Wednesday, October 13, 2004

India: History in the making - The Maoist Revival in Andhra Pradesh

[History was made Monday as top Maoist guerrilla leaders surfaced in public after two decades to address a meeting here before proceeding to the state capital Hyderabad for talks with the government. After 20 years of life underground, Andhra Pradesh People's War Group (PWG) state secretary Ramakrishna alias Akkiraju Haragopal emerged from the Nallamalla forests at Chinnaoratla village, 150 km from here, with two other leaders. More than 100,000 people Monday joined the first public rally of two major Maoist guerrilla organisations in this village, some 250 km southeast of Hyderabad. People wearing red poured into this village in Guntur district to get a glimpse of and hear top Maoist leader Ramakrishna and four others who came over ground after two decades at this meeting organised by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-ML) People's War and CPI-ML Janashakti.]

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Maoist leaders come 'overground' after 20 years

Guthikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Oct 11 : History was made Monday as top Maoist guerrilla leaders surfaced in public after two decades to address a meeting here before proceeding to the state capital Hyderabad for talks with the government.

After 20 years of life underground, Andhra Pradesh People's War Group (PWG) state secretary Ramakrishna alias Akkiraju Haragopal emerged from the Nallamalla forests at Chinnaoratla village, 150 km from here, with two other leaders.

The three, Ramakrishna, Andhra Orissa border committee secretary Sudhakar alias Balakrishna and the North Telangana Special Zone committee member G. Ravi alias Ganesh were warmly welcomed by their supporters.

Two underground leaders of the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) Janashakti, Amar and Riyaz, who will also participate in the talks with the government on Oct 15, joined the PWG leaders.

Immediately after surfacing in public, the Maoist leaders handed over weapons to their colleague Ravi. The leaders were wearing civilian clothes and not their usual olive green guerrilla uniform.

The PWG leaders have a security cover of 25 unarmed cadres, including four women, while 10 guards accompany the Janashakti leaders everywhere.

Ramakrishna, the teacher turned guerrilla leader, met PWG emissaries Varvara Rao, Gaddar and Kalyan Rao.

Later, talking to journalists, he said they were ready for talks with the government or a war against it for the sake of people.

The PWG leader said they would stay in Manjira, the official guesthouse in Hyderabad for three days and their security would be the responsibility of the government.

They would return to the forests after their first round of talks on Oct 15.

"The talks will be held in three phases. If necessary, we will again come out from forests for the second round of talks," he said.

The PWG secretary said people's issues like land and an end to imperialism would dominate the talks. He said they would stick to the 11-point agenda already mooted by the two groups.

He also made it clear that they would not meet political leaders, including those of the left parties, during their stay in Hyderabad. When asked whether he would meet his mother Rajyalaxmi, he said he would take a decision on reaching Hyderabad.

As a precautionary measure, the Naxalite leaders kept the place of their emergence from forests a closely guarded secret. They were first scheduled to surface near Guthikonda and later at Dornala in Prakasam district. However, they emerged a few kilometres away.

Under the tight security provided by police from Dornala, the leaders left in a massive convoy of vehicles for Guthikonda.

Ramakrishna will unveil a memorial constructed in memory of Charu Majumdar, father of the Maoist movement in India and hundreds of revolutionaries who laid down their lives during four decades of armed struggle in the state.

Indo-Asian News Service 12/10/2004


2. Thousands gather to hear Maoists leader

Guthikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Oct 11 : More than 100,000 people Monday joined the first public rally of two major Maoist guerrilla organisations in this village, some 250 km southeast of Hyderabad.

People wearing red poured into this village in Guntur district to get a glimpse of and hear top Maoist leader Ramakrishna and four others who came over ground after two decades at this meeting organised by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-ML) People's War and CPI-ML Janashakti.

A 52-foot memorial constructed for "martyrs" has been erected in the village, which witnessed the birth of the Maoist movement in the state in 1969.

The entire village was decked up in red flags, banners and festoons. As vehicles were stopped five km from the village, the people walked the distance to reach here.

The valley where this village is nestled reverberated with revolutionary songs as hundreds of singers and other artistes of the two groups led by balladeer Gaddar descended to perform.

Earlier, People's War secretary Ramakrishna reached here accompanied by Andhra-Orissa border committee secretary Sudhakar and the north Telangana special zone committee member G. Ravi and Janashakti leaders Amar and Riyaz.

Clad in civilian clothes, the leaders were accompanied by 35 unarmed security guards dressed in a special uniform.

After the meeting, they would go to Hyderabad for holding the first direct talks with the government Oct 15.

As promised by the government, police provided security to the Maoist leaders.

Ramakrishna told reporters he and his friends would stay in Hyderabad for the first phase of talks. The talks would be held in three phases and he made it clear the Maoist leaders would return to the forests after the first round.

He said land distribution and an end to "imperialist" policies were the two major demands that would be put forth by Maoists during talks.

He said the Congress party government would be urged not to pursue World Bank-dictated policies of the previous Chandrababu Naidu government.

"We have come forward for talks to discuss people's issues. We hope that the government will address those issues to meet the basic socio-economic and political requirements of the people.

"But if it fails to do so, we have other options. We have been fighting for the people all these years and the cadres are prepared to face any situation," said Ramakrishna.

Earlier, many could not recognise Ramakrishna when he surfaced.

With the government lifting the ban on the People's War paving the way for peace talks, Ramakrishna's family members, friends and his former students were all eager to see him.

His mother Rajyalaxmi and sister Kusuma waited to meet him. Distant relatives in the village had no idea as to how Ramakrishna, 46, looked like.

This People's War leader was a teacher before he took to arms for his cause.

Ramakrishna alias RK, whose real name is Akkiraju Haragopal, was born in a Brahmin teacher's family at Penugudurupadu village in Guntur district.

Ironically, his father Akkiraju Sachidanada Rao, the headmaster of a school in Gurzala area, was wedded to the Gandhian principles of non-violence and taught many poor students.

Ramakrishna did his graduation in biological science from SKBR College, Macherla in the same district in 1974. As the area was a hotbed of the revolutionary movement, he was attracted by Marxist-Leninist ideology.

He did not actively participate in the radical movement during his student days but read many books on Marxist-Leninist social theories.

In 1984, People's War founder Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, during his visit to Macherla, appointed six political organisers including RK. In 1987, RK took over as district secretary and later became state secretary of the Maoist outfit.

Indo-Asian News Service 11/10/2004