Comrade Rajitha (Susheela)
Martyrdom : 23-07-2006
Rajitha was born in 1974 in Palem village of Palamur (Mahabobnagar) district. It was a drought affected district and theirs was a poor family and on top of it she was a daughter in a joint family. So she was brought up as an obedient girl with many restrictions and she always acted in a responsible manner. Though she had no proper food, no chappals for her feet, only torn clothes to wear and no books to read, she used to go to school regularly.
As soon as she came back from school she used to help her mother in house work. When she was still young, just in eighth class, she opened a small retail shop to help her family financially. Thus she studied till 10th standard in the village. Her parents thought that the girls have come of age and they should be married off. But they were so poor that they decided they could not marry them off then and migrated to Hyderabad city in search of livelihood. During summer holidays she worked in a candle factory. After holidays were over she joined in Intermediate in a government college. Daily her father used to nag that there is no need for a girl to study.
She never cared such comments. She went wherever she could learn any new skills free of cost like tailoring, typing, computer, shorthand, spoken English etc by walking long distances with determination. She fought a war for educating herself. She faced sexual harassment from childhood itself and from her own eldest brother. She did not understand why all this was happening to her. She believed god would save her from all travails and so she used to religiously do puja to all gods praying that her brother should change, that her family should prosper and that her conditions should improve. But nothing changed. In fact the conditions worsened.
Then she joined in degree in a college and came into contact with a women’s organization called Mahila Chetana working in Hyderabad-Secunderabad twin cities. This was a big turning point in her life. She realized that she was not alone in facing all these problems, that every woman in this society is facing some or the other problem and that the government is encouraging imperialist, obscene culture and literature which is giving rise to these problems. She understood that fighting against these was the solution to the problems faced by people like her. She also believed strongly that girls should learn karate and solve the problem of sexual harassment with self respect.
So she started learning karate. The problem she faced from her brother was solved with this. But other problems cropped up. Pressure was built up at home to stop her from learning karate as they thought it would be difficult to get her married. On the other hand karate instructors were also sexually harassing their girl students and so the girls were dropping out. So she firmly believed that only women karate coaches should teach girls if they are to learn freely and tried to develop herself in that direction. She became a coach and taught karate free of cost to girls in schools, colleges and slums. For that purpose she went cycling to many slums to gather girls. Actually she had a very weak body. Though she was a weak baby from birth she used to take lot of care in health matters because she did not want it to become a hindrance in learning karate.
Though she came from a vegetarian family she changed her eating habits after joining the organization. She used to be very active and lively with all this. She never fell sick. She believed that we can work more if we are healthy. Everyday there used to be quarrels at home as they brought new matches for her and they also put pressure on her to stop karate. While working in the organization she developed the understanding that marriage is a union of two hearts and a union of ideologies and that it should not have anything to do with caste, religion, dowry or money. She declared in no uncertain manner that she would not have an arranged marriage. She even refused to sit in front of the prospective grooms and their families as was the norm. Now beatings accompanied scolding. By this time Rajitha was already working as a receptionist in a private nursing home.
Clashes intensified and she left home after declaring that she can live independently. Her sister followed in her footsteps. Her parents thought this act of hers and with their backing came to the organization’s office and attacked it. They abused the organization in the most obscene manner. Finally both the sisters had to announce in a press conference that they both were majors and that they had the right to live independently. Everybody supported and appreciated their act of bravery. Within a short time Rajitha developed as an activist and went on to become the organization’s Joint Secretary. Between 1995 and 2003 she was in the forefront in all the activities and struggles of the organization and led them militantly.
She made the adversaries bow before the movement. We can see this in many struggles whether it was the struggle against lifting of subsidies, exposing the sham of Chandrababu’s Mahila Janmabhoomi or fighting for water facilities in slums or demand for a school building, for implementation of welfare programmes or even in Bangalore when their state federation (APCMS) had given a call against the Beauty Contest in 1997 and the activists got arrested while doing rasta rokos. The activists were dragged by their hair and beaten black and blue till they bled. Instead of deterring her, these incidents of state violence only served to increase her hatred against the state. She loved to have long hairs. But after the Bangalore arrests she thought that her long hairs came in handy for the police to beat her and so she cropped it. She used to look like a boy with her short hairs.
In the year 2000, flood waters inundated Hyderabad. Many slums got submerged and thousands of people became homeless. As the convenor of the ‘Flood victims Committee of Twin Cities’, she participated in the relief campaign and in distributing rice, money and clothes to the victims. The MRO embezzled the relief fund which was to reach the slum dwellers and sent the police as he could not face the questioning people. Rajitha and six more mass organizations’ activists and slum dwellers were arrested as they questioned the police. She was kept in police station for two days and in jail for four days. She never lamented the fact that she was arrested and tried to get necessary things for those arrested by demanding the police. When they tried to take photographs she opposed saying that they were not thieves and the police had to backtrack.
She used to give slogans non stop every time she was taken to the court. In the two days she spent in the police station she used to sing songs and practice a play on how they were unlawfully arrested (though she was not an expert) thus filling everybody with enthusiasm, brimming with enthusiasm herself. The lady constables were so surprised that they said ‘we have arrested so many people but we never saw anybody who is so happy and not at all worrying about being arrested’. Some of them started sharing their problems with Rajitha. This experience was repeated in jail also. She tried to understand the conditions of the jail inmates in the four days time she got.
