[the text below is the introduction to the two volume collection “Women Martyrs of the Indian Revolution” available online thanks to Bannedthought.net-Signalfire]
We are presenting here the poignant life histories of undaunted courageous and ever inspiring women who were martyred in the struggle for New Democratic Revolution (NDR) in India, since the historic Naxalbari armed peasant rebellion which burst forth like a ‘Spring Thunder’ in 1967.
The great Naxalbari rebellion, the armed agrarian revolution itself was not an isolated phenomena and it had erupted in an international background of earth-shaking events. Particularly, it was inspired by the Great Debate against modern revisionism of Kruschev & Co. and Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution launched under the leadership of Mao in China. Naxalbari had broken the back of the modern revisionism, mainly that of CPI (M) and shown the real path of liberation for the oppressed masses of India.
The spring thunder of Naxalbari was a clarion call for the oppressed and exploited people of India. It showed them the path for liberation. It has been forty years since six peasant women, two children and a peasant had laid down their lives in Naxalbari while fighting for land and life with dignity – their liberation. Then onwards oppressed people of our country have begun to write a new history of their own through their own class struggle and with their own hands to reach their ultimate destiny which paves the way for the liberation of entire mankind from all clutches and prejudices of class society. This all-encompassing history is tremendously influencing all spheres of our society, the polity, economy, relations between different social classes and communities, family, culture, literature and ecology.
The history of oppressed women is the real history of the dearest daughters of our beloved country which is an inseparable, vital component of the history of oppressed people. And no success in the revolutionary war or the final victory of the revolution is imaginable or possible without women. Hence, the need to study their history. These life histories are an inseparable part of this people’s history. In these long-drawn forty years, the Indian revolutionary communist movement had gone through many ups and downs and twists and turns. After the setback of Naxalbari struggle, the CPI (ML) party split into many streams. MCC was the other revolutionary stream which stood by the slogan ‘Naxalbari Ek Hi Raasta’ (Naxalbari is the only Path) and built a revolutionary movement in some states.
Of the many splinters of the CPI (ML), CPI (ML) (People’s War) and CPI (ML) (Party Unity) stood by Naxalbari politics and built revolutionary movements covering some states. These two parties merged in 1998 and formed the CPI (ML) [People’s War]. Finally on September 21, 2004 the two main streams of revolutionary communists – the MCCI and the CPI (ML) [People’s War] merged and formed the CPI (Maoist) and thus a strong single centre to lead the revolutionary movement finally emerged. In the 37 years of class struggle and people’s war of these two main streams before the merger many comrades had laid down their precious lives for the victory of NDR in India.
The villages, towns, soils, furrows of fields, collieries, woods and mountains, rivulets and rivers of vast India turned red with the warm blood of these thousands of immortal martyrs which included hundreds of women comrades. In the thorny and tortuous trajectory every success, experience and the unity of the party could be achieved only through their innumerable sacrifices. It is the base on which the party stands today and endeavors to advance the People’s War. It is by paying homage to their glorious martyrdom that the unity was cemented.
Now, the CPI (Maoist) is advancing in the path of protracted people’s war and striving to develop guerilla war into mobile war and to develop People’s Liberation Guerilla Army into People’s Liberation Army with the aim of establishing Base Areas. It is the duty of every communist to pay tribute to the memory of martyrs by continuing the unfulfilled tasks till the victory of communism. People are always inspired by the sacrifices of martyrs. So it becomes our bounden duty to propagate about their great qualities, which we have to emulate, their lives and their ideals, among the vast masses so that they are inspired to join the liberation struggle to carry forward and realize their lofty aims. July 28 to August 3 is celebrated as Martyrs’ Memorial Week to commemorate the martyrs and take a vow that we will follow their footsteps with renewed vigor and determination.
We are using this occasion to give the readers a glimpse into the lives of women martyrs. It is really sad that we could not collect the life histories of all the martyred women comrades. CPI (Maoist) is leading a revolutionary movement which is spread over a vast area and that too it is concentrated in the most backward and remote pockets of India and is working under severe repressive conditions. So, one of the main reasons for the unavailability of their life histories is the fascist repression it is facing.
We have made an effort to compile the whole list of women comrades martyred from Naxalbari to 2009. We are giving the available life histories and list of women comrades martyred in this period as far as we could gather. The list is more or less complete but there are some more women comrades who were martyred during the state sponsored Salwa Judum, the counterrevolutionary and terrorist military campaign unleashed by the Chhattisgarh and central governments.
