A Tale of Two Naxalites: A Cup of Tea with the Revolutionaries Who Were a Thorn in the Side of Both Landowners and the Communist Party

By Baird, Vanessa | New Internationalist, March 1993 | Go to article overview

A Tale of Two Naxalites: A Cup of Tea with the Revolutionaries Who Were a Thorn in the Side of Both Landowners and the Communist Party


Baird, Vanessa, New Internationalist


Mandakini and Ajitha are mother and daughter. They also share a political past -- as members of the notorious Maoist Naxalite movement. But Ajitha is the better known: she was the 19 - year - old who took part in a guerilla attack on a police station in the Wynad region, during which a police officer was killed.

That was back in 1969. Now Ajitha and her mother live a quiet family life in a suburb of Calicut. To get to their house you pass lazy grazing cows, little streams, coconut trees and brightly painted houses. Ajitha's politics have changed. She is now deeply involved in the feminist movement and has started a radical group called Bodhana -- which means 'awareness'. She greets me warmly, serves tea and starts talking about her life:

I grew up with revolutionary ideas. My father was leader of the Naxalites here in Kerala. When I was 19 I dropped out of college to devote myself to political activism.

The aim of attacking the police station was to start the armed struggle in the Wynad area. We were impatient for a revolution. I was not in a leading position but because I was the only woman in that group the newspapers concentrated on me. We were all caught a few days later and our whole dream was shattered.

The next seven - and - a - half years I spent in jail. I cannot say I was treated well -- there was a lot of mental torture. I was not allowed to receive letters from my mother and father, who were also in jail. But I used to read a lot. That kept me going.

My political beliefs did not change then but I found I could not agree with what many Naxalites were doing. Individual killings and personal vendettas were being pursued. Naxalites ended up not trusting each other. …

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