Source : Some random images taken from Peoplesmarch Archives
Listen to Saathi Tumko Lal Salaam ! (Red Salute to you my friend )
Source : Some random images taken from Peoplesmarch Archives
Listen to Saathi Tumko Lal Salaam ! (Red Salute to you my friend )
KAUSHALYA DEVI is not a political leader and she is
not rich. Still, she commands obvious
respect from the man on the street in this small town in
northwest Bihar — whether it is the rickshaw
puller or the roadside hawker. After all, her son’s statue
graces the town’s Gopalganj More Chowk.
Chandrashekhar Prasad was an office bearer of the CPI (ML).
While studying at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New
Delhi, he was elected president of the student’s union twice.
He was 34 when he was gunned down, allegedly by men belonging
to Mohammad Shahabuddin’s gang.
Shahabuddin is a member of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)
and represents Siwan in the Lok Sabha. He was recently
convicted by a special fast track court in Siwan in two
cases of abduction. Gopalganj More Chowk, a small junction
from where the highway to Gopalganj (RJD chief Laloo
Prasad’s home) leads off, is now officially
called Chandrashekhar Chowk.
“Shahabuddin will surely be convicted and hanged for the
murder. It is the prayers of many mothers and widows in Siwan
who lost their beloveds over the years by his bullets,”
72-year-old Kaushalya Devi told TEHELKA at her small house
in Bindusar village, four kilometres from Siwan town.
The CPI (ML) leadership greeted Shahabuddin’s convictions
with great joy, but their enthusiasm is not shared by her.
“The party says the convictions are the victory of the downtrodden
or the proletariat. There is no such thing. The murders by
Shahabuddin were all for political reasons:
to capture power.
Like Shahabuddin, it was pure politics for the CPI (ML) too.
The same ugly politics continues even today,” she said.
It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that after
her husband, a sergeant in the Air Force, died of cardiac arrest
in 1973, she only lived for her sevenyear- old son. She only got
Rs 150 as pension but she made sure that her son was
He first attended the Sainik School in Jhumri-Tilaiya, then
went to the National Defence Academy in Pune and
then to JNU.“I was sad when he came back to Siwan
after finishing his studies at JNU to become a fulltime activist
of the CPI (ML),” she said. “But his passion for national politics
and sincere love for the poor convinced me that he had
a noble purpose in life. Seeing his selfless work,
I stopped telling him to take up a government job.
Ten years after his murder, I realise how selfish the political
party is.” She lives alone in her two-room house at
Bindusar. A visit by a CPI (ML) activist is rare.
“For the CPI (ML), my value as a useful political
weapon was over. Today, nobody in the party is bothered
about how Chandrashekhar’s old mother lives,” she said.
“The party made full use of me during the two-three
years after my son’s murder. The CPI (ML) has
been thriving on the politics of dead bodies.”
Soon after Chandrashekhar was killed, people from across the
country and even abroad flocked to Siwan and participated in
processions. T-shirts bearing Chandrashekhar’s image were
distributed by the CPI (ML).
“I was very sad to see party cadres, even senior
leaders, selling these T-shirts secretly at very high prices,”
Kaushalya Devi said. She had returned the Rs 1-lakh compensation
given to her by the prime minister.WHEN THE Siwan unit of
CPI (ML) decided to install a statue of
Chandrashekhar, they asked her to “donate” Rs 40,000.
“They almost forced me to donate the amount. Then
they forgot about the statue. After three years of constant
complaining, they installed it last year,” she said.
She had to complain to the party general secretary Dipankar
Bhattacharya to get it installed. “The statue was installed by
the people who didn’t even pay for a funeral shroud when his
body was brought for the cremation. I had to pay for it,” she said.
She has donated a piece of land close to Chandrashekhar’s
memorial for a school and a library. It still remains a dream.
“Setting the school up is nowhere in sight. The memorial lies
neglected,” she said.
Kaushalya Devi holds the CPI (ML) responsible for her son’s
murder. “When there were constant threats and warnings to my
son from the Shahabuddin gang, several
party workers had been in touch with Shahabuddin.
The party never cared for his security. The CPI (ML) leader
who had lodged the FIR after Chandrashekhar’s murder later
turned hostile and joined Shahabuddin’s gang,”
she said. “Sometimes, I see the party’s hand in my son’s murder.”
The CPI (ML) leadership says that her charges are “a grieving
mother’s emotional outbursts”. The CPI (ML) Bihar secretary
Nand Kishore was the Siwan regional secretary when
Chandrashekhar was killed. “She is the mother of all the
CPI (ML) workers. We respect her highly,” he told
TEHELKA. “There is no truth in what she is
saying. The delay in installing the statue
was due to the difficulty in finding a suitable
site and the fear of Shahabuddin.
As far as Chandrashekhar’s security goes, all CPI (ML)
workers in Siwan were under severe threat during those days.”
