Frontline leader of the CPIML movement, former member of the Polit Bureau of CPI(ML), former Bihar State Secretary and popular Marxist teacher Comrade Ramjatan Sharma passed away at the Indira Gandhi Heart Institute in Patna on 6 June 2021 after a heart attack.
His death was a direct consequence of the negligence and lack of basic healthcare in Bihar district hospitals. Comrade Sharma had been based in the Jahanabad office of the party. When he began feeling ill, he was brought to the District hospital where not even an ECG was done. Doctors shifted him to Patna and ECG was done only at midnight to realise that he had suffered a major cardiac attack in the morning. Tests began, but crucial time had already been lost and he could not be saved.
Comrade Ramjatan Sharma was one of those typical 1970s veterans who spent their entire life building the party, spreading Marxist ideas in rural Bihar and transforming young members into resolute Party activists and organisers.
He would have been 79 next month. For the five decades he worked as a full-time party organiser, he steered the organisation through so many ups and downs, never losing hope and always inspiring comrades by setting examples with his tireless efforts and never-say-die spirit. The baton is now in the hands of all those young comrades for whom Comrade Ramjatan Sharma was a mentor par excellence.
On receiving the news of his death, the party flag was flown at half-mast on all party offices. His body was kept at the party legislative office for final tributes.
Inspired by the Naxalbari movement in the 70s and the poor-dalit political-social movement that began in rural Bihar, Ramjatan Sharma left his government job and became part of this movement. He played an important role in the revolutionary peasants’ movement in the 80s in what was then Central Bihar. He played an important role in establishing the party not only in Bihar but in other parts of the country.
He had been the Secretary of Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh and the Chhattisgarh in-charge. He was Bihar State Secretary for a long time in the 90s. He was a member of the party Politburo and Chairman of the Central Control Commission. He was for a long time Editor of the party publication Samkaleen Lokyudh and also in-charge of the party’s education department. His unparalleled role in inspiring students and youth with revolutionary ideology and preparing political activists can never be forgotten.
Prof Arvind Kumar Singh (69 years) passed away at 4 pm on 10 May 2021 at a private hospital in Patna. He was suffering from Covid and admitted in hospital since 13 April. For some days his health started improving, but on 6 May his oxygen level suddenly fell and he had to be put on a ventilator. On 9 May his kidneys failed and he had to undergo dialysis. At 4 pm on 10 May he suffered two heart attacks. He survived the first but succumbed to the second. His entire family had been gripped by Covid. His wife Comrade Anita Sinha (AIPWA leader and Bihar CPIML State Committee member) and two sons have recovered and are currently convalescing.
Comrade Arvind was a very long-standing comrade of the party. He was one of the pillars of Samkaleen Janmat and Lokyudh from the time of their inception. With unbreakable faith in the party and in revolution, Arvind Ji was a courageous, firm, and dedicated comrade. He was currently a member of the Central Control Commission of CPIML. His demise is a devastating blow and an immense loss to the party.
His ancestral village is Bara, situated in Dhanrua Block of Patna District. His father was employed in the Railways at Gaya, where he got his education. He became associated with the Naxalbari movement from his student days. After completing MSc in Chemistry from Patna University he taught Chemistry at colleges in Gaya, Ara, Khagaul, Aurangabad and Danapur and finally retired from Commerce College, Patna. He was loved and respected by students everywhere and formed deep bonds with them. He stood with comrades in times of trouble. Humble and generous, he was immensely respected within the party.
With his demise the party has lost a dear and compassionate friend and comrade, a loyal soldier, and a responsible leader. The party pays heartfelt tribute to him and expressed deep sympathy with the sorrowing family. May Comrade Anita and their children and entire family find the strength to bear this profound grief!
Long live Comrade Arvind Ji!
(Kavita Krishnan pays tribute to veteran CPIM, CITU and AIDWA leader Comrade Mythili Sivaramn who succumbed to Covid-19).
Red Salute to Comrade Mythili Sivaraman - a legend in the communist and feminist politics in India - who succumbed to Covid-19 – and a rousing salute to the inspiring life she lived.
As a young woman in the US working for the UN, she had been inspired by a visit to Cuba to turn her life's journey around and seek out communist politics in India in the late 1960s. She was among the first to visit Kilvenmani and document the massacre of Dalit Marxist labourers there.
I feel a great sense of connection with Comrade Mythili - a feeling that women like her, who chose the revolutionary path - paved the way for women like us; made the path easier for us.
Reading Comrade Mythili's writings (selections of which are published in ‘Haunted By Fire’, edited by V Geetha and Kalpana Karunakaran), I am struck by the fact that for her, as for me and for many women, not only "personal is political" as the feminist slogan goes, but the political is also deeply personal. The communist movement, and our party are part of our emotional life - their actions affect our inner self very deeply. Her writings come across as an act of sober reflection and analysis - not as self-satisfied propaganda. She is always asking us, and herself and her comrades, uncomfortable questions. Surely we all need to do this, for the communist movement to grow.
