Remembering Anand

From Bellampalli to Dandakaranya

V Subrahmanyam

“The tyrant dies, and his rule is over; the martyr dies, and his rule begins.”

Anand is no more. But his ideas and ideals, the spirit of sacrifice, his indefatigable revolutionary zeal and his relentless revolutionary practice will inspire generations.

Anand, Polit Bureau member of the CPI (Maoist) Party, passed away on 31 May 2023, due to a heart attack, in the dense thickets of Dandakaranya. His body was laid to rest amid party veterans, the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) fighters, and the people of Dandakaranya. In his death, the Indian revolutionary movement lost a Che Guevera of Latin America and a Vo Nguyen Giap of Vietnam. He was the Secretary for the Central Regional Burueau (CRB) from its formation in 2001 till 2017, when he stepped down for health reasons.

Anand, Pratap, and Dula were nom de guerre of Katakam Sudarsan.

Sudarsan was born to working-class parents from a sleepy coal mine town of Bellapalli, then in Adilabad District, now in Mancherial District, 69 years ago. Kannala Basti was a typical working-class slum, sans any basic amenities, like scores of such colonies of workers of Singareni Collieries. Singareni Collieries has been a good revenue earner for the government since its inception. It supplied coal to the entire South India.

Srikakulam peasant armed struggle was to twin Telugu states, what Naxalbari, called the Spring Thunder, was to the entire country. Making rupture with the revisionist parties, Vempatapu Satyam and Adibhatla Kailasam, who were till then in the CPI(M), followed the footsteps of Charu Majumdar, the architect of Naxalabari struggle, ignited the Srikakulam uprising in 1969 but the sparks of this rebellion in the north-eastern tip of the combined Andhra Pradesh was too soon quelled by the government by 1972.

But the embers were still alive, and soon, the die was cast to rejuvenate the revolutionary movement. Kondapally Sitaramaiah, a veteran of the Telangana Peasant Armed Struggle of 1948-51, was a visionary and put in Herculean efforts to initiate the Peoples’ War which rose like phoenix, again after a five-year lull. CPI(ML) (Peoples’ War)’s efforts came to fruition in the eruption of militant peasant struggles in Karimnagar and Adilabad districts by 1978. Anand was one of the key persons in leading the Adilabad peasants uprising along with Shyam, Gajjela Gangaram, Puli Madunaiah and Palle Kanakaih.

Anand did his diploma in Mining in Hyderabad in 1974. He came into touch with Radical students and played a vital role in establishing RSU (Radical Students Organisation) and spreading it. During the Emergency, he clandestinely organised Singareni workers and had sown seeds for a powerful workers’ movement under the leadership of Singareni Karmika Samakhya, which shook the ruling powers. The lifting of the Emergency saw a typhoon of peasant struggles in the Karimnagar and Adilabad Districts. He concentrated on building the Radical Youth League and organising Singareni Coal workers. But Anand soon left home, never to return, to take up higher responsibilities, went underground, worked as an organiser in Jannaram–Luxettipet area and soon became the Adilabad district committee member of the CPI(ML)(PW).

Who can forget the Indravelli massacre of tribal peasants of Adilabad on 20 April 1980? The tribals- Gonds, Kolams and Paradhans- of Adilabad lost vast swathes of lands that they had been cultivating for ages to the idiosyncratic and inhuman policies of the government that usurped their lands and planted trees to make the forest commercially viable to generate revenue for it. The Adivasi Peasant Association organised an open meeting at Indravelli to discuss these issues. The police, with a conscious plan of nipping the growing people’s movement in the bud, fired upon the masses gathered at the place, hunted the tribals while escaping and killed scores of Adivasis. It was a post-1947 Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Anand, along with the team of his co-activists, kept the peasant struggles’ fire unextinguished, despite the terror created by the Indravelli massacre. Peasants cleared commercial trees like acacia, teak, etc., and began to plough their fields. Peasants resisted the police with their traditional weapons. Satnala is one such example. This mass rebellion slowly took the shape of people’s militia and regular armed squads. CPI(ML)(PW) State Committee formed eight guerilla squads from Telangana. One of the squads entered then Chandrapur district of Maharashtra from Chennur of Adilabad district after crossing the river Pranahita. Just two days after, in the police firing by Maharashtra Police Peddi Sankar(23), a squad member, became a martyr on 2 November 1980. PUDR, in its Fact Finding Report- Death by Encounter- called it a cold-blooded murder in the name of ‘encounter’. Peddi Sankar hailed from Bellampalli. These fledgling efforts, meandering many tortuous pathways, reddened with the blood of thousands of martyrs, to form the People’s Army began in 1980 and succeeded in developing a formidable people’s guerrilla army by the beginning of this century. People Guerrilla Army was formed on 2 December 2000, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the martyrdom of . Shyam, Murali and Mahesh, who were killed in cold blood precisely a year ago.

