Published in Point of View, 18 September 1971
[Here is a factual account, sent to us at the end of July 1971, of the steps government has taken to deal with Naxalites in some districts in Bihar. It is clear that the movement is menacing for the government. – Editor, Point of View]
Six thousand troops are ready to take action. The place is under the direct charge of a special police squad comprising border experts, senior intelligence officers and combatant section of the Military Police.
Besides the Central Reserve Police, service of more than three hundred jawans of the Bihar Military Police has been requisitioned from NEFA. The local police have also been asked to stand by for any emergency that the special squad may need in emergency.
The armed forces are functioning from a number of static camps and mobile units equipped with wireless vans.
Area of action : Surajgarha
But the guerrillas come from nowhere and carry out their mission successfully, i.e., annihilate the enemy, despite all the tight security arrangements. This is not happening in the remote forests of Nagaland but in the plains of Bihar. Naxalites are reportedly creating terror among the people of the Surajgarha region of Munger district.
Surajgarha, lying on the south bank of the river Ganges, is one of the four trouble spots in Bihar, the other three being Mushahari Block in Muzaffarpur district, Darbhanga district and the tribal dominated belt of Chhotanagpur.
Sometimes even special combing operations are launched to curb the reds in Surajgarha, but with little success. One of such operation was launched by the DIG on special duty for Naxalite operations in Bihar under special instructions from the State and Central Govt. in November, 1970.
Besides the above-mentioned forces, 30 officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police or above and 100 Sub-Inspectors were deputed in the area to supervise the ‘Operation Naxalite’ in the fields, the hills, the jungles and the other suspected hide outs. To cap it all, army-helicopters were pushed into service to help the Military Police Force.
The gravity of the situation can be derived from the fact that about two hundred alleged Naxalites have been arrested in Munger district so far – which is about one fifth of the total arrests made in the whole State on similar charges.
Surajgarha police station alone counts for nearly one hundred arrests. There have been over two hundred cases of fatal bomb attack or shooting by fire arms in this small area. About three hundred persons are involved in various cases of bomb-explosion, dacoity, loot and murder in which the Naxalites are believed to have a hand.
Since long, Surajgarha has been a strong hold of the traditional communists (the CPI). It has its own history of many a brave peasant struggle. Two of the well-known Bihar communists, Mr Karyanand Sharma and Swami Sahajanand Sarswati led some of these.’
The area is still represented by the CPI in the State Assembly .After the famous Naxalbari struggle when a new group of revolutionaries, popularly known as ‘Naxalities’ emerged, many of the Surajgarha commies reportedly joined it.
‘First action’ in September 1969
In the meantime Mr Kailash Mandal, a local Naxal leader was allegedly attacked by the man of a zamindar. As a counter action the Naxalites attacked this zamindar a few days later, but the operation was a failure. In the course the Naxalities decided to launch guerrilla warfare and conduct the ‘enemy annihilation programme’ as propagated by their leader Charu Mazumdar of the CPI(ML).
A zamindar and his son were killed in September 1969. This was the first ‘action’ in the area. Another met the same fate in November. As a consequence, an armed police party under a magistrate was posted at Kiranpur village-venue of all the three murders.
After some time when the Patna Press became vocal, the Government sent a 2,000-strong police party to maintain law and order in the area. Home guards were also asked to stand by.
But in spite of all the tight security arrangements, the Naxalite guerrillas killed two more landlords-one in December, 1969 and the other in January’ 70.
Owing to all these five murders and a series of bomb-explosions, a sort of terror was created and the rich people of the vicinity started shifting to Munger town for security. The police authorities were alerted and more troops were pushed into Surajgarha in earlier 1970.
Meetings were held of mukhiyas of gram panchayats and prominent citizens of the area, attended by top officials like the DIG, the DC and the SP, Pledges were taken to meet the growing Naxalite challenge. Commissioner of Bhagalpur division, accompanied by the DIG, the DM and the SP visited the affected areas and met the mukhiyas, representatives of political parties and prominent citizens of the area.
But the Naxalites slapped on their faces by killing yet another man, bringing the total to six.
By this time police-machinery had become effective enough and the Naxalities had to suffer a set-back when two of their top most leaders, viz Kailash Manton and Kailash Mandal were arrested in quick succession in January, 1970. Both are still facing trial.
After a few months silence, the Naxalites again started their activities, this time extending it to proper Surajgarha town. They hurled bombs killing one business man-cum-zamindar and injuring three others. This was in June. Two more persons – one a farmer and the other a businessman and moneylender – were killed in June and yet another in July bringing the total to ten.
The town of Munger, which had witnessed only poster-war till now, could not remain untouched from the influence of nearby Surajgarha. Bombs were hurled on the house of the Vice-Chancellor of Bhagalpur University in August, 1970.
Jhajha-another town in South Munger -came in touch with bombs for the first time in the same month when “crackers” were hurled on the local police station.
In September last, the Naxalite guerrillas killed a zamindar and injured his son adopting the hit and run’ tactics. The remarkable thing was that the zamindar was living under police protection. Two more zamindars were killed in October.
In the meantime the law and order machinery came into full swing. The Bihar Govt. decided to set-up a separate Naxalites cell at the State police headquarters to deal with the Naxalities.
Mr Rajdeo Singh was appointed as DIG on special duty for Naxalite operations in the State. Within a week of his appointment an ‘Operation Naxalite’ was launched in Surajgarha.
Owing to excessive repression, the Naxalites adopted diversionary tactics. In November they killed one businessman in the main chowk bazar of Munger town while a dumb founded bazar crowd looked on. Another businessman was killed in January this year.
These attacks had a terrifying effect on the local mercantile community. The town becomes deserted by 6 pm. and the night shows of the cinema have been suspended by the authorities.
These actions in the town, it is understood, were diversionary tactics to divert the attention of the police from its massive ‘Operation Naxalite’ launched in Surajgarha. The Naxalites did not suspend their activity. The 16th man was killed by them just when the Operation Naxalite was in its full swing.
Bomb explosions and attacks on individual are in galore Besides annihilation Class-enemies the Naxalites have also been issuing letters communicating “death sentences” passed by the “people’s courts” to big farmers and money lenders of the locality creating terror in the countryside.
Point of View 18 September 1971