Homage to our comrade Kishan

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When the world is facing the trial of the Covid-19 pandemic, we in the ICC have also been through the painful experience of the passing away of our comrade Kishan on 26th March, 2020. This is a great loss for the ICC and its section in India, and we will miss him greatly. Kishan made an important contribution to the life of the ICC and was a comrade with a great fighting spirit till his last breath.

Kishan was born in 1939 in a remote village of West Bengal in India. He entered university in the 1960s,  at a time before the working class had reappeared on stage with the strike of 9 million workers in France in 1968, followed by the Hot Autumn in Italy in 1969, Polish workers’ struggles in 1970, which meant the   end of the period of counter-revolution.  The 1960s were a period of protest in the universities across the world, particularly against the Vietnam war and racism. The young people who got involved in these movements were sincere in their desire for ‘revolutionary’ change, but acted mainly on a petty bourgeois terrain with the illusion of ‘changing life immediately’. However, both before and after 1968 there were leftist organisations, i.e. bourgeois organisations, ready to recruit young people and block their interest in the positions of the working class. These were the global conditions in which Kishan was sucked into the Naxalite movement. During 1963-65 he was pursuing an MSc in physics from North Bengal University. He completed his Masters with a first-class degree.  While he was a graduate student, he became part of a young generation attracted towards the Naxalite movement. Gradually the term Naxalism became synonymous with Maoism. As a young student Kishan plunged himself into the vortex of the movement, leaving his research incomplete and being imprisoned for these activities. After eight years imprisonment he was released in 1978.  The unspeakable tortures in jail took a toll on him till the end of his life. With a narrow cell and insufficient, sometimes inedible food, Kishan contracted tuberculosis and this infection of the lungs was a constant companion till the last day of his life. During his sentence he read Marx in particular and this helped him to be open to the discussion of the marxist ideas of the communist left when he came across them. 

Kishan was one of the very few who, having been sucked into Maoism, a particularly vicious form of leftist bourgeois ideology, was able to make a full break from it and commit his life to the proletariat through attaching himself to the tradition of the communist left. Such a break inevitably required clarification through long patient work of discussion with the ICC during the 1980s and 1990s. In the year 1989 the formation of the nucleus of the ICC in India was a stimulus to this dynamic of clarification. When Kishan got in touch with the ICC he found out the real history of communist left. He was surprised when he realised through the theoretical elaboration of the ICC that Maoism is nothing but another form of bourgeois ideology, a counter-revolutionary political current. “Maoism has nothing to do with the working class’ struggle, nor its consciousness, nor its revolutionary organisations. It has nothing to do with marxism: it is neither a tendency within nor a development of the proletariat’s revolutionary theory. On the contrary, Maoism is nothing but a gross falsification of marxism; its only function is to bury every revolutionary principle, to confuse proletarian class consciousness and replace it with the most stupid and narrow-minded nationalist ideology. As a ‘theory’, Maoism is just another of those wretched forms adopted by the bourgeois in its decadent period of counter-revolution and imperialist war[1]. The explanation of ICC about Maoism made a momentous impact on comrade Kishan. The political attitude of being able to make a full critique of his past was essential for Kishan to become a militant of a real revolutionary organisation. 

The Communist Party of India was formed in 1925, when the Communist International was already degenerating and the most important struggles of the revolutionary wave had been defeated, particularly the Russian and German revolutions. The orientation of the CP in India was to become an anti-colonial, anti-British movement, linked with many other nationalist movements. There was a heavy impact of nationalism and patriotism on the CP in India. The working class in India suffers from a lack of the tradition and continuity of the communist left. This underlines the important responsibility for the ICC in India to make the historical heritage of the communist left better known.   

By taking the path of in-depth study and continuous discussion, gradually Kishan became a militant of the ICC in India. His loyalty to the ICC and to the struggle of the international proletariat marked him as a true proletarian internationalist. He always defended the positions of the ICC with immense dedication. He was determined to participate in the ICC’s debates internationally and within our section in India through his frequent contributions. Comrade Kishan contributed his passion to the life of the ICC at many levels. He travelled across the country to find out new bookshops where the ICC’s literature could be sold. He took part in discussion circles and public meetings wherever possible. He played a notable role in increasing the number of subscribers of ICC’s literature. He participated and played a very active role in various International Congresses of the ICC as well as territorial conferences of our Indian section. His precious and well-thought-out contributions added an edge to the process of political clarification. His greatest strength was to defend our organisation from all the attacks and slanders aimed at it.

Comrade Kishan had the ability to overcome the many ups and downs of life. His firm conviction in the ICC’s politics and his optimistic attitude helped him to stand tall in the most difficult political situations. It is difficult to evaluate appropriately Kishan’s contribution to the political struggle for the emancipation of the working class in a short text of tribute. We should also add that Kishan was very hospitable and down to earth. Many comrades of ICC, whether coming from other countries or from other parts of India, experienced his generous hospitality. We express our revolutionary salute and solidarity to his family. The ICC stands by his daughter and wife with all its sympathy and solidarity.

The ICC, October 2020


[1] See the article ‘Maoism, a monstrous offspring of decadent capitalism’ on our website. https://en.internationalism.org/ir/094_china_part3.html#_ftnref4