Mupalla Lakshmana Rao alias 'Ganapathy' who is right now the general
secretary and leader of the CPI(Maoist).
This interview was conducted in the year 2000 when the CPI(Maoist) was
not in existence and Ganapathy was the leader of the CPI(M-L)Peoples War.
February 1, 2000
'The PW always repays its blood debts'
Blood shed, whether it is the lawman's or the revolutionary's, invariably leads to more bloodshed.
That's precisely what's happening in Andhra Pradesh. The outlawed Naxals of the Communist Party of India, Marxist-Leninist People's War, popular as the PWG, have lost three top leaders to the State's guns.
The police say they were killed in an encounter in the forests of Karimnagar district. The PW alleges otherwise.
It claims that Shyam, Mahesh and Murali, all belonging to the central committee secretariat, the outfit's apex body, were arrested in Bangalore, flown by chopper to Andhra Pradesh, tortured, and shot dead.
In a way, the December 2 killings were a product of PW violence against the State -- just as that resulted from the State's fight against Naxalism.
Today Andhra Pradesh and the other states where the PW operates are set to witness more violence. The Naxals have promised to pay blood homage to their slain leaders.
"Their murders shall be avenged," pledged PW general secretary Muppalla Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathy. "We always repay our blood debts."
Excerpts from the response he emailed Chindu Sreedharan:
The police say your claim that Mahesh, Shyam and Murali were shot is part of a propaganda to discredit the State.
Can you show us a single instance in the last two decades when the police claimed the murders of 2,000 of our comrades as anything else but encounters? Whenever there were real encounters we always propagated them, hailing the heroism displayed by the comrades who fell fighting enemy forces. What would we gain by distorting facts?
But for the State there is no other choice. It has to invariably weave a lie in order to cover up its fascist, unconstitutional and unlawful act. The very fact that the State does not want to go for a judicial inquiry into the incident makes its claim a complete hoax.
Even a layman can easily realise the truth. The story that Comrades Shyam, Mahesh and Murali died along with one Arun in a fierce encounter with the police in the Koyyur forest of Karimnagar is an outright lie. It is the product of the Goebbels of Andhra Pradesh, H J Dora [the director general of police], and his boss [Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu] Naidu.
To cover up the cold-blooded murders these fascists are committing almost daily in AP, they are unabashedly unleashing lies and malicious propaganda against our party. There is ample proof for any unbiased person to be convinced that these comrades were murdered according to a pre-hatched conspiracy. The Koyyur encounter is the millennium lie of the World Bank stooge Naidu.
Tell us what happened.
The meeting of December 1 in the house of Govinda Reddy alias Kameswar Rao in Bangalore was planned last July. [The PW says Reddy was a Naxal who turned informer, and that it was from his house that the leaders were picked up.] Our CC secretariat [central committee secretariat] was to receive the decisions taken at this meeting by the end of December. We had a contact with them.
Comrade Shyam had returned from North Telangana at the end of October. He was in touch with other CC members until November 30, the day before the incident. He spoke on the mobile phone on the 30th night.
Comrade Mahesh left the house of another comrade on the 30th night after finishing an article -- a review of the recent election in AP -- and handing it over to the comrade. We have the article with us written by the comrade and dated November 30.
Comrade Murali had called up a comrade on 30th night while on his way to Bangalore from Guntur. He had a lorry transport receipt with him booked on 30th to Pune, which the police had taken and tried to trace the address. We warned the comrade in whose name the parcel was booked not to collect it as the enemy would be keeping a watch on the transport office.
Traitor Govinda Reddy was not to be seen in his house in Bangalore from the day the comrades were arrested. He was taken by the police to a safe place that very evening. We rang up the owner of the house in which Govinda Reddy was residing the very next day after hearing the news of the murders. We found that Reddy had locked the house and left on the 1st evening itself.
Some journalists belonging to The Hindustan Times, Indian Express and Vaarta visited the house in Bangalore on the 9th or so and spoke to the owner, his son and the neighbours. Though scared initially, they spoke of what happened after some persuasion.
The owner's son had clearly seen two Maruti vans with armed men at the gate. Some went inside Reddy's house and took away the comrades after taping their mouths with plaster. The neighbours were threatened with dire consequences if they talked. Part of this report was published in The Hindustan Times on December 10/11.
The police threatened the tenants and the owner again after the report appeared in the press. So, when a fact-finding team went to the house on December 11 they refused to give details. But after much persuasion they came out with facts.
When these were publicised the police went to the house again and issued threats. It worked this time; they did not repeat what they said when an all-India fact-finding team approached them on 23/24. That is the "democratic" way of silencing witnesses.
What proof do you have to support this?