We could not get in time their names and details. Some more women comrades also were killed recently in encounters with paramilitary and other armed forces in various parts of India whose details we could not obtain due to the war like situation prevailing in these areas as part of Operation Green Hunt. We would definitely try to overcome these shortcomings in the next edition. But meanwhile we thought it would be useful and inspiring to bring out as many life histories as possible on this solemn occasion when we commemorate our beloved martyrs.
Here we have compiled in two volumes the life histories of women revolutionaries who were martyred since Naxalbari to 2009 under the leadership of those streams of the Indian revolution which merged into the CPI (Maoist) in 2004. In the first volume we have included the life histories of women martyrs from Naxalbari to September 2004. In the second volume we have included the life histories of women martyrs from September 2004 to 2009, i.e., since the formation of CPI (Maoist).
The life histories of women martyrs of CPI (Maoist) and some of those who were part of the genuine democratic and progressive movements have been recorded here. When we look at the lives of these women martyrs many things strike us as extremely significant. The NDR in India is led by the working class and peasantry is its main ally.
So the majority of the martyrs belong naturally to the peasantry. In the Srikakulam armed agrarian revolutionary struggle, which was the major armed struggle of the Naxalbari period, there were 17 women martyrs. The most prominent among them was Panchadi Nirmala who has inspired and is still inspiring generations of young women to join the revolution. Altogether the total number of that period will be in dozens. But after 1985 and especially in the 1990s and in the new millennium their numbers reached hundreds. And more than two hundred women comrades have laid their invaluable lives just in this past six years since the formation of the new party. The protracted people’s war (PPW) doesn’t advance along a smooth and straight path and its nature of momentum is always zigzag.
So this reality is reflected in these life histories too. They represent the many ups and downs and successes and failures experienced by the revolutionary movement. The Indian ruling classes have always used brutal force to suppress the revolutionary movement. They have launched many a suppression campaigns one after another and have deployed lakhs of police and paramilitary forces to crush the movement in the most heinous ways possible. The brutality of these forces is on par with the brutality of most suppressive forces in the world. No surprise, most of the women martyred in the movement died while fighting these forces.
They died in real encounters and fake encounters, both of them illegal according to the existing constitution. Guerillas have been surrounded by the mercenary forces which are many times over and above their strength and have been fired upon without any warning or any effort to arrest them. While some died in face to face battles, some of the women guerillas were caught with injuries in different types of armed confrontations.
Many of those who were caught with injuries were gang- raped, tortured and killed in cold blood. Many women revolutionaries were caught unarmed in villages and towns and killed in fake encounters. Many of them had been jailed and some died due to the tortures and the abysmal jail conditions. It was not just the women guerillas who died at their hands. Many unarmed women activists of both over ground and underground mass organizations (peasant, worker, women, cultural, youth, student etc) have also been killed in cold blood either by the police, paramilitary or by vigilante gangs sponsored by the reactionary governments.
Unarmed urban women activists who organized the working class, urban poor and various sections of urban people were caught, cruelly tortured and killed. There are both professional revolutionaries and part-time party activists among those who died. Apart from these comrades, some comrades have died due to illness and in accidents (accidental fires, thunderbolt, snake bites, drowning etc). Some died during child birth. In one sense, these deaths are also caused due to the severe inhuman repressive conditions prevailing in the main struggle zones or states. People and revolutionaries are dying due to non-availability of medical facilities in those backward areas and the embargo imposed by the enemy. The fascist governments are putting restrictions even on sale of medicines in these areas and harassing the doctors who treat the revolutionaries, even killing them some times.
A woman dying during child birth is due to the lack of any kind of pre-natal and ante-natal care in the backward rural areas even after more than six decades of “independence”. So, we can say most of these deaths are also caused by the callousness of the ruling classes or manmade. There are women of all age groups among these martyrs ranging from babies to women over 60 years of age. Some were mothers of children, some were pregnant and some had just given birth. Many teenage girls were killed too.
Neither age nor their physical condition deterred the police from killing them. As one goes through this book, one would find a wide spectrum of women belonging to oppressed classes, castes and sections among these martyrs. More than ninety percent of these martyrs belong to the most oppressed classes and oppressed castes from the rural areas. It comes as no surprise as New Democratic Revolution is waged in the vast rural tracts with the strategy of liberating villages as a part of area-wise seizure of power and surrounding the cities, ultimately liberating the whole country.
So agrarian revolution is at the core of this revolution and naturally the women of oppressed classes and castes are the main revolutionary social force. Some women belonging to the working class and urban poor had also been martyred. A considerable number of women belonging to the petty bourgeois classes and sections like students, intellectuals, employees have also been martyred.
The specific feature to be remembered about these women martyrs coming from a petty bourgeois background is that they have realized that women’s liberation in India or anywhere in the world is not possible without the liberation of the overwhelming majority of peasant or working women and so had joined the agrarian revolution.
