Maoists in India : A Brief Biography

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Cherukuri Rajkumar (Comrade Azad) was born into a middle class family of Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh on 18 May 1954. His father Cherukuri Lakshmaiah Chowdary, an ex-service man, and mother Karuna shifted to Hyderabad to run a small restaurant and thus he had his primary education in Hyderabad and secondary education at Sainik School, Korukonda in Vizianagaram district. He did his graduation in chemical engineering at Regional Engineering College (REC), Warangal and post graduation in ore dressing at Andhra University, Visakhapatnam.

Students of REC were in the forefront in forming Andhra Pradesh Radical Students Union (RSU) in October 1974 and Rajkumar was part of that group. He was arrested in 1975 under Emergency and spent a few months in jail. Radical Students Union was revived after Emergency and Rajkumar became its state president in 1978. He was re-elected twice to that position.

In 1980 he chose to become a full-time and professional revolutionary, beginning his underground life from which there was no turning back. For the next 30 years, he worked in different areas like Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Dandakaranya, giving theoretical, political and organizational inputs to struggles in all these places. He guided party units and committees in all these states as well as South-western Regional Bureau. Though he was part of a collective decision-making body of the party, his personal contribution in terms of vision, expertise in several fields and a sharp insight into different developing themes helped the movement quite a bit. He was a voracious reader and a prolific writer. Given the nature of his clandestine activity he wrote under different pseudonyms, and more often credited his writings to collective, but one could easily identify his style in numerous writings in Voice of the Vanguard, People’s March, People’s Truth, Maoist Information Bulletin, etc.

In 2002, the government of Andhra Pradesh initiated for talks with the then CPI (ML) Peoples War to bring about peace. It was Rajkumar who guided the efforts of peace negotiations on the part of the revolutionary party and he wrote a number of statements, gave interviews to newspapers clarifying the party’s position. In 2004, the talks moved a little forward between the representatives of CPI (Maoist) and CPI (ML) Janasakthi on one hand and the representatives of the government on the other. Between May 2004 and January 2005, it was again Rajkumar who guided and prepared a lot of statements and documents for the talks. Again beginning with 2007 when the Prime Minister described the Maoist movement as the biggest internal threat, Rajkumar consistently exposed the real intentions of the mining mafia behind the onslaught, including Operation Green Hunt. Through various writings and interviews in several media, he elaborated the party’s positions on various issues including the peace process. A number of statements given by him, an 18-page interview along with audio sent to press in October 2009, his 12,262-word interview given to the Hindu in April 2010 and his letter of May 31, 2010 in response to Home Minister P Chidambaram’s letter of May 10 to Swami Agnivesh are crystal clear expositions of the position of the CPI (Maoist).