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THE PRESENT — SECOND ROUND OF SUPPRESSION
Tasks in the New Conditions of
Growing Armed Resistance
Till 1991, police operations were run separately by the respective state
governments. But now the Central government set up a ‘Nodal Cell’
directly under the Home ministry, and a Joint Command of Operations came
into being for the ongoing war of suppression. In December 1991 it
rushed battalions of the BSF (Border Security Force) and ITBP
(Indo-Tibetan Border Police) to Telangana to reinforce the already
existing large force of CRPF, CISF and APSP. In May 1992 the AP
government imposed a ban on the CPI(ML) (PW) and seven other
revolutionary mass organisations (including RSU, RYL, RCS, JNM, SIKASA).
Thus, what was earlier an undeclared war, was now turned into full scale
counter-insurgency operations. Mass scale horrors, ‘encounter’ killings
and forced ‘surrenders’ became the dominant feature for the suppression
campaign. Within ten months about 160 encounters were staged killing
over 200 persons. Thousands of people were arrested and tortured, houses
were ransacked and crops and properties worth millions destroyed.
The method adopted was to encircle villages and then attack. The BSF,
CRPF and the local police would gather forces ranging from 200 to 600
men and would suddenly swoop down and encircle a village or a group of
villages, ransack all houses, destroy property and molest the women.
Then, some suspect youth would be tortured and humiliated in front of
all. All villagers, and especially the relatives of activists, would be
served ultimatums to surrender the wanted persons. Some youth would be
whisked away. In some villages this would be repeated a number of times
in a single month.
Together with this suppression they combined vile propaganda, ‘reforms’,
and set up their own rival ‘mass’ organisations. (eg. Janjagran Abhiyan
in MP, and Shanti Sena in Maharashtra). The police officers themselves
brought out handbills in the name of ‘praja vani’ (people’s voice),
printed books, did propaganda through video films and through cultural
troupes. The ‘reforms’ undertaken by a host of bodies (govt and semi-govt),
involved giving grants varying from Rs. 20000 to Rs. 3 lakhs in the name
rehabilitation, allotting house sites, granting land to chosen peasant
youth - all with the aim of building a network of police informers in
the villages. All these ‘reform’ schemes were run under direct
supervision of the police. The police began setting up various
organisations in the villages to try and isolate the revolutionaries,
or, at least, build some support for their anti-people campaigns - the
‘village protection committees’ to gather information on squad movement,
liquor prohibition committees, to create a network of informants amongst
women, the so-called ‘Citizens forum’ to rival the village committees
utilising the Sarpanchs and village elders and the Rajiv youth brigades
to sponsor sport, drama, etc to wean away the youth.
The bulk of these organisations withered away with time, for lack of
cooperation in the villages. But, during this period, through their
informer network, they were able to apprehend and kill a number of
leading party members. In January 1993 Com. Balanna, Warangal party
district committee secretary and regional committee member, along with
squad member Padmakka were murdered; on January 26, 1993, Com. Sankar,
district committee secretary of Nizamabad and regional committee member
was killed; Com. Vishwanath, of the Hyderabad city committee was
murdered; also squad member Yerra Prasad and squad commander Naganna.
But now, with each killing the funeral processions were turning into big
political events. Breaking prohibitory orders, thousands and thousands
would join the funeral procession, where hundreds would pledge to
continue the work started by their heroic martyr. Between June 91 and
end of 92 over 300 comrades had been killed.
This time the masses did not become frightened as in 1985....they were
being steeled in armed struggle and slowly being drawn into the armed
struggle against the state. But, with this new round of suppression, new
tasks had to be formulated.
Tasks in the new conditions of Repression
The party had already declared that the Dandakaranya and North Telangana
movements had reached the primary level of a guerilla zone. A guerilla
zone is an area where both the revolutionaries and the ruling classes
contend for power. In order to consolidate the primary level of guerilla
zone reached by the movement in NT and DK, face the increasing state
repression, and move to a higher level of guerilla zone, the party
outlined the following tasks :
(i) To build two to three local guerilla squads under the central
guerilla squad functioning at present, to gradually develop them into
(ii) To separate political and military tasks in the squad area
committee and to develop political and military leadership
(iii) To develop a military command from bottom to top
(iv) To consolidate the party organisation at the village level
(v) To establish the united front of revolutionary classes at the
village level with the aim of establishing their political power through
building the Gram Rajya Committees and to destroy the state power of the
comprador bourgeoisie and landlord classes.
(vi) To establish peoples’ power by building village development
committees, village defence squads, panchayat committees etc., under the
leadership of the Gram Rajya Committee.