They left their homes, life styles and class baggage behind and completely integrated with the rural women populace, educating them and getting educated in class politics in turn. Comrades Snehalata, Kurnool Padma, Nyalakonda Rajitha, Parvati of Karnataka, Ellanki Aruna, Suguna (Mahboobnagar), Anuradha Ghandy, were some of the most popular and illustrious leaders from this genre.
Anuradha was an ideological and political leader of the party and had developed to the level of CC. Rajitha was a state committee member. Padma, Suguna and Aruna were on their way to become state level leaders at the time of their killing and later would have developed as central level leaders. Rajitha, Aruna and Suguna were great military and political leaders of the movement and Padma was one of the best organizers the party had ever produced and was a political and ideological leader. She worked mainly in the urban areas amidst severe repressive conditions and is one of the main architects of the urban women’s movement in AP from 1989 to 1994. Anuradha was the in-charge of the Central Mahila sub-committee and comrades Padma and J. Savitri were members of AP Mahila Coordination committee.
These were structures formed by the party to specially concentrate on developing revolutionary movement, to develop women comrades and tackle problems of patriarchy in the whole revolutionary camp. So one can calculate the loss the women’s movement had suffered with their deaths. Both Padma and Savitri were killed by the brutal AP police. It is noteworthy that Anuradha and Padma had particularly strived to build friendly relations with other democratic and progressive women’s organizations and individuals in the country. Revolutionary women organizations were built in the villages of forest and plain areas and also urban areas and these organizations had mobilized thousands and lakhs of women in various struggles and political movements.
Thousands of them are active participants in the People’s War at various levels. These women organizations, the women leaders of these organizations and the party women organizers who are the motive force behind them have been specifically targeted by the ruling classes and many have been killed in fake encounters and massacres of people. Scores have been killed by the dozens of vigilante gangs sponsored by the armed forces in all the struggle areas, the most notorious of them being the Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh and Sendra in Jharkhand. On the other hand, when we look at some of the incidents we can gauge how the fascization of the armed forces and entire state has risen to unprecedented heights. It even looks as if the state is exceptionally cruel towards women. In the bizarre Manala covert killings three women comrades (along with another seven male comrades) were very cruelly tortured after they became unconscious from the sedatives mixed in their food and then killed them.
The whole scene was so ghastly that people were terrified when they saw the mutilated, mauled bodies. In the Aguruguda encounter three women comrades were killed. In Sangidigundala, six women comrades were brutally gunned down. Out of them three were Chenchu adivasi young girls and the other three were also young women from a poor peasant background.
In the Seshachalam Hills encounter also six women comrades were killed. This was also a covert operation. In the Daraboyinapenta encounter (in which the AP state committee secretary Com. Madhav was also killed) five women comrades had laid down their lives. In the Gunukuralla encounter, three women died fighting the police bravely. The notorious AP Greyhound commando police did not spare even an old mother of four children. They tortured and killed Eswaramma in a fake encounter after she was arrested. The fake encounter of seven unarmed teenage girls at Sathrajpalle would go down in history as one of most cruel killings.
The only crime these girls committed was trying to organize themselves into a women’s organization to address their grievances as women. Nayan’s child in Naxalbari, Biddika Chandramma’s six-month old baby in Srikakulam, Mounika, a 2-year old child in Nalgonda district, 3-Year old Beronica Titoya in Jharkhand, 10 year old Oyam Bujji in DK are just a few names of children who have lost their lives to the brutality of the police.
In fact, their numbers would be more if we meticulously gather all the details about the repression in the struggle zones.Some women lost their lives for being family members of revolutionary activists or for giving them shelter. Haseena Begum and Niranjana of NT were killed for this. Avalam Lakshmi (DK) and Manthena Rajavva (NT), both old women lost their lives just because they resided in the movement areas and happened to cross the way of the armed forces. The number of women dying at the hands of the various vigilante gangs sponsored by the state are also increasing. And these count as some of the most macabre killings ever. Belli Lalitha was a great singer who worked in the cultural movement for Separate Telangana.
She was hacked to 17 pieces by the most notorious black gang of AP led by Nayeem and those pieces were thrown into various wells. The gruesome murder of Malati and Lakshmi in Bhitar Amada by NASUS would make one shudder. Badki Devi of Jharkhand was strangled to death by the reactionaries. All the women killed as part of Salwa Judum come under this category. The spiteful killing of Kumme and Chaithe in DK by killer gangs as part of Operation Green Hunt (OGH) in 2010 by raping them and hacking their necks indicate what is in store for women activists from such gangs. Their bodies were purposefully left naked. Some women comrades lost their lives at the hands of coverts (Santha of AP, Manala women martys of NT). Many coverts had been given targets by the police officials to kill the women leaders in particular.
