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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 29, July 10, 2010

‘Let Us Not Make Truth A Casualty In This War’: Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad

Friday 16 July 2010

TRIBUTE

Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, killed by the Andhra Pradesh Police, was a brilliant student of Regional Engineering College, Warangal, where he studied M.Tech in the late seventies. He led the Andhra Pradesh Radical Student Union after the Emergency. Subsequently he went underground and had been looking after political and organisational responsibilities for over 30 years. He was a member of the CPI (Maoist) Central Committee and Political Bureau and functioned as the party’s spokesperson.

Remembering the slain Maoist leader we reproduce here excerpts from the interview Azad gave to the Maoist Information Bulletin on October 19, 2009 and thereafter sent it to us for publication in Mainstream. It was carried in full in this journal’s Republic Day Special (January 30, 2010). —Editor

Q: Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram have been repeatedly appealing to the Maoists that they are prepared to sit down for talks if the Maoists lay down arms. How do you respond to this call?

Azad: I can say this is the most absurd proposal which only stupid minds can think of. It shows that these men are either completely ignorant of the historical and socio-economic factors that had given rise to the Maoist movement or are too intoxicated by the brute force that they possess by which they dream they can stamp out a movement rooted in the socio-economic causes. With such men at the political helm of India one can only foresee a terrible tragedy for the vast masses of the Indian people who reject this system and opt for a revolutionary alternative.

Manmohan and Chidambaram and all the brains in their think-tank should understand why a significant section of the people led by the Maoists have taken up arms in the first place. Can anyone who has a capacity to think imagine that Maoists have taken up arms only to lay them down without arriving at a solution to the issues confronting the Indian society? If Manmohan and Chidambaram think they are doing us a favour by offering the proposal for talks without touching upon the actual issues that serve as the basis for our armed struggle, they are only living in a fool’s paradise. It is
not that these men who occupy the highest pedestals in the government do not know these things. They only want to pretend that they are for peace and that it is the Maoists who are intransigent and reluctant to sit down for talks.
If these representatives of state terrorism really want to sit for talks then they have to fulfil several conditions all of which, of course, fall within the ambit of the very Constitution by which these gentlemen terrorists swear.

Q: What are those conditions?

Azad: I am just coming to the point. They should stop illegal abductions of Maoists and people suspected to be supporting Maoists. They should put an immediate halt to tortures and murders of unarmed people, instruct their so-called security forces to desist from raping women in Maoist-dominated areas, abandon their policy of destroying the property of the people and burning adivasi villages. They should withdraw the police and para-military camps from the school buildings, panchayat community buildings and from the interior areas so as to instil a sense of security among the people. They should disband the state-sponsored armed vigilante gangs like Salwa Judum, Sendra, Gram Suraksha Samiti, Nagarik Suraksha Samiti, Shanti Sena, and various types of Cobras and Tigers since all these blood-thirsty gangs are unconstitutionally established by the police top brass and the political leaders. An impartial judicial commission of enquiry should be formed to go into the inhuman atrocities by the police, CRPF, other Central forces and the vigilante gangs on Maoists and the people at large and basing on the investigations the culprits should be punished as per the law. All political prisoners that is, those arrested for being Maoists or on suspicion of aiding the Maoists, should be released unconditionally. They should repeal all draconian laws and Acts such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Chhattisgarh Special Powers Act etc. They should disband the government-organised concentration camps in the name of rehabilitation of the adivasis displaced from their villages, pay adequate compensation to over one lakh adivasis who were forcibly displaced by the Salwa Judum gangs and the CRPF-police combine. Likewise, all those who have become victims of state and state-sponsored terror, that is, those who were murdered, maimed, raped and pushed into a state of mental trauma should receive adequate compensation. Through all these measures they should create a conducive democratic atmosphere in all these regions before placing their proposal for talks.

As for socio-economic issues, the lands of the tribals should be handed back to them wherever they are snatched whether in Salboni (West Bengal), Kathikund (Jharkhand), Lohandiguda, Pallamad, Bodhghat (all in Chhattisgarh), Niyamgiri (Orissa) and elsewhere. The mining and other so-called development projects that lead to displacement of the tribals and destruction of their way of life should be immediately disbanded. All the MOUs signed with the imperialist MNCs like Vedanta and the big business houses like the Tatas, Mittals, Essar, Jindal etc. should be scrapped. The lands snatched away from the tribals by unscrupulous landlords, other non-adivasis, and by the government should be restored to their rightful owners. These demands might sound utopian and revolutionary but there is nothing extraordinary in them. Most of these fall within the ambit of the Indian Constitution while others are needed for creating a conducive atmosphere for talks.

