Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Life and Struggle in Regional Engineering College, Durgapur 1966 to 1970

Comrade Vinod Mishra speaks about his turbulent college days when
events at naxalbari set most colleges in West Bengal on fire.

The Life and Struggle in Regional Engineering College, Durgapur
1966 to 1970


Vinod Mishra



I came to Bengal as a student in RE College, Durgapur, in the middle of 1966 at the age of 19 years. The College had a system of enrolling upto 50% of students from among those who had qualified in IIT entrance exams, and thus there was a fair share of non-Bengali students from different corners of India.

My father was a clerical employee in a defense enterprise and we lived in a labour colony of Kanpur. Ours was a lower middle class family having no connections with landed property. Beginning from a rationalist-theist position at a tender age, I had a short stint with Sarvodaya movement in the early '60s, and by the middle of '60s under the influence of workers' struggles and by nature of living contacts with them, was drawn towards communism. Kanpur then had a communist MP in SM Bannerjee and MLA of our area too was a communist trade unionist, Sant Singh Yusuf.

The college atmosphere was quite oppressive and students were forced to live a regimented barrack life. No political or student union activities were allowed.

Once when the authorities came to know that a student was reading Marx's book in his hostel room, a thorough search was conducted and the student was threatened with rustication. Only once in 1965 some students had tried to organise a strike and it had simply collapsed. This had led to further hardening of attitude on the part of the authorities.

Annual elections were held for the Gymkhana body, which was supposed to continue itself in routine cultural activities as approved by the authorities representatives there. Broad majority of students were not interested in politics, they were only concerned with their career and with the petty-bourgeois ways of life. Actually the students of RE College were highly disliked by the local working class population mainly because of the ruffian activities of a section of students outside the college campus.

This was the state of affairs in a college in the heart of West Bengal, which was otherwise bursting with the left upsurge.

In the humanities class when we were asked to write a piece on rupee devaluation that had just taken place, in my section Ravichandran and myself wrote it condemning the US pressure and were branded as only leftists by the teacher.

Ravichandran, a bright student from Tamilnadu, later on became a Party wholetimer and spent a few years in West Bengal jails. Afterwards he rejoined studies and while doing his M. Tech. at Kanpur came under the influence of CRC. At present he is working in some research institute in Bangalore and I don’t know his present political stand. Anyway, he was a close comrade of mine in college days.

Despite authority's presence, seven or eight of us joined together and made plans to contact the CPI (M) outside, of course, secretly.

There existed a big gap between Bengali and non-Bengali students; rather a tension prevailed among them, and I, being a non-Bengali had obvious disadvantages to begin with. I quickly learned the language and in a short period my friends circle was mainly composed of Bengali students. Some Bengali students who nurtured a hatred towards non-Bengalis, in course of time, became my bosom friends.

While speaking of non-Bengali comrades I must refer to Com. Omswaroop. A research fellow in our college who joined the movement and became a Party whole timer, he was murdered in cold blood by CPI(M) goons in 1971 at Durgapur in a most cowardly manner. He was a bright intellectual and the best among us in communist qualities.

Then there was Brij Bihari Pandey, my childhood friend. He joined the college and the Party along with me in similar circumstances. At present he is an important Party functionary of ours.

To resume, just when we had established primary contacts with the CPI(M), Naxalbari occurred and overnight we all turned into 'Naxalites'. At this stage we conducted secret revolutionary propaganda among students and could influence a tiny minority. Side by side, we established contacts with worker comrades outside who had come out of CPI (M), addressed host of GB meetings of workers in the township and engaged in fierce debates with CPI (M) leaders and cadres.

Before I proceed, let me tell you about student comrades from earlier batches who joined the Party and played an important role in the 'Naxalite' movement. Shanti Chatterjee was one who was the Party incharge in Tripura during 1971-72. I have never met him and I don't know his present whereabouts. Probol Roy, a quite sober and sincere comrade, from whose house CM was arrested, too belonged to our college. I was quite close to him but I am in dark about his present stance. Ashish Das Gupta was a year senior to me. He didn’t take much interest in college affairs. He was very knowledgeable and promising Marxist scholar. I haven't met him for a long time but as far as I know, he is associated with Shanti Pal group of CPI (ML).

It was 1968. Gymkhana elections were round the corner and we decided to contest and utilise this forum for our political aims. Though we didn't have much political support among students, in our individual capacity we were quite popular. We won the elections capturing all the vital posts of office bearers. I too was elected a member, the only non-Bengali student to do so.

