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Wednesday, Sep 22, 2021
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All Red In The Rear View Mirror

Former Naxalite Ashim Chatterjee looks back at the rebellion that made him

All Red In The Rear View Mirror
Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee
All Red In The Rear View Mirror
outlookindia.com
2017-04-15T11:22:12+05:30

It is difficult to believe that the friendly man waving at us from the second-floor balcony of his house in Calcu­tta’s well-to-do Salt Lake City neighbourhood was once upon a time on the West Bengal Police’s “most wanted” list. Arrested in 1971, when he was underground as a central committee member of the CPI-ML and secretary of its ‘Bengal-Bihar-Orissa Border Committee’, and slapped with several non-bailable charges, including Section 302 IPC for murder, he spent eight years in a north Bengal prison, inc­luding four in solitary confinement—“with my hands and legs shackled to a ball-and-chain device,” he recalls.

How did he keep his sanity? “Why would I lose it?” he ret­orts, giving a hint of the proverbial Naxalite nerves of steel.

Ashim Chatterjee was a student of economics at Presidency College, Calcutta, in 1967 when peasants and tea-garden workers in and around Naxalbari, a village in north Bengal, organised sit-INS in the fields owned by landlords (‘jotedar’ in Bengali),...

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