group (PWG) of Andhra Pradesh in 2000,Sanyal allegedly became one of the 13 members of the politburo. Subsequently,he is said to have played a key role in the 2004 merger of the CPI(ML),the PW and MCC,going on to become a central committee member of the CPI(Maoist).

Sanyal then went to a Chhattisgarh region that Maosits call Dandakaranya,apparently to analyse the success and failure of the movement and draft a plan for the future,in a role described as that of “Senior Maoist Ideologue”. Sanyal,who used the aliases Naveen Prasad and Bijoy Da,was said to be in charge of the party’s Orissa and Chhattisgarh units,besides overseeing operations in West Bengal after the 2005 arrests of politburo member Sushil Roy alias Ashok and central committee member Patit Paban Halder alias Dinu.

His name cropped up during the probe into a November 2005 Maoist attack on a home guards’ training camp at Giridih,Jharkhand,where four cops were killed,and their arms snatched. Police arrested Maoist leader Sudhakarji,who told them Sanyal was the brain behind the attack. “On his confession,we included Sanyal as a co-conspirator in the case,” IG(Special Branch) S N Pradhan said.

In January 2006,Sanyal was arrested from Bhadrachalam,Andhra Pradesh. Suffering from a very painful condition in the hand called Palmer’s contracture,he was let out on bail from Warangal jail but arrested again,by the Chhattisgarh police,on a murder charge in Dantewada and taken to Raipur jail in December. That year,his brother Radhamadhab wrote to Binayak Sen,with copies of the letter to human rights organisations,seeking help in getting Sanyal a lawyer and medical care.

The Chhattisgarh police handed Sanyal over to the Andhra Pradesh police in January 2007. He was wanted as an alleged Maoist in Orissa,too. He is accused in 21 cases including a 2003 attempt on the life of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in Alipiri.

While he was in jail in Chhattisgarh,the police claim to have recovered a mobile phone from him. Police sources said he had swallowed the SIM card in an attempt to hide the fact from them. (Inputs by Manoj Prasad)


Till arrest,not an inkling of Maoist or political links

Of the three men convicted of sedition by a Chhattisgarh court this week,the least well known is perhaps Piyush Guha,40,a trader in tendu leaves whom even the Bengal police and Naxal sympathisers claim not to have heard of till his arrest in 2007.

In three years of courtship and then three more of marriage,Rupa Guha found no evidence of any links to politics,let alone Naxalism,she says. “He loves books and used to read a lot of Rabindranath Tagore. I never once saw him reading Maoist literature,” says Rupa,now 34,fighting what she calls a lone battle from her home in a North Kolkata lane,near Manicktala.

She said they would challenge the verdict in the Chattisgarh High Court and the Supreme Court if necessary. She is upset at the absence of support from any quarter,human rights groups or Naxals,when there is such an outcry for “others in the case”.

Guha grew up in Sagarpara in Murshidabad district,graduated in science from Gurudas College in Kolkata,got a diploma in hardware engineering and worked for two years in a private company. He then went into business,buying tendu leaves from Chhattisgarh for beedi makers in Murshidabad.

Rupa says he disappeared on May 1,2007,their third wedding anniversary. “He called from Raipur and told me he had a reservation for May 2 and would reach home early on May 3. He had no cellphone but used to call twice a day. The calls stopped; I went to Raipur on May 5. On May 6,I was told he had been arrested,” says Rupa.

The Raipur police say they seized some letters for Maoists,allegedly routed from jailed Naxal Narayan Sanyal through Binayak Sen,and money allegedly meant to fund Naxal operations. Rupa says,“He was carrying Rs 50,000 as payment for tendu leaves.”

Shortly after the arrest,Piyush’s father Sunil Guha,a retired headmaster from Sagarpara village,died,allegedly of shock. Rupa was then living in Santoshpur but moved out after police raided the house and questioned her several times.

Three months ago,Piyush’s mother Usha Rani Guha died,hoping he could visit her once. “I appealed to the Supreme Court but he was not granted bail. The police and the court did not even grant him parole so that he could attend the last rites of his parents,” says Rupa.

Since the arrest,Guha has been to his home state once,brought on transit remand in connection with a 2005 terror case in Purulia. Ashok Prasad,SP of Purulia in 2007,said Guha had not been named in the original FIR. Police officers and people following the Naxal cause said they had never heard of him before. Guha was eventually granted bail in the 2005 case.

Today,Rupa supports herself with a small DTP unit in Sealdah. With her meagre earnings,she has been to Raipur 40 times over the past three years,attending every hearing,optimistic that the case against her husband was weak.

“I had full faith in the law and democracy and that is why I did not miss a single date of the proceedings. I believed there must have been some mistake somewhere in booking my husband under charges of sedition,” says Rupa,stunned by the verdict.

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