We started changing the orientation and complexion of the cultural programs. Still the authorities could not sense anything. We changed the name of the college magazine to 'Vanguard' and its first issue (brought out keeping the teacher incharge, in dark) carried references of Chairman Mao and scientific socialism etc in its editorial. With the distribution of the magazine all hell broke loose. We had fired the first salvo and were prepared to face the consequences.

The Principal called the Gymkhana members and threatened them of rustication. Some members, who were not our men, retreated; but Devashish, Asit, myself and others owned their responsibility. Devashish was a good singer and a cultural artist who later on became a Party wholetimer and worked in the countryside for a few years. Asit was an important Party organiser and worked for many years in the countryside.

On the students front, general students too could not digest this sudden heavy dose of politicisation and basing on their apathy and disapproval, anti-communists among the students organised a protest demonstration that culminated in burning the copies of 'Vanguard' at a central place. We were just five or six comrades and hence could not offer resistance to them. But we raised counter slogans in support of Mao and China while the procession was going on. On their way back the processionists raided our hostel and we were beaten up.

Anyway, this was the first open political move and an open defiance of authorities. We were awaiting our rustication orders when an event changed the whole course.

For lack of required percentage of attendance, the authorities prepared a blacklist of students who were not permitted to take the examinations. The list contained the names from both the camps and thus it became a common student issue. Students in general had pent up grievances for a long time and this issue took it to a flash point. A students strike was called and it was a complete success. All threats and intimidation on the part of the authorities failed to break the strike. Movement had reached a stalemate and one day when the entire teaching staff was holding a session we organised a gherao. It continued from morning 10 am to late in the night. At 3 am when a very few students were left the gherao, the teachers broke the cordon and went away. At this point, the movement took a violent turn. In no time hundreds of students, armed with sticks and rods, came out of their hostels and marched towards the staff quarters. Houses of the authorities were attacked. Police was called but ultimately the panick-stricken authorities conceded to all our demands, which apart from withdrawing the blacklist included a sort of students' representation in running the college affairs etc. and college was closed sine-die.

During those days we were quite influenced by the ongoing movement of French students. Characterizing the contradiction between the authorities and the students as that between bourgeoisie and proletariat, ideas like controlling the campus, running a parallel administration by students etc. were very much in vogue in our circles. Our comrades did take full initiative and attempted to impart an ideological orientation to it on the lines mentioned above, but on the whole, the movement was more of a spontaneous nature and no such recognizable set of leaders or a definite ideology could claim to have guided it.

This marked the end of the first phase of students' movement in our college and thereafter the authorities went into a defensive position. Our college was thus put into the mainstream of student and political activities of West Bengal.

Our rustication issue got buried down in the thick of the movement. However, at the persistence of circle of students close to us, the content of the next issue of 'Vanguard' was considerably toned down.

Full fledged and open political activities began in the college. In the beginning of 1969 we organised protest marches in township throughfares against police firing on Kashipur and Ichhapur workers, and organised progressive cultural functions etc. Students were mobilised to express solidarity with workers' struggles in townships. Advanced comrades continued addressing GB meetings of workers. In addition, we started a night school in a bustee area where college students visited and provided education to poor children. This was taken as a means for interaction with the people.

Our conflicts with the CPI (M) outside were confined to debates with their leaders and cadres where Lenin's 'State and Revolution' was our favourite weapon in silencing them down. However, CPI (M) was getting quite worried over our activities particularly because it had no foothold in the college.

Within the college, contradictions with anti-Communist lumpen type students became quite acute as they could not tolerate our activities. During a progressive drama function they attacked us and we had planned to pay them back immediately after examinations. By that time several of us had made up their minds to give up studies and work as Party wholetimers.

However, again an unexpected event occurred.

On 1 June, two college students were arrested by the police from a nearby square as they were protesting the beating of an innocent truck driver by the traffic policeman. When the news came to the college, hundreds of students armed with rods ransacked the nearby police post, beat up all policemen who came into sight and blocked the GT Road demanding unconditional release of the arrested students. Armed police forces started arriving on the scene threatening to fire but students refused to move. When the inspector came for talks he was immediately surrounded and virtually dragged inside the college campus. We behaved well with him and lectured him on Mao's thought. Message was sent to police authorities that the inspector will be released only after the students were released. By evening, the administration released the students and we in turn, released the inspector unharmed. Students were full of joy over the victory, but later we realised that it was just the beginning.

The next day morning, hundreds of armed policemen encircled the college from all sides. Within fifteen minutes hundred or so of us came out and started throwing stones. Without any warning whatsoever, the police opened fire killing a student, Prakas Poddar, and then they marched into the college where examinations were in progress. From ten in the morning to four in the evening, they beat up anyone they caught hold of, smashing the doors of the rooms where students had hidden themselves. Over a hundred students, teachers and other staff members were injured and admitted to hospital. Frantic telephone calls to the district administration and the Home Ministry by the college authorities went in vain. Their pet reply was that the police had rebelled and your students were responsible for it. At 4 pm with the arrival of EFR, the policemen left the place.

