Monday, July 31, 2006

Comrade Saketh Rajan's dedication to his wife Comrade Raji

Given below is the preface of Volume II of Comrade Saketh Rajan's
path breaking study into the History of Karnataka.
He dedicates it to his martyred wife Comrade Raji.


In the preface to Volume I of Making history , it was said that
this book had more than just one author.

As Volume II prepares for print I am compelled to tell about one
such author who remained anonymous.

Such a revelation should have been a matter of joy. But the circumstances
brim with emotions of an opposite kind.

Com Raji in the Nagar fort

Raji,as she was known to those who were close to her,was killed
by police on 20 March 2001 in the forest of Kothapalli in Vishakapatnam
district of Andhra Pradesh.

She was captured that afternoon by a 20 member detachment of the Special
Task Force, tortured for more than four hours and finally shot from the
back of her head.

There were two children who saw all of this from behind a bush.
They were dumbfounded by the barbarity.They could not eat for the
next three days.But when they finally spoke, they said one thing of her.

It was remarkable.She had stood her ground.As she was
mauled ,this soft spoken woman in her forties was outrageously defiant.
She hailed the revolution from her dying lips.

Raji had passed her test as a revolutionary in flying red.
She defied her assasins to live
beyond them.

The volumes of Making History are indebted to this coffee
complexioned and short statured,yet,abundantly tall and graceful heroine of the oppressed.

Raji has her modest place in the writing as well as in the making of history.
She was the first to lend her patient ear to the pages of the first and second volumes.

As the parts were written out ,she would hear them read.It did not matter to her if
it was late on a wintry nigh. Or, if it was in the epicentre of a sultry
summer's afternoon.She would have her senses glued,Then she would make her observations.

Raise questions or pose her points.That way she left her imprint on these pages.
Noiselessly and unadvertised.

The production of Volume I owes a lot to her.
Ugh! DRab office work.This is how many
would dismiss it.But she was perennially enthusiastic.
She set the pages on the computer

She doctored the viral infections and tailored the illustrations
to precision. As the book rolled out of the press and the jacket neatly
tucked in its glistening sleeves.
Raji had graduated as a DTP beautician.

Volume II had caught her imagination. The armed struggle waged by
the people of Karnataka in the early decades of the nineteenth century
were a point she would often have me ponder about.We could not resist the contagion.We decided to relive these precious moments from
our popular past.We caught the bus to Nagar. There we saw what
was left of the famous fortress that served as a flash point for the historic Nagar peasent insurgency.

A few months later we squeezed some time for Nandagad.We spoke to
the people about Sangolli Rayanna.As we talked with the toilers,
they gave us accounts, pointed about his
escapades,guided us around and treated us to food in their huts.

Raji spotted the smouldering fire that burnt in their hearts.

I asked her if Rayanna kindled something deep inside them.
She blew away decades of ash
with her warm breath.Then, pointing to the red glow of the embers,
she said that new generations of those very same masses
were stirring to re-enact them across the
forests and plains of Nandagad and Nagar.

As I shook hands with her in January 2001, it was the last I saw of her.
She was in olive green her rucksack was firmly strapped onto her back.In
it she had empty tapes,empty notebooks and unexposed film.
She carried no firearm.She was a non-combatant.

Comrade Rajeshwari held out her clenched fist in farewell.

There are two facts about the past and future of Indian
history which the Kannada and Telgu nations share among them.
To unravel best the prospect
of the burgeois democratic revolution,one has to venture into
Karnataka's past.

In the period of Haider and Tipu and in their kingdom of Mysore,
the Indian high road to the old democratic revolution has been laid.
One could already catch a glimpse of the maturation of conditions,
of an imminent storm against the system of

Later in Nagar and around Nandagad the masses stormed those very
gates of heaven.They illustrated through popular war against
feudalism and colonialism that they desired democracy and liberation.
These were simmering embers that Raji had deftly picked up
and placed in the first and second volumes of Making History.

But she aimed for more.She desired to relive the past only so as to enact
the future.She desired that it was not enough just to see the prospect of the burgeois democractic revolution.Her intellect was not insipid.
She wanted to see and share the living
popular experience of the proletarian democratic revolution.

If Karnataka's past demonstrated the possibility of the old
democratic revolution,the people's war raging in Andhra Pradesh
brilliantly lit up the prospect of the new democratic revolution.

Raji had seen the past.She wanted to see the future.She chose to visit
the villages of Andhra Pradesh were new democratic people's power was being forged.She wanted to study it,record it and broadcast its prowess among
the masses of Karnataka.

She interviewed scores of people.She recorded revolutionary songs.
She made copious notes of what she had read and heard.She took photographs of the oppressed adivasis and of their hope the young guerilla fighters in green.

On March 20 , she sat beneath a tree. She was pouring over her diaries.Shots
rang out.She hid in the thicked.But they got their filthy hands on her.Then
it was short work.Bullets burnt through her brains.Blood was on her cheek.It
oozed from her mouth.She could not rise to protect her notebooks.Raji rested on the
forest floor like a carefree child.Her curls were disheveled.They would remain
unkempt forever.

Today she is in deep sleep.

Volume II of Making History is dedicated to her.But as this volume is read , the sleeping Rajeshwari will awaken her readers.In her we catch a glimpse of the
glorious past.But not just that .She comprehensively epitomizes the future
too.As the revolution rages across our land,the fascist rulers and their state will discover more and more than the memories of the dead are not as easily erased from the hearts and minds of the living.
That is what history - the history of class struggle,is also about.

Raji learned this lesson well.She reminds us of it always,only because she
generously gave away the one most precious thing she had when
it was asked of her- her pulsating life- for the cause of the oppressed.


1 November 2002

Note- Saki was comrade Saketh Rajan's pen name.
The image at the beginging of this post is the original picture
of Comrade Raji that appeared in the book.The scan has affected
the image quality.

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