Published on WSWS, by Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, Sept. 14, 2010.
In their speeches to last month’s Independence Day celebrations at Delhi’s Red Fort, both India’s president, Pratibha Patil, and prime minister, Manmohan Singh, offered talks to the Maoist Naxalite movement if it eschews “violence.” Not surprisingly, neither of them mentioned the Indian state’s recent summary execution of a top Maoist leader and “peace” interlocutor, Cherukuri Azad Rajkumar.
Rajkumar, who was commonly known as Azad, and freelance journalist Hemachandra Pandey, were killed by the Andhra Pradesh state police on July 1.
Azad was reportedly an envoy of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) appointed to explore the possibility of “peace-talks” with the Indian government. It is within this context that his killing acquires a singular significance.
The Andhra Pradesh police have claimed that Azad was killed on the evening of July 1 when a police party ran into an armed-group of Maoist guerillas in a forested part of the Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh. According to the police, a 30-minute gun battle ensued between them and the Maoists, who were up on a hill, and during this battle Azad and Pandey were killed. Although the police claim to have been in a firefight with heavily armed Maoists on higher ground, they did not suffer any injuries.
From the beginning the Maoists and Azad’s family members, including a colonel in the Indian Army, have challenged the police story, charging that the gun battle was a police fabrication and that Azad and Pandey, who was travelling with him, were summarily executed … (full long story text).