That was my first ever experience of facing a police firing and witnessing police brutality at such a large scale. I remember having taken a pledge with closed fists to take revenge, and once and for all, that was the end of all my hesitation to join the revolutionary movement as a professional revolutionary.

Well, it was a left front Government, then headed by Mr. Jyoti Basu. Students of Presidency College and Jadavpur University organised protest demonstrations condemning the police firing. Our protest in front of Jyoti Basu's residence was again lathicharged.



"Statesman" wrote an editorial titled 'Red Star over Durgapur'. From the form of the 1 June incidents, CPI (M) too felt that Naxalites had gained considerably in the college and thus allowed the so-called police rebellion to teach us a lesson. In reality, these were exaggerated readings of the situation. The whole struggle was a struggle of general students arising out of their natural urge to protest against injustice, and their wrath against the police. In the forefront of the struggle stood, apart from us, those students too with whom we were in a state of antagonism. The two arrested students were general students as was Prakash, and it was a spontaneous outburst of the student community. Instead of teaching us a lesson, this event antagonised the students against the CPI(M) and it really turned the college into a red bastion of ours. Our ranks swelled to a great extent and we emerged as the leaders of the students as a whole.

At this point, certain lumpen type of elements who could no longer resist us on their own, established contacts with CPI (M) outside and the CPI (M) in its bid to get a foothold in the college started harbouring them. These elements though isolated from the students, started creating trouble with the backing of a large number of CPI (M) activists from outside. Finally, when it crossed all limits of tolerance, we gave them a good drubbing. CPI(M) with its hundreds of activists and supporters which included large number of workers, attacked us in retaliation and in order to avoid a blood-bath we made a retreat.

Some fifteen of us were, however, caught by them, beaten and kept in confinement at workers' quarters for two days. We engaged into sharp debates with the CPI(M) leaders, and resorted to a hunger strike demanding our release. Quite strangely, I found that the workers and a section of the CPI(M) cadres didn’t like all this confinement. They very sympathetically attended to our injuries and with tears in their eyes, requested us to break the hunger strike. Ultimately, the leadership released us unharmed.

In the college campus, in the mean time, the lumpen section created white terror by mercilessly beating up even our distant sympathisers. We continued our preparations secretly and after two months or so launched a swift counter attack beating up the hoodlums and ending the reign of white terror. Hundreds of students came out cheering on the streets. The CPI(M) attacked from outside but after hours of bombing made a retreat. Police rounded up over 500 students to arrest the leaders but our comrades had already made good their escape. Since then the college campus was completely controlled by us. We established what we then called the 'red terror'. The CPI (M) stopped meddling and the ring leaders just fled away.

Thus began the third and the last phase of our movement.

We organised a political strike against US aggression on Cambodia and it was a total success. A campaign was organised against obscene and cheap literature. All rooms were searched and such literature was burnt at open places. Students were told to behave properly with the local population and scores of batches of students went to the workers colonies to do political propaganda.

Red flag was hoisted atop the college building in a political gathering of over 2,000 students. Whenever we came to know about any workers' struggle, hundreds of students joined in support.

It was perhaps May or June of 1970. By that time several of our cadres had left for the countryside or for other working class areas. I had taken the mantle of party leader and apart from looking after the college affairs, had to oversee the general work of Durgapur Party organisation too.

Com. Dhurjatee Buxi was one senior comrade who had left the college as a Party wholetimer and at present he is an important Party functionary of ours.

In the college, Gautam Sen was another leader who was a good orator and had the best leadership qualities amongst us. We did have certain differences occasionally but we would always resolve them through discussions. Latter on he became a Party wholetimer. At present, as per my information, he is running a group 'Mazdoor Mukti' and a magazine of the same name from Calcutta.

During the reign of 'red terror' we inflicted varying degrees of punishment on reactionary and lumpen elements, in particular, against those who were ringleaders during the 'white terror'. This process reached its climax when Madhusudan, the main ringleader, returned offering an apology. He had earned deep hatred of students and was beaten to death by a mob of students. That was the end of our 'red terror' as the police intervened and the college was closed for an indefinite period. I had already outrun my period as a student leader and thereafter there was no going back.

In retrospect, I feel that during the period of 'red terror' we committed some excesses and the blame should primarily lie on me. Madhu, after all, was a student and had come back for pursuing his studies, I could not imagine that he will die after the beating. Often I repent his death because had I tried, I could have dissuaded my militant comrades and saved him.