In many incidents, the AP and DK police raped women comrades who were injured in encounters and then murdered them. This is the lowest level they can stoop to in bestiality. If this sounds horrible then when we hear about the atrocities the poor, adivasi women are subjected in DK, particularly during Salwa Judum (SJ), there would be no words to describe the horror. The kind of hatred with which their breasts and private parts were attacked has perhaps never been witnessed in this scale in India in Maoist revolution. When we remember the fact that these adivasi women had to wage bitter struggles with their men to cover their breasts and private parts properly with cloth, we may perhaps understand why those parts are so particularly targeted.
All along, ruling classes all over the world have always used rape and sexual violence on women as a weapon to suppress people’s movements and SJ is an appalling continuation of that policy. Whether it is the DK adivasis or AP Chenchu adivasis or Jharkhand Santhal adivasi or Odisha Kond adivasis or the dalit women in the various plain and suburban areas, it is always the poor, backward, lower caste women who are becoming victims of state repression.
Their only crime was to try to take their lives into their hands; to try to liberate their people. In SJ, they particularly targeted Kranthikari Adivasi Mahila Sangathan (KAMS) leaders and members, members of peoples’ militia and Cultural front and common women. India, which boasts to be the world’s largest democracy, doesn’t even allow poor adivasi women to organize into women’s organizations for their fundamental rights. It is high time the world sits up and expresses indignation at this appalling condition. One should note that the revolutionary women’s movement of India is one of the main and widespread women’s movements in the world and in India apart from the nationality women’s movements in Kashmir and Manipur.
These women martyrs were inspired by Maoism and the revolutionary movement. The reasons for their joining the movement may vary but one common feature we find in them is their aspiration to be liberated from patriarchy and to liberate all women from patriarchy. Most of them were themselves victims of patriarchy and some of them though not as oppressed had consciously joined as they felt Maoism provided the answer to the eradication of patriarchy.
So when we go through the life histories of these extraordinary women, we find that they fought patriarchy in society, in their comrades in arms and also in themselves. The women revolutionaries have been victims of patriarchal psychological war of the ruling classes too. They have been put down as sexual victims of their male colleagues. Their personal lives have sometimes been derided with all kinds of slander as part of the foul propaganda unleashed by the ruling classes’ psychological warfare, an important component of the Low Intensity Conflict strategy to crush the Maoists.
The irony is that even some women (very few) who claim to represent the interests of women have swallowed this propaganda uncritically and wrote articles with the same tenor. The fact is that revolutionary movement has the avowed aim of fighting patriarchy and encourages women to fight it at all levels. One cannot explain the huge participation of women in the movement if the above had not been true.
The revolutionary movement had never claimed there were no manifestations of patriarchy in the party, people’s army, or in the revolutionary camp. In fact, it has released documents explaining its origins and the forms it gets manifested in and even created some specific forms to fight it like rectification campaigns against patriarchy apart from the regular criticism-self criticism sessions. The lives of these martyrs are testimony to the above facts and we hope these would dispel some of the doubts which lurk in minds of some people about women being victims of patriarchy in the movement.
Such a view does not see these women as active participants in the revolution or as makers of history and only sees them as ‘victims’. Doesn’t this view represent one of the most disgusting forms of patriarchy too? The lives of these martyrs not only show how they had fought patriarchy but also how to fight against it till its elimination or its complete eradication from the face of the globe. With their glorious lives they had demolished every kind of feudal and bourgeois stereotype about women in all the fields and this is no ordinary feat for the ‘backward, uneducated’ peasant, dalit and adivasi women or the ‘fragile’ petty bourgeois women. One more thing we want to emphasize about the lives of these martyrs is the extremely difficult conditions in which they had worked and died.
They braved it all with sheer determination and their aspiration for a better society for all the oppressed masses of India and ultimately for the establishment of a classless society in the entire world. The daily lives of these women are full of circumstances which require extraordinary grit to continue. In the severe repressive conditions, they had to go without food and water, go without sleep and forego all kinds of comforts.
In the plain areas, they had to walk the whole night and take shelter in a small secret place with almost no movement in the daytime. In Telangana they used to take shelter in the homes of the peasants and they had to be so secret that they had to urinate and defecate inside the house into pots. They would be disposed only in the night when they go out of the shelters. Taking bath was an extremely risky job and could cost you your life. Some comrades had died fetching drinking water for the squad as water points are ambush spots for the police.
One can imagine what the women comrades in the plains in those severe repression days went through when they were menstruating. They had to work under constant physical and mental pressure amidst police combings and mopping up campaigns. None of them could be counted under the category of ‘healthy’ women and had to survive with all kinds of diseases and illnesses including gynecological problems, not to mention the omnipresent, constant companion – the dreadful malaria resulting in severe anemia.
Some had surgical operations for various ailments and worked under severe physical constraints. Their commitment to the people is unparalleled and worthy of admiration. After the setback of Naxalbari, women comrades like Chittekka of Srikakulam, a veteran comrade who served people for above forty years till her last breath had worked under severe repressive, discouraging and hopeless conditions.
Chittekka’s life is so full of inspiring episodes that she deserves a whole book or novel in her name. They were part of the pioneer comrades who had revived the revolutionary movement in India again from scratch after the setback of the Naxalbari, and Srikakulam, Bhirbhum and other struggles. Their unflinching confidence in Maoism even under such difficult conditions is exemplary and worthy of emulating.
Many women comrades had lost their loved ones in the movement but continued with redoubled spirit, vowing to carry on the lofty aims of their beloved life partners. Some have married again but lost that partner too. And all this at a very young age. In some incidents both the husband and the wife had died in the same incident (both in real and fake encounters). Some of these are very young couples. Some of these martyrs had lost a brother/sister/relative in the movement. Bhagyalakshmi’s and Nagamani’s (AP) brothers were martyred before them. There are some comrades who have a relative in the enemy camp too. Morri Lakshmi (NT) killed her own brother when he turned covert and damaged the party. Such vertical divisions in the family could be seen mostly during the SJ fascist campaign. Some martyrs had lost their limbs or were injured in firings (some of them more than once) but nothing could dampen their spirit.
Some of them could not get treatment in time due to the repression and so had to undergo a lot of pain and some even had to carry on with disability due to this delay. Majority of the women comrades, particularly the guerillas had chosen not to have children. Some of them had children when at home and had left them to join the movement. Some gave birth to children in the movement but left them with somebody and dedicated themselves to the people. In one sense, they have shattered the myth of ‘motherhood’ concept imposed on them by the feudal society.
They have proved with their practice that communist women do not love or care for only their own children and that they love and take care of all the children belonging to the oppressed masses. These ‘mothers’ left their own children and worked and died for the bright future of all the children in this world. Another myth that some of these comrade have shattered is that women follow their husbands whatever they may do.
Comrades like Padma, who developed into a Divisional Committee member in Adilabad district, Santhi of Nallamala in AP did not leave the movement till their last breath even though their husbands abandoned the movement. This shows their higher level of class consciousness and their immense commitment of these comrades towards the people. The women comrades in the revolution are the pioneers for building new man-woman relations in the party, army and in society.
They are steeling themselves in the class struggle and are also establishing new relations and new values through their practice in the class struggle. Establishing new man-woman relations is also part of this all-encompassing class struggle. Some martyr couples or martyr comrades had forever remained as models to follow in man-woman relations.
Among these martyrs we would particularly like to highlight the life histories of those senior women comrades who had dedicated their lives for decades together for the revolution and had almost remained nameless till their death due to the nature of their work in the technical mechanism formed for the protection of leadership and other tasks like press, weapons production etc.
Comrades like Bhagyalakshmi (technical mechanism, AP), Vijayakka (technical mechanism, AP), Narmada (Weapons Production, DK), Jilani Bano (technical mechanism, NT) are just a few names. They spent years together in these works withstanding all kinds of difficulties and problems in that life. It was a sacrifice on their part because as communists they would have always preferred to work among the people and not spend their lives in some secret den. Matta Rattakka was the first woman comrade from the plains to come to DK and work there. Later she worked for many years in the technical mechanism and then she again came back to DK and died in an encounter while working there.
Rajeswari of Karnataka, another senior comrade, left her job, joined the movement and edited party organs from underground. The revolutionary movement considers the life histories of all those veteran women comrades as treasures to be preserved for the future generations and always urges the younger comrades to learn from their lives, works and from their long- standing commitment and steadfastness in the face of umpteen numbers of difficulties.
The very mention of their long revolutionary lives fills one’s heart with a warmth and inspiration which the younger comrades should hold on to very dearly. Comrades belonging to various departments of the party, PLGA and Janathana Sarkar were martyred. There were computer operators (Swetha, AOB), tailors (Gadapa Sarita, DK), teachers (Madhavi, AP), doctors (Karuna, AOB; Anju, JH; Kamala, DK), technicians (Narmada and Sunita, DK), press workers (Chaithe, DK), agriculture workers (Kumli, DK) etc among the martyrs. Their contribution in these various fields which are an inseparable part of the ongoing PPW is unforgettable. The readers would find that there are a few comrades who had committed suicide. It is really one of the tragedies of the movement that some comrades had committed suicide in spite of being in the revolutionary camp.