If these are fulfilled, then one can think of talks to discuss on the deeper issues that are Blocking the real development of our country.

Q: What you say will never be accepted by Manmohan and Chidambaram as it would mean betraying their own class interests. So don’t you feel that by laying down arms without such pre-conditions you can save your forces from the brutal offensive by the Centre?

Azad: We know that these diehard agents of the ruling classes whose real social base comprises of hardly five per cent of India’s population can never think in terms of the interests of the remaining 95 per cent of the population. They will not accept even these constitutional demands unless the people rise up and bring enormous pressure or rebellions break out in their own police and other armed forces...

Q: When you take into account the serious setbacks suffered by the armed national liberation movements recently in many parts of the world such as in Sri Lanka, how do you think you can confront the mighty Indian state and succeed?

Azad: Every war has its own particular, specific features. The war waged by the LTTE in Sri Lanka received a severe setback due to several mistakes which were explained vividly in a recent interview by our Party Secretary, Comrade Ganapathi. You cannot compare a people’s war waged under the leadership of the proletariat over a vast territory spread out over a few lakh square kilometres of area with a war waged by non-proletarian leadership in a small area roughly the size of a big district in India. Moreover, the people’s war we are waging is based on the Maoist principles of guerrilla war. Until the time we reach a decisive stage in our war, we will not fight a positional war in a small area against a superior force that is likely to resort to aerial bombardment if needed. We can fight the mightiest enemy by properly adhering to the principles of guerrilla warfare. We will hit the enemy when and where it is convenient to us, and not when and where he provokes us. His aerial surveys cannot locate the guerrillas who mix up with the people or are in constant mobility. His air sorties too would fall on the wrong targets, may be sometimes on his own men (smiles). It has happened several times in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will even change our battle fatigues and move in the dress of civilians. It will be impossible for the enemy to target us if we adhere to these methods. He will only end up killing civilians and help us in getting more recruits into our guerrilla army. That’s what the salwa judum had done. Thanks to Salwa Judum our guerrilla army has expanded rapidly...

Repression breeds resistance. And the more Chidambaram’s men go about terrorising people, killing, torturing, raping and creating havoc in the adivasi areas, the more intense and extensive will be the armed resistance of the masses, and the stronger will our army become. This is the logic of historical development. Hence we will utilise the situation created by the enemy’s white terror to organise armed resistance on a far wider and extensive scale than ever before. As I said before, we live among the people and if the enemy destroys the entire population, we are willing to die with them rather than submit to the enemy.

It is the people who make history and not a George Bush or a Manmohan Singh or a Chidambaram. These vultures who prey on the corpses of millions of helpless people will be washed away by the unfolding tsunami of people’s revolts throughout the country.

Q: Then will you never be ready for talks with the government by laying down arms as a pre-condition?

Azad: Never, not even in our dreams we can think of such a step. We have taken up arms for the defence of people’s rights and for achieving their liberation from all types of exploitation and oppression. Laying down arms means a betrayal of the people’s interests.

We may lose some forces in this brutal offensive by the enemy. But you must keep in mind that when the people’s war began we had only a handful of committed cadre. Today it has grown into a mass Party with an All India character and we have a people’s army for the first time in the history of the revolutionary movement in India. Even if we lose some forces we shall rebuild the movement as we are now doing in Andhra Pradesh. You will see the results of our painstaking underground work in the near future...

Q: The government wants to establish its authority over the areas controlled by the Maoists. Chidambaram has been talking of a policy of clear-and-hold or wrest-control-develop or area domination in the major pockets of Maoist control. His argument is there can be no development without recapturing territory from the Maoists. How do you counter this policy?

Azad: Although we have influence over a wider area, our actual control is confined to a small area when compared to the vast geographical area of our country. And this area is witnessing real development... The exploiting classes have absolute control over more than 90 per cent of the country’s geographical area. If at all they wish to reach out to the masses with their so-called reforms, who is preventing them from doing so? Instead of addressing the burning problems of the poor in these vast regions under their absolute control they are talking of recapturing territory from the Maoists.