Four years back, I accidentally met a class fellow of mine during a train journey. He is now an engineer in Jessop Factory. During college days he was in the opposite camp just next to Madhu on our hit list. While recalling the old days, in friendly discussion I told him that I feel sorry for the excesses in those days. In response he consoled me back saying that you people did many good things and actually we did many wrong things and deserved the punishment. With great passion he told me 'Mishra, I feel proud of you'.

Did he sum up the present feelings of the then generation of students? I don't know. Dark clouds over the years have overshadowed the 'The Red Star'. The general disgrace which our movement suffered in West Bengal at the hands of our political opponents, the powerful media, the tribe of ex-Naxalites and our own undoings, had made it difficult to sort out the specific practices and achievements in particular cases.

On our part we worked for breaking the regimented life of a 'professional' education system and for bringing forth students' voice and their participation in running the college affairs; we did all in our capacity to foster a revolutionary progressive culture among students; we strove for educating in communist ideology and revolutionary politics a specific category of students who had nothing but the individual career as their life-mission; we did our best to integrate students with the life and struggles of workers and working people; we roused them in struggles against injustice, against anti-social activities, and against police atrocities.

In the process, apart from Prakash and Omswaroop, Comrades Tapan Ghosh and Ananda, two of the college students and professional Party cadres who were murdered in cold blood in Asansol jail in 1972, laid down their lives.

Myself, Dhurjati Buxi, Brij Bihari Pandey, Ashish Das Gupta and Gautam Sen are still continuing with the struggle for a revolutionary social change in ways we deem proper.

We did commit mistakes and excesses but we always based ourselves on broad students' support. We retained our distinct identity but at the same time we remained as an integral part of general students, always upholding their issues and remaining at the forefront. Actually here lay our strength and that is why, be it authorities or CPI(M) or police, none succeeded in crushing us and every time we came beck.

We neither advocated nor practiced Che's theory of urban guerilla actions, nor did any 'Kaka'-style super hero emerge from among us. We always remained loyal to the Party mainstream and though we did engage in intensive debates, we had no factions amongst us. We a paid lot of attention to reading wide range of Marxist literature and on doing political propaganda. At a juncture, nearly 100 students volunteered to become Party wholetimers and scores of them did go to work in the countryside. Four worker comrades who became wholetimers in the interaction with us in those periods and are still working in our party in responsible positions and good number of workers and their families still retain the fond memories of R.E. College, Durgapur. The rest is history.

Well, I wrote down all that I could recollect. I must not bother you more with my journey down the memory lane.

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32 comments:

  1. I'm 23 years old....ur postin was inspirational...bother me with more of ur posts....

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  2. I was a classmate of Vinod Mishra at Durgapur. It is good to know after so many years that he was sorry about the death of Madhu.

    I was an eye witness to the beating of Madhu. It is probably true that they didn't intend to kill him because they didn't hit him on the head. However, there was a rumour that Madhu would be killed if he returned. He apologised before returning, yet he was beaten mercilessly with hockey sticks. They stopped the beating several times to give him some water, only to resume beating again after gaining some consciousness.

    Anyway, Madhu died later in the evening in the hospital. The college was closed indefinitely. I took transfer to another college and have never gone back to Durgapur.

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  3. I want to make a small correction to my earlier post about the beating of Madhu.

    The Naxalites did stop beating him several times only to resume again on the command of one particular person, but I am not sure now if that was to give him some water. After all, the incident occurred more than 36 years ago.

    However, I remember that all other students in the Naxalites' hit list had returned and had received their punishment before Madhu returned several days later. Madhu was rumoured to be already in Durgapur (he was from Jamshedpur), but hadn't come to the college earlier for fear of being killed.

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  4. Dear Friend

    Those are some interesting revelations that you have made.

    I would definately like to know more about you if you don't mind telling us about yourselves and the turbulent times you studied in

    regards

    Abhay

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  5. thanks a lot for the interesting information sir .I am a student of NIT durgapur alias rec durgapur.This blog would be instrumental in kindling the fire of revolution among the present lot of students.The struggle that you all have undergone is indeed remarkable. Hats off to you people.

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  6. It makes so many things clear to me now, while I support so many things with you, I feel sad about some other steps of yours. But, it really makes sense, and the campus is still feeling the heat of what happened then by the senior CPI(M) leadership, its so good we have converted to NIT under Central government. Hail the campus!!

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. Hi,
    I am a present student of the former RE College (now NIT Durgapur). We often hear tales of what you people had done in those days. There is a photo of the two dead students in my hall. I would like to meet you some time if you come to our college. There is a popular tale that you people had murdered two policemen and burried them in Room No 101 of present Hall 1( the one nearest to college building). Is that true?
    Your response is awaited!

