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Kishna Singh, who took to task feudal practices, Bihar landlords' authority

By Harsh Thakor* 
On 17th June we commemorated the 40th death anniversary of Krishna Singh, who was one of the pioneers in igniting the spark of the peasant movement in Bihar. His  martyrdom planting the seeds for many red roses to bloom.
The Jehanabad-Palamau region was one of the most backward regions of Bihar. In this area the rule of the landlord lay unchallenged. The scenario received a dramatic transformation with the integration of the Unity Organisation (later CPI-ML Party Unity). The Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti (MKSS) was formed by this group in 1978. 
MKSS made path breaking experiments in waging resistance against feudal exploitation through a sporadic rupture from old line in practice with respects to now working on mass organisation and movement. The mass character of the movement was an important characteristic. All old feudal practices and landlord’s authority were taken to task. 
Struggles for wage increase, social boycott of landlords, crop seizure, forming people’s panchayats, combating the social oppression of women and scheduled castes, and confronting the auction of forest produce, encovered its agenda. The most commendable achievements were seizure of illegally occupied land and its re-distribution, resistance for dignity of the most backward castes and winning of higher wages. Most heroically or defiantly it withstood the onslaught or terror of the Kurmi rich peasant caste and landlords who gained the patronage of the administration.
The organisation comprised of many non-party members. It was a unique experiment with the MKSS was the first Naxalite led organisation to invite Jayaprakash Narayan and Lohiaite followers into the membership and leadership. 

Krishna Singh's life bio sketch 

Krishna Singh was born in Badem village in in Navinagar, being the oldest of three brothers and four sisters. His family possessed 10 acres of land. He studied till inter in his village. He later worked in a cement factory in Japla in Dalmianagar,where he organized workers.
He gained his first political tutelage under Guru Darshan Singh of the Central Organising Committee of the CPI (ML) and then joined that group. When the unit of MKSS was established he joined the organization with Yamina Singh, Gupteshwar Singh, Triveni Singh and Bhuvneshwar Singh. He concentrated his work within the periphery of Navinagar area. With meticulous skill his leadership fortified movements, and enabled them to penetrate in surrounding regions. He was appointed the first secretary of MKSS.
On June 17th 1984 Krishna Singh presided the first conference of the MKSS at Jharha in Palamau district he was attacked by goonda elements led by a landlord. At first the peasants valiantly resisted but the landlord retaliated with a bunch of goondas and forced the peasants to vacate. Displaying unflinching resilience Krishna Singh remained unmoved but was tragically gunned down. The police literally endorsed the action of the culprits. 
 After his death a spark was literally turned into a prairie fire, with red flags fluttering all over regions of Palamu, Aurangabad and Jehanabad. His murder  was followed by a resilient protest movement  against his killing, which led to the criminals being punished. On 10th death anniversary in 1994, a memorable gathering was staged in his native village.

Developments after the death of Krishna Singh 

After assassination of Krishna Singh, a massive mass struggle was triggered for fair wages of agricultural labourers and abolition of various bondages, which spread to about 30 villages in Hussainabad, with the main centre being Japla. Later it penetrated Mohamdganj, Bisrampur and Mohanadganj, where in forest areas militant struggle was waged against ‘Rangadari tax’ from the poor. 
At the same time at Hyderanagar police station  massive protest against arrest of leaders of mass organisations shook the police compelling them to apologise before the people. Later in 1987, in Panki bloc there were many actions of rifle snatching. The peasant upsurge crystallised movements of youth, women and transport workers, leading to united struggles.
Economic struggles began to ignite political struggles against repression in Palamau zone. On 24th March in 1986, peasants converged at Chatrapur police station, snatching their leader Jagdeo Sharma from the police van, with considerable participation of women.
A firing took place in Arwal in Jehanabad region on April 19th. It was a response of the police in connivance with the landlords to supress the landless Dalit labour from occupying their plot of land which was robbed from them. After the bloodshed,  MKSS was banned. Very soon the state imposed a ban on several mass organizations. Subsequently a 40,000 strong protest rally was organised in Patna, creating effect of a tsunami, and bringing the culprits to the book.
In June 1987 a debate took shape within MKSS on aspect of subordinating to armed movement and backing armed squad resistance as the main form of struggle. One faction was now led by Dr Vinayan and the other led by Arvind. A section of the MKSS leadership led by Dr Vinayan and Jang Bahadur Singh and some Party Unity cadre opposed the attachment of armed squads to the organisation and proposed open functioning which was challenged by the party leadership. A major debate sprung up in MKSS  on the mass organization relationship with the party, with majority of non-party members leaving the organization. Now great antagonism was triggered within the organisation between conflicting trends from local to district committees. 
Former MKSS leader Arjun Prasad Singh felt that the practice of the Party Unity group was most meritorious till 1987 with no individual armed action, but only struggles waged with traditional weapon, which was later was disoriented and bent. After 1987 the path of the Party Unity veered towards the road of armed squad resistance as principal form of struggle, similar to one of the erstwhile Peoples War Group in Andhra Pradesh. In the 1990s, a feature of the struggles of peasant revolutionary resistance were that of involvement of red armed corpses, incorporating line of ‘annihilation of class' enemy. It undertook actions non-coherent with the peasant movement.
---
*Freelance journalist

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