Veteran Communist Revolutionary leader of Odisha and an important leader of different mass movements in the state, Comrade Gananath Patro died on June 6, 2020 at his residence in Rourkela. He was 78 years old and ill for some time. He will particularly be remembered for his active role as a leader of Baliapala anti Balistic missile test range movement of 1983-87 and Narayanpatna land movement from 2007.
Though he was very much progressive in his student years but he came under the influence of Marxism only during his tenure as a Chemistry lecturer in Paralakhemundi’s SKCG College. In 1967 he started to go to nearby tribal villages during weekends and started working for their issues. At that time armed peasant movement started in Srikakulam district which was adjacent to his place of work. Influenced by this movement he started contacting the leaders of that movement. He immediately left his Govt. job and joined the movement as a professional revolutionary. He was one of the important leaders of CPI(ML) in Odisha during its initial days.
In 1972 he developed difference with Comrade Charu Mujumdar’s line and opted for mass line. After that he joined organization led by Com. Nagi Reddy and Com. DV Rao and worked under the banner of UCCRI(ML). He had become part of CPIML)-Janashakti when the then UCCRI(ML) of which he was a part, became a part of it. After the split in that organization he became part of the section that went to form CPI(ML)-Unity Initiative and later merge with COI(ML).
He was instrumental in developing tribal movement in Andhra Odisha border area. He was the advisor of Chasi Muliya Adivasi Sangha which spearheaded movements on different issues of tribals. In 2007-08 he had developed serious difference with his parent organization on the issue of land movement of tribal people in Narayanapatana. In spite of all odds he stood firmly by the side of Narayanpatana tribal land movement. He tried to steer the movement in the direction of organizing resistance to the enemies of tribal movement and opposed state repression. Under his guidance CMAS formed a volunteer organization of militants from tribals in the name of Ghenua Bahini.
In a very short period the Narayanapatana movement had spread like a wild fire and thousands of acres of land of landlords and money lenders were captured by tribal people under the leadership of CMAS. For several years the whole Narayanapatana block was completely liquor free. This historic movement was faced severe state repression including police firing in 2009 in which two activists of CMAS were martyred. Subsequently he was arrested by police in 2010 with many false and fabricated cases. During his three year stay at Koraput jail his health deteriorated. Even after his acquittal and subsequent release from jail he could not resume political activities.
He was part of several joint moves with our Party over a period of time. In fact in 2013 our party has organized a big rally of rural poor in Berhampur and that was the last political programme he attended.
He was very much clear about the destructive development carried out by the ruling classes in the name of industrialization and always stood firmly with different anti displacement movements of Odisha. He was actively associated with solidarity with struggles in Kashipur, Kalinganagar and with anti-POSCO movement.
As a true revolutionary, he was always committed to communist values and stood for Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought till his last breath. His sacrifice and commitment has earned much sympathy and admiration from intellectuals and activists of Odisha. He had child like simplicity and rock like firmness, for which he stood out.
The revolutionary movement has lost a leader and the masses of Odisha have lost a committed friend with his sad demise. We, on behalf of CC of CPI(ML)-New Democracy, pay heartfelt tribute and give Red Salute to the departed leader. We express our deepest condolences on his sad demise and pledge to continue the struggle for which Com. GP worked throughout his political life i.e. for New Democratic Revolution in India.
Red Salute to Comrade GP.
CC, CPI(ML)-New Democracy
June 7, 2020