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  9. The write up is of immense historical value - no doubt about it. But what message does it send to the present generation of student? Mr. Vinod Mishra you will be surprised to no that even now the Gymkhana (currently known as student's union) is only formed to conduct the annual cultural function (RESTACY).
    The very idea of student struggle is buried deep into the Oval. All think about his/her individual career only - commitment to the society is non-existing.
    When the very ideology of Marxism is under attack world wide, in our country we got involved in infighting. Thousands of fractions of CPI(XYZ) are fighting among themselves and sometimes taking the side of anti-left!
    Mr. Mishra can't we stop this and come together for strengthening support towards Marxism. The finer ideological differences will always be with us but what the current generation of students need is a deep understanding of the socio-economic theories and their philosophical background.
    The history that you have penned down will not have any deeper significant to the present generation of NIT students unless they understand the political view points. It will just sound as a "jo Jeeta wo hi sikandar" type of story. A simple in-fighting between two groups of students.
    Hold high the spirit and message of Marxism. Forget silly differences. It is a good time when the whole capitalist economy is under severe threat.

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  10. all these years in the college people told me fake stories abt the past..

    thank u..!

    well times achange and so do we..

    and yeah even i have heard abt the 101 hall 1 stories.. is it true..

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  11. yeah......heard so much abt room 101.....wld like to kno if the stories r true......

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  12. i dont support Marxism or communism but have been always influenced and inspired by the student revolutions more after being student of this college...
    will be also privileged if you say about the 101 story.....or any other such stories

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  13. well.. i am a present student of rec (nit durgapur).. i knew most of this thanks to a previous meeting with a 1971 passout.. however the atmosphere has changed a lot nowadays.. and profs organize party affiliated strikes and not students..i have a copy of marx's capital as well as keynes' general theory (both of which are stolen frm the insti library)..must have to say marxist idealogy is utopian and romantic. but with very little practical application thanks to later economic theories of individual rationality and incentive allignment..glad i was not a part of that "misguided missile" generation.. happy that i have a clearer picture of econ&politics because i read both sides of the tale- marx and engels as well as keynes,friedman and smith... and have to say i preferred "free will" to command and control.. dont mind these ramble musings of another 22 yr old who thinks he knows social philosophy.. u ppl were no different..

    if it has to be marx make sure its groucho and not karl.. atleast you will get some free laughs for it..

    = S A I K O =

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  14. Well ! Presently i'm student of NIT (rec) , Durgapur. To say the least i came to know of this blog today only, from a good friend of mine.
    I have been influenced by Marxism since 7th-8th standard in my school. Also i 'm too frank about my alienations----> my support for a communist society. Free market and globalization are just another term of American imperialism.

    To hear that my own institution was a hotbed of communist movement is very heartening to know.

    At present conditions in which we live makes us what you say is pro-western,i.e. capitalist.

    There has to be an urgent revival of revolution..........to open the eyes of these materialistic students as well as prof.

    These days it is hard to come by such students dedicated for the upliftment of the society.

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  15. well todays college life at REC (NIT durgapur) is purely based on 'professional' education system and your efforts to break that had many up and downturns but u still stood your ground
    hats off to u sir

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  16. college was a battleground!!..........nice informative post. Well if you come here now,you will feel out of the world........

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  17. Hi! I like to share my experience as well. My days at RE College brings back nastalgic memory.A memory of romanticism of the early youth.

    In those days Students from all over country used to come - there wer North as well as South Indians with sprinkes from evrywhere including North East.

    The Teachers were wonderful! I remember one Teacher Dr. N Kurmiah giving a book of Physical Chemistry by BAHL & TULLY for study during holidays. There was a teacher GB (Gopal Bhowmick) who was a good teacher but strictly disciplined. The Only lady Teacher respected by all and sundry was with Physics Department. I remember - she had a physically challenged boy who used to come to the Libray. The Library was where the present IT department is now located.The Principal was Prof. S N Ray - a six footer western looking and mannerd gentleman.He was kind and cred about the college and students. I remember - he used to visit the Hostels unanounced to enquire about the well being of the students. But he was a stern disciplinarian.

    Siren used to blow twice at the start of the classes (at 7:50 AM and 8 AM),after the Lunch recess (at 12:50 PM & 1 PM) and at 4 PM when the classes gave over. The practise as I learn from my daughters who are students at NIT, Durgapur, is no longer in vogue.

    Climate wise Durgapur was severe. Both the Summer as well as Winter was cruel.

