It was RK who initiated Munna into movement: Padmakka
Children get wings… They fly. In the movie ‘School Teacher’ (Badi Panthulu) parents cry out, ‘we are living with tired wings’. Munna is not of that kind. He has not left his parents and their ideals after getting wings. He has flown into forest with those wings. During his childhood, Munna used to tell his mother, “Mummy…it is raining. Birds do not have their homes, do they? So, ask them to come into our home”. Munna’s mother has brought him up despite absolute poverty. Now, she has lost her son… she is drowning in the rain of tears as a bird of torn wings without knowing whereabouts of her husband.
We have witnessed revolutionary mothers who sacrificed their sons. We have seen mothers who have determined not to have children at all in the revolutionary movements. But, Sirisha alias Padmakka, who introduced Munna (Prithvi) to the movement holding his hand, explains that it is RK, the father, who taught how to win over death participating in people’s war movement.
[box type=”note”]A rare interview with the mother of young Maoist killed in encounter in Andhra-Odisha Border region on October 24[/box]
As a wife of a Maoist front leader, Akkiraju Haragopal alias Rama Krishna (RK), as a mother of a son who was killed in the recent encounter, she has shared her anguish and memories with ‘Sakshi Family’. “I thought that we were very close mentally though living remotely. But, the state has disturbed our families. It has killed my son and taken away my husband. However, this war would never end,” said Padmakka categorically. Here is her exclusive interview given to Aruna Attaluri, Principal Correspondent of Telugu newspaper Sakshi:
What do you say about disappearance of RK, your husband, the top leader of the Maosts?
Had my husband been in the field of war, he would have sent me the message by any means. Definitely, police have taken away my husband. They could have caught hold of RK and my son, as they (police) colluded with cowards. Or else, I believe, they would not get caught so easily. RK should be presented in a court immediately. At least, hand over the dead body if he was killed. They can’t deceive people for long.
What will, you think, happen with the orders of the court?
We filed a habeas corpus petition in the court asking to inform us about the whereabouts of my husband. High Court has made it clear that it is the responsibility of the government to protect the lives of people whether they are Maoists or any others. The true colour of the police is to be exposed. Court was adjourned to Thursday (November 3). They can do whatever they can within this time. They may even kill. Nevertheless, so many RKs take birth, if one RK is exterminated. It is ignorance of their belief that they would put an end to the war by exterminating RK.
What is the reason for your agony as a mother?
It is definitely the state. My son who has experienced the torment of the state very closely, thought of ‘war’ as a path of salvation. Whether it is my husband or son, and many other participants of the movement, owned the suffering of the people as their own suffering. They led selfless lives. I feel it would have been better had my son Munna worked for some more time for the welfare of the people who are crying for him.
Will you share with us your memories of Munna?
The heart of my son Munna is like butter. He asked me to call the birds into the house as they were drenched in the rain. He used to feel worried saying that we do not have father, but they do not have even homes. He used to get anxious about chicks if anything happens to any chick when he came back home from the school. He never walked into home directly from the school without seeing the birds and innocent animals. He used to tremble if they die for some reason. He had never forgotten to kiss on my cheek before he left for school. If he had forgotten in a hurry, he used to come back and clear my tears with his kiss. (The face of Padmakka appeared as if she were still waiting for her son to wipe the streaming tears)
How was Munna faring in studies? How did he spend his childhood?
In extremely oppressive conditions. Police raided our house asking for the whereabouts of his father, whether my husband has come, or spied on me to find out his details. The police vigil dismayed us every day. There were no occasions to mention in our life when we breathed freely without fear of losing our freedom. That is the reason why we had sent him to Ongole secretly for studies. I had a strong desire to send him to university for higher education. But, his concentration was on other things. I did not understand his mind. His understanding of higher studies is entirely different.
Did he ever ask about his father?
All of a sudden, he asked one day, “Mummy, why had father left us?” I explained, “Kanna, he loves us, and he left us for the sake of the exploited people.” He started asking about his father from the days when awareness dawned on him. He was unable to understand the reason for my uncontrolled grief. After coming up to a certain age, he said, “Mummy why do you cry for the father who does not come back”. He was shocked when he came to know of the restrictions by the police on my siblings and me.
What were the reasons for Munna choosing the path of Maoists.
