Top People's War leaders paid tributes and unveiled an imposing martyrs memorial to the founding father of the Naxalite movement, late Charu Mazumdar, at a massive rally-cum-public meeting at Guthikonda Bilam in Andhra Pradesh.
Over 100,000 people mostly supporters and sympathizers of the Naxalite movement from across the state, particularly from Palnadu and Telangana regions converged for the meeting held on Monday evening.
PW leaders, who made their first public appearance after remaining underground for two decades, expressed the hope that the peace talks with the AP government scheduled to commence on October 15 - would turn out to be fruitful.
The People's War AP state committee secretary Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna -- who will lead the three-member team at the first-ever direct talks with the government - told newspersons that they would stay in Hyderabad for three-four days for the first phase of talks.
Ramakrishna disclosed that the talks would be held in three phases and said they would return to the forests after the first round and would come out again for the second round. Land distribution and end to imperialist policies were the two major demands they would put forth during the talks.
He urged the Congress government not to pursue the World Bank-dictated policies of the previous Chandrababu Naidu government. "We have come forward for talks to discuss the people's issues. We hope that the government will address those issues to meet the basic socio-economic and political requirements of the people. But if it fails to do so, we have other options. We have been fighting for the people all these years and our cadres are prepared to face any situation," he said bluntly.
Accompanied by AP-Orissa border special zone committee secretary Sudhakar alias Balakrishna and north Telangana special zone committee secretary G Ravi alias Ganesh, Ramakrishna emerged from the deep Nallamala forests near Chinnaoratla village in Prakasam district on Monday morning to participate in the rally, the first after the lifting of the ban on the Naxalite outfit.
Clad in civilian clothes, Ramakrishna and other leaders had handed over their weapons to their cadres before coming out of the forest. They travelled to Guthikonda in a convoy of vehicles, accompanied by PW cadres, emissaries and civil rights activists.
Guthikonda is the place where Charu Mazumdar, who led the Naxalbari movement, reportedly took shelter for a while in the late 1960s. Disguised as a monk, he visited the village to spread the message of the armed communist movement in 1968-69. He inaugurated the first AP state committee of CPI-ML in this village abutting deep forests.
Ramakrishna and his colleagues hoisted the party flag at Guthikonda and led a rally to Bilam, about 4.5 km away. The entire stretch was decorated with CPI-ML flags and banners. They unveiled a 55-foot-high martyrs memorial (a six-foot sickle and hammer structure) to commemorate the founding of the Naxalite movement in the state. The adjoining Nagarjunasagar Canal was barricaded to prevent mishaps.
The 46-year-old Ramakrishna met some of his friends in the village before joining the procession. CPI-ML Janashakti leaders Amar and Riaz also joined the PW meeting. PW and Janashakti cadres and activists of frontal organizations gathered at the venue to witness the inauguration of the massive pylon.
PW veterans -- Gouru Madhava Rao, Anasuyamma, Venkayamma and others -- were feted on the occasion. Jana Natya Mandali and Arunodaya cultural troupes of People's War and Janashakti respectively presented revolutionary dance-and-song sequences. PW top leaders later addressed the public meeting at the sprawling 20-acre venue surrounded by hillocks.
Local police and special police parties provided security for PW leaders from the time they came into the open. A 35-member specially trained People's War dalam (squad) formed a security cordon around the three top leaders but without weapons. This special security arrangement would continue even during the talks.
PW emissaries Varavara Rao, Gaddar and Kalyan Rao spoke of the significance of the Naxalite movement, including its cultural and literary contribution. The PW leaders also released a book highlighting the sacrifices of martyrs and made an appeal to imbibe their ideals.Ramakrishna addressed the gathering, touching upon the present conditions in society, the party's course of action and its duties, the rationale behind the peace talks, the concept of armed revolution, sacrifices made by the party cadres and the people for the cause of the movement etc.