CPI (ML) general secretary Dipankar
Bhattacharya was apologetic. “I am unaware
of any such activities by party workers.
The party is with Chandrashekhar’s mother, and will look
after her well. I will look into her grievances,” he said.
Naxal leader was murdered, says CBI
Kochi, June 10: The CBI special court here has directed two former senior police officers to appear before the court on June 16 when charges would be framed against them in connection with the death of Naxalite leader A Varghese in 1970.
Varghese, who police claimed had died in an ‘encounter’ 37 years ago in Thirunelli in Wynad district, was in fact murdered, according to CBI, which investigated the case.
CBI special court judge P Chandrasekhara Pillai directed B Vijayan and K Lakshmana, who retired as DGP and IGP respectively, to be present in the court on June 16 when the charges against them will be read out. The court will also decide when to start witness examination.
The plea of Vijayan and Lakshmana to discharge them from the case was rejected by the court on Friday.
Former CRPF constable Ramachandran Nair, the first accused in the case, died in November last year.
The case according to CBI is that on February 18, 1970, Naxal leader Varghese was shot dead by Ramachandran Nair allegedly at the instigation Vijayan and Lakshmana, the then DIG and Dy SP respectively of Kozhikode.
Wynad district was the helm of Naxal activities and Varghese was accused in many Naxal attacks, especially in police stations and had been evading arrest.
CBI stated that Varghese was arrested, brought to CRPF camp at Thirunelli and shot.
However, police claimed that Varghese died in police encounter which was confirmed by the Kozhikode Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) who conducted the autopsy.
The Mananthavady police, in whose jurisdiction Thirunelli falls, closed the case as police ‘encounter’.
After a lapse of 29 years, in 1999, Ramachandran Nair, who had retired from service, approached the Kerala High Court with a prayer seeking inquiry into the death of Varghese, which, according to him, was not a police encounter but was instigated allegedly by Vijayan and Lakshmana. Nair filed an affidavit in the court to the effect that he shot Varghese, who was blindfolded and tied to a tree. He fired only one bullet and Varghese died.
On March 31 1997 , Chandrashekar Prasad and Shyam Narain Yadav were shot dead in the north Bihar district town of Siwan while addressing street corner meetings to build a strike called by the Communist Party of India Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) for April 2.
Shyam Narain Yadav was a leading district level activist of the CPI-ML. He had contested the state assembly twice on a party ticket.
Chandrashekar was a former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students Union and had returned to his home town of Siwan to work as a full-time activist.
An only child, Chandrashekar had left Siwan as a bright student. His widowed mother worked hard to pay for his education. From Sainik school in Talaiya to the National Defence Academy of Pune and the University of Patna to the campus of JNU, Chandrashekar had a promising academic future.
However, Chandrashekar could not separate his politics from academic life, and from early in his student life he was involved in student activism. In the mid-’80s he became vice-president of the Bihar unit of the All India Students’ Federation, the youth organisation of the Communist Party of India (CPI).
He very quickly became disillusioned with the reformist and parliamentarist politics of the CPI and wanted to become involved in a revolutionary organisation. In his home town of Siwan, he saw the changes that were happening in the lives of people, the discontent and the voice that it was being given in the work of the CPI-ML.
The late ’80s marked a crucial juncture for the student movement. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent anticommunist backlash created a difficult ideological climate for left and progressive activists all over the world.
In this period of right reaction, particularly strong on campus, the CPI-ML founded the All India Students Association in JNU. Chandrashekar played a very important role in the building of AISA on JNU and was elected to the JNU Students Union three times in a row, first as vice-president in 1993-94, then as president for successive terms in 1994-95 and 1995-96.
As leader of JNUSU, Chandrashekar led a number of different campaigns for students’ rights. The old admission policy of affirmative action for students from backward areas was restored. Students thwarted the JNU administration’s bid to bring up privatisation in academic council meetings. Chandrashekar made serious attempts to forge close ties with student movements in other universities and institutions.
In 1995 he represented India in the UN-sponsored youth conference in Seoul, where he formed a group of third world representatives inside the conference and moved several resolutions against US imperialism, eventually staging a walkout in protest.
Risking the wrath of Korean authorities, he contacted many outlawed left-wing student leaders and even addressed a huge rally of students on the issue of Korean unification.
At the end of his stint in JNU, Chandrashekar opted to return to Siwan as a full-time party activist. The Janata Dal, which rules the state, has been waging a campaign against leading activists of the CPI-ML. More than 70 people, including leaders of the district committee, had been killed between 1990 and 1996.
The CPI-ML has stated that it the henchmen and local hit men of Janata Dal MP – the notorious parliamentary terrorist Mohammed Shahabuddin are responsible for the latest killings.
