We give here accounts of two women guerillas from Dandakaranya about their life and struggle at home, how they came into the Party and what they feel now. They spoke on the occasion of 8th March 2005. Both the accounts are good evidence of what the Revolution and the Revolutionary Party gave women and how they received the same. The accounts visualize the ongoing struggle against patriarchy as a part of the class struggle in the armed struggle. A picture of the new women taking birth in the areas of revolutionary power – Editor.
First woman guerilla: ‘‘If I Did Not Join The Party I Would Have Died’’
When I was in home, I knew nothing about the world. I had a mother but lost my father.
The village heads wielded authority in the village. In our home too, they discriminated against us, women. My younger uncle was the village sarpanch. We were to obey them. We did not have any right on our lives.
When I was young, girls of 6 to 7 years were married off in our community. It was the custom. It was a normal thing. They tried to marry me too. The sarpanch who took authority over my life, forced me to go to the house they wanted me to. He drank liquor with the family to which I was to be married. This was the custom before marriage. The parents of the boy drink liquor with the parents of the girl. This confirms the bondage. Once this happens, the girl belongs to the boy’s family. Prior to the marriage the girl is not informed. At times the mother too is not informed.
They took me away from the shandy and left me in the in-laws house. For about one and a half years, I was not given clothes, food and other such essential things. I was ill treated a lot. I was not at all interested to stay in my in-law’s house. In a desperate moment, I ran home.
There again the story was repeated. The only difference was that, this was my village. Those who ill-treated me were my blood relatives. The sarpanch beat me with a stick. They tried to take me to my in-law’s house by binding me. None of the villagers could help me. It was the law of the village. It was the rule of the day.
Tired with beating me, all of them retired. I took the chance. I escaped from their clutches.
As I was on my way, I met the squad. The squad members tried to shake hands with me. But I could not even raise my hand. The members then realized that my body was full of wounds. They asked me why.
I told them that I escaped from a forced marriage. The squad brought me back to the village. They held a meeting of the whole village. They questioned the sarpanch of his atrocities towards me. They held a panchayat on my issue. In the meeting they explained the roots of the custom, the roots of patriarchy and other such things. The culprits were proved to be guilty.
After all this, I still felt depressed. I could not totally come out of my uncle’s clutches. There was none to help me have my own life. I wanted to live like a human being. But how can I? Deep and confused thoughts made me feel disturbed.
One day I climbed a tree and sat there for a long time. I thought of death. I wanted to avoid my uncle. I wanted to have a life without him. Without his power on me. Without any sort of authority that would demean me as a human being. But I could not understand how. After a lot of thought I questioned myself as to why I should die.
I thought I had the Party and it would save me. By that time the mass organizations were formed in our village and the villages nearby. I went to another village and started living there.
In this village, the squad used to meet me. Whenever I met them, they told me many things about the world. They told me the social roots for discrimination of women. They taught me politics and how life would be in a revolutionary society.
I started feeling interested in the squad. I thought about my life. I compared it with that of the women in the squad. I understood that they were not only fighting for equality to all in society but that they themselves were living an egalitarian life. After some time, I decided to join the squad.
One fine day I told the commander that I am interested to join the Party. Initially they were doubtful whether I would come or not. They knew I would have to face a lot if I was to join them. I just started working in the women’s organization. As they observed me, they decided to take me in. Then they let me know their decision.
My society would not accept it if I told them I would join the squad. So one opportune day, I came out as if I was going to a meeting and met the squad. Immediately after I joined them, the squad along with me, went to my village. They held a meeting. I was asked to speak. I poured out all my feelings. I told my village what I faced, what I thought and what I finally decided. I told them I am going to have a new life. A life of my own. A life for people like me.
It is nearly seven years since I joined the Party. I am now happy to see that the people are changing. The party educated the people. Now forcible marriages are not seen much. They are giving importance to the opinion of the youth.
On this occasion of 8th March, I could tell you one thing straight. If I did not join the party, I would have died.
Second woman guerilla: “The Party Showed Us The Way … Like A Mother”
This is a jungle. But there are a lot of stories to tell from the lives of the inhabitants. Before the party came, there was the authority of the village heads. Their authority was also exerted on the land. Their authority was on the people’s lives. It was on the women.
The women of our community did not have any power over their lives. They did not have any say on the decisions of their marriages. Customs allowed the boys to take away the girls according to their wish and will. When the girls went to shandies (market), the boys would snatch them and even rape them. Some women were even killed.
When I was in my home I faced a lot of difficulties. I faced all what a woman in this community faces. I experienced the domination of men, the frustration of rigid customs and other such things.
The Party showed the women a way like a mother. They educated our society. They educated the people. They said that women need not face the domination of the mother, fathers, brothers and the community as a whole. They said it was part of the exploitation of society as a whole.
The Party made me a member of the baalala sanghatan, the children’s organization. When I became older, I joined the women’s organization. When I was given responsibilities in the organization, people in the village commented. They said it was not proper for a woman to be so active. They said I should not try to be so assertive.
Some went to the extent of threatening the members of my family. They told them I would later join the squad and so to marry me off. All this talk began to influence my parents. One day my younger sister informed me that my parents drank liquor to get me married. On hearing this, the members of the village women’s organization and I stayed back. We discussed the matter. Waiting for the squad to come and solve the issue would be too late.
So we took up the issue. We talked with my parents. I questioned them why I should be married at such a small age. We tried to explain them why it is not good to marry girls at such a young age. We tried to tell them how and why we should change our lives in these aspects.
This kind of a change was a process. This process turned us into human beings. It revolutionised our society and thinking. It democratized human relations in our society. It was a progressive social transformation.
This transformation applied to me too. I learnt how to think. I learnt how to fight with the old to obtain the new. I became more and more active in the women’s organization. After a few years I decided to join the squad. The Party comrades also suggested this to me.
It was inevitable. It was inevitable because of the increased consciousness. The education the Party gave me, the revolutionary practice I was in and the total revolutionary atmosphere in which I was, made me leap into the Party. I now understand that this is a leap into the class struggle. It is a leap in my personality. It is a leap of women as an oppressed section. I am one among many. This is a part of the emancipation of society as a whole.
I now know how to use a weapon. I know how to go and get things done. I know how to lead a team. I know how to teach. I know how to deal with the problems of my comrades. It was the Party that taught me all this. Without the Party I would not have learned a little bit of all this.
The Party is like a mother. It showed a path for us. It is everything for us. Now women are becoming leaders. The Party is making efforts to advance women even more. There must be more such efforts. We too must become part of these efforts. I wish the Party would start squads in areas where there is no squad until now. Only this would bring the women out of age old shackles.
I understand that there is more exploitation on the women in the outside world, in the cities. I understand that women are oppressed, whether they be in the cities or in the villages, whether they are educated or uneducated. So all women must come together. They must come together in class struggle. They must come together in revolution.
(These are the factual stories of two women guerillas, members of area committee rank in the CPI(Maoist) Party, in a platoon in Dandakaranya. The occasion was the 8th March 2005).