I am posting these news reports here for the archives
Read more about Karnataka's Immortal Son of the Soil
- Comrade Saketh Rajan below
We remember Comrade Saketh Rajan thus we make him Immortal
How Comrade Saketh Rajan was killed in Treachery
I am proud of you my Son ! - Interview with Comrade Saketh Rajan's mother
Proud mother bemoans son's fate
Rajalakshmi had lost contact with her son more than 20 years ago. Yet, she is proud of her son who "would do anything for the poor."
"I am very proud of my son. He was very kind to the poor. He has done nothing wrong in his life," exudes 74-year-old Rajalakshmi Sounderajan, grieving mother of 'Prem' alias S Saketh Rajan, who was killed in an encounter in the Kudremukh National Park limits in Chikmagalur district on Sunday. Incidentally, Prem was instrumental in engineering and galvanising the entire Naxal movement in Karnataka.
On Monday, there was an uneasy calm at the Nikita Apartments in V V Puram, where the woman lived alone. Rajalakshmi was the focus of all attention as a horde of senior police officials were found stationed at her second floor flat.
But the woman decided not to see the body of her son. When the police wanted to know what she wanted to do of her son's dead body, Rajalakshmi says, "I cannot see my son's body. How can I see the bullet-ridden body?" she asks.
Even as a police officer recorded her statement, Rajalakshmi's eyes welled up with tears. When the police asked her to sign the statement, she could not sign the same for more than five minutes as she was in tears.
Recalling her son's nature, she says, "Saketh could do anything for the poor. I was not aware of his involvement in the Naxal movement until I came to know of it after reading the newspapers today and also of his death." Saketh's mother was unaware of her son's death until friends, after watching television, informed her. Rajalakshmi collapsed on hearing the news. Neighbour-friend Shakuntala consoled the aggrieved mother, who has nobody to console her.
According to Rajalakshmi, Saketh was a principled person. "Saketh had just two pairs of dresses. He would wash plates after having food. He was a very loving person. He was helping me in the kitchen after my daughter Rajeshwari got married and got settled in the US," she recalls. Rajalakshmi describes her son as a 'revolutionary'. "He did not bow even when death approached him. But his way of doing things was not acceptable to society. It is really sad that his end came like this," the distressed mother notes.
Rajalakshmi last met Saketh more than 20 years ago. "He left Mysore in 1983 after his brother died in an accident. He did not come home when his father died. He did not even come to see me all these years. Still I am proud of my son. He has not done anything wrong," she recounts.
In fact, Rajalakshmi had visited Srinivasa Temple on January 6 to offer archana in the name of her son on his birthday. She had expressed the hope to Shakuntala that her son would return home one day.
His friends, DSS leader Lakshman Hoskote and Central Akademi awardee Rashid describe Saketh as a spotless personality.
Naxal' Prem, a writer and fighter
Saketh was worried about the welfare of the poor and underprivileged and always discussed it in his college days.
Prem alias S Saketh Rajan, who fell to police bullets on Sunday, hailed from Mysore city.
'Saki', as his friends used to call Saketh, was from an affluent family. He was the son of late Maj S K Sounderajan, who owned a petrol pump on JLB Road here.
A college friend of Saketh describes the slain Naxalite as an intellectual, a revolutionary thinker, a writer and a fighter. Saketh was always worried about the welfare of the poor and underprivileged. He always discussed the poor and oppressed classes in his college days.
"First, I must say that I was shocked to learn that Saketh is dead today. I was also astounded to know that Saki was in the Naxal movement," says Dr Lingaraj Gandhi, Saketh's classmate in BA at Maharaja's College, Mysore.
"Saketh Rajan was responsible for what I am today," adds Dr Gandhi, a Reader at the Department of English, Sir M Visvesvariah PG Centre, University of Mysore, Mandya.
"Saki was a brilliant student. We studied journalism, public administration and English literature in BA. We was a good debater, writer, intellectual. We won several prizes representing University of Mysore in debate competitions," recalls Dr Gandhi.