Since the death of Chandrashekar, there has been a student uprising, with protests of thousands of students in Delhi as well as in Bihar. A march is planned of students and teachers from JNU to the district of Siwan.
They are demanding the arrest of those involved with the murders. (Rather than arresting those responsible for the killings, the police lodged cases against some of the activists.) Attacks have also been launched on these peaceful protests, with the brother-in-law of the chief minister, Sadhu Yadav, himself firing indiscriminately on a group of protesters at Bihar Bhavan.
Comrade Chandrashekar believed in parliamentary democracy
and paid a heavy price for it.
Notorious parliamentary terrorist Mohammed Shabuddin whose
goons killed Comrade Chandrashekar still terrorises Siwan unmolested.
Let us hope that our comrades in the CPI(M-L)Liberation who renounced armed struggle in the 1990’s and came overground will one day abandon the path of parliamentary democracy, once they have formed a mass base and will come back to the path of armed struggle.
Let us all learn a lesson from Comrade Chandrashekar sacrifice and let us not repeat his mistakes(his belief in parliamentary democracy).
Given below is the preface of Volume II of Comrade Saketh Rajan’s
path breaking study into the History of Karnataka.
He dedicates it to his martyred wife Comrade Raji.
In the preface to Volume I of Making history , it was said that
this book had more than just one author.
As Volume II prepares for print I am compelled to tell about one
such author who remained anonymous.
Such a revelation should have been a matter of joy. But the circumstances
brim with emotions of an opposite kind.
Raji,as she was known to those who were close to her,was killed
by police on 20 March 2001 in the forest of Kothapalli in Vishakapatnam
district of Andhra Pradesh.
She was captured that afternoon by a 20 member detachment of the Special
Task Force, tortured for more than four hours and finally shot from the
back of her head.
There were two children who saw all of this from behind a bush.
They were dumbfounded by the barbarity.They could not eat for the
next three days.But when they finally spoke, they said one thing of her.
It was remarkable.She had stood her ground.As she was
mauled ,this soft spoken woman in her forties was outrageously defiant.
She hailed the revolution from her dying lips.
Raji had passed her test as a revolutionary in flying red.
She defied her assasins to live
The volumes of Making History are indebted to this coffee
complexioned and short statured,yet,abundantly tall and graceful heroine of the oppressed.
Raji has her modest place in the writing as well as in the making of history.
She was the first to lend her patient ear to the pages of the first and second volumes.
As the parts were written out ,she would hear them read.It did not matter to her if
it was late on a wintry nigh. Or, if it was in the epicentre of a sultry
summer’s afternoon.She would have her senses glued,Then she would make her observations.
Raise questions or pose her points.That way she left her imprint on these pages.
Noiselessly and unadvertised.
The production of Volume I owes a lot to her.
Ugh! DRab office work.This is how many
would dismiss it.But she was perennially enthusiastic.
She set the pages on the computer
She doctored the viral infections and tailored the illustrations
to precision. As the book rolled out of the press and the jacket neatly
tucked in its glistening sleeves.
Raji had graduated as a DTP beautician.
Volume II had caught her imagination. The armed struggle waged by
the people of Karnataka in the early decades of the nineteenth century
were a point she would often have me ponder about.We could not resist the contagion.We decided to relive these precious moments from
our popular past.We caught the bus to Nagar. There we saw what
was left of the famous fortress that served as a flash point for the historic Nagar peasent insurgency.
A few months later we squeezed some time for Nandagad.We spoke to
the people about Sangolli Rayanna.As we talked with the toilers,
they gave us accounts, pointed about his
escapades,guided us around and treated us to food in their huts.
Raji spotted the smouldering fire that burnt in their hearts.
I asked her if Rayanna kindled something deep inside them.
She blew away decades of ash
with her warm breath.Then, pointing to the red glow of the embers,
she said that new generations of those very same masses
were stirring to re-enact them across the
forests and plains of Nandagad and Nagar.
As I shook hands with her in January 2001, it was the last I saw of her.
She was in olive green her rucksack was firmly strapped onto her back.In
it she had empty tapes,empty notebooks and unexposed film.
She carried no firearm.She was a non-combatant.
Comrade Rajeshwari held out her clenched fist in farewell.
There are two facts about the past and future of Indian
history which the Kannada and Telgu nations share among them.
To unravel best the prospect
of the burgeois democratic revolution,one has to venture into
In the period of Haider and Tipu and in their kingdom of Mysore,
the Indian high road to the old democratic revolution has been laid.
One could already catch a glimpse of the maturation of conditions,
of an imminent storm against the system of
Later in Nagar and around Nandagad the masses stormed those very
gates of heaven.They illustrated through popular war against
feudalism and colonialism that they desired democracy and liberation.
These were simmering embers that Raji had deftly picked up
and placed in the first and second volumes of Making History.
