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Home > Dissident Left Archive > India: Open Letter from a CPI(ML) Dissident in 1972

India: Open Letter from a CPI(ML) Dissident in 1972

by Dilip Simeon, 8 April 2013

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Posted below is a PDF version of a the letter written by Dilip Simeon in December 1971, and published in February 1972. Dilip was then a member of the Indian Maoist party the CPI(ML). An accompanying Explanatory Note is posted after the letter from Dilip Simeon’s blog

"Letter From Members of the CPl(ML)

Comrades and friends abroad,

In the light of what has happened in the South Asian region during the past twelve months, we wish to make some statements and ask some questions.

First, it should be made absolutely clear that the revolutionaries of this subcontinent regard it as one country and are resolved to erase, through struggle, the ’international boundaries’ drawn up by Messrs. Patel, Nehru, Jinnah and Stafford Cripps.

Second, what took place in East Bengal in the first quarter of l97I was nothing but the bloody and genocidal suppression of a people’s mass and democratic movement by a gang of fascist, obscurantist and utterly foul madmen—and every adjective is carefully chosen.

Third. a certain Foreign Office abroad, the only one from which we expected a principled stand, chose to represent black as white, chose to hide from its people the true nature of its fascist friends, chose to depict a people’s desperate strugle against bloody ogres as an ’anti-Chlna war plot‘, chose to use the terms ‘rebel’ and ‘secessionist’ as abuse(!) and chose not to lnterfere in the ’Intemal affairs’ of inhuman murderers- after having interfered in the ‘internal affairs’ of Ceylon and Sudan —on behalf of the inhuman murderers. of course.

Forth, the clever reactionaries in lndla (who never tumed a hair while brutally suppressing the revolutionary movement in West Bengal, Andhra and Punjab, and the national struggles ot’ the Naga, Mizo,and Kashmir peoples) and their Sovlet well wishers, cashed in on a once-in-a-lifetlme opportunity and immesurably strengthened their position in the sub-continent-partly, if not wholly due to the marvellous non-interference by the leaders of world revolution and the activities of their good friends. the Maoist mullahs of Islamabad.

The inner crisis of the revolutionary movement tn South Asia is the subject matter for a different discussion. But what did the ’revolutionary’ leadership of our party (now -split in the tradition, no doubt, of ’one divides into two’) do with regard to the Indo-Pak crisis? Since their proclaimed first principle is ’loyalty to the CPC [Communist Party of Chlna] ‘-not loyalty to the masses or to Marxism-Lenlnlsrn, but to the CPC-they naturally proceeded wlth the holy task of rationalising the opportunlsm and chauvinism of the Chinese Foreign Office. A quantitative (or is lt qualitative) development of ’Mao Tsetung Thought was made by a certain leader who proclaimed that Yaltya Khan was a ’national bourgeois’ (sic!!).

We have been betrayed, comrades and friends, and we know that this is strong language.
The ’proletarian headquarters’ has indulged in nothing but out and out opportunism and big power chauvinism and we, who were ardent ’Maoists’ until recently, say this with the deepest sorrow and dismay. We ask the Maoist missionaries- do you expect us now to quote the Red Book at common people murdered by Chinese bullets? Do you expect us to preach armed struggle to people whose just armed struggle was faced with Chinese tanks? We shall not give up revolution gentlemen, as you have, but we have learned a very bitter and yet very basic lesson-the loyalty of a revolutionary party is to the people, to Marxism, and certainly not to this or that party. And we shall not accept the selling out of proletarian internationalism to the Yahyas, Nimeirys, Nixons and Bandaranaikes of the world. From Stalin onwards, the Soviet leaders have sacrified world revolution at the altar of their chauvinist foreign policy.
We cannot allow this to happen all over again.

Perhaps Allah will tell us why our great helmsman steered our ship on to the rocks and then abandoned us. But as someone said once, great men need no reasons, they lease them to the creative hands of their apologists.
’Sham is sham, and the mask must be stripped off’-It is a damning irony that we have now to strip the mask off the Chinese leadership.

[ Communist Party of India (Marxist-Lenlnist) ] "

read the original in PDF below

Letter from Members of The CPI(ML)
Published in Red Mole, 7 February 1972

Explanatory Note:

1./ This is an open letter I wrote in December 1971, as a Naxalite cadre (among many) who experienced the political crisis accompanying the disintegration of Pakistan in 1970-71. It was anonymous, and I was the sole author. So the phrases ’letter from members’ & ’some comrades’ are incorrect. It was difficult to identify myself at that time.

