Monash University

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The Naxalite 'Annihilation Campaign' in Calcutta, c. 1970-72

posted on 2017-02-16, 03:56 authored by Meyer, Brendon
In May 1967 in the remote agrarian village of Naxalbari, in the Darjeeling District of West Bengal, largely illiterate and landless Santal peasants enacted a pivotal episode in India's modrn history, one that would see this village- hitherto virtually unnoticed outside its district - become synonymous with peasant agitation in modern India. In March that year the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), had unexpectedly defeated Congress and formed a coalition government in West Bengal. It had been anticipated that Congress would retain power and accordingly a number of CPI(M) activists had been dispatched to Naxalbari to incite peasant protest against government agrarian policy. Meanwhile, however, peasants and local activists in Naxalbari were growing increasingly frustrated, and now they began to take direct action on their own accord. For the CPI(M) potentates in Calcutta, their strategies in Naxalbari proved to be the genie that would not go back into the bottle. CPI(M) activist who witnessed the events of Naxalbari, Mujibur Rahman, and who would go on to become a notable figure in the Naxalite Movement recalled: 'The tea garden workers' union back then sowed the seeds of the Naxalite movement. It taught us that from the malik's [big man's] point of view, labour and cattle were equally expendable.'


Principal supervisor

Ian Copland

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Philosophical, Historical & International Studies


Master of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts