July-August  1999


Belli Lalitha’s Murder :
Covert War by a Coward Government


The gruesome murder of Belli Lalitha, a popular singer and a leader of Telangana Kala Samithi, on May 26, 1999, is part of the covert war unleashed by the hi-tech police state of AP headed by the World Bank stooge Chandrababu Naidu against the revolutionaries and their sympathisers. Earlier, murders of some leaders and activists of the party were organised by sending infiltrators into the squads here and there. Some of the leaders of open mass movements were attacked by hired assassins as seen in the case of the attack on Com. Gaddar two years ago. Today, the police is hiring its assassins even from those inside the jails.

The modus operandi is simple :select a weak element from among the imprisoned revolutionaries and lure him with the promise of freedom if he agrees to do as dictated by the police. In the case of Lalitha, the agent selected for conducting the operation was one Nayeemuddin who was involved in the annihilation of a police officer six years ago. To buy his freedom he was asked to organise the murder of a top leader of Nalgonda district of the CPI (ML) [People’s War] through his brothers outside. These two brothers were already notorious for killing two people in the past one year : one was Eedanna, husband of an ex-PW squad member Hussain Bee and the other was one Balraj. In both cases the bodies were cut into pieces after the murder to create terror among the sympathisers of the revolutionaries as well as mass leaders. Comrade Lalitha is the third victim in a row in a single year committed by the very same mercenary gang employed by the Home Minister Madhava Reddy.

In all the three incidents that took place, the victims belonged to Bhongir in Nalgonda district of South Telangana which falls in the constituency of the Home Minister. It has now come to be accepted by the people of Nalgonda as well as by those of the entire state that these murders were committed at the direction of the goonda Home Minister as part of his covert war against the CPI (ML) [People’s War].

The latest murder had sent shock waves among the democratic and progressive sections of the people in the state. The sheer brutality of the incident is horrifying and indicates the depths of sadism and the beastiality of the rulers hiding behind hi-tech jargon. Comrade Lalitha was first kidnapped on May 26, her body was cut into 17 pieces and strewn into different wells. From day one, the police top brass and ruling TDP ministers tried by all means at their disposal to mislead the people by floating one story after another : initially, they denied that the body parts found in the wells were Lalitha’s; they then floated another story that she might have gone to areas of armed struggle led by the PW; what was even worse, they fabricated a story that she had run away from home, frustrated and shocked, by the betrayal of a district leader of PW; and so on and so forth. They even forged a letter purported to have been written by her to the newspapers which stated that the leader of PW who is a district committee member of Nalgonda, had physical relations with her and promised to marry her but had ultimately gone back on his word, charging her with having AIDS and that hence she had run away unable to bear the stigma.

What is most disturbing and horrifying is the audacity with which the rulers in AP floated such a story to malign a woman, that too after she was dead. True to their male-chauvinist nature, the police officials and the Home Minister thought that by projecting a woman as having illicit relations with other men, the murderers could gain legitimacy for the murder and be exonerated from the crime.One is astonished by the crudeness of the hi-tech rulers who forged a letter in the name of Lalitha after they themselves had killed her in order to malign her and the leaders of PW. When an enterprising news reporter compared the hand writing in the letter with another of hers and declared that it was a case of forgery, the police too had to admit at last that she was murdered. As protests began to gather momentum and demands for the resignation of the Home minister and for a Judicial enquiry into the incident were put forth, the police had to beat a hasty retreat and arrest the two brothers of Nayeemuddin since their role in the murder had become crystal-clear by then. The arrests were meant only to appease the people. Earlier.these murderers were let off within days after killing Eedanna and Balraj. The AP government has a notorious record of encouraging the killing of revolutionaries and holding press conferences along with those very killers and even giving cash rewards and jobs in the police department.