This policy of clear-and-hold as against the search-and-clear operations or sweeps is a carbon copy of the policy pursued by British imperialists in Malaya and the American imperialists in Vietnam during the 1950s and 1960s. This policy was described at length by Robert Thompson in his book “Defeating Communist Insurgency”. The dual purpose of the clear-and-hold policy is to kill the insurgents and destroy their infrastructure. The key element in restoring state authority and control is the programme of strategic hamlet. The enemy has realised that short-term raids into the guerrilla bases and zones, however large-scale they might be, will not fetch lasting results and the revolutionaries can regroup. Hence, there is an increasing emphasis on clear-and-hold operations with the creation of strategic hamlet as the key. The basic military strategy of the enemy is to deploy as many of his forces as possible in the same area of operation as that of the guerrillas. And the strategic hamlet is a pre-condition for restoring state authority as this ensures the physical and political isolation of the guerrillas from the population. So run the basic principles of this policy of Thompson now pursued by Chidambaram & Co. starting with Lalgarh...

The case of Vietnam is a classic illustration of the total failure of the clear-and-hold policy propounded by Thompson. Although 8000 strategic hamlets were established in just two years, the enemy could not protect them or insulate them from the influence of the Vietcong, and several of these were recaptured by the guerrillas or used for their operations against the enemy forces.

The most important thing to keep in mind is: Guerrilla warfare is precisely developed to hit and run, that is, to hit at the enemy where he is vulnerable, harass the enemy day in and day out, cut off his supplies, create instability and a sense of insecurity among the enemy forces, annihilate them bit by bit, and finally throw them out from the area. Hence if the enemy wants to set up police and army camps in the interior, he will not last long. He will be under constant attack and harassment from our PLGA and the people’s militia. How long can the enemy stay in these malaria-prone, water-scarce, inhospitable regions without any support or co-operation from the people? It will ultimately
turn out to be a graveyard for these mercenary forces.

I can confidently say that within a short period, there will be demoralisation and desertion from these repressive forces. We have to wait to see how Chidambaram would deal with these desertions and what measures he would adopt to boost up the morale of his forces. Raman Singh and Vishwa Ranjan have been boosting up the morale of their forces by carrying out massacres of unarmed adivasis as in Singaram, Tongapal, Singanamadugu etc. and claiming that several Maoists were killed by their brave forces.

Chidambaram too has to travel along this beaten path thereby sending us more recruits. And the more areas his forces try to “recapture”, the deeper they will get bogged down in an unending civil war. The one lakh and odd forces that Chidambaram is currently deploying in the Maoist areas cannot control a fraction of the entire region. These forces which spread state terror—the CRPF, BSF, EFR, IRB, CISF, ITBP, NSG, COBRAs and various anti-Naxal special forces and elite commandos like the Greyhounds, STF, SOG, C-60, and so on—and their state-sponsored terrorist gangs like the Salwa Judum, Sendra, TPC, JPC, NSS, Shanti Sena, Tigers and Cobras under various names, will get more and more bogged down and sucked ever deeper into the quicksands of people’s war. Chidambaram’s fond dream can never be fulfilled even if he turns the so-called red corridor literally into a corridor of red with the blood of the adivasis and Maoist revolutionaries by enacting gory bloodbaths.

The reactionary rulers can neither wrest, control nor develop any of the regions but will get embroiled in a war of attrition causing thousands of deaths of innocent adivasis and losing their own forces in huge numbers. They can only destroy the villages through their policy of “kill all, burn all, destroy all” as pursued by their reactionary counterpart Chiang Kai-shek in pre-revolutionary China. The more destruction and havoc these mercenary forces cause the faster our people’s army will grow and our guerilla war will spread to wider regions in the country.

Thanks to Salwa Judum, our war had achieved in four years what it would have otherwise achieved in two decades. Now thanks to Chidambaram, our war will expand to wider areas, mobilise wider masses, and also will gather new momentum and get new dynamism. Every mercenary repressive force, by its very nature and sense of insecurity in rebel-held areas, will end up murdering people and destroying their property. This is what even the mightiest army is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan and getting rapidly alienated from the people.

Q: But the Home Minister says the government is duty-bound to establish the “rule of law”.

Azad: The “rule of law”, huh! Is the Home Minister serious about it? If so, why does he allow his police and the army to abduct people, illegally detain them for days without end, torture them in secret torture chambers in the most brutal manner, and murder them? Why did he permit the SIB of AP to abduct, torture and murder our Central Committee member, Comrade Patel Sudhakar? Why did he not ask his men to produce Comrade Kobad Ghandy in the court within 24 hours after his arrest and instead kept him in illegal detention for four days? Chidambaram revealed how big a liar he is by announcing that Kobad was arrested on the 20th of September and produced in the court within 24 hours. Just ten days ago, two of our comrades Ravi Sharma and Anuradha, were arrested from Jharkhand but the police vehemently denied even after the news was flashed in the media and the AP High Court called for an explanation from the police after a habeas corpus petition was filed. Only after they were completely exposed and all-round pressure was built up, the police produced them in the court on the 14th claiming they were arrested only the previous day. The list of such incidents is endless. As regards the atrocities on innocent people I had already described in some detail.