They had been active in their fields and had a great promise in them. The movement had rescued many women in the society who were on the verge of suicide and we can only imagine how many more would have committed suicide in the villages if not for the revolutionary women’s movement. So a woman committing suicide while being in the revolutionary camp is to be taken seriously. The revolutionary movement takes these incidents seriously though they are very few in number because they show where the weaknesses of those comrades and that of the movement lie.
The movement reviews these incidents to avoid such occurrences again. Their life histories, particularly those of oppressed people, adivasi, dalit, show the tremendous efforts they had put in to develop themselves ideologically, politically, organizationally and militarily in order to become communist leaders of the movement. Most of them became literate after joining the movement.
Many of them had developed as party committee members right from village party committee to district/divisional level committees. We are very proud of the manner they carried on their responsibilities as committee members quite efficiently. Their efforts in this direction will serve as an inspiration for all comrades in the generations to come. They have forever buried the false dictum of this society that women are always inferior. So we see women doing all kinds of works and taking up all kinds of responsibilities in the party, army and united front activities. They are working and leading in all fronts of the revolution.
Another feature we want to highlight about these martyrs is their bravery and valiance in fighting the enemy. Innumerable incidents of their bravery can be quoted. They have been immortalized in many art and literary forms not to mention the countless songs which describe their bravery and courage.
They have become legends in the eyes of the people and sometimes we find even their ‘enemies’ praising their valiance. Their military skills are not inferior to any of the male comrades and sometimes even surpassed that of their male colleagues. Ordinary peasant, adivasi and petty bourgeois women had become soldiers and military leaders.
The military exploits of Rajitha and Lalitha of NT have become legendary and even the armed forces feared them. Karuna and Somvari died during Daula raid, Rambatti during the illustrious Nayagadh raid, Rukmati during the historic Mukaram attack, Anju in the Jhumra Pahad raid, Srilata during the raid on Tirumalagiri PS and many are the working class heroines who died fighting the enemy valiantly in attacks on the armed forces and in the scores of encounters with the armed forces. Porteti Penti (DK) had special forces training and proved her mettle in the last encounter with the police. Vanaja’s (AOB) and Radha’s (DK) last battles with the police are some of the most valiant fights put up by the guerillas of PLGA. Rathna (AOB) was an action team member.
A woman in action teams is still a rarity to find in the PPW. Many sacrificed their lives in these armed confrontations to save their fellow comrades. Health is not on their side and one would be surprised at how much these undernourished, lean, short built women could achieve in the military sphere.
The answer is again the same – their determination to fight all patriarchal notions about women and their commitment towards the people as builders of new society. Here lies the strength of the communist ideology which makes such things possible. It can give rise to this kind of selflessness and their lives in turn guarantee the ultimate triumph of this ideology over selfish class interests and ushers in the communist society. It is their communist spirit and selflessness which turned them into such wonderful human beings. Not for nothing do the masses mobilize in thousands and lakhs to pay homage to these great martyrs.
The one point we want to emphasize many times over to all those who go through this book is the huge number of budding women leaders that had been done away with by the ruling classes. One’s heart bleeds when one thinks of the kind of people’s leaders India has lost in this severe repression unleashed by the perpetrators of exploitation, oppression and male domination in the society. There were ideological, political, organizational, military and cultural leaders among them.
There were great mass leaders who could lead thousands of people in various struggles. Lingakka (NT), Linge Nano, Pauribai Salaami, Mallam Seethi of DK, Lakshmi (AP) and Badki Devi (JH) were such leaders to name a few. Leaders of the newly emerging people’s political power organs were killed (like Mainabai Naitham of DK). Young dynamic militia comrades and militia commanders who were to develop into future military leaders were killed (like Pottami Aithe, Midiyam Aithe of DK). Great singers and artistes who could inspire lakhs of people with their performances had been killed. They were leaders of the cultural movements too. Now, we are talking of the leaders who had a chance to prove themselves. But we have to talk more about the women who had the potential in them to develop into great leaders but had been extinguished too soon.
Undoubtedly, many of them could have developed into state level and central level leaders. The revolutionaries are often questioned about the less number of women in the higher level decision making bodies in the party. A perusal through the life histories of these martyrs shows one of the main reasons behind that fact. If only, if only these women had not been killed, one can surely say that they would have developed to those higher levels without any difficulty. Their potential is stuff that leaders are made of.
