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Crowds at ‘Azad’ funeral; CPI(Maoist) calls for two-day strike, vows revenge

Posted by Admin on July 5, 2010

Hyderabad: Revolutionary folk songs, slogans and red salutes marked the last rites of CPI-Maoist’s spokesperson Cherukuri Rajkumar alias ‘Azad’ in Hyderabad on Sunday.

The Andhra government, known for its anti-Naxalite policy, had declared Azad one of the most wanted Maoist leaders; it had also put a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head, alive or dead. But hundreds of people turned up for Azad’s funeral at the Punjagutta cremation ground in Hyderabad, unconcerned that they might draw the attention of intelligence officers. Half a kilometre away at the CM’s bungalow, chief minister K Rosaiah’s birthday celebrations were more subdued.

Much to the surprise of Azad’s mother C Karuna and brother C Suresh who live in Hyderabad, several surrendered Maoists, revolutionary sympathisers, former classmates and friends, Left party workers, and people from his native village in Krishna district arrived at the cremation ground.

As the crowds swelled, the city police which wanted the last rites to be performed as quickly as possible to avoid any trouble, watched from a distance. The last rites concluded late in the afternoon.

“We abhor Naxalite violence but cannot deny that leaders like Azad fought on behalf of the poor and the oppressed people and gave them hope. These people make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of others. We should at least acknowledge it, irrespective of whether we support their tactics or not. That is why so many people are here,” an elderly man from Warangal who gave his name only as Bhaskar said.

Azad’s funeral, in fact, gave a glimpse into the complexity of the Naxalite challenge in the state. While the police has largely wiped out Maoists from the state, the movement still commands support among intellectuals, cultural artistes, lawyers and human rights activists who may not necessarily subscribe to the violent tactics of the Maoists but support their cause, sometimes even hailing their leaders as heroes.

Revolutionary folk artist and balladeer Gadar sang impromptu eulogies for ‘anna’, as Naxalites are often referred to in Andhra. Many former Naxalites, living anonymously across the state, made the overnight trip to Hyderabad and quietly slipped into the cremation ground. Amar, a former leader of the CPI (ML) Janashakti, who participated in the 2004 peace talks with the Andhra government, was seen consoling Azad’s mother.

Revolutionary writer Varavara Rao hailed Azad as a people’s leader who sacrificed his life fighting on behalf of the poor. Several intellectuals like Kalyan Rao spoke… Financial Express

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