Kanu Sanyal, (1932 – 23 March 2010), was an Indian communist politician. In 1967, he was one of the main leaders of the Naxalbari uprising and in 1969 he was one of the founding leaders of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI (ML)). Sanyal committed suicide on 23 March 2010.
Formation and growth of CPI (ML)
Kanu Sanyal joined Communist politics, first as a member of CPI then CPI(M). He announced the formation of the original CPI (ML) on Vladimir Lenin's birthday in 1969 at a public rally in Calcutta. He came out with the seminal Terai report on revolution in India, which openly denounced the anarco-nihilist policies of Charu Majumdar and his loyalists.
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 was claimed to have abandoned violent means and accepted parliamentary practice as a form of revolutionary activity.
Arrest and jail
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.
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.
Release and renewed political engagement
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. By the time of his release, Sanyal had publicly condemned the original strategy of the armed struggle of the CPI(ML), without building prior and proper popular mass base amongst the common people.
After his release, Sanyal rallied his supporters and formed the Organising Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (OCCR). He continued to attended CPIM all-party meetings till the end of his life.
In 1985, Sanyal's faction, along with five other groups, merged to form the Communist Organisation of India (Marxist-Leninist), and Sanyal was appointed leader of the COI(ML).
In his later years, Sanyal continued his broad engagement in political activism, including the labour movement and land rights. For these activities he was arrested and detained several times.
On 18 January 2006, while protesting against a lockout of tea garden workers in the region, Sanyal and other fellow agitators were arrested for causing a train to be held up at the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station in Siliguri, North Bengal.
As of late 2006, Sanyal became a prominent figure in the opposition to land acquisition in Singur. On 8 December he was arrested and detained along with three other Naxalite leaders, after the police stopped and charged a demonstration procession.
On 23 Mar 2010, he was found hanging at his residence at Seftullajote village, 25 km Siliguri (West Bengal) from where Naxal Movement began under his leadership. 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 the original party.
Sanyal, as well as the Naxalite movement, was referenced in Jhumpa Lahiri's 2013 novel The Lowland.
He is frequently referenced by bissho Kobi Roddur Roy who sang two songs 'Chand uthechilo gogone' and 'Abar Chand uthibe gogone' about Kanu Sanyal.