But she aimed for more.She desired to relive the past only so as to enact
the future.She desired that it was not enough just to see the prospect of the burgeois democractic revolution.Her intellect was not insipid.
She wanted to see and share the living
popular experience of the proletarian democratic revolution.
If Karnataka’s past demonstrated the possibility of the old
democratic revolution,the people’s war raging in Andhra Pradesh
brilliantly lit up the prospect of the new democratic revolution.
Raji had seen the past.She wanted to see the future.She chose to visit
the villages of Andhra Pradesh were new democratic people’s power was being forged.She wanted to study it,record it and broadcast its prowess among
the masses of Karnataka.
She interviewed scores of people.She recorded revolutionary songs.
She made copious notes of what she had read and heard.She took photographs of the oppressed adivasis and of their hope the young guerilla fighters in green.
On March 20 , she sat beneath a tree. She was pouring over her diaries.Shots
rang out.She hid in the thicked.But they got their filthy hands on her.Then
it was short work.Bullets burnt through her brains.Blood was on her cheek.It
oozed from her mouth.She could not rise to protect her notebooks.Raji rested on the
forest floor like a carefree child.Her curls were disheveled.They would remain
Today she is in deep sleep.
Volume II of Making History is dedicated to her.But as this volume is read , the sleeping Rajeshwari will awaken her readers.In her we catch a glimpse of the
glorious past.But not just that .She comprehensively epitomizes the future
too.As the revolution rages across our land,the fascist rulers and their state will discover more and more than the memories of the dead are not as easily erased from the hearts and minds of the living.
That is what history – the history of class struggle,is also about.
Raji learned this lesson well.She reminds us of it always,only because she
generously gave away the one most precious thing she had when
it was asked of her- her pulsating life- for the cause of the oppressed.
1 November 2002
Note- Saki was comrade Saketh Rajan’s pen name.
The image at the beginging of this post is the original picture
of Comrade Raji that appeared in the book.The scan has affected
the image quality.
To commomerate” Martyrs week ” this blog will carry profiles and the struggles of our comrades and sympathizers for the whole of this week.
Rajan was a student of REC Calicut during the emergency period. In the 1970’s the Naxalite movement had become very strong in north kerala. Almost any idealistic, young man/woman in those days were attracted to that ideology.
College hostels were probably full of sympathizers to the “cause”. It is generally accepted that Rajan was not in the movement but likely was a sympathizer but so were thousands of others. However, what allegedly bought him to the attention of police was a play which he acted/directed (i am not sure about the specifics) during a college festival which made fun of a minister in the kerala cabinet.
After he was tortured, murdered and burned (allegedly) in the kakkyam police camp, the government and the police steadfastly maintained that he was never even taken into custody.
Prof Eachara Warrior, Rajan’s father, could not even approach the courts during emergency as “habeus corpus” was suspended. After emergency was lifted, he filed a case against the government which ultimately led to a judgement by the high court against the government. karunakaran who was the home minister at the time of the murder (and chief minister when the judgement came out) had to resign.
Jayaram Padikkal IPS,the man in charge of the camp and Pulikkodan Narayanan, the SI who tortured and killed Rajan were prosecuted but never rally paid for their crimes. Rajan’s mother, who was mentally ill, was never told about his murder. She lived for more than 25 years in the fond hope that her only son will one day return.
Even today, exactly what happened to Rajan is a mystery. Was he burned with sugar (to ensure that not even burns will be left behind) or dumped in a dam? Will the perpetrators ever confess? I hope some one will tell the true story like the retired constable who confessed to the killing of Vargheese so that the old man will gain some peace of mind in the twilight of his life.
I once had the privilege of hearing Prof Eachara Warrior speak about his experience. A humble man, he spoke simply but movingly about his futile attempts to get his boy back. As he spoke, I tried to imagine his sufferings but failed miserably. He has written a small book on his experience.
The incident should remind us of the excesses that a supremely powerful government can commit if the “checks and balances” are removed. During emergency, trains ran on time, governent service was efficient, civil servants were afraid to strike but personal liberty, “due proces” and fundamental human rights were trampled upon. In the quest for achieving the former nobody should have to give up the latter.
Comrades even as we remember P.Rajan’s sacrifice there are many more Rajans being
devoured under the protection of the draconianChattishgarh Public Security Actby the CRPF Rakshashas in Chattishgarh.
They even have a name for it and it’s called “Salwa Judum”.
And Greyhound Rakshashas are devouring young and old naxalite sympathisers
in Andhra Pradesh.
Nothing much has changed in all these years since the emergencies.
Naxalite sympathisers still continue to disappear at night and
mysteriously reappear in jungles where the Rakshashas claim
an encounter killing.
Generation now is all so excited about RTI (Right to information) Act.
They spend their faltu time sending SMS’s exhorting and encouraging the
use of RTI to news channels.
