Remembering Chandu; Who was comrade chandrashekhar prasad?

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On March 31, 1997, JNU students got the news that Chandrashekhar, who was twice the president of JNU Students’ Union, has been roasted in Sewan, Bihar with bullets. 

The same Chandrashekhar who was Chandu among his friends, the same Chandrasekhar who went to his JNU students saying- ‘Our future generations will ask questions, they will ask us where you were when new social forces were emerging, they would ask that when People who live and die every day, were fighting for their rights, where were you when the downtrodden were raising their voice, we will ask the most questions.

Who was comrade Chandrashekhar Prasad?

Chandrasekhar Prasad was born on 20th September, 1963 in Bihar’s Siwan. He finished his early school education from Sainik School in Tilaiyya, after which he got selected in NDA, but left it after two years, uninterested.

He then joined the Patna University. It was during his days in Patna that he got associated with left politics and joined AISF, the student wing of CPI. From there, he moved to Jawaharlal Nehru University and joined Centre For Political Studies.

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Chandrashekhar Prasad became associated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation during the formation of the All India Students Association. In an Aligarh town hall, he expressed his desire to bring a “revolution” for clean politics in India. 

He was credited for almost single handedly building up the All India Students Association during his stay in Jawaharlal Nehru University. He was elected to the body of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union as the vice president for one term and president for two terms.

He described to have played a key role in creating the foundations of labourers, students, women’s and dalits rights movements among the students community. After completing his M. Phil, he decided to move back to his hometown of Siwan to start a movement there

At that time, Bihar had a government of secularism, social justice and backward messiah Lalu Prasad Yadav. JNU students erupted over Chandu’s murder. When the angry students came to Bihar Bhawan in Delhi to seek answers from Lajoo Yadav, they were also welcomed by the police bullets there. 

The time of Chandu’s assassination was the time when Soviet Russia, the strongest fortress of the Left in the world, had collapsed. The world was rapidly moving towards capitalism. Liberalization crossed the threshold of India and established itself. All the leftist voices started talking about the end of Marxism.

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It was at the same time, when a young student at the JNU campus was telling his companions, ‘If we go somewhere, we will have the power of the suppressed voices on our shoulders that we talk about protecting on the streets. If there is personal ambition, then there will be ambition to be a martyr like Bhagat Singh, not by adding lumps in the election from JNU to win and lose the election.

The young man, who awakened to save the voices of the suppressed, left Delhi after being removed from the post of JNU President and went to Siwan and burnt the trumpet of change. Upon reaching Siwan, Chandu opened a front against Bahubali leader Shahabuddin in his stronghold. He raised the issues of crime, muscle power, scams and corruption very prominently in the politics of Bihar. He was getting better response from the public.

Chandu was dreaming of changing the political landscape of India and started it. The bandh was called on 2 April 1997 to protest against the massacres and scams in Bihar. For this bandh, Chandu and his associate Shyam Narayan were gunned down while addressing a street corner meeting at JP Chowk at 4 pm on 31 March. A handcuffed Bhute Mian was also killed in this shootout.

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During his time at JNU, he was elected Vice-President of the student union in 1993, and eventually President, for two successive terms.

Prasad’s story might almost read like a roster of any student body politician, were it not for the fact that the erstwhile student leader didn’t stop there. Once he’d returned ‘home’ after college, he campaigned actively against the criminalisation of politics in Laloo Prasad Yadav-ruled Bihar.