CIA report reveals Kerala CPI leader spied for Nehru Govt
In a shocking revelation, a 1950s document declassified by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2000 has exposed the presence of a Central Intelligence Bureau (Union Govt of India ) informant in the Communist Party of India. The report prepared by the CIA in the aftermath of the Edappally Police station attack of 1950 acknowledges the existence of an informant inside the Kerala unit of CPI during the 1950s. The report claims that this informant played a vital role in the arrest of several key communist members after the Edappally station attack that left two policemen dead. The document also states that CPI leadership knew about the presence of the informant and a message was sent across to alert the party workers about the same.
''A warning has been issued to all cells and local committees by the Kerala Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of India to be on the lookout for a CPI member who has suddenly disappeared, and he is now evidenced to be an agent of the Central Intelligence Bureau, Government of India. He was an active and very popular CPI worker among the students of the United State of Travancore and Cochin. He was frequently seen in student hostels and popular eating places. CPI members admired him for his dramatic escapes from near police arrests with other party members,'' the document reads.
However, it is not clear who was the informant. mathrubhumi.com spoke to some leaders from both CPM and CPI regarding this but none could shed much light on the person who turned out to be a spy for Union Govt and possibly the CIA itself. "Those who were arrested suffered hell in police custody. They were beaten for 87 days until the day they were finally shifted from Aluva sub-jail. My father never discussed much about the incident, so it is hard to explain everything that happened during the time," N M Pearson, a left political observer and son of N K Madhavan, who was one of the main accused in the Edappally police station case, shared his recollections about the incident. '' I have no idea about the leader who acted as an informant to the intelligence bureau, '' added Pearson. Prominent writer N S Madhavan, who has referred to the police station attack in some of his writings told mathrubhumi.com that he didn't have any exact information on the CPI leader described by the CIA. M L Sajeevan, son of M M Lawrence (Lawrence is the only surviving leader of the team that attacked the police station), said that he too was not aware of such an informant.
The communists in Kerala had alleged that the CIA played a key role in setting the communal forces in Kerala up against the party through 'Vimochana Samaram' (Liberation Struggle). The struggle is largely credited to have been the raison d'être for the fall of the first EMS Namboodiripad government in Kerala. The role of the CIA in various struggles in India was also mentioned by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the American ambassador to India (1973–75) in his book "A Dangerous Place".
Edappally Police Station Attack
The attack on the Edappally police station happened on the night of February 28, 1950, at a time when CPI was undergoing a shift in policies. The party Congress held in Calcutta in 1948 saw a change in policy under the new General Secretary BT Ranadive, who adopted a revolutionary tilt towards radical communism in the country. Following this event, the party embarked on armed uprisings in several parts of the country including Telangana, West Bengal and parts of modern-day Kerala from 1948 to the early 1950s.
In the wake of an armed uprising, fearing the intervention of Communist China and other external forces, the Nehru-led government took stern action against those who preached communism or had anything to do with the party. Meanwhile, the Communist Party in Kerala was banned and its leaders went underground. By 1949 around 2,500 party members were imprisoned across the country . Two communist leaders, N.K. Madhavan and Varadutty, were arrested by the police and put behind bars at the Edappally Police Station.
Upon hearing the news of the arrest of N K Madhavan, CPI members who were attending a railway workers' strike at Ponekkara, Ernakulam decided to take decisive action. After realizing that Madhavan was being brutally beaten in the lockup, the workers attacked the Edappally station. Two policemen KJ Mathew and Velayudhan died in the wake of the assault.
In retaliation, the police went on a rampage and started torturing comrades severely. Many party members were taken into custody and jailed for several days. Communist leaders like MM Lawrence, KC Mathew, KU Das and Viswanatha Menon were among those who were tortured by the police. Later, KU Das succumbed to injuries while in custody. Those accused in the case were released after the Communist government came to power in Kerala in 1957.