I was wondering , that if I decided to file a RTI petition tommorow
will they inform us about the truth of what happened to 10,000 of our comrades(majority of them non-combatants) and how they were really
killed and why they disappeared,in the last 40 years ?
If it cannot
then the RTI is useless to me.
Piravi(The Birth) a movie based on this incident
‘Before I am killed, give me a signal so I can shout a slogan’
After combing the Thirunelli forests for two days, the Central Reserve Police Force posse set up camp near a local temple. They had sighted Varghese and his comrades winding their way through the trees the day before. But the Naxalites had given them the slip, setting off a country bomb in their wake which left a constable badly injured.
The next morning, the police received a tip-off that Varghese was holed up in a house occupied by one Sivaraman Nair, who served as caretaker to an elderly widow called Ittichiri Manayamma, a known ally of the Naxalites.
The police team approached the house and rapped on the front door. ‘Who’s there?’ asked a voice from within. The police announced their presence. The voice ranged out: ‘Nair, have you betrayed me?’ The cops stormed the door and entered. Varghese stood with his arms up in the air. He smiled: ‘Don’t worry. I’m alone and unarmed.’ The Naxalite leader was led out, wrists bound with a rifle sling, and bundled into a jeep.
Thirty minutes down the road, en route to Manathavady, they were joined by a convoy of police vehicles. Constable Ramachandran Nair says he recognised DSP Lekshmana and DIG Vijayan in one of the jeeps.
”Varghese turned to us,” Nair recalls. ‘They are going to kill me,’ he told us. ‘One of you will have to do it. I have one request. Before I am killed, give me a signal so that I can shout a slogan.’ He was so calm when he said that.”’
It was 1400 hours. A cop walked up to Varghese and blindfolded him. The policemen settled down to eat. Constabtle Nair shared his food with the prisoner. He also offered him a bidi. At 1830 hours, Lekshmana addressed the constables guarding the Naxalite leader. Nair recreates the sequence of events: ”Lekshamana told us that Varghese was going to be shot. DIG Vijayan was standing nearby. Then Lekshmana ordered those of us who were willing to shoot Varghese to raise their hands. Rappai and Sreedharan raised their hands. Haneefa hesitated but finally raised his. I did not.”
The prisoner should be produced in court, Nair reasoned with his superior. ”Lekshmana reminded me that policemen could die in accidents. I recognised the threat. Varghese was going to die anyway. If I died, my family would be helpless,” Nair ended his resistance.
The dissenter was then chosen to perform the deed. Nair looked at his target. He winces at the memory: ”Varghese was sitting between two rocks. He was calm but alert, as though he was waiting for something to happen and wondering why it wasn’t happening. I went up to him and rested the nozzle of my rifle on the left side on his chest. Then I remembered his request. I sounded a signal with my tongue. ‘Long live the revolution,’ he shouted and I pulled the trigger. He fell over.”
Another cop then fired a shot in the air and put the weapon in Varghese’s lifeless hand. The encounter death was complete.
This is another report of the same event
Effacement of Naxalites: Encounter with truth of the bloody seventies
By Suchandana Gupta
Ramachandran Nair stared down the barrel: his officer had asked him to
kill or be killed. Nair killed. His victim, Naxalite leader Verghese.
“As I pulled the trigger,” Nair recalls, “Verghese raised his fist and
raised a slogan: Mao unity zindabad, let the revolution win’.”
In the Wynad jungles of Tirunelli, north Kerala, nearly 29 winters
ago, Nair shot Verghese at point blank range on February 18, 1970. A
constable of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Nair says his
pleas to take the Naxalite to court fell on deaf ears of his superiors
and he was threatened with his life.
“I thought of my wife and child and I chose to kill rather than get
killed,” narrates a remorseful Nair as he collects sap from a rubber
tree in his native village of Parayaruvila, 65 km from here.
Nair is, perhaps, the first policeman who has voluntarily revealed the
gory details of a “fake” police encounter. His story is but one
chapter in the saga of killings that has been dubbed by human rights
activists as “state terrorism.”
In the turbulent years following the Naxalbari uprising of 1968,
thousands of such killings in the country went unreported. Most of the
murders were in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar and Kerala.
In West Bengal, after the Left Front first came to power in 1977, it
set up two commissions to investigate the allegations. One of the
commissions was wound up midway; the other’s report has been kept
confidential. In one conservative estimate, at least 1,900 youth were killed in
Bengal alone between 1968 and 1970.
The ghost of one such youth has come to haunt Kerala now because a
letter written by Nair to Verghese’s associate, Vasu, 20 years ago,
somehow found its way to the pages of a Malayalam daily recently.
The retired constable wrote that he shot Verghese after he was
threatened by his superiors. The letter has opened a can of worms here
since it contradicts police records, which claim Verghese was killed
in an armed encounter.