    There was decipline at the campus - which was in sharp contrast to the situation outside. The CPI(M) was on the rise. The Naxalite movement has neucleated and was turning violent. The movement - its origin, rise etc. all have been cronicled by the Political Scientists. For the novice I can say that the movement was started by a breakway group of CPI(M).

    In all other colleges of WB like Jadavpur, Presidency, BE the naxalites had already gained control. In our college the Student Gymkhana was apolitical. But the murmur of Naxilte movement - the in thing of that time- was started being heard in our college. Students were targetted and were brainwashed (this term was used to describe the students who joined Naxalites) to join the movement There were Literatures being distributed, posters quoting Mao tse Tung, Lenin, Marx etc were seen.

    Coming to the episode of 2nd June 1969 - all I can say was a sad event. On a hindsight, one tend to disagree with events that led to 2nd June police firing - whether it was prodent to bash up the Police Constable (traffic)at Gandhi Morh or the ransacking of the Faridpore Police outpost or for that matter bringing and abusing the Police Inspector (kidnapping?) to College Hostel.

    2nd June was the last day of the semester Exam - we had drawing on that day. My seat was at the Hall of the Drawing Department loacted at 1st floor. After about 2 hours of the exam, suddenly we could hear the siren blowing in air-raid tone. The student leaders were running and shouting that the Police has surrounded the college. The Exam stopped, We all ran down stairs and saw police lined up on the road and we all were lining on our side. Many of us were carrying rods(which were the sticks that support the mosquito nets in the steel cots at the hostel rooms). Both sides were hurling missiles as well as choicest of the expletives at each other. I could not remain there for long as my older brother who was a senior student of the college took me away. We all ran to the Main Bulding and took shelter at the NCC room at the top floor. We could hear the police firing and could see seniors carrying injured students away. The police came chasing the fleeing students and ransacked the depatrtments, teachers were not spared.Praksh Podder who was my classmate(actually we had breakfast together on the fateful day)died of firing. He was a native of Krishnanagar in Nadia District of West bengal.

    The political scenario of outside was changing fast. United front replaced the Congress Government. When the Police fireing episode happend Jyoti Basu was the Police Minister. This prompted many students who were in the fringe, to join Naxalite movement. We could see weird looking youths resing and dinning at our Hostels regularly. In short we all were insecure.The students like me who were apolitical were bullied all the time by our awn collegemates as well as outsiders.

    Many good teachers left, the Pricipal also resigned. None was willing to take charge of the college. It so happened that every HOD used to hold the responsiblity of the College by turn.One night in connection with some killing outside, all the students of the college were arrested and had to spend the night in Durgapur Jail. CISF was posted to man the gates and all of us carried I card even while going for a movie outside.Red flag was hoisted in the college on My Day.

    There were some Teachers who manipulated students for their own cause. I rember one teacher who used to smoke and drink(?) with the leaders. I remember- once he led a mob to thrash a poor supplier of mutton alleging that adulterated mutton with DOG MEAT(sic!). The teacher had an axe to grind with the poor fellow(I guess).

    The movemenet culminated with the murder of Madhusudan Mukherjee, a final year student from Jamshedpur.He was beaten to death by his fellow class and college mates. He was beaten with Hockey Sticks and rod in his hostel common room. We heard whispers that he begged his tormentors for his life but the revolutionaries were beoynd petty emotions.

    The college remained closed for about a year. We all lost a year of curriculam.

    On reopening there was a surprise in store. We discovered that the propagators of the revolution of proletariet have all embraaced the Yankee Culture they despised.They indulged in degenerated activities with such a momentum that it seemed that they wanted make up for the lost time.

    In spite of the aberration we witnessed, the college is dear to me. I cherish the memories(not always fond)of my college - I consider it my own.

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  18. Just found some more information about Mr. Vinod Mishra, http://www.cpiml.org/liberation/year_1999/january/homage11.htm It is unfortunate that Mr. Mishra wont be able to answer many questions asked by my friends in the comments. But I am sure we will get the answers to those questions when we meet alumni during the Golden Jubilee celebration in 2010. Looking forward to it.

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  19. Yesterday's posting was extempore. There were some typing mistakes.The same have been corrected and the message is reposted.

    Hi! I like to share my experience as well. My days at RE College brings back nostalgic memory. A memory of romanticism of the early youth.

    In those days Students from all over country used to come - there were North as well as South Indians with sprinkles from evrywhere including North East.