My aspiration was to see him well educated. I thought he would concentrate on his studies if his father advises him to do so. I, therefore, went into the forest to contact RK. Whenever we had gone for him, we were compelled to live along with Adivasis for two or three months, as we could not get his contact. Munna could mingle with those people very easily. He could read many books. He noticed children like him there and ate their food. He got habituated to share their problems. The state torture made him love forest rather than studies.
When could you meet RK?
We could not get his contact even for five, six months. We used to live there only. At last, I could take my son to my husband. I thought Munna would be asked by his father to concentrate on studies. It did not happen that way. Munna said that he would like to stay there (in the forest) for some more days. I could not understand that the stay would get prolonged forever. After that, I was with my sisters. G. Kalyana Rao (writer, leader of VIRASAM) is my sister Amrita’s husband. The movement supported us always. Our entire family experienced restrictions in order to protect us.
What was RK’s opinion of Munna?
It was his father who invited Munna into the movement. Unlike others, his father never wished his son to become a doctor or an engineer. RK had a dream to teach his son how to love the people of the world as he does. He used to write the same in his letters. He wanted to see him as a revolutionary, not as an employee. He used to write in letters that not only his son but also the children of all revolutionaries should be in the movement. He requested many sympathizers saying, “You have two children, why don’t you give one to the movement”.
Had you noticed that Munna would drift to the movement?
I did not think that Munna would follow the footprints of his father. I felt he would understand the meaning of my tears if he understood the sacrifice of his father. Munna was a small kid for me but he had grown beyond my imagination before I could understand him gradually. He grew to the level of teaching techniques of war to the army of Maoists.
Had Munna ever come back to you?
He never came back. I went to bring him back. It was one and a half year after he left. I went to the border of AP and Orissa (AOB) in 2010 for him. I was arrested along with Ganti Prasadam then. In fact, the obstruction of an IAS officer Vineel Krishna was intended to demand the release of Adivasis. But police had released us. As a protest against this, Ganti Prasadam did not leave the prison for three days.
What was source of your life after that?
The state has been carrying on wrong propaganda that Naxals who work in the movement, earn properties, accumulate money, and come back from the forest. But, my life is an answer to them. One sari on my body and two saris on hanger, total three saris I have. I experienced abject poverty. I had to work for my livelihood while facing threats from the police. There is no work that I have not done. I lived on tailoring, worked as a labourer. I was a daily labourer even at Ongole Tobacco Barney. Finally, I joined as a teacher for Rs. 5000 in Hyderabad. I was forced to shift to new place every time to escape from police restrictions. I came to Ongole and joined a school.
How was Maoist RK introduced to you?
I was distressed by the brutal killing of Dalits at Karamchedu in Prakasam district. Atrocities against women made me restless. I actively participated in the movement against Karamchedu massacre. We were introduced to each other then and that association had led to marriage. My husband RK is as sensitive as my son. Therefore, he had resolved to fight injustice.
Why have you named Munna as Prithvi?
Prithvi means land. Their struggle is for land. Their suffering is for the landless. They both wanted to retrieve the land from the land-grabbers and restore it to the rightful owners. Due to love for that land, we named him Prithvi. He left this mother for the sake of those who depended on that land and, both son and father moved away for the sake of so many mothers. His father used to passionately argue to convince me on this subject.
Had RK invited you into the movement?
Yes. He felt that I should also work in the movement like him. He invited me many a time. He used to tell me that Janatan Sarkar needs my help. When I questioned as what I could do, he said I could teach the Adivasi children. Finally, he said that stitching clothes for their army would also be a great help. I did that.
Has Munna sent you any message after he left?
Munna has written me a letter in which he questioned, “How can I not have love for you mummy when I love all the mothers.” I used to read that letter secretly time and again. However, I can read that letter now openly, freely and without any fear.
Would you like to comment on anything else?
The movement may be weakened by cowards for some time. These vicissitudes are momentary. Ask the police to participate in a true war, they will know the strength of the movement. Though my son is no more, he is the real hero.
Maoist Politburo member, Andhra-Orissa Border Committee in-charge Akkiraju Haragopal alias RK’s role is crucial in the Maoist movement. Hailing from Tumbili Kota, close by Gutthikonda Bilam of Palnadu region in Guntur district, RK has been the backbone of the movement for four decades. The prolonged protest movement against the massacre of Dalits in Karamchedu in July 1985, brought RK and Padmakka of Prakasam district together.
(The interview was taken before Padmakka came to know that RK was safe somewhere in the forest and requested the HC to withdraw her habeas corpus petition)