“I have not been able to sleep peacefully since that day. I have been
constantly tormented by nightmares and the guilt that I killed a
brilliant young man,” he told The Telegraph. “Had Verghese lived, like
his associates he would have been a reformed man.”
“Deputy superintendent of police Lekshmana, commander of the
anti-Naxalite operations, threatened if I did not obey him I would be
dead,” Nair continues. Lekshmana even promised to send a medal to
Nair’s wife if he chose to become a martyr.
In Kerala, as in Bengal and Punjab and Assam, the state has often
trusted its handpicked officers to head the police’s dirty tricks
department. In Calcutta, too, the police had crushed Naxalites with a
heavy hand. In his autobiography, former police officer Runu Guha
Neogy describes how Naxalites were tackled, but stops short of giving
graphic details of his “encounters.”
Even after all these years, Nair shudders when he describes the act of
killing. “Verghese was blindfolded and handcuffed. I hesitated seeing
his helplessness. As I pulled the trigger, he raised the slogan,” says
The scars have not healed with time. “I knew it was wrong. I knew the
police could not take the law into their own hands. We should have let
the court decide Verghese’s fate,” rues Nair.
The former constable had tried to reason with Lekshmana that the
captured Naxalite should be taken to court.
But Lekshmana said it was not for a constable to decide and ordered:
“It’s you who must kill Verghese.” But Nair asserts that he has no
Naxalite leanings. “As a policeman I have faced many armed Naxalites.
I would never have regretted if Verghese was killed in a true, armed
encounter,” he says.
“I could not speak all these years as I had a family to feed,” Nair
explains. But after retiring in June, this year, he decided to get the
burden off his chest.
Lekshmana, who retired as inspector-general, has refused to talk to
the press. His superior during the time of the killing, deputy
inspector general Vijayan, said: “It all happened nearly three decades
ago. I cannot remember the incident.”
That also sums up the attitude of the ruling CPM-led Left Democratic
Front, which has been reluctant to order an inquiry into the killing.
The matter is now before Kerala High Court.
This article appeared in The Telegraph on November 15, 1998
Song -Mangal Pandey – The Rising
It was a heart – rending scene when the mother exclaimed: “I am proud of you my son”. Rajalakshmi Sounderrajan, mother of Saketh Rajan paid homage to her son in this manner but her voice choked, when she said: “… but I cannot look at your body.”
It was only after top Police Officers called at her apartment in Vani Vilas Mohalla here during their investigation into the case and left, that media persons could meet her and talk to her. Tears welled up from her eyes as she was trying to gather strength of mind in order to listen to the enquires from the reporters and respond with great mental agony.
She managed to mumble these first words: “I am not in a mental state to look at my son’s body. The press reports have given gruesome details about it, saying that the body is riddled with bullets causing holes on the forehead and exposing his skull – bone. How can I muster courage to see his body? No, it is just not possible.”
“My son has not committed any crime. He was not given to any bad habit. He used to confide in me about his compassion for the poor. He was not wicked. He had not done even a single bad act. It was only after I read in the newspapers quite recently that I learnt about his taking to violence,” Rajalakshmi managed to say.
Continuing in low voice and speaking slowly, often with pause, she explained:
“My son’s life was full of ideals while he was young and growing. He had only two sets of clothes to wear. He used to wash his plate himself and store it away.”
Rajalakshmi could be faintly heard saying that Saketh was affection personified. “He was truly a revolutionary. He did not bow his head before the Police even while facing death. But, the society did not approve of his ways and views. It is my fate (Karma). He met his end this way,” she said wiping her tears.
Interesting facts about Comrade Saketh Rajan
“Anandaraj, his brother, succumbed in 1983 to injuries sustained in an accident. Saketh left home a couple of months after that. It has been about 21 years since then. That was the last I saw of him,” she recalled.
He did not come home when his father died, nor even to see if his mother was still alive. However, I feel proud about my son. He was not the one to commit any crime.”
Saketh Rajan was 12 years old when his father Major Sounderrajan took retirement from Defence Services and returned to Mysore. After obtaining BA Degree in Journalism from Maharaja’s College, Mysore, and Saketh Rajan obtained Post – Graduate degree from Indian Institute of Mass Communications, New Delhi. Later, he came to Mysore and was writing for local newspapers in English and Kannada. His close friends say that even while in the capital, he was thoroughly unhappy about the establishment.
In the convocation held in the capital, having secured the first rank in the Post – Graduate degree, Saketh was to receive the award and certificate from the Minister Vidya Charan Shukla. He proceeded to the dais. But, without receiving the certificate from the Minister, nor even shaking hands with him, Saketh had walked off the dais, as a show of his anger against the establishment, recalled one of his friends who used to accompany him in Naxal camps.