The rise of Anand- from the District committee to the forest liaison committee and later into the Forest committee in 1987 was concomitant with the development of the revolutionary movement from Karimnagar and Adilabad to the entire North Telangana and Eastern Districts of Andhra Pradesh Agency area and to the Central Indian Districts of Dandakaranya- Bastar and Gadcheroli. Anand became the Secretary of the North Telangana Special Zonal Committee in 1995. He was taken into the Central Committee in 1995 in the All India Special Conference. He became a Polit Bureau Member when Peoples’War and Party Unity merged into a single party. He remained a Polit Bureau member when the People’s War and MCCI merged to form CPI (Maoist) in 2004.

Anand had been in all the weals and woes the Party went through. He had seen the high points of movement of expansion of the Party to nooks and corners of India, the spread of a few guerilla zones into multiple ones- from North Telangana and Dandakaranya to vast areas in Bihar and Jharkhand, and transforming guerilla warfare into mobile warfare; and formation of Janatana Sarkar (Revolutionary People’s Councils) in vast areas of Central India, Andhra-Odisha Border zones, in Bihar and Jharkhand regions. As CRB Secretary, he effectively guided and neutralised the counter-insurgency vigilante movement- Salva Judum, led by Congress’ Mahendra Karma, supported by the BJP government and sponsored by big business groups like Tatas. Though the Party could not sustain the movement in the North Telangana areas, the PLGA and the Janatana Sarkars have been fighting a hard struggle–in the various phases of unprecedented encirclement and annihilation campaigns by the lakhs of Central Paramilitary forces, beginning from the Operation Green Hunt sketched by the then Home Minister Chidambaram in 2009. Taking the mantle from him, Amit Shah vows to make the 2024 Maoist Mukt Bharat that missed many such earlier deadlines.

While forming Janatana Sarkars and leading the people’s war in Telangana and Dandakaranya, Anand edited underground magazines like- Kranti, Erra Jenda, People’s War and People’s March. Between 2008 and 2012, he keenly investigated land relations in Adilabad. His finding confirmed the CPI(Maoist) analysis that despite distorted capitalist relations, the rural scene in India is semi-feudal. Anand’s introduction to Pani’s book, Janatana Sarkar: A Maoist Experiment in Dandakaranya, shows his in-depth knowledge of the history, the understanding of the complexity of the contradictions, the candid admission of severe difficulties in establishing the base areas like in China, but his confidence that it is not an impossibility reassures the concerns that are raised by even the well-wishers about the Protracted People’s War in India.

Anand built revolutionary movement. But a lesser-known fact about Anand is that he penned a novel: Vasantha Geetham (Song of the Spring), published under the pen name Puli Anand Mohan that depicts the peasant uprising in Adilabad in its initial stages. A recent novel by Hussain’s Tallulu- Biddalu(Mothers, Sons and Daughters), is a saga of revolutionaries from Bellampally centring around Lachchavva, mother of martyr Gajjela Gangaram, depicts a fair picture of movement and the activists who led it from Adilabad- the struggles of coal mine workers and peasants. This novel reminds readers of Gorky’s Mother. Recently HMTV channel played a rare audio of Anand speaking about the people’s role in the revolution. Anand, exuding confidence in the victory of the revolution, emphasised the enormous importance of the role of the masses and reminded the role of the party in the revolution as a midwife. Anand said: “Though it is a long way to achieve New Democratic Revolution and Socialism, we are well advanced in the path of revolution. It might not be possible to achieve the desired change as and when we want. Many factors come in between. People should come forward to make the revolution a success. Undoubtedly people will soon strongly come forward and participate in the revolution. The party is just a midwife of the revolution. People are the real backbone of the revolution.” Allam Rajaiah, a celebrated writer and member of the Revolutionary Writers’ Association, said: Anand’s exposition that people are the real makers of history in a nutshell can indeed be expanded into a few creative novels”.

For two years, Anand had been the media representative of the Central Committee. The Hindu Correspondent Ravi Reddy recently wrote that Anand was the first top leader from the CPI (Maoist) Party to start a culture of interaction with the media. He remembered that Anand gave the interview to six journalists after assuming as the Secretary to the North Telangana Special Zonal Committee. Mallepalli Laxmaiah, a senior journalist then at Suprabhatam, said that Anand was very soft-spoken and discussed the “agrarian crisis, farmers’ suicides, and repression on the naxal movement” at length in that interview.

Abhay, the media representative of the Central Committee of CPI (Maoist), while announcing the death of Anand on June 2, remembered his role in the revolutionary movement and paid rich tributes and gave a call to observe memorial meetings country-wide from June 5 to August 3, 2023.

A memorial meeting was conducted at Bellampally. Many sections of people visited the house of Satish, the younger brother of Anand and paid tributes to the departed revolutionary leader. Pani, an Executive member of the Revolutionary Writer’s Association and many mass organisation leaders paid glowing tributes to Anand. Pani said that Anand was a towering revolutionary intellectual and one of the pillars of the Dandkaranya movement.

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Vol 56, No. 4, Jul 23 - 29, 2023