More than four decades later, there are many things in the letter that I am far removed from. I place it in the public domain because it is part of the micro-history of our shared and fractured past. The letter was appended in a book called Naxalite politics in India, by J.C. Johri (1972). One major newspaper reported its contents as an example of dissent among Maoists. It has become especially relevant in light of the ongoing Shahbag protests.

2./ The letter has glaring mistakes, such as confusing Cripps for Radcliffe (the author of the 1947 partition boundaries). It also speaks of “erasing, through struggle the international boundaries” drawn up in 1947. This will alarm many people, but let me make clear that it was written at a time when the boundaries were being re-drawn anyway, in a military conflict. What I was trying to convey was that communists were supposed to be internationalists, and that nationalism based on religion was a dangerous concept, which was coming apart at the time. And I was deeply disturbed by the Chinese support for the Yahya regime. This extract from an article I wrote in 2010 on insurrectionary politics explains better what was in my mind in 1971:

“Pakistan’s crisis in 1970 could have been the starting point of a popular reassessment of the anti-democratic partition of 1947. The CPI(ML) could have articulated a discourse devoid of the hateful views of communalists. But the leadership was incapable of formulating any viewpoint outside the framework favoured by the Chinese communists, for whom the question of sovereignty seems to have been settled by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648; and what goes on inside a nation state is no one else’s business... Dreamers of a classless society found it too utopian to question the partition of India. Consequently in 1971, Naxalites were the only Indian political current that supported Yahya Khan. They also advised revolutionaries in East Pakistan to defend Pakistan’s integrity. This was in line with the Chinese preference for dictators in Sri Lanka, Sudan, Chile and Cambodia. All that counted was anti-Sovietism…” Read more:
Maoism and the Philosophy of Insurrection (2010, Seminar # 607)

3./ A fuller context of my Open Letter may be obtained by reading the Chinese governments letter to President Yahya Khan, that was published in Pakistan Times 13 April 1971: Chinese Premier Chou En Lai’s letter to President Yahya Khan:

’I have read Your Excellency’s letter and Ambassador Chang Tung’s report on Your Excellency’s conversation with him. I am grateful to Your Excellency for your trust in the Chinese government. China and Pakistan are friendly neighbours. The Chinese government and people are following with close concern the development of the present situation in Pakistan.

Your Excellency and leaders of various quarters in Pakistan have done a lot of useful work to uphold the unification of Pakistan and prevent it from moving towards a split. We believe that through the wise consultations and efforts of Your Excellency and leaders of various quarters in Pakistan, the situation in Pakistan will certainly be restored to normal. In our opinion, the unification of Pakistan and the unity of the people of East and West Pakistan are the basic guarantees for Pakistan to attain prosperity and strength. Here it is most important to differentiate the broad masses of people from a handful of persons who want to sabotage the unification of Pakistan. As a genuine friend of Pakistan, we would like to present these views for Your Excellency’s reference.

As the same time we have noted that of late the Indian government has been carrying out gross interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan by exploiting the internal problems of your country. The Soviet Union and the United States are doing the same, one after the other. The Chinese Press is carrying reports to expose such unreasonable interference and has published Your Excellency’s letter of reply to Podgorny.

The Chinese government holds that what is happening in Pakistan at present is purely an internal affair of Pakistan, which can only be settled by the Pakistan people themselves and which brooks no foreign interference whatsoever. Your Excellency may rest assured that should the Indian expansionists dare to launch aggression against Pakistan, the Chinese government and people will, as always, firmly support the Pakistan government and people in their just struggle to safeguard state sovereignty and national independence.’

NB – In October 1971, the People’s Republic of China was admitted to the United Nations as the legitimate Chinese government, taking the place occupied by the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan. India voted for the resolution. China became a member of the Security Council. Its first use of the veto was to block the entrance of Bangladesh to the United Nations.

4./ Today, when the long-term consequences of communal politics continue to play out in all the successor states of British India, I feel it necessary to remind the younger generation that left politics and values are incompatible with communalism, of any religious hue whatsoever. I salute the people of Bangladesh for their struggle against the murderous politics of razakars and Jamaatis. Indians should support them and do their best to resist communal manifestations in India. Please study the painful and tragic history of fascism, in South Asia, India and in Europe. Remember the millions killed, of all communities, in the name of racist and communal nationalism. Build nations on the basis of love, non-violence and secular values. If we cannot turn back the clock or erase artificial frontiers, we can transcend them, leave them behind us in a new atmosphere of trans-national solidarity.

Dilip Simeon