I went there and from there I got my primary education. So, I started
bit late, rural village, no school only Chahalis (traditional non-formal
village schools), One day experience of my Chahali... So this atrocious
education - beating the pupil, boys and girls and compulsorily letting
them learn something – I very much disliked it then itself.
And, then about my identity -
who am I – My mother died when I was just 4 years old. So, that is an
identity loss. One day, my elder sister brought a mirror before me.
Told, ‘See, you are not cleaning your teeth, the teeth is so much dirty.
You see your face!’
‘Oh! This is then myself! My teeth is like
this!’ So, that was the first identity I built up. If I remember
correctly that was the first identity.
Two, in the nearby village there was an ME
School. I joined there. All landlords – boys and girls – Elites were
also reading there. I came from such family, a peasant’s family. My
father was, to start with, an agricultural labourer. And, my maternal
uncle died. So my maternal grandmother had some property and that joined
with our property. So, we then had some land were not poor as earlier.
This is my class background.
I went to school, class IV. One day my
cousin, who was not talking to me for some quarrel, came to me secretly
on the day when the result was declared. He said, ‘You stood first when
all these elite students were there!’ Here my second identity built up.
What is identity, now people don’t define.
If I review myself from that angle, this was my identity.
Then I went to Jaleswar High School from a
small village walking 5 Km to go and again the same to come back home
daily. My teachers used to tease me – ‘from your village, nobody got
educated; nobody has any standard.’ It was shocking me. My science
teacher used to tell like that.
So, I taught him lessons also. In the
class, I used to question him whatever came in my mind. At times, he
used to answer with much difficulty as well.
I was the first science graduate of my
Then after my M.Sc., I met the science
teacher once, by chance. He recalled – ‘you were putting such
questions those days that stunned me! I felt that you would be great.’
One of my school friends, Dr Janardan
Mohanty, a senior to many professors, came to me when I was in medical
The other people there asked him, ‘Sir,
you are here?’ He said, ‘He is my friend, my classmate. He was a rebel
then and now a revolutionary. I have come to meet him.’ So, that is also
sort of my identity.
BM: Any interesting childhood memory?
GP: We had some land and my uncle who was
serving the railways in Kharagpur had also bought some land. But my
father stole all the lands.
However, there was a young Santal boy
Chuniram in our house as a servant. I learnt Santali language from him.
I also learnt archery from him and could hunt only one bird by that.
BM: How did you come across Marxism or
GP: From high school I was recruited to
Student Federation. Then, student federation was under CPI, which is now
I did my pre-university science in Fakir
Mohan College, Balasore which is now FM University. I always used to
support anything just and oppose anything unjust. You can say, this was
the first thing I learnt.
I came to Ravenshaw College for B.Sc.
Actually I was interested in Physics honours. As I didn’t get it in
first selection, I didn’t wait for the second selection and took
Chemistry as my honours subject.
Studying science helped me a lot in
understanding opposing factors like heredity and adaptability – one
talks of the root characters and the other about change according to
situation! Here I got attracted towards dialectics and, being a science
student, thought how to apply these dialectics to the society.
BM: A science post-graduate of your time,
there must be ample opportunities? What drove you to join or mobilise
GP: I got selected in the PSC (Public
Service Commission) and joined as a lecturer. I taught the college
students but found what is more essential for a change in the society is
to serve people directly. Living in Paralakhemundi, I saw tribal people
coming with head-load of firewood and sell them for a meagre amount. I
went to their villages and saw their children. I decided to teach those
children. Then, every Sunday I went to teach them.
One day, my principal called me and asked
me about it. He said, ‘People are talking that your lecturer is teaching
like this even on the streets.’ I then decided to leave the job. One
day, I asked for leave, returned the books to the library and left the
BM: How did you start working with people,
or tribal people to be specific?
GP: I learnt what their life was, what was
their economy. I also gained direct knowledge from them. From the masses
I learnt unsystematic things. I systemised them, theorised them and
again taught it to the masses. This is what the Marxist philosophy talks
BM: Did you, or do you even today, see
elements of communism or Marxism in the socio-economic structure of the
GP: In the community agriculture of the Adivasis, the primitive communism is still there. Even though it has
been largely affected by the commercial competition and the green
revolution formula, some of it still remain in some parts. I wanted to
preserve that and make it an element of new democratic revolution. We
say the Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, they are our guide to action. To
apply them to the local conditions of India, we have to study the local
conditions as it varies from place to place.
BM: How and when did the Chasi Mulia
Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) come up and how you got associated?
GP: Before joining the CPI-ML since it was
formed in 1969, I had some contacts with the great Telengana movement.
There was Naxalwari movement for occupying land and distribute them
among peasants. But there was clash and many people died. On the other
hand, 10 lakh acres of land has been occupied and distributed among
peasants in the Telengana movement.
