(Santosh Sahar prepared profiles of some of the revolutionaries of Bhojpur, based on extensive research and conversations with their surviving contemporaries.)
COMRADE Subrat Dutt (Jauhar), was the second General Secretary of CPI (ML). In the hour of crisis that followed the martyrdom of Charu Mazumdar - crisis thanks to state repression without and conflicts within - he accepted this responsibility and transformed the plains of Bhojpur and Patna into citadels of revolution. From 22 April 1974 to 29 November 1975, this period of his life lasted merely for one and half years and one month. In the darkest hour of Indira Gandhi’s dictatorship, during emergency, he attained martyrdom in his extremely beloved land of Bhojpur. A comrade recalls, “The police had searched every nook and corner of the Badhaar village but was not able to find him. When they left we started searching him secretly. There was a field in Badhaar with very tall and dense mustard full of vibrant yellow flowers. We found him asleep in a sheet in the midst of those flowers. There was no sign of death that was visible. Jauhar da had left us forever”.
Jagdish Master: Architect of the New Bhojpur
“PEOPLE'S poet Lakhan Ji Surdas wanders from place to place singing self-composed songs of Jagdish Master among the people” noted Flaming Fields of Bihar.
The biography of Master Saheb has been written by many. ‘Bhojpur Mein Naxalvadi Andolan’ (Kalyan Mukherjee and Rajendra Yadav), ‘Master Saab’ (Mahashweta Devi), ‘Raktim Tara’ (Suresh Kantak), and ‘Arjun Zinda Hai’ (Madhukar Singh) are some of these. There are also reportages, stories, poems, novels, plays, and articles. In 1983, Lokyuddh carried a biographical note based on inputs from his close comrade Ramnaresh Ram.
‘Bhojpur mein Naxalbari Andolan’ recorded that there was a huge and unprecedented demonstration in Ara on the occasion of Ambedkar Diwas on 14 April 1970. Jagdish Mahto, Rameshwar Yadav, Latafat Hussain and others organised a torchlight rally from Anaith village (Bahiro Lakh) near Bhojpur which concluded with a meeting at Ramna Maidan and pledged to fight for a ‘Harijanistan’. Backward caste farmers and agrarian workers participated in large numbers in this rally. Prior to the rally, Jagdish Mahto campaigned intensively at Kosiyar, Baruna and Inrukhi (Sahar Block) against untouchability.
Birth, Childhood, and Education
One of the founders of our Party in Bhojpur, Comrade Jagdish Prasad was born in 1936. He received his primary education at a school in his village Ekvari. He was a promising and bright student. He wanted to go out and study, but he was not issued a Transfer Certificate. This was his first conflict (in childhood) and he was successful in this first conflict. On the basis of a test, he got himself admitted to 8th Class at the Ara Jain School. He passed his Matriculation Exam in the First Division and was registered for ISC at the Patna College. In 1963 he received the degree of BSc (Honours) from Rajendra College, Chhapra.
It was in his student days that Comrade Jagdish noted the ruthless oppression of Dalits by the upper castes. The idealist Jagdish was filled with hatred and anger, and he took up the cudgels against social oppression in his student life itself. He organised students on a wide scale to protest against this injustice. It was as a result of the widespread people’s protests mobilised by him that the old traditions were broken and upper caste and Dalit students started living together in hostels.
In 1964 he began his life as a teacher at the Amba High School in Aurangabad, where he remained till 1966 - earning the sobriquet ‘Master’ Jagdish. His activism brought him into conflict with Bhumihar landlords. He resigned in 1966 and came to Jain School, Ara. When he moved to Ara, many students from the Amba School left that school and registered themselves in the Ara School. Later, some of his students fought for social justice in their respective areas and some were even martyred.
Master Saheb’s biographer has recorded:
“During the 2 years he worked at Amba High School, Master Saheb’s life underwent another new change. In a situation fraught with danger of attacks by zamindars, Master Saheb learnt to wield a lathi. After that, whenever he returned to the village he taught the villagers to wield the lathi. The zamindars of the village had organised a Shiv Sena. Master Saheb countered this by building a Bhim Sena. While he taught at Ara also, he taught villagers in Anaith and Bahiro to wield the lathi”.
“After school, he used to work at Chandwa Musahar Toli ... he told the farmers, ‘You are farmers; and farmers do not go without their lathis’. His interests included wielding the bow and arrow and lathi, playing kabaddi, and reading books. He used to read the Manusmriti, Gita, Mahabharata and other books, and could recite by heart many parts of these books. He rejected the Manusmriti and used to give the example of Ekalavya”.
The Decisive Moment
It was the 17th of February in the year 1967. He was brutally beaten up by the zamindars for opposing their election manipulation and booth capturing, in the election that Ram Naresh Ram contested. He was in hospital for a month. But even this mortal attack could not make him waver from his chosen path. On 31 December he resigned from the Jain School, Ara. He used to say, “What will you do by earning money, if you don’t have dignity? Better to die than live a life of humiliation.”
Naxalbari and Building the Party
It was 1967. The effect of the Naxalbari spring was felt in the then Shahabad District also and greatly inspired Comrade Jagdish. He became eager to contact the CPI(ML). In 1970 he went to the jail with two other persons and first spoke with Party comrades.
In October 1970 he came into contact with Sadhu Ji (Comrade Rameshwar Yadav). When after repeated efforts he could not contact the Party, he decided to build the movement himself. He left home finally on 20 March 1971.
On 10 December (Sunday) 1972 he was killed thanks to a plot hatched by zamindars in Bihiya, who spread a rumour among landless peasants that he was a thief. Even in the final moments, he refused to shoot at the landless peasants who had surrounded and killed him due to this rumour. Trying to save him, landless peasant warrior Comrade Ramayan Ram was also martyred at the same place.