How Irawat became a communist
- Part 2 -

L Sotinkumar *

In May, 1945, Irawat led a delegation from Cachar to the All India Kishan Sabha session held at Netra Kona in Mymensing District of the then undivided Bengal. In the open rally of the big gathering he presented some attractive dances and songs, “Thangol adu maya thangu thouna, hey lou-ivuba” with his troupe and won high tributes from the leaders as well as the delegates.

Irawat’s political exile in Assam was not wasted years. In March, 1944, he went to Bejwadada (Katukual Village) to join the Kishan conference. After that he stayed for sometime ‘at the Benga1 Communist Party office. After coming back to Silchar went to Sylhet to join the annual session of the Surma Valley Provincial Kishan Sabha held under the leadership of Mani Singh. Irawat worked in the Kishan Front of the Communist Party and was appointed General Secretary of the Cachar District Kishan Sabha and President of the Surma Valley Kishan Sabha.

By virtue of his magnetic personality and organising ability, Irawat was instrumental in the establishment of the Assam Kishan Sabha, the CPI Assam Provincial Committee, the Assam Student’s Federation etc. Irawat even contested in the 1946 election to the Assam Provincial Legislatures Assembly from the Silchar constituency as a CPI candidate though unsuccessful by a narrow margin.

In the election supplement of The People’s Age, under the caption ‘Poor orphan to People’s Hero’ had narration about Irawat’s activities as a communist and Kishan Sabha leader in Cachar.

The provincial election in Assam took place between the 9th and 12th of January, 1946.

In Cachar the local Congress leaders had realised that it was not easy to attack Irawat’s patriotism and his service to the people. Therefore, they made a false propaganda that the Communist party was getting special facilities from the Government. Such false propaganda resulted in the narrow defeat of Irawat and two other comrades - Biresh Misra and Karuna Sindhu Ray. This was the first time the Communist came out to contest general seats in the elections.

After six years of political exile, Irawat was finally permitted to enter Manipur in March 1946. Whenafter a long forced separation, the leader of modem Manipur went back to Manipur, he received warm welcome from thousands of men and women. After the power was transferred, ‘the Maharaja of Manipur agreed to set up an Assembly with limited advisory powers. The long awaited election to the first Manipur State Assembly was held on 11th June 1948 and continued upto 27th July. Irawat was elected from Utlou constituency defeating the other four candidates.

At another stage, when the power was transferred to India the question of accession of Manipur State came, Irawat and his comrades-in-arm fully supported its accession to India.

Before deciding this accession issue, Jyotirmoy Nandy came to Manipur to guide informing Manipur Unit of Communist Party under Assam state unit of CPI. In the meeting a decision was taken to rally all democratic parties of Manipur around the slogan of full responsible Government in Manipur and also to see that the reactionary elements may not play any trick on the accession question.

After this, Irawat along with other delegates attended the Assam Prpvincial Conference of the CPI. In that conference he was elected to the Assam provincial committee of the CPI. This was because Manipur unit of the party remained as a unit of the Assam state unit of CPI till Manipur was constituted as a separate state unit.

The second important stage in the political career of Irawat was his attendance as a delegate from Assam in the historic Second Congress of the Communist Party of India held at Culcutta during 28th Feb to 6th March 1948. There was a sharp political confrontation between the o1d line and the new line.

In the Congress Irawat reacted to the deliberation that were going on. He fully supported and voted to the new line of armed struggle- Telengana way, which was adopted in the 2nd Congress by a majority vote. In the Congress he had the opportunity to meet Thakin Than Tun of the Burma Communist Party.

The political career of Irawat became more distinct in the last part of the year 1948. He was the undisputed leader of a political movement in Manipur for organising a democratic revolution. But he was disillusioned when the democratic revolution had actually come to the state. Because the great mass of the peasantry were exploited as ever. It was under these circumstance that Irawat first felt the necessity of launching an armed peasant movement in Manipur.

When the idea of formation of Purbanchal Pradesh which includes Tripura, Cachar, Lusai Hills and Manipur came to the knowledge, of Irawat and his partymen, he called a protest on 21st September, 1948 at M.D.U. hall. The Pungdongbam incident in which a police officer was killed accidentally had changed the destiny of Irawat and his partymen. He had gone underground from that very day till his death on 26th September, 1951 at Tangbow, Burma.

Our party, CPI is proud of having such a legendary leader. Irawat’s role in the country’s liberation movement, his struggle against the foreign rule as well as the autocratic Maharaja his pioneering work in organising Kishans and workers and his able leadership in the Dec 12 Nupi Lal had cost him imprisonment and exile in Cachar from where he worked restlessly among the Manipuri and non-Manipuri peasants and workers.

Today, Jananeta Irawat not only belongs to the Communist Party of India, but to the entire people of Manipur-Cachar and other parts of Assam. Indeed, he is a leader of the masses.


* L Sotinkumar wrote this article for The Sangai Express . This article was webcasted on October 03, 2010.

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