Cherukuri Rajkumar (Comrade Azad) and Hem Pandey ¡Presentes!

It is difficult to sum up a life, none less so than that of a revolutionary leader that eluded capture for over three decades and helped build a revolutionary movement. Cherukuri Rajkumar, known as Comrade Azad, was a member of the central committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) who are usually referred to as Naxalites from the Naxalbari insurrection in West Bengal in 1967. While not much is known about this man (especially in the West), his impact on the revolutionary movements internationally are tangible and visible. He was one of the most important contributors to People’s March and the Maoist Information Bulletin. His movement is written about in Arundhati Roy’s thoughtful piece Walking with the Comrades.

Azad was killed on July 2, 2010 in Adilabad, Andhra Pradesh. Though reports vary and Indian officials have often lied about killing Azad to psychologically weaken the revolutionary movement, the CPI(M) has since confirmed his death. Comrade Azad and Hem Pandey were on route to a meeting with other leading members of the CPI(M) when he was picked up by police. Reports from various news sources say there was a gun fight that lasted two hours and that the revolutionaries were killed in this showdown. Others report they were picked up and taken to that location then executed. Either way, the Indian movement has lost two dear comrades.

The Indian Maoists are in the midst of defending themselves from a gruesome and thuggish attack by the Indian government called Operation Green Hunt, aimed at wiping out any resistance to their neo-liberal interests. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has been designated a “terrorist” organization by the Indian government, a move applauded by the United States. This “operation” has belligerently killed an untold many number of innocent people. Simply being accused of being or knowing a Maoist is enough to execute them.

In fact the Naxalites have been fierce defenders of the adivasi (“tribal”) peoples of India’s rural region from the Indian government’s attempts to relocate and starve these deeply impoverished people. Azad was the spokesperson for this movement to defend the rights of tribal people from capitalist onslaught. Azad by many accounts was a brilliant man with many talents needed for fighting a revolution, such as fieldcraft.

As the spokesperson for the CPI(M), he often shared views on the developments in Nepal and their unorthodox tactics and while skeptical and uneasy about their approach, he support the Nepalese Revolution. Azad’s death is a setback for the Indian revolution. But their struggle is deeply rooted among the people, and they are the deciding factor.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organización Socialista del Camino para la Libertad supports the movement and liberation of the excluded and displaced all over the world and condemns the Indian state’s murder of these two communist revolutionaries and its campaign of terror against the people of India, known as Operation Green Hunt. The murder of these two men represents the facile attempts of the Indian state to disarm the Indian people of revolutionary leadership, using the tactics of assassination to try to end the more than four decades of people’s war that was started with an uprising in Naxalbari in 1967.

Freedom Road stands with all people who demand the end of Operation Green Hunt and for peaceful negotiations between the Maoist party and the government.

Mao wrote that “though death befalls all men alike, it may be weightier than Mount Tai or lighter than a feather. To die for the people is weightier than Mount Tai, but to work for the fascists and die for the exploiters and oppressors is lighter than a feather.”

It is difficult to sum up a life, but clearly Comrade Azad’s death is heavier than Mount Tai.

Lal salaam. Victory to the Naxalites!

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