Why was Lalitha murdered so gruesomely in the first place ? To understand this, one has to understand the political situation in the state of AP. The government of Chandra Babu Naidu is in deep crisis. It has been implementing every instruction of the World Bank and the various imperialist countries most loyally. In his four-year tenure as a Chief minister of AP, Naidu fulfilled most of the targets placed before him by the imperialists and received a big pat on his back for measures such as: lifting of prohibition, increasing the water cess and power tariff for the peasants; scrapping or slashing of subsidies such as the Rs. 2-a-kilo-rice scheme etc. The wrath of the people has been rising in the past four years against these policies of the state government. It is during Chandrababu Naidu’s regime that over 300 peasants committed suicides due to low crop yields and unremunerative prices for their produce. The working class too is seething with unrest due to the closure of some PSUs under the control of the AP state government and the threatened closure or privatisation of several other industries. And, most important of all, the "law and order" demanded by the World Bank was sought to be established by murdering around 300 people associated with the revolutionary movement in just one year, 1998.

Besides, with the influence of the revolutionary movement that has been raging for the last two decades and more, several sectional movements have come to the fore. Despite the re-imposition of a ban on the PW and its mass organisations in July 96, people are coming into the streets under different banners in a big way and are also forming broad joint action committees against the anti-people policies pursued by the TDP government. A movement for separate Telangana has come onto the people’s agenda. And with it the government too took up its own agenda of crushing all opposition. A student workshop organised by the Telangana Students Front (TSF) was attacked by ABVP-RSS goondas along with the police in civil uniform. Massive repression has also been let loose on those demanding a separate Telangana.

Lalitha became a target as she became a popular mass leader in the Home minister's constituency. As a co-convenor of the Telangana Kala Samithi, an organisation that is affiliated to the Telangana Jana Sabha which is spear-heading the movement for a separate Telangana, she had become an eyesore for the rulers especially for the Home minister. She was also a leader of ‘Dol Debba’- an association of Yadavas. She was actively involved in organising the workers in a textile mill in which she herself worked. She propagated the demand of separate Telangana through her cultural performances and acquired popularity among the masses throughout South Telangana. It is this growing popularity of Lalitha that earned the wrath of the rulers. Elimination of leaders was an essential component of their strategy to suppress the movement.

As police arrests would lead to massive protests from the people and place the government in an adverse situation, it chose to engage such assassins to murder the leaders and activists of the mass movement. Assaults by murderous gangs, the ruling classes assumes, will create terror among the leaders and thereby weaken the movements. By committing such a ghastly murder as that of Lalitha, the state aims at keeping the intellectuals and others away from the movement. Anyone associated in any manner with PW or engaged in militant movements against the government would be eliminated — such is the message the government wants to send to those who are engaged in building mass movements.

For, has not Naidu assured the World Bank of maintaining Law and Order in AP so that imperialist capital may flow freely into the state ? Starting from the secret document entitled ‘Andhra Pradesh : Agenda for Economic Reforms’ prepared by the World Bank in September 96 (incidentally coming within 2 months after the re-imposition of the ban on PW) to Vision-2020, the AP government has been goaded on continuously by the World Bank to ensure peace and stability even if it be the peace of the grave-yard. While huge police and para military forces are engaged in the operations against the CPI (ML)[PW] and its armed squads, the Naidu government is not sure of achieving stability and peace. Those who question the privatisation, liberalisation and other policies of the government, and those who aspire for people’s political power should be eliminated. By murdering Lalitha, that too in the most bizarre manner the government wants to create terror and silence all such leaders.

The AP state government is maintaining private armed gangs for this purpose such as the Black Tigers, the Green Tigers, the Kranti Sena and so on. All these outfits created by the police often issue press statements threatening those who associate themselves with the revolutionaries, destroy the houses and property of the activists involved in the movement and conduct attacks as directed by the police. These gangs move with license to loot and kill at will; they are given arms and rewards whenever they eliminate important cadres of the PW.

Lalitha’s murder, instead of creating terror among those who oppose the imperialist-dictated polices and moves of the TDP government, has infact, further united the various scattered forces galvanizing them into a mighty force.Thousands converged at a rally in Bhongir to protest against the killing. The wave of protests that have been sparked off due to the brutal murder of Belli Lalitha are bound to assume the form of a torrent to wash away the sadist, fascist government of Naidu’s TDP that is acting as a stooge of the World Bank in AP.




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