Today is the day Comrade Chandu, former JNUSU President, was killed in Siwan, Bihar at the behest of the criminal RJD MP Shahabuddin. March 31, 1997, 4 pm.
It’s worth recalling that one of the reasons JNU fees are low today and students coping with social, regional, gender and other deprivations can get to JNU, is because of struggles Chandu led when he was JNUSU President, against privatisation and fee hikes, and to ensure deprivation points in JNU entrance exams.
Chandu was one of those who thought he and the JNU student movement owed something back to society. No, he didn’t think he should get a corporate job to show something for subsidies or to alleviate the poverty of his mother who brought him up. He was someone who decided a career in the Army wasn’t for him, he explained why in a letter to his mum, that he sent before he joined JNU. Even as a school student in Sainik School, he felt he needed to be someone fighting oppression in society, not wars against those the ruling classes designated as internal or external enemies.
He was in the AISF and CPI to begin with, but joined the AISA and CPIML while in JNU. And he returned after JNU to Siwan as a whole time activist. He was addressing a public meeting in support of a Bihar Bandh against Ranveer Sena massacres and corruption scams, when he was shot dead.
Chandu was someone who always had time and patience for people, a very loving comrade always. He always had a disarming vulnerability. He was the one who offered me party membership. Who drew my feminist attention to Bathani Tola and the struggles of Dalit landless women in Bihar.
I always feel uncomfortable speaking of Chandu as someone who sacrificed a career for a life as a communist comrade, because I don’t think he saw it as a sacrifice. The opposite. He loved the life he chose, and would have been miserable as a bureaucrat.
His speech in which he said we had to choose between a fascist India and a democratic one, that rings true even today.
Dear Chandu, we miss you comrade. But I see a bit of you in young comrades today. Here’s a screengrab of him raising slogans during the anti privatisation struggle at the ad block….