Kanu Sanyal

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Category Political Leader
Allied Category Communist Activist and Leader

Kanu Sanyal (Born: 1932 and Died: 23rd March 2010) was a Communist Leader and a Revolutionary. He was one of the founders of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) CPI(ML). He was also one of the key leaders behind the abortive Naxalite insurrection, a ‘Maoist’ styled Communist People’s Revolution in India.

Formation and growth of CPI (ML)

Kanu Sanyal 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 Indian revolution. During this period, the communist-sympathetic media in West Bengal portrayed him as a "great revolutionary" and compared him to the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Jatin Das, largely because of his charisma and his public showmanship, such as his displays of "wealth-renunciation" and his publicity campaigns where he tried to identify with the proletariat. Massive propaganda campaigns in his favor were financed by the communist politburo to that effect. Information about the secret inner workings of Sanyal's organization have been difficult to obtain. Nonetheless, political analysts write that his political paradigm was based on the concept of "Jugantar" in opposition to the "Anushilan" paradigm implemented by the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Sanyal proposed that the Jugantar revolutionaries be a highly secretive and cabalistic group who would periodically surface to commit acts of terrorism such as political assassinations and armory raids.Sanyal actively solicited help from the communist regime in neighboring China to further his goals.Sanyal had publicly declared on several occasions that he was receiving some kind of support from the Chinese government. It was never established as to whether that support was moral, tactical or financial.The Indian home ministry has argued that Sanyal only managed to obtain ideological support 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 parliamentary practice as a form of revolutionary activity.


Sanyal 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.

Jail Life

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 ensured Sanyal's release. By the time of his release, Sanyal had publicly repudiated the original strategy of armed struggle of the CPI(ML).

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

Formation of COI (ML)

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

Last Years

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.

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.


On 23 Mar 2010, he was found hanging at his residence at Seftullajote village, 25 km Siliguri (West Bengal) from where Naxal Movment began under his leadership. 78-year-old Sanyal was suffering from old-age related ailments. At the time of his death he was general secretary of a new CPI(ML), formed by merger of several splinter groups of the original party.


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