Saketh Rajan did his post-graduation from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi, after completing BA (Journalism). Saketh Rajan and Dr Gandhi had jointly written a book titled, 'Newspaper in the Framework of Space: Mysore's Urban Press'.
The book was written August 1981 when they had just finished their graduation.
"It was Saketh who advised me to study English literature so that I could get a job without difficulty. He taught me English. He told me that journalism involves a lot of risks. Thus, I did MA English literature and he took up journalism," he explains.
According to Dr Gandhi, Saketh was a very compassionate person. "Everybody liked him.
He was very kind and helpful to his friends. He helped me and other friends financially," he recollects.
Dr Gandhi believes that Saketh's ideological leaning could have been influenced by the novel 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte. "This novel brought us together as we discussed every part of it."
Dr Gandhi last met Saketh in 1984-85 when he had come to Mysore after his Master's from IIMC, New Delhi. "I had no contact with him after he left Mysore two decades ago. Only after reading newspapers today, I came to know that he had joined the Naxal movement," he says.
Saketh had written 'Making history', an English book on the history of Karnataka. The book was considered a best among the books on this topic.
Saketh lost his father and elder brother a few years ago. The family-owned Vaishnavi Petrol Bunk (Hardwicke Circle) was sold after his father's death.
A brilliant student and a good human being'
By Sharath S. Srivatsa
MYSORE, FEB. 7. The faculty at Maharaja's College here remember him as a brilliant student, who was annoyed with the imposition of Emergency, and his close friends are reminded of his generosity and humane nature; but all are perplexed over his decision to stay away from the mainstream.
For, Saketh Rajan, State secretary of the CPI (Maoist), who was killed in an encounter in Chikmagalur district on Sunday, was a popular student in the college between 1977 and 1980.
He participated in literary activities and held strong views on Marxism. Because of oratorial skills he rose to become the propaganda and publicity in-charge of the People's War in Andhra Pradesh.
Known as Saki among friends, he stood first in his batch at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi, bagging four gold medals.
Saketh Rajan discontinued his engineering course and joined Maharaja's College to study Journalism, English literature and Public Administration. He went underground during the Emergency.
Saketh Rajan's father, S.K. Sounderajan, was a Major in the Indian Army.
His aged mother, Rajalakshmi Sounderajan lives alone in an apartment at Jayalakshmipuram here. While his literary interests saw the revival of Mysore University's Debating Club of which he was the vice-president, his social concerns were displayed when the first movement to save the Kukkarahalli Lake was launched to highlight the danger posed by hyacinth during the early 1980s.
A close friend of Saketh Rajan and Reader, Department of English at Mysore University's Postgraduate Centre in Mandya, Lingaraj Gandhi, told The Hindu that Saketh Rajan was an intelligent student who made classes lively.
He also generously helped poor students. "He was my best friend and a great human being. He was also a guide to me till 1985. After he involved himself with the naxalite movement, about which I had strong reservations, we lost contact. He did not attend his brother, Anand's funeral in 1989 and also his father's funeral in 1991," Dr. Gandhi said.
Pride of college
Remembering Saketh Rajan as a brilliant and committed student, the Head of the Department of Journalism at Maharaja's College, R.N. Padmanabha, said that on several occasions he (Saketh Rajan) had showed his displeasure on the imposition of Emergency and violation of human rights. He brought laurels to the college by winning in several inter-collegiate debate competitions.
Mutts, NGOs heave sigh of relief
BY SHIVA KUMAR N D
DH NEWS SERVICE, BANGALORE:
Policemen have company in rejoicing over their latest triumph over the Naxalites.
Besides a pat on their backs by the government, the men-in-khaki have won appreciation from powerful Mutts and NGOs in the Malnad region.
Reason being that the temples and mutts were looming large under the fear of Naxalites. NGOs too were at the receiving end of the Naxals who criticised them for their World Bank links.
In their social investigation report, the Naxalites had separately analysed the temples and mutts under the title 'Reckoning with the superstructure' and said: "These superstructures are feudal in nature. In the coming days, as the movement picks up, the gods will catch cold and begin to shiver and sneeze.
