Commemorating Nine Years of Comrade Chandrashekhar's Martyrdom in Siwan

Nine years ago , they had been gunned down in broad daylight while addressing a street-corner meeting at Siwan. The notorious fodder scam had already come to light and the people of Bihar were out on the streets challenging Laloo Prasad's reign of scams and massacres. On March 31, 1997, Chandrashekhar, who had just returned ‘home' after two successive terms as president of the prestigious JNU students' union in Delhi, and Shyamnarain Yadav, a local student leader and CPI(ML) activist of Siwan, were calling upon the people of Bihar to intensify the movement for justice and democracy and observe Bihar Bandh on April 2. This was too much for the local don-turned-MP to stomach and Chandrashekhar and Shyamnarain had to lay down their lives for defying his reign of terror and challenging the government of his ‘elder brother' in Patna .

Nine years since the martyrdom of Chandrashekhar and Shyamnarain, Siwan is no longer a fief of Shahabuddin. Nor does his elder brother's writ run any more in Bihar . On March 31, 2006 the people of Siwan turned out in large numbers not only to heave a temporary sigh of relief and celebrate the partial victories won so far, but more importantly, to rededicate themselves to the continuing battle for a better tomorrow. They remembered their martyrs by erecting a befitting statue of Comrade Chandrashekhar, to be followed by one of Comrade Shyamnarain, which will continue to inspire the advancing caravans of the people for liberation and progress. The day was observed not only in Siwan, but in different parts of the country. In faraway Hyderabad , hundreds of youths took out a procession under the banner of the Revolutionary Youth Association and resolved to carry forward the legacy of Chandrashekhar and Bhagat Singh.

After fifteen long years, Bihar has experienced a change of guard, but there is no relief or respite for the common people. The incidence of criminal activities shows no sign of decline, and when parents of kidnapped children try to apprise the chief minister of their plight they run the risk of being beaten up by the police at the CM's residence. Nitish Kumar had also promised to make Bihar crime free within a period of three months. But till date there has been no exemplary action against the crime industry or the criminal-politician-police-administration nexus. Instead, the government has come up with a spurious rehabilitation plan for retiring criminals, complete with compensation packages for any arms that may also be surrendered. And behind this official policy of administrative amnesty and social rehabilitation, the new dispensation has actually unleashed a campaign to cajole criminal gangs and secure their political allegiance. In Siwan, for example, some of Shahabuddin's accomplices are already reported to have crossed over to the BJP-JD(U) camp while NDA-backed rival gangs are busy expanding their areas of operation.

The Martyrs' Week, started on 23 March — the day of 75th anniversary of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat, witnessed its conclusion in a massive march to Siwan on 31 March where a life-size statue of Comrade Chandrashekhar was unveiled in the presence of thousands of toiling poor and oppressed people. The staue was sculpted by Vineet and other artists from Kala Kammune, Varanasi .

The unveiling of Chandrashekhar's statue marked the continuation of struggles amidst a number of programmes being conducted by the CPI(ML) to organise agrarian workers, ranging from membership campaign to struggle for the implementation of rural job guarantee scheme to many other struggles of the poor. A massive march, flagged off by Chandu's mother Kaushalya Devi, proceeded from Chandrashekhar's hometown Bindusar towards Gopalganj Chowk in Siwan, where the statue was unveiled by Comrade Dipankar. A rally was then held at VMHE grounds.

Comrade Dipankar compared the contrast between Siwan of nine years ago, when Chandrashekhar and Ramnarayan Yadav were killed in broad daylight, and of today's when a red sea of people had assembled to pay tributes to the martyrs and to install the statue — putting a brave challenge to the killers. How common people feel that this movement is their own was expressed by a very simple event. The next day on 1 April, a passer by rickshaw-puller saw that a flag-line had snapped and cord was hanging beside the road. He immediately stopped and tied the cord again to the pole, firmly. The whole of the Siwan town was decorated with festoons, banners, flags and flag-lines. The Cultural team ‘Hirawal' from Patna stayed there for a week and carried out nukkad meetings and cultural programmes. Earlier it was the town where Shahabuddin had not allowed to put up flags and banners of other parties even during elections. The mood was so vibrant that hundreds reassembled in minutes to welcome AISA National President Kavita Krishnan, JNU Students Union ex-President Amit Sengupta, Senior journalist Javed Naqvi, human rights activist Harsh Dobhal, JNUSU President Mona Das, and other comrades of Chandrashekhar who reached to the spot after the March was over as their train was late.

The event was also attended by many of Chandrashekhar's old comrades-in-arms and student activists including Pranay Krishna, ex-JNUSU President, Lal Bahadur Singh, ex-President of Allahabad University, Girija Pathak, ex-President of Kumaon University, Md. Salim, National President of Revolutionary Youth Association, AISA General Secretary Sunil Yadav, Ashok Chaudhary, ex-President of Gorakhpur University, and Harendra Yadav, brother of Comrade Shyamnarayan Yadav.