Telangana

RK dies almost 17 years after he stepped into Hyderabad to hold talks with Govt

In this October 20, 2004 photo, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) State secretary, Ramakrishna, (RK) is surrounded by PLGA men before he leaves Manjeera Guest house for historical peace talks with the andhra Pradesh government.   | Photo Credit: MOHAMMED YOUSUF

It may be a coincidence of sorts that Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna alias RK, the top Maoist leader and a central committee member, who died due to prolonged illness in Chhattisgarh on Thursday, accompanied by gun totting personal guards and fellow comrades, drove out from the high security Manjeera Guest House in Greenlands on this day exactly 17 years ago after holding talks with the then Congress Government headed by late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

After a dramatic appearance from the dense Nallamala forests in the night of October 11, 2004 at Chinna Arutla village in Prakasam district, RK, then CPI(ML) People’s War Group’s AP State Committee Secretary carrying an AK-47 slung across his shoulder along with his aides all in camouflaged uniforms arrived to a rousing welcome. RK and his team handed over their weapons to their comrades and later proceeded to address an impressive public meeting at Guthikonda Belum in Guntur district well past midnight. After that they drove into Hyderabad in the early hours for their stay at the state-run Manjeera Guest House.

 

In a strange quirk of fate, the police and the naxals were face to face at the guest house and the former had to ensure the security to the latter. While state police personnel manned the strategic points, a group of naxals too stood guard at the guest house keeping a hawk’s eye on every visitor. A complete floor was reserved for the naxal leaders that included RK, Andhra Orissa Border Special Zone Committee Secretary Sudhakar, North Telangana Special Zone Committee Secretary Ganesh besides CPI (ML) Janashakti leaders — Amar and Riaz.

Over the next two days there were hectic parleys among the Government machinery and the Maoists leaders. On October 14, a day ahead of the talks, the PWG leadership almost dropped a bombshell announcing the merger of the PWG with Marxists Coordination Committee (MCC) a formidable naxal outfit in Bihar and Jharkhand as part of their efforts to build a formidable force to further their revolutionary cause.

The agenda for the meeting included: Equitable distribution of land to the tillers;

Repudiation of World Bank-dictated economic policies; Restoration of democratic rights of the people; Social justice to Dalits, equal rights to women, protection of minorities' rights, and self-governance; Statehood to the Telangana region; Development of backward areas of Rayalaseema and north coastal regions; Re-imposition of total prohibition; Enhanced funding and focus on education, health and people's welfare; Eradication of corruption; Curbing oppressive activities of landlords and feudals; Prevention of the ill-effects of imperialist and capitalist culture on the people.

The State Government was represented by the then Home Minister K. Jana Reddy and seven others while a team of mediators led by retired bureaucrat S.R. Sankaran, Congress MP K. Keshava Rao, revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, eminent lawyer and human rights activists – K.G.Kannabiran, G. Kalyan Rao, balladeer Gadar and journalist Pothuri Venkateswara Rao.

N. Venugopal, Editor of Veekshanam magazine told The Hindu that RK, who was the leader of the delegation conducted the proceedings so well. “For the eight-days when he and his team was in Hyderabad, he had steady stream of visitors. Every day he held meeting with women, dalits, not necessarily naxals or their sympathisers. Some newspaper even reported that he had more visitors at Manjeera Guest House than those in power,” he said.

Dr. P.V.Ramana, former faculty with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi in a book Understanding India’s Maoists - Select Documents mentions the PWG leaders’ interaction with people. He wrote: “During the period the Maoists stayed over-ground for the talks and camped at the Manjeera State Guest House in Hyderabad, several people met with the Maoists and submitted as many as 836 petitions to ‘Ramakrishna”.

“However, the Maoists cannot run a kangaroo court in public, as they can in their strongholds. As a result, they could not solve any of the problems brought to their notice. This caused confusion. People began to lose faith in the Maoists and the Maoists, too, experienced first-hand their helplessness, and thus, the futility of their ideology,” he further wrote in the book.

Mr. Venugopal recalled how RK was considerate and accommodative. He would take even exact opposite view point with a smile and pointed out how a hardcore critic of the Maoist movement too was invited for discussions ahead of the talks with the Government.

He continued: “From the beginning RK was saying, he was here to present the party’s view to the civil society and the people. Government will not budge and all this process can be used to make our point clear, the senior journalist noted.

"We are extending the hand of friendship to naxalites and they should reciprocate by eschewing violence. The talks will be held within the framework of constitution," the then Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy remarked ahead of the talks. On the other hand, RK responded after the talks saying: "The talks were successful to the extent of restoring peace and minimising violence."

Mr. Venugopal said RK despite staying 20 years underground from the early 80’s showed that he was update to the happenings outside unlike popular image that underground comrades have little information. “RK reflected a suave characteristic of a person,” he said.

With no breakthrough having been achieved, the naxal leaders led by RK went back to Chinna Arutla from where they had emerged earlier that week and never to be seen again.


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