Any person who genuinely feels that revolutionary movement should have considerable number of women leaders should take this fact into consideration and do everything possible to oppose and stop the killings of women revolutionaries. Some of these martyrs had been arrested and had spent jail terms in the course of their revolutionary lives.
They had been tortured when they were arrested and even in jails they had to live in abysmal conditions. But they kept the red flag aloft in jails too and had placed a model before the people about the role of a revolutionary in jail. The important thing to note is that in such difficulties did not make them step back but fought against the system in a different way by facing immense torture including solitary confinement for indefinite period and they immediately joined the revolutionary movement as soon as they were released.
In fact, some of them had to try hard to get the contact of the underground party and had to face more difficulties meanwhile. The ruling classes try to break the spirit of revolutionaries by torturing and putting them in jails but in majority of the cases all this only served to redouble their commitment.
We hold such martyrs in great esteem and put their example before the people as models to emulate. Even today, scores of women comrades are languishing in jails but are keeping up their spirits with the inspiration of such martyrs. The life histories presented here just give a glimpse about their lives. In fact, if we write in detail about every individual comrade, it will become a book. And we genuinely feel it is worthy of writing too.
But our limitations are such that in this war it is becoming increasingly difficult to record the number of deaths or to note the details about their lives. It made us extremely sad to see that about some women comrades the information available is so meager. It made our hearts bleed to write so less about somebody who had not hesitated to make the supreme sacrifice for the sake of the oppressed people.
We are painfully aware that the task of recording their life histories would become even more difficult in the future as the war intensifies. So we are using this occasion to place an imperative request before all of you to try and bring to light the various inspiring aspects in the lives of these great women in as many ways as possible.
Already as part of the revolutionary cultural and literary movements, innumerable songs, write ups, memoirs, poems, stories, articles etc had been written about the martyrs. A novel was written about Com. Jilani Bano in Telugu. Separate books/booklets/folders had been published about some women comrades. Their writings were published too. But even these do not suffice. They show us only the tip of an iceberg.
Recording the various emotional, moving and inspiring aspects in their lives cannot be done by any individual and so we would like each person concerned about or associated with the revolutionary and democratic movements in our country to take this up as one of the tasks to be fulfilled as part of their activities. We also request the comrades in the revolutionary movement to be more diligent and meticulous in recording the life histories of martyrs and to do it in time as far as possible.
This should be realized as an integral part of the ‘war’ too – the war to reclaim our memories from those who swear to destroy them. The reason for the repression becoming more and more severe in the past 15 years is the globalization policies pushed by the government under the guidance of the imperialists. The imperialists, big comprador bureaucratic capitalist and the feudal landlords want to plunder the vast mineral and natural resources of India especially in the forest areas of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, Kanataka, Northeast, etc. The reactionary ruling classes want to suppress the Party and PLGA which defends the interests of the people and which are organizing the people into struggles against the plunderers.
The unjustified ‘War on People’ was launched in the name of Operation Green Hunt for this purpose since mid-2009. Many people as well as party activists and soldiers of PLGA and highest level party leaders were targeted and killed. They sacrificed lives in this bitter struggle against the imperialist led ruling classes. As more and more women are realizing the truth and joining the struggles, the number of women losing their lives also increases. But this large number not only indicates the level of repression and the scale of the movement but also the fact that women are joining the party and army in large numbers.
It shows that oppressed women are increasingly choosing the revolutionary path. Never in the history of the Indian communist movement have so many women comrades (that too in leading positions in the party, army and UF) been killed by the armed forces. It is necessary to build up a strong civil rights and democratic movement to fight this brutal repression. Highlighting the repression on women should be one of the main tasks of this movement. More than anything the need of the hour is to unite every just struggle of the women under a banner of democratic and revolutionary organizations. We hope this book would serve its role in inspiring the people of our country to take steps towards taking and intensifying such action.
Comrades like Anuradha Ghandy, Kurnool Padma and many other comrades had strived to interact with the other democratic and progressive women’s movements and individuals in their life time to build such a broad based united women’s movement building bridges between the vast rural tracts and the expanding urban populace. It would be a fitting homage to the efforts of such martyrs to build such a unity among the oppressed women of all sections.
The ruling classes are using every opportunity at their disposal to carry on psychological warfare against the revolutionaries. It is one of the main tasks of the revolutionary movement to fight back this foul propaganda in various forms and manners.
The life histories of these great martyrs are one of the most powerful weapon in the hands of the party and the revolutionary people to defeat the psy-war of the ruling classes which always to try to portray the Maoists as ‘terrorists’ ‘cruel’ ‘selfish’ ‘killers’ ‘hoarders’ ‘oppressors and exploiters of women’ etc etc. By giving a glimpse into what goes into the making of a communist, these life histories prove without an iota of doubt that communists represent the most humane values in life and that they have sacrificed their lives to establish those values in the whole society.