But once again during this period of severe repression the party was
plunged into another internal crisis, this time led by the secretary of
the CC KS and Company. While fighting KS’s opportunism and disruption
within the party, it successfully faced the enemy onslaught by
implementing the above guidelines. Though the movement faced problems,
it was not as severe as in 1985. Though the peoples movement receded
temporarily, this time there were no problems of food or providing
protection to the squads.
In the initial phase of the repression a lot of the land occupied lay
fallow. But slowly, due to the efforts of the local organisation,
cultivation of these lands once again began. By end of 1994 land
occupation struggles also picked up. Many landlords also began
surrendering before the peasant associations. During this period the
party worked out a policy on how land distribution should be done and
the political and ideological criteria for this was set.
On peasant issues, a big movement developed for the reduction of
fertiliser prices. With the government bowing to World Bank pressure the
subsidy on fertilisers had been reduced and prices shot up. As the
government did not restore the subsidies, merchants began selling
fertilisers at exorbitant black market prices. Thousands rallied under
the leadership of the sangams, raided fertiliser and pesticide shops and
seized large stocks of fertilisers and pesticides. The peasants resisted
the police lathi charge. Due to these movements blackmarketeering was
reduced. In some areas peasants also refused to pay back bank loans and
the hiked electricity charges. Besides, there had been big movements for
the regular supply of electricity which was essential for running the
On the workers front, besides the coal miners, RTC (bus transport)
workers and bidi workers were organised in a big way during this period.
Between 1990 and 1995 SIKASA had organised 1, 825 strikes which reached
a new peak on April 14, 1995 when one lakh workers went on a twenty day
strike demanding settlement of the 5th wage board agreement. Though the
strike was opposed by the official trade unions over 90% of the workers
struck work. This strike forced the wage board agreement on April 28 in
Calcutta. But as the agreement was a sell-out, the strike was revived
from October 16 to November 14, 1995. Big successes have been achieved
through these struggles. The RTC drivers and conductors have been facing
humiliating conditions of work under the establishment unions. Slowly,
the workers have been shifting towards revolutionary politics and in
some districts, like Nizamabad underground unions like AKASA (APSRTC
Karmika Samakhya) have been established. In 1996 this union formed a
front which led a series of agitations around a 60-point character of
demands of which many have been granted. Bidi workers, mostly women,
have also been organised around their demands.
Another unique struggle that took place during this period was the
struggle of the prisoners. On the eve of the TDP’s electoral victory in
1994, the revolutionaries in jail sent an open letter to NTR, placing a
charter of 54 demands, of which eleven were political, while the rest
related to jail conditions. On December 26, 1994 revolutionaries lodged
in the central jails of Secunderabad, Chanchalguda, Vishakhapatnam,
Rajahmundry, Warangal and district jails of Cuddapah, Nellore and
Karimnagar jointly launched an indefinite hunger strike. The hunger
strike received immense support from the other prisoners particularly
the Muslim TADA detainees. Outside the jail, democrats swung into action
in support of the prisoners movement. On January 4, 1995 the Home
minister accepted 42 demands. Later the government back-tracked. On
January 12, 1995 12 life-convicts in Hyderabad jail went on a
fast-unto-death. The revolutionaries organised the prisoners for relay
hunger strikes. From February 1, the prisoners went on an indefinite
hunger strike, supported by relay hunger strikes outside prison. The
movement gathered momentum outside the jail. The government reacted
arresting intellectuals, writers, artists and other democrats. On
February 9, prisoners resorted to a ‘Jail Bandh’ boycotting all daily
duties. On February 15 a statewide bandh was called by the CPI (ML) (PW)
in support of the struggle. On February 21 a ‘Chalo Secretariat’ rally
and public meeting was organised. Finally, the government bowed down
accepting, in writing, 40 of the demands.
Till today the masses continue their struggles. They have their ups and
downs, depending on the intensity of repression....but already they have
won large benefits to the oppressed masses.
Growing Armed Resistance
It is September 1993. Village Padkal in the Sirnapalli area of Nizamabad
district. Meetings and discussions are just over. It was getting dark
and just as the squad was preparing to leave the shelter on the
outskirts of the village, all of a sudden hundreds of police surround
the house and begin a barrage of fire on the house. Two of the women
comrades are caught, mercilessly beaten and kept hostage by the police.