The CPIML was formed on annihilation line.
Annihilation is the highest level of clash struggle. It was the
beginning of guerrilla warfare. Subsequently in 2003, we repealed CPIML
on mass line giving proper recognition to the Telengana struggle. We had
to organise movements on the mass line.
That was implemented in Narayanpatna as
well to organise the tribals for a new democracy. New democracy is the
economic democracy, the cultural democracy and building up of the
political superstructure. So, there are three components. But what our
Maoist friends say is, they will capture power by gun and after that
they will establish new democracy. But, this won’t work. One has to
follow the new democratic principles from the beginning.
The CMAS was found in 1994 with me as its
advisor from the beginning. The movement was initially led by Kondagori
Paidama who dismantled a series of liquor production centres on the
banks of Jhanjabati River. She, also, took a lead in resolving the
disputes in the tribal community.
As dismantling of distilleries upset the
liquor dealers, police was upset for no cases were coming from the
tribal communities to the Police station. So, Paidama along with other
tribal people were put in jail being termed as a Maoist. We, somehow,
bailed her out and she was elected as a member of the Panchayat samiti.
Then Paidama was then disowned by our Andhra Counterpart. But now, she
has become an instrument against CMAS and me!
I met Nachika Linga in a meeting of the
tribals. Nachika’s whole family lived as bonded labourers because of the
wine habit of his father. This fact motivated Nachika to lead the
movement to liberate the tribal people from this wine habit, end the
system of bonded labour and free land from Sahukars.
On these three objectives, Nachika evolved
to become the leader. I used to call him modern Spartacus. He organised
villagers. In between he was also jailed for one and half years!
However, while making him free, the judge stated that a tribal raising
his voice to recover his land can’t be termed a Maoist. It was an
historic judgement. Even after that the police is still behind the
movement and is continuing it activities to suppress the movement.
BM: How CMAS is connected with CPI
(Maoist) groups? Is it a Maoist frontal organisation as mentioned by
GP: Government and part of Maoists also
say CMAS as Maoist frontal organisation. This is conspiratory. I condemn
Our form of action is mass form. But
because of the violence organised by the Maoists, the tribal movement in
the name of CMAS is facing the brunt. Like, the Maoists are killing some
wine traders and cases are being imposed on CMAS members. This is
harming the movement a lot. We want to keep CMAS committed to the mass
BM: It’s believed by many that CMAS was
behind abduction of the MLA Jhinna Hikaka!
GP: They are all lies. I believe, the
abduction of the MLA was done in nexus with people in the government.
Then the common interest was NCTC to which the government of Odisha and
Maoists, both were opposing. And, the government knew it very well that
there was absolutely no danger to MLA Jhinna Hikaka in the Maoist camp.
When they decided to set the MLA free, they offered Nachika to hold the
praja court. But, Nachika denied to hold it as no CMAS demand featured
in the demand list. So, the Maoists had to cancel the first date for
praja court and held it later. However, some CMAS members were present
there. So, whatever was done was by Maoists and CMAS didn’t have any
BM: It’s said that to fulfil his political
interests, Nachika wanted Jhinna Hikaka to resign!
GP: Nachika was never interested in
Politics. It’s not that he has never been approached. He has been
approached and I have also asked him if he is interested in Politics. He
always denied to join politics and, rather, wanted to concentrate in the
tribal movement. He is provoked even today to join politics.
BM: Working in the same area on almost
similar causes, how do you differentiate CMAS from Maoists?
GP: Maoists killing police informers or
someone who doesn’t support them is going on since long. They are
killing the parasitic landlords. But CMAS is not doing that. CMAS is
rather stopping their parasitic livelihood, not killing them because we
have no right to kill anyone. We check the parasitic livelihood. This is
the position of CMAS.
BM: What do you want to achieve through
CMAS and the movement running by it?
GP: My dream is to make it a part of the
new democratic revolution. The families given with lands will work with
their own labour, not hired labour. Then we will get rid of the hybrid
seeds and the chemical fertilisers. There will be no use of tractor but
plough and bullocks. So that the cattle will grow and the tribal people
would get both milk and manure at their home. So, it will be a self
sustaining community where human and other resources shall get equal
BM: My last question, don’t know if you
will reply to it or not. What is your opinion about the recent
development with Sabyasachi Panda and his differences with AOBSZC
(Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee) of CPI (Maoist)?
GP: AOB has taken up a dogmatic line. They
have no flexibility or creativeness. Rather, I find in Sabyasachi Panda
some flexibility and creativity.
Sabyasachi Panda, probably he wants to
adopt mass line. Probably he wants to take up the land issue. At the
same time, whatever guerrillas and armed forces he has, perhaps he wants
to preserve for the future.
BM: You mean to say, there
will be another tribal movement for land rights under his leadership?