The signs of cruel torture seen on the bodies are a clear proof that they were arrested, brutally tortured and then shot.
The fourth person whom Dora tried to project as a squad member was actually arrested on November 30 from village Garjanapalli near the so-called site of encounter. He was shot along with the other three in the early hours of Dec 2. His photo was published in the papers and was recognised by his mother.
This shows that the conspiracy was hatched well before the arrest of the comrades. The information about the meeting in Bangalore was obtained by the AP police a few days before from the collaborator, Govinda Reddy.
Even the story of the encounter released by the police has been questioned by the media. So bad was the script that one would wonder how the police could think anyone would believe it. One cannot, of course, expect better stuff from pig-headed police brains.
For instance, it is claimed that the exchange of fire took place for nearly five hours with our guerrillas who were supposed to be around 30 in number. Even a layman would wonder how such a fierce encounter could take place without the people of surrounding villages or the people moving on the road just a kilometre away hearing anything.
Moreover, whenever there is an attack on us, the leaders are given protection by the guerrilla squads. It is simply unthinkable that three important leaders were left to defend themselves while squad members escaped to safety.
The story becomes even more amusing when we come to know that not a single policeman was injured in the long "exchange of fire"!
The fact that reporters were not allowed to the so-called encounter site immediately after the announcement by the police shows that they feared the truth would be exposed. The government fears that the setting up of a high-level judicial inquiry [as the PW and several non-government organisations have demanded] will place it in the dock. Hence, it stubbornly refuses to accede to this demand.
How important were these leaders to your movement? What kind of void have they left?
The loss of the comrades is no doubt a great blow to our party and the revolutionary movement in India. All three are very senior members with over two decades of revolutionary life.
They made invaluable contributions to the development and enrichment of the party's political and military line, its tactics and policies on various issues. They firmly and consistently executed decisions.
They spent the most part of their revolutionary lives in the areas of class struggle, amidst guerrilla squads and oppressed masses. They all were creative in their thinking and practice while firmly adhering to Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse-tung Thought. They were very simple and straightforward, never put up airs as leaders, and were loved by the rank and file of the party and the masses.
Comrade Shyam joined the movement as a full-time revolutionary a little before the Emergency, sometime around 1974. He went underground with the declaration of the Emergency in June 1975 and was arrested for the first time in 1986. He faced cruel torture at the hands of the enemy, but did not let out a single secret. Though he suffered the consequences of torture for the rest of his life, he was always in the field, educating and guiding the cadres after he escaped from jail at the end of 1988.
Comrade Mahesh was a student leader of the Radical Students Union in 1978-79 in Osmania University. He had been working as a full-timer since then. He was a member of the first city committee of Hyderabad formed in 1981. He showed exemplary spirit when in jail during 1986-91.
He was a talented organiser and a voracious reader. He always carried a bundle of books in his kit when he was moving with the squads and used every moment to improve his theoretical knowledge with the sole objective of applying it to the problems confronting the Indian revolution.
Comrade Murali, the youngest in the CC team, came into the movement as a student and youth leader in 1980-81. Since then he had been with the party in North Telangana and was the darling of the masses. He had an exceptional emotional attachment with the cadres and the masses.
Having spent all his time in building the movement in Nizamabad and Telangana, he had a good grasp of the problems and knew the pulse of the people. We thus lost long-standing experienced leaders.
Many claim that the second-rung leadership has been wiped out with these killings. Is it a fact?
That is a figment of the media and the police. First, I cannot understand what you mean by second-rung leadership. In our party first-rung leadership means the central committee. The second-rung leadership is the state committees.
Our CC comprises leaders who have more than two decades of experience in leading the class struggle. Though the loss of the three comrades is serious, there are many experienced comrades both in the CC and our state committees who are steeled and tempered to take over. This is the great asset of our party.
Collective functioning has developed to such an extent that loss of some comrades can never lead to a void. There are able and dedicated comrades in the various state committees who can be taken into the CC.
In the past we have faced several difficult situations. We lost senior leaders like AP state committee secretary Comrade Puli Anjanna in 1993, state committee member Comrade Venkataswamy (Suryam) in 1994, state committee members comrades Prakash Master, Mahendar, Damodar Reddy (Sanjeev), Reddappa, Malkpuram Bhaskar (Ramesh) and others. But our losses were continuously replenished from our next rank who very soon developed into efficient leaders.
The revolutionary movement constantly replenishes itself, finds able successors to the fallen heroes -- such is the dialectics of development of a revolutionary movement. New blood is produced every moment. So long as we stick to the correct line and adhere to the masses, new leaders are made continuously.
We may face some difficulties whenever we lose some important leaders. There can even be setbacks if we lose most of the leadership. But I can confidently say that it is not possible for the State to completely wipe us out as our practice is based on mass line. Leaders are being born continuously from the class struggle.