    The Teachers were wonderful! I remember one Teacher Dr. N Kurmiah giving a book of Physical Chemistry by BAHL & TULLY to me, for study during holidays. There was a teacher GB (Gopal Bhowmick) who was a good teacher but was very strict. The Only lady Teacher respected by all and sundry was with Physics Department. I remember - she had a physically challenged boy who used to come to the Libray. The Library was where the present IT department is located.The Principal was Prof. S N Ray - a six footer western looking and mannerd gentleman.He was kind and cared about the college and students. I remember - he used to visit the Hostels unanounced to enquire about the well being of the students. But he was a stern disciplinarian.

    Siren used to blow twice at the start of the classes (at 7:50 AM and 8 AM),twice after the Lunch recess (at 12:50 PM & 1 PM) and once at 4 PM when the classes gave over. The practise, as I learn from my daughters who are students at NIT, Durgapur, is no longer in vogue.

    Climate wise Durgapur was severe. Both the Summer as well as Winter were cruel.

    There was discipline at the campus - which was in sharp contrast to the situation outside. The CPI(M) was on the rise. The Naxalite movement, already nucleated, was turning violent. The movement - its origin, rise/fall,transition etc. all have been analysed,well cronicled by the Political Scientists in various languages. For the novice I can say that the movement was started by a breakway group of CPI(M).

    In all other colleges of WB like Jadavpur, Presidency, BE the naxalites had already gained control. In our college the Student Gymkhana was apolitical. But the murmur of Naxilte movement - the in thing of that time- was started being heard in our college. Students were targetted and brainwashed (this term was used to describe the students who joined Naxalites) to join the movement There were Literature being distributed, posters quoting Mao tse Tung, Lenin, Marx etc were seen in the campus.

    Coming to the episode of 2nd June 1969 - all I can say that it was a sad event. On a hindsight, one tend to disagree with events that led to 2nd June police firing - whether it was prudent to bash up the Police Constable (traffic)at Gandhi Morh or the ransacking of the Faridpur Police outpost or for that matter bringing and abusing the Police Inspector (kidnapping?) to College Hostel.
    The behaviour of few in and outside the campus spread the infamous label of notoriety about the students of RE College. There was general dislike of the students and people in and around maintained fearful distance. Fortunately, now everything has changed and sanity has prevailed. We all like to see our beloved college as a seat of Excellence.

    To be on the track, 2nd June was the last day of the semester Exam . We had drawing exam on that day. My seat was at the Hall of the Drawing Department loacted at 1st floor. After about 2 hours of the exam, suddenly we could hear the siren blowing in air-raid tone. The student leaders were running and shouting that the Police had surrounded the college. The exam stopped, We all ran down stairs and saw police lined up on the road.We all were lined up on our side facing the police across the road. Many of us were carrying rods(which were the sticks that support the mosquito nets in the steel cots at the hostel rooms). Both sides were hurling missiles as well as choicest of the expletives at each other. I could not remain there for long as my older brother who was a senior student of the college took me away. We all ran to the Main Bulding and took shelter at the NCC room at the top floor. We could hear the police firing and could see seniors carrying injured students away. The police came chasing the fleeing students and ransacked the depatrtments, even teachers were not spared. Praksh Podder who was my classmate(actually we had breakfast together on the fateful day)died of firing. He was a native of Krishnanagar in Nadia District of West bengal.

    The political scenario of WB was changing fast. United front replaced the Congress Government. When the Police firing episode happend Jyoti Basu was the Police Minister. This prompted many students who were in the fringe, to join Naxalite movement. We could see weird looking youths residing and dinning at our Hostels regularly. In short we all felt insecure.The students like me who were apolitical were bullied all the time by our own collegemates as well as outsiders.

    Many good teachers left, the Pricipal also resigned. The teachers were openly ridiculed and abused. None was willing to take charge of the college. It so happened that every HOD used to hold the responsiblity of the College by turn.One night in connection with some killing outside, all the students of the college were arrested and had to spend the night in Durgapur Jail. CISF was posted to man the gates and all of us carried I - card even while going for a movie outside. Red flag was hoisted in the college main building on May Day.There was complete chaos and lawlessness. One day during Lunch Hour we witnessed from our hostel the burning of a school bus. Obviously, everybody knew who did it or who were behind it?

    There were some Teachers who manipulated students for their own cause. I remember one teacher who used to smoke and drink(?) with the leaders. Once he led a mob to thrash a poor supplier of mutton alleging that the man adulterated mutton with DOG MEAT(sic!). The teacher had an axe to grind with the poor fellow(I guess).

    The movemenet culminated with the murder of Madhusudan Mukherjee, a final year student from Jamshedpur.He was beaten to death by his fellow class and college mates. He was beaten with Hockey Sticks and rod in his hostel common room. We heard whispers that he begged his tormentors for his life but the revolutionaries were beoynd petty emotions.

