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Chandramma, a revolutionary leader of Srikakulam

Venkata Kondubhatla

Srikakulam revolutionary and senior leader of New Democracy Party Pyla Chandramma, 72, took her last breath on Thursday (September 24). She was infected with coronavirus. She was the wife of Pyla Vasudeva Rao, a popular communist revolutionary leader.

Chandramma’s life was dedicated to the rights of the backward classes in Srikakulam district. She had fought against the cruel exploitation of the landlords and had undergone trials and tribulations in the armed struggle and faced police brutality. She lived in Palasa in her final days and worked for the people of Srikakulam district till her last breath.

The revolutionary leader joined the Srikakulam armed camapaign at the age of 17. Her parents were low-wage agricultural workers belonging to backward community. The landlords were ruling the roost in Srikakulam district at that time. They were turning workers into bonded labourers by forcibly lending them money at high-interest rates. It was the time when communist party was gaining stronghold on the Adivasi areas of Srikakulam district.

Split in Communist movement

Srikakulam had become a place of continuous protests. In 1964, the Communist party split into two and prominent leaders of the party joined Communist Party of India (Marxist)- CPI (M). Some of the CPM leaders had resolved to launch an armed movement against the landlords. After Naxalbari, an All India Coordination committee of communist revolutionaries was formed. 

Chandramma was working at a railway track when she first met revolutionaries. She soon joined the forces, took up a gun and became one of the members in the vanguard of the struggle. She got her inspiration from Panchadi Nirmala, who was later captured and killed by police. The life she spent underground was tough.  She had to stay days together without food. There was also no proper drinking water, and they had to move from one place to another without leaving any trace.

 Marries a revolutionary leader

Pyla Vasudeva Rao was a prominent leader in the armed struggle. He was educated, and he conducted literacy classes for revolutionaries in evenings. This was where Chandramma met Rao. She never went to school, and there was an opportunity to learn alphabets. Rao and Chandramma became close and eventually got married.

Chandramma became pregnant during the time when the government banned the party. She stayed underground for seven months and gave birth to a baby girl in a hospital. Her husband left the decision to her whether she wanted to continue in the armed struggle or take care of the baby. It was hard to decide either way, but she ultimately decided to continue in the armed struggle, as she thought that it would benefit people. The baby, who  was taken care by a family belonging to one of the revolutionaries, grew up to become a journalist. She is none other than Athaluri Aruna who is a senior scribe working for Sakshi daily.

10 years in jail

However, Chandramma had continued with her struggle until police captured her in 1975. She was tied to a tree and beaten. She spent 10 years in jail. She endured all the pains in her life for the sake of backward classes in Srikakulam. She was hurt in an encounter at Mandasa. She was very popular in Uddanam area. People in Uddanam expressed their heartfelt sorrow at the demise of their leader. She was admitted at King George Hospital on Tuesday where she breathed her last. She was cremated at Jnyanapuram cemetery in Vizag on Thursday.

Pyla Vasudeva Rao, Chandramma’s husband, died on 11 April 2010 of cancer at the age of 78. He too had spent 58 years working for the party. He lived underground for 42 years. Pyla stayed with her daughter Aruna in Hyderabad for some days before his death.

Last journey

There was a huge procession in Vizag to pay tribute to the departed revolutionary leader. Aruna had flown this morning to Vizag to pay respects to her mother. Sandhya of PWO, Madhava Rao of Palasa and many other followers have participated in her last journey.

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