In the course of the revolution, when we are waging war against an enemy very much superior to us in strength and firepower, it is but natural that we face many losses. Our movement develops through many ups and downs, many defeats, until we achieve final victory. Such is the nature of our protracted war. The entire party is educated about this. Hence, we can confidently face such losses, though producing such leaders will take some time.
How do you propose to protest the loss of your leaders? Through violence?
The protests are already on. Everyone can see the mood of the masses in the areas of our struggle. Protests and retaliatory actions have taken place in several parts of the country, particularly in Andhra Pradesh. The deep grief is being transformed into burning class hatred for class enemies.
Violence is only one of the means to counter the reign of terror and brutalities inflicted by the fascist regime on our movement. Our main emphasis is on involving more and more people in the struggle. Our targets are feudalism, imperialism and comprador bureaucrat capitalism, which are weighing down the Indian people.
Who are your immediate targets? What safeguards will you take to ensure that no civilian is hurt in retaliatory attacks?
The immediate targets are those who were involved either directly or indirectly in the cold-blooded murder of our comrades. We know the names of some who led the operation. We assure the grief-stricken party rank and file, the revolutionary masses and the families of these comrades that their murders shall be avenged even if it takes a bit of time. WE ALWAYS REPAY OUR BLOOD DEBTS TO THE ENEMY.
As regards civilian casualties, we shall see that no civilian loses his life. This has always been our policy. But unfortunate incidents have taken place. In the past six weeks [Ganapathy answered this in the second fortnight of January] around 150 major protest actions have taken place. There was only one incident in which some civilians died as our comrades did not know that there were more people inside the house, which they blasted after asking the inmates to come out. Our party has publicly expressed its regret at the loss of innocent lives. We shall see that such incidents do not recur.
How long do you think this wave of 'repression' will last? Can you elaborate on the measures you would adopt to counter it?
We are under no illusion that repression will come down. In fact, it will only be stepped up further in a vain attempt to implement the imperialist-dictated policies of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation by the Indian ruling classes. They know that the people will come out in massive protests against the policies of the ruling classes, and it is imperative for the ruling class and their imperialist mentors to suppress our party in order to make the impending people's upsurge leaderless.
But this fond hope of theirs will be dashed to the ground. On the contrary, our strength lies precisely in the people's growing consciousness. Our CC had chalked out a series of measures to counter the repression of the fascist state. They are in the process of implementation and the results will be evident shortly.
AP police chief H J Dora accuses your organisation of mindless violence. He also says the PW has ceased to take up "struggles on behalf of the people".
This is the most common accusation against dedicated revolutionaries fighting for the oppressed masses. In China too, at the time of revolution the communists were branded 'red bandits'.
What is meant by 'mindless violence'? The violence perpetrated by the goondas of the TDP and the Congress in Rayalaseema causes the death of hundreds of innocent lives every year. The violence perpetrated by the police goons of the goonda chief H J Dora and [AP Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu] Naidu in the vast rural tracts and cities of AP claimed over 600 lives in the past five years. Are these not mindless violence?
When revolutionaries kill an Umesh Chandra [an IPS officer] who had stained his hands with the blood of at least 30 of our comrades, it is mindlessness to the Doras and his likes!
Ours is a party committed to the ideology of communism and our cadres and leaders live among the oppressed masses, amidst terror unleashed by the ruling classes through their mercenaries like Dora. The violence that we indulge in is only as a counter to the mindless violence perpetrated day in and day out by the state's mercenary forces. Ask anyone on the street who they think are their enemies and the answer you invariably get is: it's the police.
Another amusing statement made by the DGP is that we are not taking up struggles on behalf of the people. As if the police chief has sympathy for people's struggles! Then what are we doing?
The fact is that we have taken up more struggles in the past five years under the Telugu Dravida Party rule than ever before. In AP alone, our party organised the people to occupy 35,000 acres of land since 1995. That is the reason why Naidu had to enact the drama of SC/ST corporations and other land reforms to dupe the masses.
Apart from land struggles we had taken up struggles on several issues ranging from wage rates for agricultural labour to remunerative prices for the middle and rich peasantry. We took up scores of issues and mobilised lakhs of people. Or else, what was the need to impose a ban on our party and mass organisations? What was the need to stop us from holding even a small meeting?
I challenge Dora and Naidu to allow our public meetings to take place without obstruction. Then they will find how much is our mass base and how none of the reactionary parties including that of the ruling TDP is a match before us in terms of mass support. The reason why Dora and Naidu are making such propaganda about 'mindless violence', 'isolation from people' and so on is to justify their policy of continuing the ban on our party.