    The college remained closed for about a year. We all lost a year of curriculam.

    On reopening there was a surprise in store. We discovered that the propagators of the revolution of proletariet have all embraced the Yankee Culture they so despised. During the movement they even used to boycot the Hostel ID and cajoled others to do so. The reason : to sympathise with the hungry millions. Needless to say nobody dared to defy their request (or order). Now these very champions of the proletariet started indulging in degenerated activities with such a vengeance that it seemed that they wanted make up for the lost/missed time.

    In spite of the aberration we witnessed, the college is dear to me. I cherish the memories(not always fond)of my college - I consider it my own.

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  20. I had listened to a lot of stories about our college students involved in political activities, but I still wonder why at that time there was so much political motivation among the students and why have things changed so much now?

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  21. to the students who r still in college.

    forget about politics.. and get into investment banking. they pay like hell. your aim should be to join goldman sachs in new york. your starting salary would be $70,000+ approx 120,000$ bonus. with that kinda money on the table, you would be foolish to think about politics.

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  23. i m also a student of rec(NIT Durgapur)the revolution,movement all the things still prevails,not in our college but somewhere far from this college.the thing is we dont want to think about it and dont want to see it.dats why we r not able to see it,feel it.still dere is agitation about various issues among the students but all da students are so much concerned about demselves,about the career,dat is not possible.no one can say anything against the college authority.one type of audacity of professors and college authorities is present in our college.besides dat our students dont have any social responsibilities.no one is interested about dat.dere is so much zone funda in our college from da very begining of the frst yr dat it is very hard to produce a strong unity among all da students.any protest movement against da college authority would not occur,coz there s very less unity among the students.we the students of a national institute still deprived of many facilities after giving so much of money.the students are not willing to protest against their own rights.den how we can expect dat dey would do something in the social front.all da studnts have become career oriented.all da students thnk about huge salary and a multinational company.this globalization and open market an opprtunity of america to grab all da things from the thrd world country,prevails.a student would grab da opportunity of a job of an american based company rather dan a indian company.dere is no nationalty no love of students for his own country.only thing matters to them is money and high profile lifestyle.

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  24. Sir, I am the student of first batch of so called NIT Durgapur (which was RE College when I joined). It was really inspiring to know about
    the (g)olden era. But I have only one question for you: "Could your approach/philosophy achieved any of your objectives to a measurable extent?"

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  26. I was @ REC DGP 1966-71.What Vinod Mishra wrote is his view and imagination,general (majority) student was not with them.In the process REC suffered, from a nice college with great expectation ,REC was ruined.
    Vinod has not told how they extract Money from students,they can not tolerate any type of opposition, why they killed unarmed Madhu Karmakar. Fascist and communist are two side of same coin.

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  27. I m currently a final year student in NIT, Durgapur and I in fact had stayed in Hall 1, Room no 101;the rumored room. Mess workers had told that the room was closed before. Similarly, when in first year hostel (Hall 9), room no. 222 was closed coz a student had committed suicide by hanging himself to a fan. Also, I heard something like some students bringing a girl in Hall 5 and raping her till death. Not to forget all these political stories. Quite an interesting place!!!! But,now it is completely different. All students want to get placed in MNCs, all want imported items. One thing all students(lets say all Indians) forget is that MNCs may be providing better perks to its employees but in the end that is in no ways comaparable to the huge amount of money they are making from India. There is tax on every single daily-use items but no tax on share market and further things like double tax evasion and all. So much things to say but just writing won't do anything for sure. But surely, naxalism is not the solution for all this. They should pressure the government by some other means, not destroy and blast very little development works done by our money looter government.

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  29. I am a young passout of NIT Durgapur(REC-Durgapur). Eventhough I learnt well about communism, I do not concur with t as I feel it to be too ideal to be true.Your note gave us a perspective, a window into the past, which some may label as dark days of our college others including me as circumstantial happenings. I happened to converse with one of your fellow batchmate who was a dreamer too, who also shared history of naxalite movement with me, however down the line he too felt it was just to extreme. All students sometime or the other (probably every now and then) still can feel the bad bad politics which goes as an undercurrent among professors and staff. As students come and go the communion is less polluted. We could only wish for constructive communion, an example I feel Bihari More Project is such. Gymkhana once (heard from your batchmate and other seniors) was so culturally sound and progressive is now only restricted to host RECSTACY every year, (*people say only for vested dividends*).RECSTACY- with a fashion show.. where not clothes from designers, but girls are showcased.
    Present students revolution is still on... make it additive, creative and impact the society in a positive way a flag a colour must not be the only thing. - Dreamer (2006-10 batch)

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