We here publish two pages of materials relating to S.A. Dange which appear to be copies of Government of India documents. They are located amongst the papers of Rajani Palme Dutt in the archives of the Communist Party of Great Britain which are deposited in the Labour Archive and Library, Manchester.
This is not the opportunity to revisit the India-China war. S.A. Dange was long-charged with passing on a list of members of the CPI who were sympathetic to the Chinese case in the border dispute to the Indian government. The first document published here is a copy of a letter from B.N. Datar, Minister of Home Affairs, Government of India, to P.K. Sawant, Home Minister of the Government of Maharashtra dated 1st November, 1962. The charge against Dange would appear to be confirmed by this covering letter to a list of CPI persons and others which he is said by the Indian Home Ministry to have handed over to them. The actual list of ‘pro-Chinese’ persons is not available in the CPGB archives.
The second document also has its source in the CPGB party archival materials and claims to be a copy of a letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, and is addressed to the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra which was received on the 14th of June, 1963. Here it is stated that S.A. Dange in his meetings with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister had opposed the removal of the internal emergency imposed at the time of the war with People’s China as this would help the ‘pro-Chinese’ elements to create an ‘abnormal situation’. Dange it was suggested was against the release from jail of members of the CPI, particularly of B.T. Ranadive, who was regarded at that time as a leading member of the left-wing of the party. The Home Minister expressed surprise that Dange was opposing the release from jail of his fellow-CPI members and considered that this required thorough investigation. The document further states that, despite the fact that Dange was supporting the position of the Indian government in the border dispute, he sought financial help from the Chinese consulate and when this was denied to him he threatened even to create trouble for ‘their supporters’. A further aspect of this second missive is that the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had personally instructed the Home Ministry to investigate the financial affairs of S.A. Dange and that this had revealed that he and his family were regularly receiving funds at a personal level from Ahmedabad mill-owners to assist them in pay settlements with their workers.
It goes without saying that both letters have very serious implications for an understanding of the role of S.A. Dange in the history of the Indian communist movement.
Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri in his recent book writes about his meeting with Rajani Palme Dutt in England and their discussion on the border question and the role of S.A. Dange. RPD gave an account of the meeting of Dange and the CPGB leadership:
‘Comrade Dange was invited by the leadership of the CPGB. When he tried to convey and justify Pt. Nehru’s stand, the leadership of the CPGB rebuked him and told him that the same Nehru government has detained more than 1000 of his (Dange’s) colleagues in jails, if he had any sense comradeship he should go back to India and campaign against the action of Nehru government and the release of communists from the jails’.
(My Life and Times’, Unistar, Chandigarh, 2011, p. 135).
It was after this that the CPI was persuaded to campaign for the release of communists detained in jail without trial.
Dear Shri Sawant,
I am enclosing herewith in original a list handed over personally by Shri S.A. Dange, to Home Minister recently giving the names and addresses of C.P.I. persons in Bombay and other individuals who in the opinion of Shri S.A. Dange are pro-Chinese.
I would request your immediate comments and action in the matter under advice to me.
Yours sincerely,Sd/- B.N. DATAR
(1) THE OPINION CALLED FOR FROM ALL STATE GOVERNMENTS RE: PROPOSAL OF LIFTING EMERGENCY AND DIF. IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH PRESIDENTS DESIRE. REPORT SHOULD REACH DELHI BY 20TH INST. TO ENABLE CABINET TO CONSIDER IT BEFORE PRESIDENT RETURNS.
(2) DURING RECENT INTERVIEWS WITH P.M. AND H.M. SHRI S.A.D. STRONGLY OPPOSED RESTORATION OF NORMAL CONDITIONS..HE HAS TOLD HOME SECY. THAT IT WILL NOT BE IN THE COUNTRY’S BEST INTERESTS AS PROCHONESE (sic) ELEMENTS WILL CREATE AN ABNORMAL SITUATION. HE IS ALSO AGAINST RELEASING SOME OF HIS OWN PARTY MEN. THIS IS VERY SURPRISING AND NEEDS THOROUGH INVESTIGATION.
(1) AS PER PERSONAL INSTRUCTION OF PRIME MINISTER I HAVE INVESTIGATED THIS MATTER. HE HAS RECEIVED LARGE AMOUNTS FROM MILLOWNERS THREW (sic) DAUGTHER (sic). SHE AND HUSBAND WITH MILLOWNERS AT AHMDBAD LAST FOURTHNIGHT (sic) RADIOS JEWELERY SARI SUITCASE PRESENTED TO THEM DOUGHTHER (sic) SENT TELEGRAM TO HIM AT BOMBAY GIVING CLEARANCE OF DEAL NEXT PAY SETTLEMENT ANNOUNCED MOST CORRUPT UNRELIABLE T U LEADER WH (sic) BUILT HIS POSITION WITH SUPPORT OF BAD CHARACTERS. HIS PARTY PEOPLE DEMANDING EXPLANATION.
HOSALI DYCOMMSS. NER. 7.1.58
(2) REGULARLY RECEIVES FUNDS THROUGH — ONCE OR TWICE RECEIVED FOR T.V. BUT NOT DEPOSITED IN TUAF. WE HAVE DEFINITE INFORMATION THAT 2 CHEQUES FOR 11,000 AND 17,000 ISSUED BY M.S. WAL, MILLOWNER WERE CASHED BY WIFE’S RELATIONS AT BANK’S COUNTER.
(3) OUR 569 IN CHINESE CONSULATE REPORTED TODAY THAT SHRI DANGE MADE AN UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPT TO GET FINANCIAL HELP. HE IS REPORTED TO HAVE TOLD THEM THAT HE WILL CREATE TROUBLE FOR THEIR SUPPORTERS.
PRADHAN (DIG 8.7.62)
(4) HIS PERSISTENT EFFORTS NOT TO RELEASE RANDIVE APPEARS TO BE HIS OWN FEARS.
(5) ALL RECORD OF HIS FOREIGN EXCHANGE CASE CALLED UP AT DELHI. YOU MAY REFER TO RESERVE BANK ESTABLISHMENT. IT IS DEFINITELY WITH MINISTRY OF FINANCE.