The revolutionary movement is also humbly accepting that it has to review the causes for the martyrdom of each invaluable comrade and analyze the shortcomings which led to them. This is a class war and no victory for the oppressed people is possible in this war without sacrifices. In fact, as the People’s War intensifies, the brutal onslaught of the exploiting classes would increase further and martyrdoms would also increase due to this. But it is the declared aim of the communist party to achieve the liberation of the people with as less sacrifices as possible.
The revolutionary movement vows to overcome the shortcomings, wrong assessments and any other reasons which may have led to martyrdoms which could have been avoided if only more attention has been paid to these reasons. This constitutes one of the important inherent aspects in the homage paid to the martyrs by the revolutionary party.
The glorious martyrs are teaching lessons to their revolutionary heirs not only through their lives but also with their deaths. Every revolutionary should humbly learn these lessons in order to advance the People’s War further. The fact that so many women and men are getting killed in the movement is not dampening the spirit of the fighting people in the movement areas.
On the contrary, their lives are inspiring more and more women and men to join the revolution. The most popular books among the cadres, soldiers of PLGA and people are the books which contain the life histories of these martyrs. Even these martyrs had been inspired by revolutionaries who had been martyred before them.
The cadres studiously study their lives to imbibe their exemplary qualities. As the people’s war is advancing, most of the cadres find their close comrades in arms getting martyred in front of their eyes. Many a time they have to carry their dead bodies and weapons to safety and perform their last rites in revolutionary tradition. Death has become a daily fact of life and the cadres and soldiers know that one day it will be their turn.
The occasion which is observed with great solemnity in all the movement areas is the Martyrs’ week from July 28 to August 3. July 28 is the day when Comrade Charu Mazumdar, the great founder leader of Naxalbari rebellion and leader of Indian revolution was martyred in police custody. This week is observed in the memory of the innumerable martyrs of Indian revolution starting from Com. Charu Mazumdar and Com. Kanhai Chatterji, the founding leaders of the party. People build martyrs’ columns in their memory, conduct meetings, rallies, sing songs and perform plays and vow to fulfill the dreams of martyrs of the Indian Revolution and the World Socialist Revolution.
The maximum number of songs written as part of the cultural movement is about the martyrs. Parents, relatives and friends of the martyrs attend these meetings and pay their homage. Most of them are proud of their darling daughters and sons who have won a place in the hearts of lakhs of people. In the movement areas, martyrdom is something to be inspired from, to be proud of and not something to be feared or to be apprehensive about. And this is what the ruling classes fear the most.
That is why their mercenary armed police and paramilitary goons try to destroy everything that even remotely reminds one of their supreme sacrifices. Martyrs’ columns are demolished; July 28 meetings are disrupted, fired upon; people are jailed, maimed and harassed for attending the commemoration meetings; martyrs’ families are threatened and so forth. So now July 28 has become not just a day of commemorating martyrs but a day of defiance, a day of battles with the police to preserve their memories. Publishing books like these would also amount to ‘treason’ in the eyes of the ruling classes.
The Indian revolution is carried out as part of the World Socialist Revolution and the CPI (Maoist) considers itself an inseparable part of it, considers the PLGA as a detachment of the army of the international proletariat and the new democratic people’s power or base areas as an integral part and parcel of bases of world proletariat and oppressed people. Countless leaders and soldiers and people have laid down their lives all over the world in all the countries as part of the revolutionary struggles and Maoist movements.
Many women have become martyrs as part of the ongoing nationality struggles against the imperialists and reactionary ruling classes. Likewise there have been many sacrifices of women in the revolutionary movements of Peru, Turkey, Phillippines and Nepal.
All over the world, many women are sacrificing their lives in anti-imperialist struggles. On this occasion we remember all those martyrs who gave their lives for building a better society for all of us as part of the World Socialist Revolution. On this solemn occasion let us bow our heads humbly before the martyrs and once again vow that till our last drop of blood we will continue their work and strive to realize their lofty aims. As the People’s War advances the sacrifices also increase.
No revolution can advance without such supreme sacrifices. Let us mobilize millions upon millions women, intensify the revolutionary war for area-wise seizure of power, liberate our country and realize the dreams of our beloved martyrs. Let us vow to prepare ourselves for any kind of sacrifice to fulfill their dream of establishing communism all over the world where there is no exploitation, domination and oppression of the people. The lives of these martyrs would constantly inspire us in fulfilling these aims.