People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 11

March 11, 2012

Comrade Brajamohan Jamatia 


Haripada Das


COMRADE Brajamohan Jamatia, a centenarian communist leader and former member of the CPI(M)’s Tripura state committee, one of the architects of tribal-nontribal friendship in the state, a party builder from its inceptive days and a living monument of many popular historic battles, breathed his last at his residence at Manu in Santirbazar subdivision, South Tripura on March 2, 2012. He was 106 and is survived by 8 sons and daughters. He had been suffering from age-related ailments.


As soon as the sad news came in, party leaders and workers from Belonia and Santirbazar subdivisions (which were under one Belonia party divisional committee earlier) rushed to his residence to have a last glimpse of and pay homage to the departed leader. In the evening, his mortal remains were brought to the Belonia divisional committee office where the body was draped in a red flag by Basudeb Majumder and Manindra Debnath, secretaries of the two divisional committees) and Srimanta Dey (Santirbazar divisional secretariat member). Here thousands of party leaders, workers and sympathisers paid floral tributes to the departed leader.


The last journey of Comrade Jamatia started next morning from Belonia divisional committee office with 106 volunteers holding red flags half mast to mark his age. The grief stricken processionists bade him a tearful goodbye at Bankar at the outskirt of the town. Thereafter, a vehicular convoy of leaders and volunteers followed the hearse with the body of Comrade Jamatia to Birchandra Manu. The convoy had to halt at a number of places en route, at the request of the bystanders, to let them pay last tributes to their beloved leaders.


When the convoy reached the lawns of the Martyrs Column erected in memory of 11 comrades who were butchered by Congress goons at Birchandramanu on October 12, 1988, the atmosphere turned really heavy with grief. Here, among others, Central Committee members Khagen Das, Badal Chowdhury, and Bajuban Reang, state secretariat member Narayan Kar, and family members of martyred comrades paid their floral tributes to the departed leader.


Later, his body was consigned to flames at his residence in presence of thousands of his fellow comrades and admirers.


Comrade Brajamohan Jamatia was born in 1905 in a tribal peasant family of Manu in South Tripura. The state was then ruled by the king who took hardly any step to offer education to its subjects. Lamentations of being illiterate brought in touch with the Janashiksha Movement (people’s education movement) led by Dasaratha Deb and others in 1945. He got his party membership in its formative days in 1950 and started organising the tribals under the Ganamukti Parishad (GMP), of which he was a Central Committee member till his last. The Ganamukti Parishad was at that time offering resistance to the army and police deployed by the Congress government to crush the communists.


During the Sino-Indian conflict in 1962, Comrade Brajamohan Jamatia, along with other communist leaders of the state, was detained and put in Bhagalpur Jail. The captivity turned into a boon for him as he could now fulfil his long-cherished desire to be literate, and he engrossed himself in study. Within a year he was able to read a newspaper and write letters. After coming out of jail, he led a heroic battle against the tortuous onslaughts led loose by the forest department of the government on the people. A large area of Manu, Birchandra Manu and Garjee etc, including the traditional habitations of tribals, was declared ‘Forest Reserve’ by the government. He built up a strong popular resistance against these onslaughts of the forest department, mobilising tribals and non-tribals on one platform. The Congress government issued a permanent warrant of arrest against him. He went underground and eventually led the struggle to victory.


As a sequence of the Indo-Pak war of 1965, a section of Muslims at Paikhola in Belonia migrated to Pakistan, leaving their landed properties behind. But their properties were muted in favour of some non-farmer Congress leaders residing in Belonia town. The kisans who were cultivating these plots were given notice to vacate these lands. The police too stood in favour of the Congress leaders.  Then farmers, under the leadership of Comrade Brajamohan Jamatia, put up strong resistance with conventional weapons like bows and arrows, and succeeded in keeping the land under their possession.


On the split in the party in 1964, he firmly sided with the CPI(M), and was elected to the state committee of the party.


Comrade Jamatia was elected to Tripura legislative assembly twice, in 1977 and 1988. He was one of the targets of gruesome carnage at Birchandra Manu which rocked the nation in 1988. At Birchandra Manu, 11 leading comrades including ADC members, CPI(M) divisional committee members, pradhans and local leaders, were selectively butchered by the killers let loose by the Congress, the bigger partner of the ruling coalition, on October 12, 1988. The heinous pre-planned attack was triggered off when a batch of party leaders and workers, in presence of Comrade Brajamohan Jamatia, were hoisting the red flag to reopen a party office that was forcibly closed by Congress miscreants. Comrade Jamatia narrowly escaped the bid on his life. In 2005, crossing the centenary of his birth, he asked to be relieved from the state committee on health ground, which the party conceded with due honour to him.


The CPI(M) state secretariat, central executive committee of the Ganamukti Parishad and CPI(M) divisional committees of Belonia and Santirbazar expressed deep condolence on the demise of this dedicated communist leader and conveyed heartfelt sympathy to his kith and kin. Party flags throughout the state were put half mast in his honour on March 2 and 3. Chief minister Manik Sarkar, in his condolence message, described Comrade Jamatia as one of the pioneer communist leaders in the state, one who dedicated his life for the toiling people, and forged tribal-nontribal amity, one who displayed a firm conviction to his ideology and determination to reach the goal.