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Central Organising Committee, Communist Party of India
(Marxist-Leninist) NAXALBARI
February 20, 2014

In Memory of Comrade S. A. Rawoof

Comrade Sheik Abdul Rawoof (Viswam), who was Secretary of the Communist
Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) NAXALBARI till he retired in 2006,
passed away on the 9th of February, at the age of 89. He was suffering
from age related diseases. Before laying his body to rest on the 11th
evening at his home village of Kuttagulla (Kadiri Taluq, Anantapur
District, Andhra Pradesh) it was kept for public viewing for two days.
Thousands of people came from far flung areas to see their dear comrade
one last time.
Comrade Rawoof, popularly known as ‘SAR’, leaves behind inspiring
memories of a life wholly dedicated to the cause of the people, to
revolution. While a student he was attracted to the Communist Party of
India. Those were the tumultuous years of the anti-colonial struggle
and, most importantly, the great Telengana peasant armed struggle led by
the communist party. Soon enough comrade Rawoof became a party member
and remained a communist throughout. He was dissatisfied by the CPI’s
deviation to the electoral path. But, under discipline, he had to
contest local elections and unwillingly became the first communist
municipal chairman of Kadiri. True to his revolutionary character that
post was transformed by him into one of a fighter. He refused to be cut
off from the masses by the pomposity of office and, even more, firmly
resisted all attempts to make him a tool of anti-people acts sought to
be enforced through the local body.
When the rebellion within the CPI led to the formation of the CPI
(Marxist) he immediately joined it. Soon enough he realised that this
was nothing more than a disguised version of that old revisionism. Then
the great peals of Naxalbari thundered in the Indian sky. Rawoof
immediately rallied with the new revolutionary polarisation. Yet,
confusion was being created by the centrist stand of Nagi Reddy who was
then the most prominent leader seen as a supporter of the Naxalbari
armed rebellion in Andhra Pradesh. This was quite a problem in the
Rayalseema region, from where Nagi Reddy came, and, which was then
Rawoof’s center of activity. Yet the comrade’s steadfast revolutionary
convictions soon lead him to unite with those struggling against Nagi
Reddy’s rightism. He linked up with the comrades in Srikakulam who were
already carrying out armed struggle guided by comrade Charu Majumdar and
became a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).
Following the directive of the party he left his occupation as a lawyer
and became a professional revolutionary. He remained that till the very
last years of his life; until he was forced to live under continuous
medical supervision.
Rawoof was elected a member of the Andhra Pradesh State Committee of the
CPI (M-L) in its State Conference in 1970. Though elected as a member of
the delegation from AP to the 1970 Party Congress he couldn’t
participate due to some technical glitches. He remained a member of AP
State Committee till his arrest in 1973. While in jail two significant
developments led to a new chapter in Rawoof’s political life. The AP
State Committee led by Kondapalli Seetharamiya (KS) openly called for a
‘suspension’ of armed struggle arguing that this was necessary for a
reorganisation and re-launching of the armed struggle by utilising the
new opportunities given by the post-Emergency situation. This was not
consulted with Rawoof, though that was quite possible in the relaxed
atmosphere existing after withdrawal of Emergency. As accounted by
Rawoof in his summation, even while being in jail he made all efforts to
contact KS and raise his objections to this proposal. They were not
accepted. This was also a period when the international Marxist-Leninist
movement was also grappling with the capitalist coup in China by the
Teng-Hua clique and the Albanian Party’s efforts to utilise the emerging
opposition to this as a means of attacking and rejecting Maoism (then
termed as Mao Tsetung Thought). Except a few parties and organisations,
most in the M-L camp either capitulated to one or the other of these
anti-Marxist camps. The AP State Committee supported the Communist Party
of China usurped by the Teng-Hua clique and upheld the Three Worlds
Theory falsely attributed by them to Mao Tsetung. In view of these
factors, Rawoof decided to rebel, break out and lead the formation of a
new organisation, known as the AP Reorganisation Committee, CPI (M-L).
The correctness of this step remains a matter of debate within the
Maoist movement in India. Yet his determination to persist on the path
of armed struggle and ideological sharpness in immediately grasping the
full import of international developments can never be belittled. It was
inspired by a great tradition set by Charu Majumdar. Its basic
correctness is confirmed by history, even if certain aspects underlying
that decision to rebel and the practical course he subsequently followed
may be controversial.
The formation of the APROC under Rawoof’s leadership soon enough led to
establishing ties with the Kerala State Committee which was holding
similar positions. This led to the formation of the Reorganisation