The squad returns the fire but a burst of fire from the window of
neighbouring house kills Sanjeev, the Deputy Commander. Now the police
are also on the terrace, lobbying into their room tear-gas shells. It
becomes unbearable and the bullets are running out. In spite of the
heavy firing by the police, the squad stops the return of fire. It is
4.00 a.m. The police hearing nothing from the house decide to enter. As
they rush up the stairs one policeman is shot dead. Others retreat, and
as an act of vengeance they brutally kill the two women comrades.
The non-stop firing, tear-gas continues. It is 8.00 the next morning.
Three comrades are left. But Com. Gopi gets hit by a bullet and is
seriously injured. Squad commander Swamy and Com. Kranti continue the
battle. It is now 1.00 p.m. in the afternoon. The DIG arrives and calls
out the Swamy and Kranti to surrender, promising safe passage. Kranti
decides to surrender, Swamy tries to persuade him of the futility. He
hesitates, but after half an hours discussion (under continuous fire) he
surrenders. Meanwhile, as Swamy is fighting the enemy single handed he
finds Gopi trying to shoot himself. He prevents him. Gopi says that
anyway he will fall into the enemy’s hands, so it is better to die.
Swamy, consoles him and pervades him to fight to the end. Some time
later, Gopi pulls the trigger with his foot and dies.
It is now 7.00 p.m. on the second day. The police set fire to a part of
the house. He walks towards the staircase and finds the dead policeman’s
A.K-47. He picks it up. Suddenly, sending a burst of fire, Swamy jumps
over the broken walls of the house, and makes a drive for the bye lanes
of the village. The police, stunned fire in his direction. But swamy has
escaped into the lanes. The village is surrounded. No chance of getting
out. He hides in a haystock. But soon thirst is killing him. Over 24
hours and not a drop of water. He comes out towards the nearest house.
They give him water, but, terrified, ask him to go. He finds a garbage
dump, covers himself with cowdung, and hides there the whole night.
Meanwhile the police are searching every corner of the village,
particularly the haystacks.
It is morning of the third day. The mother of the house comes to wash
the vessels. As she throws the waste water on the garbage heap, it
moves. She yells with fright. Swamy come out, explains that he is ‘anna’.
He tell the frightened mother, he will go. She runs after him, saying,
wait, they will kill you. After much hesitation, fear, she keeps him in
a safe place. During the whole day she gives him food. She gives him the
information that they have killed Kranti and cremated all five comrades.
She asks him to leave at night. He does not, as he would be caught in
the uniform. The next day the mother brings him a dress, she plans a
disguise and leads him through a safe path into the forests. A few days
later, militants come and take away the A.K-47 hidden in the village.
And so the Padkal encounter has become a landmark in heroism and
courage. But Swamy is not alone. Last year the SIKASA DCM, Com. Sammi
Reddy (alias Ramakant, Ashok) was similarly surrounded by over 500
police while he was taking shelter in the heart of the coal mining
colony in Mancherial. In broad-day light, in front of thousands a nine
hour gun battle ensued. In it, Ramakanth killed CI and a constable.
Finally, the police burnt the house down, killing him and the lady
And so, the squads are learning to fight back. The government has been
getting more and more ruthless. In the 1985-89 period 250 comrades were
killed; in the 1990-94 period 500; and in the two years upto mid ’96
another 210, in the last eight months about 100. These include leading
comrades like Puli Anjanna, AP State Committee Secretary, Comrades
Venkataswamy, Reddappa and Sudarshan - AP State Committee members;
Regional Committee member Com. Shankar, District Committee members
Comrades Sammi Reddy and Allam Manohar, a number of leading lady squad
members like Swarupa, Rukma bai, Lalita .....
With such a brutal offensive of the government, the Party has also been
giving experience to hit back. In just the nine months between March
1996 and November 1996 the guerilla squads have conducted four raids on
police camps - on Potkapally PS in Karimnagar district, on Yellavaram PS
in East Godavari district, on Manpur PS in Rajanandgaon district of MP,
and on Sirpur PS of Adilabad district - seizing 97 weapons of which 26
were semi-automatic SLRs. This was followed by the Karakagudem raid in
Khammam district in January 97 giving a further cache of weapons.
Besides these major raids, several Sparrow actions were conducted in
North Telangana resulting in a further 20 weapons in 1996 and killing of
25 policemen in October/November ’96.
In any guerilla war, it is the enemy that is the main source of weapons.
In the unequal war between the poorly-trained, ill-equipped guerillas
with an inferior numerical strength on the one hand, and the
well-equipped, highly-trained, overwhelmingly superior enemy force on
the other, it is only by means of innumerable guerilla attacks, that the
people’s armed forces can gradually accumulate strength.