She used to go to all the women prisoners and ask them about their problems and why they got arrested. She did not participate in the celebrations of Gandhi Jayanthi in jail as an act of protest. She exposed it from the stage. The jail inmates looked after the activists very affectionately. When she was released on bail after four days, all of them felt as if one of their own was leaving and were very sad. It shows how much she mingled with them. When asked about her jail experience she said that she did not get sufficient time to know about the sufferings and lives of women in jail and that it would have been nice if she had spent another week in jail!
That was Rajitha for you. She tried to understand anything in a political manner. She never liked to waste even one minute. She used to say that we must work hard and move fast and she implemented it. Even if she could not learn something quickly she never used to get disheartened. She used to strive hard to learn with determination. This could be seen in every aspect. She used to lift heavy loads easily. Rajitha was such a person who never got disheartened in spite of any number of people discouraging in any number of ways or creating hindrances in her work or in her endeavors. She did not give these much importance and took them as a challenge.
She never looked at any matter in a superficial manner and dwelled deeply into it. If she liked to do something she went to great lengths to do it. She believed that women’s liberation was possible only with the liberation of the proletariat and that it could be achieved only through armed struggle. So in 2003 she joined the Maoist party and was martyred in an encounter with the YSR mercenary police forces on July 23rd, 2006. Our Rajitha once again reminds us words of Marx that nothing is difficult in this world, there can only be people with no determination. She personified that determination. In fact, Rajitha did not have any talents in the beginning.
She came from a backward area, from a poor family and from an upbringing full of restrictions. By achieving everything with her determination, fighting against the society and her family by breaking chains of traditions, she proved that nothing is impossible or difficult in this world. Thus she became a model for all us to emulate.
Comrade Vijayalakshmi (Syamala)
Com. Vijayalakshmi (21) was born in Kalwakurthy area of Mahaboobnagar district She used to work very hard at home doing household chores. But her labour was never valued. She was always scorned and derides as ‘the black one’ or ‘blacky’ due to her skin colour. As she was growing up, her individuality developed and such taunts hurt her more. In this patriarchal society, people try to draw more dowry by using excuses that the girl is black or not beautiful.
So Syamala was seen as a burden by her family who felt it was not easy to marry her off with lesser dowry. They used to worry that they cannot get her married at all. Seeing all this, she was hurt deeply. She used to think about what beauty meant and if a person’s qualities and labour would have value in this society or not. At that juncture, Syamala got the contact of VMS. She was relieved that at last she could find the answers to her questions and a solution to her problems. She worked actively in the sangam and developed herself politically. She increased her commitment and finally decided to become a PR.
She joined the PGA in 2002. She worked for some time in Mahaboobnagar district and was then shifted to protection platoon in the Nallamala forests. In 2004 she married Com. Sanjeev. (Com. Sanjeev was also martyred in Nalgonda district in 2007). It was a love marriage and they were happy together. She was promoted to the AC by the party after seeing her dedication and determination and especially her hard working nature. Both she and Sanjeev were known for this quality of selfless work. She took up responsibilities in that platoon and till her last breath had been engaged in protecting the state and central level leaders.
On July 23, 2006, the enemy surrounded them on a big scale in the Nallamala forests near Erragondapalem in Prakasam district Syamala fought bravely in this battle and was martyred along with Com. Madhav (AP state committee secretary) and other comrades. Let us hail the sacrifice of this comrade and let the world know that true beauty lies in selfless sacrifice for the people.
Comrade Sangitha (Parvathi)
Com. Sangitha was a young widow from Medak. She had to face many hardships for being so ‘inauspicious’ as to lose her husband at a young age. She came to Hyderabad not only in search of work but also in search of a dignified life. She was an illiterate woman and used to wash dishes for a livelihood. Her search for dignity for herself broadened into a search for the dignity of the whole womankind which led her to join the revolutionary armed struggle.
Soon she learnt to read and write and became a member of the JNM squad in Nallamala forests. She died in the encounter at Daraboyinapalli on 23-07-06 in the Nallamala forests. Her life may have ended on that particular day. But her search for dignity will be carried by other men and women till all mankind achieves it, irrespective of class, gender, caste etc.
Comrade Sita (Parvati)
Parvati was born in Chetla Timmayapalle village of Medak district in a poor family. She used to herd cattle from her childhood to help maintain her family. Due to poverty, she was married as the second wife of a person. Sita was not ready to live as the second wife and so she gave divorce to him. Sita had been a victim of this patriarchal society. Her family had close contacts with the Indupriyal squad working in that area.
She gradually learnt about the party which showed the path of liberation to lakhs of women like her and finally decided to dedicate her life for the same. She became a full timer in 2004. After working for some time in Medak, she was transferred to work in the protection squad of the AP state committee. She led a hard life in the Nallamala terrain. She climbed the mountains and walked for hours together with gritty determination. She was always cheerful and was a disciplined comrade. She was always alert in defending the leadership which was her main responsibility. Sita was martyred in the encounter on July 23, 2006 along with the AP state committee secretary Com. Madhav and other comrades. Sita was a party member and she remained an ideal comrade till her last breath.