They want to justify their terror tactics and their policy of treating our movement as a 'law and order' problem to divert the people from the fact that it is the policies pursued by the TDP in the state and the BJP-led government at the Centre that is the cause for their misery and sad plight.
Yours is an organisation that chose the path of violence to achieve its goal. By picking up the gun, you declared yourself outlaws. Isn't it ironical then that now you try to evoke the law of the country? Isn't it ironical that your activists now ask for inquiries and other remedies offered by a democracy?
A genuine question indeed! We know there are quite a few people who think along these lines. We know that what exists in the country is sham democracy. This democracy is only for the rich, propertied classes.
For the majority of the poor there are hardly any rights. It is only by building up struggle that they have achieved some rights. Thus it is the long-drawn struggles, bloody and bloodless, that brought about whatever democracy there exists in the system. And it is only through incessant struggle that they can defend and acquire more rights. We recognise this fact. Naturally, we will utilise all that the people have brought into being through their arduous struggle and innumerable sacrifices.
But we also recognise that the people cannot achieve their rights fully under this exploitative system. It is only by overthrowing the system that they can achieve real democracy. As long as they are allowed to conduct struggles legally without the use of brute force by the state they will use it to further their rights. Once their struggles are crushed with brute force, they have no other recourse but to take up guns. That was how we too picked up the gun -- not out of any romanticism.
We do not have any illusions on the undemocratic nature of the law of the country. We know that no judicial enquiry will bring any justice. The fate of several commissions like the Bhargava Commission is by now well-known.
Yet, we take up such demands in order to expose the hypocrisy of the ruling classes who swear by democracy and commitment to law. There is no contradiction at all in our declaring that there is no democracy in the present system and in utilising each and every opportunity to expose the system and to advance the movement.
Internal feuds have been part of every blood revolution in the world. The PW too experienced this [with the exit of Kondappalli Seetaramayya and Sathyamurthy]. In fact, the killed leaders are said to have been in the process of rising against you as they wanted more militarisation of the PW. Please comment.
This is only a figment of your imagination. In general, there have been only enemy agents within parties, not internal feuds. Infiltration by enemy agents is focussed as internal feuds by the ruling classes.
Contrary to what you imagine, our party has never experienced feuds. Feuds take place in reactionary and counter-revolutionary parties that are always after power, which they seek to acquire by any means. The palace coup of Chandrababu Naidu overthrowing his own father-in-law and founder of the TDP, NTR, is a standard example of such power-mongering feuds.
What our party has experienced in the past, on the other hand, is a different thing. There had been differences in political line in our party earlier in 1985-86 and 1991-92 when the then secretaries of the party -- Sathyamurthy in the earlier case and Seetaramayya in the latter -- created a crisis to cover up for their own respective weaknesses in leading the movement and their reluctance to take criticism.
The party then took disciplinary action against them by first issuing a warning and then, when they did not relent, by expelling them. The entire party stood as one though the top leadership of the time betrayed them. Hence, it is unfair to term these internal crises as internal feuds.
Moreover, in the present context there are no differences of any significance in the CC contrary to the police stories that have been circulating in the media. The entire CC is united on every major question and has a unified thinking on how to advance the people's war. It would not be an exaggeration if I say that our party has never been as united as at the present juncture.
Besides, most members of the existing team which constitutes the present CC has continuity since 1990 when the COC [central organising committee] was first formed, especially from the end of 1991 when the present team successfully fought back the disruptive activities of Seetaramayya's anti-party clique. Over the years, the team has developed collective understanding and unity of thought and action on most matters.
I am proud to state that the three martyrs were among our most dedicated practioners and outstanding spokesmen of our political line.
What progress have you made since the Party Unity merged with the PW? Then, you had claimed that it was a signal for more such mergers, but nothing seems to have come about. Does it not prove, as the State claims, that the PW is weakening?
As we had stated at the time of the merger, the unification of the two parties itself is a significant development in the Indian revolutionary movement. The merger was hailed by several revolutionary groups and individuals not only in India but also abroad.
Since then quite a few groups have shown interest in talks with the newly-merged party for unity. A few groups and individuals have come out of their respective parties and expressed their willingness to join our party. There certainly has been some polarisation in the Marxist-Leninist camp and we still hope that it will quicken as our movement advances.
As far as the claims of the State that we have weakened, I would only put one simple question: If the PW has become weak, then why has the State been making frantic efforts to increase the number of armed forces deployed against us?
Why was Bihar also included in the Joint Co-ordination Committee of the four states (Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa), now increasing it to five? Why are huge funds being provided by the Centre to the five states at a hectic pace? And why are the ruling classes talking of a ban on our party all over the country? Does not all these prove that our party has further strengthened after the merger?