Saketh Rajan, after moving away from Mysore and arriving in Andhra Pradesh, took to the name Prem and developed close contacts with the People’s War Group (PWG). He had married journalist Rajeshwari, sister of Jagannath, who had identified himself with PWG. She was also killed in an encounter. After becoming a full – fledged Naxalite, Prem used to be seen once in a way only by a few friends in Mysore, it is learnt.
Since I live in Karnataka, I used to follow up on comrade
Saketh Rajan and the revolutionary situation in Karnataka.
When I heard he had been shot in an encounter – It broke my heart.
I instantly knew the revolutionary movement in Karnataka had suffered a
Great leaders never die they forever live on in our hearts.
Previous Posts on Comrade Saketh Rajan
Com. Shivalingu hailed from a middle peasant background in Sindhanur Taluk of Raichur district. Inspired by the revolutionary peasant movement in Raichur, he joined the student organization in 1998. When the rural work in Raichur was withdrawn and shifted to Malnad in 2001, he readily accepted the partys call to join the armed squad and discontinued his studies.
A young revolutionary, at the age of around 25, he was a very active and determined fighter. Although he was new to the Malnad region, his hard work and dedication to the cause of revolution inspired the Adivasis and other oppressed masses of that area. Within a short period, he gained the confidence of the masses of Malnad and became an organizer.
The hard terrain and the bloodsucking leeches did not deter him from the path of revolution. Though he was not much experienced in field craft and military techniques he was a valiant fighter and showed grit in the encounters with the enemy. He was the guard for Com. Saketh, when the incident took place. He laid down his life in the struggle to protect the life of the leadership and for the liberation of the oppressed masses. He was a well-disciplined guerrilla soldier ready to undertake any responsibility given by the party.
Let us fulfill the dreams of our beloved martyrs with more determination, hard work and preparedness to make any sacrifice in the struggle for building a guerrilla zone with the perspective of Base Area in Malnad.
February 6th, 2005 is a most tragic day in the history of the revolutionary movement not only in Karnataka but also for the whole country. On that day, the people of Karnataka lost one of its brave sons; on that fateful day the Party, Communist Party of India (Maoist), lost one of its invaluable leaders and a fighter; on this day the revolutionary movement in Karnataka suffered a severe blow.
On receiving definite information about the movement of the squad and Com. Saketh from a notorious landlord and informer Shesha Gowda, and a Bajarang Dal goon, near Menasinahadya village of Koppa Taluk in the Western Ghats, about 80 policemen, led by Dy. SP Shivakumar, divided into four groups and reached that place from all directions around 1.00 am. At 6.00am, when the squad came out of the house, the blood-thirsty police thugs surrounded them and started firing. Although the comrades were surprised by the sudden burst of firing, the squad retaliated.
But Com. Saketh Rajan and Shivalingu, who fought heroically for the liberation of the poor and oppressed till their last breath, fell to the bullets of the enemy. Other members of the squad retreated safely. The brutality of the killers was evident from the way the crime was committed. The back portion of the head of Com. Saketh was blown off. He was shot from a rifle at point blank range from behind. Com. Shivalingu was also shot in the stomach from behind. Yet, many intellectuals raised doubts about this encounter considering that the police and CM conspired to dispose of the dead body without giving it to his comrades and even the mother. Serious doubts are that it was a fake encounter so as to hide the torture marks from the body.
Enraged by this gruesome murder the revolutionary masses, democrats and intellectuals expressed their strong protest. Suspecting foul play in the whole incident the Citizen Forum for Peace Initiative demanded re-post-mortem of the deceased, to stop the ongoing operation against the Naxalites in Malnad, and to conduct a judicial enquiry into the encounter. They met the vicious CM, Dharam Singh, and requested him to hand over the bodies to them.
The liar CM promised to hand over the bodies but refused to stop the ongoing operation against the Naxalites. Even as the sympathizers and supporters began making arrangements for paying the last tributes and homage to the beloved comrades, the police stealthily took away the bodies from the mortuary and cremated them without the presence of the relatives or the sympathizers.
True to his chameleon nature the CM approved the cremation of the bodies by the police. As the news of the cremation leaked out the supporters and sympathizers, who were in the mortuary protested against this inhuman conduct of the police. Panicking by the growing anger of the revolutionary masses and the sympathy wave among the wider sections of the broad masses, and fear of exposure of their brutalities and conspiracy, the police conducted the cremation by using brutal force. More than 400 policemen were mobilized at the crematorium; and the cremation was completed by deception and at gunpoint.
Long live Comrades Saketh Rajan (Prem) and Shivalingu (Arun)!
Hail the martyrdom of our beloved Martyrs!
Who was Comrade Saketh Rajan ?
