“I thought you would wipe away tears of several mothers by staying away from us”

Gloom descended on this home town of the top Maoist leader Mallojula Koteshwara Rao alias Kishenji, who was killed in an encounter in West Bengal on Thursday.

Since morning on Friday, hordes of supporters and relatives have arrived at his ancestral house in the narrow Brahmanaveedhi, a small street, to console the bereaved family members, including mother Madhuramma and elder brother Anjaneyulu.

Madhuramma, in her 80s, was in a state of shock over the death of 57-year-old ‘Koti.' Initially, her family members decided against breaking the news to her. But when people and journalists started coming in droves, they had no alternative except informing her. She collapsed on hearing the news but controlled her emotions. “I thought you would wipe away the tears from the eyes of several mothers by staying away from us. But this is a big shock to me, as I have not seen him for the last 33 years after he left home,” said Madhuramma.

Her younger son, Mallujola Venugopal Rao, has also gone underground for the past three decades. He is now a Central Committee member of the CPI (Maoist).

Alleging that it was a fake encounter, Mr. Anjaneyulu, a retired employee of a cooperative bank, said the police had brutally killed Kishenji.

After joining the Naxalite movement, Kishenji did not do anything for the family. “However, Koteshwara Rao always strove for the welfare of the people. He wanted to see the poor and downtrodden community empowered and to fight for their rights,” said Mr. Anjaneyulu.

“We faced several problems because both my younger brothers are in the Maoists' movement. The police even demolished our house.”

Mr. Anjaneyulu urged the government to hand over Kishenji's body so that the last rites could be performed in their native village.