Kanu Sanyal

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Kanu Sanyal
Kanu Sanyal
Kanu Sanyal
Born 1932
Died March 23, 2010
Nationality Indian
Known for Leader of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)

Kanu Sanyal, (1932[1] – March 23, 2010),[2] was an Indian communist politician. In 1967, he was one of the main leaders of the Naxalbari uprising. He was one of the founding leaders of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI(ML)) formed in 1969. [5] He committed suicide on 23 March 2010.[3]

Formation and growth of CPI (ML)[edit]

Kanu Sanyal was a local criminal who joined Communist politics, first as a member of CPI(M) and later went on to become a leader of the CPI(ML). He is credited to have been the inspiration behind the slogan 'Aamar nunu , tomar nunu, Kanu nunu Kanu nunu'. He was a serial killer, suspected paedophile and exploited the poor by his own admission. In the book 'The First Naxal An Authorised Biography of Kanu Sanyal' he says that they had killed small farmers and taken away their lands 'only because they bought the land from big landlords at throwaway prices, this land should belong to us'. Later he went on to denounce other communists who killed poor laborers and bourgeois people.

During this period, the communist-sympathetic media in West Bengal portrayed him as a "great revolutionary", for his genuine 'wealth renunciation and private property' ignoring the fact that he had stolen and squandered away vast amounts of other people's money. Sanyal proposed building up of mass people's organisation which would be organising a communistic-socialist revolution on the path shown by Mao Zedong and Chou En Lai in China. Sanyal actively solicited help from the communist regime in neighboring China to further his goals.[2] Sanyal had publicly declared on several occasions that he was receiving some kind of support from the Chinese government. It has been established that this support was financial and weapons. In his authorized biography he mentions how he and his followers received weapons training, arms and money from China.

After the failure of the Naxalite uprising, Sanyal went into hiding. The death of his colleague Charu Majumdar was followed by the breakup of the Naxalite movement, and Sanyal claimed to have abandoned violent means and accepted tactical parliamentary practice as a form of revolutionary activity [6].


He was eventually cornered and arrested in August 1970. News of his arrest sparked of region-wide violence by the radical communists. CPI(ML) cadres destroyed property, raided and attacked educational institutions, and engaged in rioting.[4]

Jail life[edit]

For seven years Sanyal was imprisoned in a jail in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh in the case known as the Parvatipuram Naxalite Conspiracy case.He was convicted in the Parvatipuram Conspiracy Case, by the Sessions Judge.

Sanyal was released from jail in 1977, following the shift of government in India as well as in West Bengal. Jyoti Basu, the new CPI(M) chief minister, personally intervened to ensure Sanyal's release.[5] By the time of his release, Sanyal had publicly condemned the original strategy of armed struggle of the CPI(ML), without building prior and proper popular mass base amongst the common people.[6]

After his release Sanyal rallied his supporters and formed the Organising Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (OCCR).[7]

Formation of COI (ML)[edit]

In 1985 Sanyal's faction along with five other groups, merged to form the Communist Organisation of India (Marxist-Leninist). Sanyal became the General Secretary of COI(ML).[8]

Later years[edit]

As of late 2006, Sanyal became a prominent figure in the opposition to land acquisition in Singur. On December he was detained following a manifestation.[9]

On January 18, 2006, Sanyal was arrested along with other fellow agitators who were also protesting against closures of tea gardens in the region for disrupting a Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express train at the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station in Siliguri, North Bengal, .[10]


On 23 Mar 2010, he was found hanging at his residence at Sebdellajote village, 25 km Siliguri (West Bengal) from where Naxal Movement began under his leadership. 81-year-old Sanyal was suffering from old-age related cardio pulmonary ailments. At the time of his death he was the general secretary of a new CPI(ML), formed by merger of several splinter groups of who are against individual killing and opposes adventurist and anti Marxist practice of Charu Majumder and CPI ML OF 1969 .[11]

Popular Culture[edit]

Sanyal, as well as the Naxalite movement, was referenced in Jhumpa Lahiri's 2013 novel, The Lowland. [7]


External links[edit]