Comrade Saketh Rajan hailed from an orthodox upper caste, upper class background. His father was a Major in the army. Discontented with this inhuman social system and the hypocrisy of the rulers he was dedicated to the cause of the poor and oppressed since his student days. As reported in the Indian Express: His parents had expected him to become an engineer. But he dropped out of the B.Tech course and chose to study literature instead. He then studied Mass Communications at the IIMC, New Delhi.
As narrated by his college friend, Lingaraj Gandhi, and now professor at the Mysore University, “Saketh read voraciously and widely. The book
“Wretched of the Earth”, by Franz Fanon had an enormous impact on him. I was confused, but he was beginning to make up his mind.. Then there was no looking back”.
Imbibed with the great ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and inspiration for the advancement of the revolutionary movement in AP, his compassion for the poor and oppressed transformed him into a dedicated revolutionary. He completely integrated himself with the revolutionary movement since 1983.
Com.Saketh started as a student organizer and was one of the most committed Communist Revolutionaries of Karnataka. He played an active role in almost all struggles and built the party from scratch. To name a few he was in the forefront in exposing the expansionist designs of the Indian ruling classes in setting up of the Rare Earth Material Plant, at Ratnahalli near Mysore, where the enrichment of Uranium, which can be used for nuclear bombs, is produced.
He played a leading role in thwarting the joint venture of imperialist and comprodor ruling classes of Karnataka in setting up the “Japan Industrial Township” at Sattanur near Bangalore and the expansion of mining activities in the Western Ghats by the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL).
In 1987, he was elected to the State Committee in the first state conference of Karnataka, and in the fourth state conference in 2000, elected as the state Secretary. He was the delegate to the 9th All India Congress of the erstwhile CPI (ML)(Peoples War) and was elected to the CC as an alternate member.
In his two decades of revolutionary life, he never wavered even for a moment. He creatively applied the ideology and partys political line to the concrete conditions of Karnataka. The revolutionary movement in Karnataka is still weak. But this did not deter Com. Saketh from proceeding in his duty to build a guerrilla zone with the perspective of Base Area in the Malnad region. It is not an exaggeration to say that he was the “brain and spine” of the revolutionary movement in Malnad.
Under the guidance of MLM, he was meticulous in studying the concrete conditions in Malnad and drawing up a plan of action to achieve that task. He was not only the “brain” but also an activist, organizer, comrade-in-arms and the commander of the Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army. He was an astute student of Com. Mao in integrating with the Dalits, Adivasis and other oppressed masses. He adopted the Maoist style of functioning of leading the movement from the “field”. He was a good “teacher” and at the same time being a good “student” ready to learn from everyone.
As a true intellectual dedicated to the liberation of the people of India, particularly Karnataka, he adopted the Marxist methodology of understanding history from a historical materialist standpoint. He authored two volumes of “Making History” one of the most scholarly works in the historical study of Karnataka. While partaking in all the strenuous work of the Party and living a life in underground Saketh read profusely about Karnataka history. This resulted in his penning two volumes of “Making History”, the second of which was published barely a year back. As the Indian Express says “and perhaps the only extremist whose scholarly work is read in a university in the same state that shot him dead yesterday.Parts of this work are now being taught at Mangalore University”.
The first volume traced the history of Karnataka from the first signs of human habitation till the time of British conquest. It ended with the martyrdom of Tippu Sultan. The second volume traced the development of Karnataka history from the time of British conquest in 1799 till the First war of Indian Independence in 1857. The third volume was to explore into the impact of British colonialism on Karnataka from 1858 to 1947.
Though the third volume may never see the light of day, due to his pre-occupation with advancing the rural movement and armed struggle in Karnataka in the period before his martyrdom, the first two volumes are a brilliant example of the application of historical materialism to a study of past history of the country. In its depth of analysis and penetrating scientific approach it can be put on par with some of the writings by the renowned Marxist historian D.D.Kosambi.
With a flair and fluency in English and Kannada, the ability to sum-up the information in a systematic way with an ideological outlook, he wrote many articles in the party journals.
This heroic communist, who wielded The Pen & Gun with Equal Proficiency, will be remembered by the people of India for his two big contributions to the Indian revolution. First, it was he who, together with others, pioneered the initiation of armed struggle under communist leadership in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. Second, it was he, under the pen-name Saki, who has penned the history of Karnataka in his two volumes of “Making History” tracing the history of the Kannadiga nationality from the earliest of times to 1857.
His loss is an insurmountable blow for the party in Karnataka. But the path he showed, the path of sacrifice for the noble cause of establishing a New Democratic India towards building Socialism and Communism, will definitely inspire the party and the people of Karnataka. They are sure to emulate the dedication of Com. Saketh Rajan for the revolution and liberation of the oppressed masses and the determination in fighting the enemy in achieving that noble cause till his last breath.
Let us pay our red tributes and homage to our beloved martyrs by advancing the struggle in the path shown by them.
As Com., Gonzala said, let us ” Snatch the victory from the mouth of death”.