Martyrdom : 21-12-1997
Savithri was born in a poor family in Polavaram of Krishna district in 1967. She was an intelligent child and so her parents tried to educate her well in spite of economic difficulties. She studied till Intermediate in Mangalagiri of Guntur district. Though some people argued that girls should do only soft natured jobs, she chose to join engineering course. Thus she opposed the role models propagated by this feudal society. She came to Visakhapatnam for doing her B.E. She stayed in the ladies’ hostel and fought the reactionary, upper caste forces among the women students. She stood up and gave support to the girls who were ragged or sexually harassed.
She vehemently opposed ragging and caste discrimination especially by the Kamma caste girls who tried to dominate everywhere including mess hall. Due to these rebel qualities, she was naturally attracted towards revolutionary politics. She came into contact with the party during a women’s seminar conducted by RWA in 1987 and gradually came closer. She played an active role in the launching of women’s organization in Visakha and turned the ladies hostel into one of its strongholds. Room no. 52 became one of the addresses of the women’s organization. Naturally she was elected as the leader of the hostel twice in succession.
As the ladies representative, she fought the corruption in mess and the authoritative attitudes of the warden. In 1990 RSU could once again come out in the open due to the legal opportunities and she became active in it. She was active in all the struggles led by it, both as an activist and its leader. She vehemently opposed the casteism prevalent in Andhra University and was naturally in the forefront in the pro-mandal agitation. She belonged to the weaver community and from her childhood she developed awareness about the caste oppression and discrimination which is prevalent in the Indian feudal society. As soon as she joined the university she led the movement for the implementation of recommendations of Murlidhara Rao commission. She was in the forefront in exposing the corruption of university officials and the so called student leaders.
She participated in the agitations against evacuation of slum dwellers with other mass organizations and showed how students should care for the problems of the people. She was in the forefront in all the agitations against atrocities on women and dowry deaths. She participated in the discussion forums of women’s organizations and gave speeches in many of their meetings. She played a key role in the agitation of the university students against the Tsundur massacre of dalits by upper caste landlords. She hoisted the black flag in the place of the tri-color flag as a protest on August 15. Though the hostel authorities threatened her, she was not deterred and went ahead with the hoisting.
The slogans she shouted in the procession on the same day expressing solidarity to the Tsundur dalits still reverberate on the Visakha roads. She became a PR in 1992 while still studying in the university. She worked as a lecturer in Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (Gitam) for some days after completing her M.E. and played an active role in all the progressive struggles and guided them. She worked secretely for six years as a central organizer of the party and led many struggles. In all the struggles of the students against the corruptions and anti- student policies of wardens, VCs and in all other student agitations, Savithri was the motivating force behind. Many pamphlets and posters drafted by her inspired the students a lot.
When a woman student activist’s name was written on walls in an obscene manner with the backing of the university authorities, there was a student agitation and finally they could extract an apology. When one professor sexually harassed a student, the students agitated and dishonored him publicy. Savithri guided these agitations. She was such an expert organizer that she guided a cover women’s organization in the university without anyone getting any smell of it as a party organization.
Savithri played a key role in the Visakha city organization. She displayed good initiative in taking decisions on any kind of problem. She displayed responsibility in their implementation too. She married Com. Bhaskar. (He later worked as Visakha city secretary and was killed by the police in a fake encounter on April 16, 1999). This couple guided many agitations in the city. She participated as a delegate in the city party conference held in 1996 and played an active role. She conducted deep discussions on the documents. She put forth her views on which sections to work among in the city to strenghthen it and also how the city movement should stand in support of the rural movement.
She was co-opted into the AP state Mahila Co-ordination Committee (a sub-committee) in 1997 to contribute in the building of the women’s movement in the state. This was in recognition of her constant efforts in the building of women’s movement in Visakha and also her keen understanding regarding the women’s question. She went to Salwapur village for the sub-committee meeting (tragically her first and last meeting). This village is in Warangal district but a Medak district squad looks after it and the meeting was being held under the protection of that squad. The police got concrete information about the shelter and attacked them on the night of December 21, 1997.
Unarmed Savithri was injured in that attack and was caught by the police. They tortured her along with another injured comrade Prasad and killed both of them in cold blood. A true people’s intellectual and agitator-organizer, who dedicated her life for the oppressed people was killed in the most brutal manner by the fascist Chandrababu Naidu police. She held high the red flag in the Andhra University in the legacy of another bright student of AU – Bommareddy Snehaltha who was killed in a fake encounter during emergency. The people of Visakha and the AU students will never forget these two bright, intellectual women who laid down their lives for their liberation.