A video of her daughter Kalpana speaking of her mother was uploaded on YouTube by Newsclick. In the comments section some troll has asked in Hindi if Mythili was a yesteryear "Urban Naxali". In fact, the state even in yesteryears feared women with conscience and confidence, as they do now. In 1968 when Mythili visited Kizhvenmani, the police suspected her of being the Naxalite leader Ajitha!
At a time when terms like "naxal" is being used as abuse by the state, I like to recall how Mythili always rejected sectarianism and refused to echo the attitude of the state. She joined CPIM around the time when the CPIML was founded. She clearly disagreed with the ML line and eventually chose to join the CPIM . At the same time she wrote an essay in Mainstream in 1969, where she urged communist parties to engage with the social upheaval and mass movements being led by "naxalites" (i.e the ML movement). It is very significant that while disagreeing with the ML party and line, she was able to see the social upheaval that the Naxalbari movement represented, and recognise it as an asset for the communist movement as a whole. She asked, in that piece, "How can the revolutionary zeal of these 'Naxalites' be better utilised to serve the Indian revolution? The major responsibility falls on the Communist parties which have to reestablish their identities as revolutionary organs. The only legitimate means by which a Communist party can come to power is a popular upsurge, a social upheaval and not electoral adjustments with bourgeois liberal parties. Until the Communist Parties devote themselves energetically to this task of strengthening the base, the Kanu Sanyals and Ajithas will have been lost to them. Worse still, history which tarries for no one, not even for the Communist Party of India, would have bypassed it."
Comrade Mythili’s daughter Kalpana and I became the best of friends when we served on the JNUSU together. In her, I could experience the gentleness, the honesty and integrity that I later saw in Comrade Mythili as well as in her partner Comrade Karunakaran. In the last decade, I feel privileged to get a glimpse of the loving care Comrade Karunakaran, Kalpana and Balaji lavished on Comrade Mythili, who had a sweetness of disposition that even Alzheimer's could not destroy. p
CPIML mourns the untimely loss of CPI(ML) Red Star central committee member Comrade Sharmistha Chowdhury, and CPI(ML) Red Star’s Odisha state secretary of and its youngest Polit Bureau member Comrade Sivaram. Both are the tragic casualties of post-Covid complications. Comrade Sharmishtha was a key leader of the Bhangar movement when people fought heroically against a power grid project to secure major concessions. She had suffered imprisonment at the time. Comrade Sivaram had been active in the anti-POSCO struggle and in struggles of urban slum dwellers.
Dr Sameer Dasgupta passed away on May 31 – another irreparable life taken away by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A smiling man who could easily blend in anywhere, he did not become a so-called 'elite doctor. He considered it his political and social duty to provide his medical services to the common people. He used to take part in political meetings, processions and campaigns.
He was born on July 21, 1953. He was admitted to hospital in mid-May with Covid-19, and passed away by the end of the month. He is survived by his wife, daughter Anvesha who is also a health professional in Durgapur, and his son.
Red Salute to Comrade Sameer Dasgupta!
Comrade Gautam Sen, long time friend of the party, breathed his last at KPC Hospital in Jadavpur on May 25, where he had been undergoing treatment for Covid-19. He is survived by his wife comrade Kalpana Sen and daughter Mitali Sen.
Comrade Gautam Sen's political career began at the Regional Engineering College, Durgapur, where he was part of that historic generation of students radicalised by the Naxalbari movement in that college along with Comrade Vinod Mishra, Dhurjati Bakshi, and Brij Bihari Pandey. A good student and a popular student leader, he was teasingly called 'Jham Sen' - meaning he was always causing “jham” – trouble!
He joined the Naxalite movement, and was part of the secret cell in his college, led by Vinod Mishra. He organised in support of the Kashipur workers fighting against police firing.
He was for a time a member of the Burdwan District Committee, and also a member of Durgapur Local Committee. When Comrade DP Bakshi passed away in 2019, Comrade Gautam attended the memorial meeting for his friend even though he himself was ill and weak.
Gautam Sen had formed the 'Mazdoor Mukti Sangathan' and used to publish booklets under that name. He also was associated with 'Search’ publications. He was an eloquent and persuasive speaker, and also a patient listener, especially to opinions different from his own.
Professor Salil Biswas, a long-time benefactor of the CPI (ML) and a member of the National Council of the All India People's Forum, passed away late on May 21. Born in 1945, he graduated from Maulana Azad College with honours in English, and later attended Calcutta University. He joined the Naxalite movement in the late sixties.
After teaching at Darjeeling Government College for a short time, he joined Herambachandra College, and retired from there in 2007 as Acting Professor (Principal). Although he did not join any political party directly, he was closely associated with Naxalite organizations, especially Liberation.
He was very committed to educating children of poor working class communities, striving to develop teaching materials in languages they could understand easily. Red Salute to Prof Salil Biswas!