The so-called “rule of law” bandied about by Manmohan, Chidambaram, Raman Singh, Buddhadeb and others is only an empty phrase that exists on paper. In the eyes of the people it is merely an eyewash and, moreover, is an instrument used to oppress and suppress them. If the “rule of law” is really implemented, the entire corrupt and lawless bureaucracy, police, and the political class would be languishing in jails...

Q: Lastly, what is your Party’s call to the people at large?

Azad: We appeal to the people of our country to stand up boldly against this unjust cruel war on the poorest of the poor waged by the Central and State governments in the name of suppressing red terror. The only terror that is terrifying the people of our country is state terror, saffron terror, and the terror of the exploiters and oppressors. Violence is a structural feature of our society: it is an inbuilt, inherent characteristic of the existing unjust, authoritarian, hierarchical, oppressive and rotten society. Just think of it! A mere five per cent of the country’s population oppresses and suppresses the remaining 95 per cent through extremely brutal violence reminding us of unthinkable medieval brutalities. All tools for perpetrating violence are monopolised by the ruling classes and their representative state apparatus. The poorest sections of the society, who live a life of extreme misery and destitution, are forced into meek submission to the exploiters as they have no means to fight the violent repressive tools in the hands of the state. It is these hungry and angry masses who form the backbone of our revolution. Their violence is only defensive violence or counter-violence to the eternal state violence. Every peace-loving democratic citizen of this country should realise this truth and defend the revolutionary violence of the oppressed led by the CPI (Maoist).

We must all ask the question: who is spreading terror? Whose policies have led to the suicides of two lakh farmers in just one decade? Who has been spreading insecurity and pushing the vast majority to live under daily fear of hunger and starvation? Who is artificially hoarding essential commodities and terrorising the people? Who is snatching the lands from the adivasis, Dalits, poor and middle peasants and handing them over to a few rich business houses and MNCs? Who is indulging in the massacre of religious minorities with the aim of ethnic cleansing and creating terror among the 20 crore minority communities? Who is setting up vigilante gangs and unleashing a brutal reign of terror, butchering advasis, raping women, destroying property, and displacing over one lakh adivasis in just two districts of Dantewada and Bijapur? Who is abducting Maoists and supporters of revolution, cruelly torturing them and murdering them? Who is a terrorist? And who has given Sonia-Manmohan-Chidambaram clique the right to wage war on the Maoists?

It is time for every Indian to raise these crucial questions and declare boldly: “Stop this brutal war against the people! Not in my name, fascist Chidambaram!” It is the organised resistance of the people and people alone that can stop this brutal war waged by Delhi’s war-mongers—Sonia, Manmohan and Chidambaram—and the warlords in the States, for serving the class interests of their masters. This alone can ensure that the biggest traitors who publicly mortgage the interests of our beloved motherland to their imperialist masters—the Sonia-Manmohan-Chidambaram fascist clique—can never achieve their fond dreams of handing over huge chunks of our land to the imperialist marauders and their comprador agents in India.

Terrorism and “Left-wing extremism” are used by the reactionary ruling classes as a pretext to step up their fascist offensive on the people at large. This is necessary for the reactionary rulers in order to enforce their imperialist-dictated, anti-people, market fundamentalist, policies on a reluctant population.

We also call upon the policemen, who are sent to suppress their brothers and sisters for the benefit of a handful of exploiters and oppressors, to understand the conspiracies of the ruling classes, and appeal to them to desist from opening fire upon our own people. We have nothing against them so long as they cooperate with us and do not harm the people. We also call on them to join the revolutionary ranks or to help us through various means to defeat the cruel war being waged by a handful of hawks against the overwhelming majority of the Indian people.

Finally, we appeal to the media to verify the facts before propagating them and not to be carried away by the outright lies, deliberate distortions, baseless allegations, and the incessant mud-slinging by the police, bureaucrats, political leaders, and some so-called political analysts, who have unleashed a dirty psychological war against the Maoists and the revolutionary movement. The rulers have launched an all-out multi-pronged war and are engaged in a vicious propaganda campaign against us. You know that our Party has been banned and our members and supporters are constantly being hunted. Hence, we have hardly any scope to explain our standpoint to the people of our country and answer the unending baseless allegations against us. Let us not make truth a casualty during this war. We hope the media will provide some democratic space to the other version of the Maoist revolutionaries while leaving the ultimate judgement to the people themselves.

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