Committee, CPI (M-L) in 1979 (later renamed as Central Reorganisation
Committee, CPI (M-L) in its 1st All-India Conference held in 1981). This
party played an instrumental role in the struggle to defend
Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought (as Maoism was then termed) at the
1st International conference of 1980 and later in the 1984 conference
that led to the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist
Movement. In all of this Rawoof played an important role as a member of
that party’s leading body. He was a staunch internationalist.
During this period Rawoof gave leadership to the development of armed
struggle in AP, facing up to savage state repression which took the
lives of many comrades. Rawoof himself was arrested in 1983 and jailed
for 3 years and later for 4. (He was imprisoned for a total of 12 years
during his plus five decades long revolutionary life.) Meanwhile he took
up the struggle against the rightist positions being advanced by the CRC
leadership. In 1985, while still in jail, he led a split against it when
it formally launched itself on a disastrous course of liquidation. Later
in 1989 he joined the CPI (M-L) Red Flag since it was accepting the 1970
program of the CPI (M-L). When it started deviating from these positions
he struggled against this, finally leading to comrades of two States, AP
and Karnataka, breaking off and forming the CPI (M-L) Naxalbari. They
and the Maoist Unity Center, CPI (M-L) then merged in 1999, as CPI (M-L)
Naxalbari. Rawoof was its Secretary till 2006.
Rawoof was a staunch follower of Charu Majumdar. His firm adherence to
Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and loyalty to Charu Majumdar’s positions were
his ideological mainstays, tempered with an intense hatred towards the
oppressors. While firm in his ideological orientation, he was also
critically aware of the shortcomings in his grasp and application. He
frankly admitted in his summation report, “We failed to correctly
implement the line of area wise seizure of political
power…annihilations, which were not linked to the seizure of political
power turned out to be only militant economism and the whole activity
was roving guerrilla activity…”. He accepted his own role in the
setbacks and admitted that he “was given to spontaneity to extend the
movement without preparing the cadres ideologically and organisationally
and on questions of military line.” For various reasons, some beyond his
control, this awareness could not be translated into a timely and deep
going rectification.
If Rawoof had a track record of rebelling against what he saw as wrong
line and leadership, this was never given to a narrow group mentality.
That much is well proven by his efforts for unity, for building a
unified all-India party. It was also proven by his keenness to value and
learn from the revolutionary experiences of other Maoist parties, even
when disagreeing with them. In a letter written to the CPI (M-L) Red
Flag leadership he wrote, “CRC never discussed about the revolutionary
movement led by different ML organisations, particularly PW, MCC and
Party Unity, which are in armed struggle. It is very unfortunate that
CRC is taking a very negative attitude towards PW… Is it not necessary
that we should learn from both the positive and negatives aspects of the
revolutionary movement led by that party, which has become the main
target of state repression?” This broad heartedness, this steadfast
Maoist attitude of learning even from those with whom one disagrees,
will always shine as an example for generations of communists.
His communist qualities, capacity to integrate with the people, simple
living, willingness for hardship and absolute faith in the party and the
people have forever endeared him. Rawoof was amazing in his capacity to
effortlessly bridge the age-gap and win over the young to the cause of
revolution. For all the signs of aging so visible on him, his was not
the ‘wrinkled gaze of the elderly’. There was never a distance, the
aloofness of ‘seniority’, with them. If he was affectionately called
‘Thatha’ (grandfather) by young comrades, this was one who was quite the
opposite in his relations with them.
Comrade S.A. Rawoof is no more with us, now physically. Already for the
past few years, debilitated by growing dementia, he was in disconnect –
unable to recognise his close associates, unable to meaningfully
communicate with them. In the initial stages, the intense struggle he
was waging to resist the advance of that condition could be seen in
flashes of political terms in his broken conversations. But that too
would soon end. It was cruel to stand witness to this communist
fighter’s plight, his gaze now made vacant by disease. It was painful to
recollect that sharp look and decisive voice, so stark in contrast to
the dullness now seen. It was difficult to relate this indifferent
person to that bundle of energy, that empathy and concern for the people
and his comrades.

We honour this great communist revolutionary by dipping the Red Flag!
We honour him by dedicating ourselves even more to the realisation of
the revolutionary aims he lived for, for his long cherished desire to
achieve the unity of Maoists in India into a single party!


krantipriya
thenaxalbari@fastmail.in

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