These ruling class superstructural institutions will openly take sides against the popular struggle. They will do their best to counter the movement, even invoke gods. Their colour will be exposed. They will not only stand with the enemy but will demonstrate that they are themselves part of the enemy. This will provide the objective basis for isolating them from the masses."
"Temples, mutts, NGOs, political parties and the Hindutva brigade contribute significantly in determining the superstructure," the report stated. According to the Naxalite inestigations, Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara, Sringeri Sharadambe and Udupi Sri Krishna temples belonged to feudal comprador class, while Horanadu Annapoorneshwari was feudal rising comprador, Kigga Rushyasringa was basically feudal and Kalasa Kalaseshwara was feudal.
About Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara, the report states, " the most prosperous temple of Karnataka has a wide local clientele. The temple trust is closely associated with comprador bureaucrat family of the Manipal Pai's and companies like Reliance. Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade interacts on a daily basis with politicians and officers of the state machinery." According to naxals, Sringeri Sharadhambe and Udupi Sri Krishna temples have relatively weak local social base.
Following this, police had stepped up security at these temples.
He called it a movement against exploitation
By Muralidhara Khajane
HASSAN, FEB. 7. The man who pleaded with the Government against repeating the Eedu incident seven months ago fell to the police bullets on Sunday. He took as many as six bullets.
He wanted to be known as Prem in the jungles, but after his death he has been identified as Saketh Rajan, author of Making History.
The killing of Saket Rajan came as a rude shock to the State unit of CPI (Maoist) as he led the movement as secretary of the Karnataka State Committee.
He was said to be the brain behind the spread of the movement to Malnad area by making an in-depth study of the plight of the people in plantations and in the Kudremukh National Park area.
On an invitation from the People's War, a team of journalists met Prem and his associates in the forests somewhere in the Western Ghats in June last. Prem was fluent in both Kannada and English.
Before speaking to journalists he appealed to them not to photograph their faces.
He told them that except details about their family, their real names and place of origin, the journalists could ask anything. He spoke for nearly five hours on his outfit's ideology, activities, approach and influence in the four districts falling in the Western Ghats in pouring rain.
He said that the "perspective area" of the People's War in Karnataka comprised eight taluks of Shimoga, Udupi, Chikmagalur and Dakshina Kannada districts.
The People's War decided to focus its activities here after studying the socio-economic conditions in more than 100 villages in the region. The study revealed that people were being exploited in these parts.
On the attempts by the Government to evict tribal people in Kudremukh National Park area, Prem said the State was keen on allowing multinationals and international drug houses to exploit the bio-diversity of the region and to promote tourism.
He spoke about the harassment meted out to the tribal people and villagers by officials of Forest and Police departments, he said that the "perspective area" was one of the strategic regions such as Andhra Pradesh, Dandakaranya, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Bhalaghat in Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa.
He made it clear that the People's War's fight was against the anti-poor and pro-capitalist policies. Though the People's War was against taking up arms initially, the harassment to the tribal people and the poor forced its cadres to do so.
Unable to bear the harassment from the police and Forest department personnel, people in the KNP area, who were opposed to the eviction plan, joined hands with the People's War cadre.
By July 2003, the Government launched a multi-pronged attack by deploying forces and strengthening the intelligence network.
In view of the initiative taken in Andhra Pradesh for a ceasefire and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance view that left-wing extremism in the country is a socio-economic problem, Prem hoped that the State Government will not take any harsh steps.
Placing a list of seven demands before the Government, he was hopeful of a "meaningful" dialogue with the Government.
Claiming that nearly 35 per cent of the local people were helping the movement, Prem criticised the arrest of radicals by the S.M. Krishna Government during the Datta Jayanti in 2003. He also accused the Government of suppressing the democratic movements by arresting their activists and termed the Eedu encounter as a "cold blooded murder."
To a query, Prem said that though they believed in "democracy," there was no democracy in the country as the capitalists were running the show by curtailing the constitutional rights of the people. He opined that socialism was the greatest form of democracy. On the strength of the People's War, he said that "it was a poor man's army."
He recently criticised the decision to deploy the Special Task Force to "crush" their activities.