The encirclement of the CRPF forces by the PLGA was almost complete. A part of the enemy force that entered in their hundreds has been separated from the main contingent with ruse by the guerillas and a siege was laid. The CRPF commandant who had earlier had a taste of a PLGA attack had his doubts when the guerillas started retreating on one side. He felt it may be a trick to lay a trap. Both forces had been playing hide and seek since yesterday and now finally they were facing each other.

 “Don’t chase the guerillas, come back,” the commandant kept shouting.

“We can see them, we will smash them,” the part of the force that got separated replied arrogantly and began chasing the guerillas. As the enemy was behaving exactly as expected, the guerillas separated them from their main contingent and encircled them. The soldiers still did not realise what was happening and continued shouting that they would annihilate the guerillas. The commandant could see what would happen to his soldiers as if on a silver screen. He continued shouting in his communication set asking them to come back.

The guerillas were now fully prepared to implement the principle of Mao, “to eat one mouthful after another.” They had been chasing the enemy soldiers who had entered their guerilla base for the past twenty four hours and finally reached this favorable point. Now there is no question of sparing them….the people had suffered countless atrocities umpteen number of times due to the destruction caused by these forces for them to even think of sparing them….

***                                          ***                                          ***

As it is winter, Radha sat at the fire place in the yard till then and only now slowly got up and began cleaning the yard with a broom. She is somewhere between fifty and sixty years of age. Her back and knees pained a lot. And in winter they get even more stiff. So she got up a bit late and went about her chores. But her ears are still sharp. So it is Radha who first heard the ‘dhan dhan’ sounds of firings.

She immediately went to her neighbour Kosi with the broom still in her hand and shouted, “O Kosi, Bhimey, did you hear that?”

Kosi came out of her home asking, “What is it Radha didi?” Following Radha’s sign language she listened carefully.

“Yes, it is firing indeed,” said Kosi nodding.

Both of them listened to the sounds for a few seconds. Sometimes the firing is intense and then it is stopping for a while.

“Do you think our people had attacked, Radha didi?” asked Bhimey coming out of the house and joining them.

“Can’t say. But it is certain that our people are fighting and the battle is intense. Kosi, Bhimey, we have to gather all our village didis and take water and gruel for our people. When the sun climbs, they will be in lot of trouble.” Radha instantly abandoned her broom and went to light the kitchen fire.

Ingo,” replied Kosi and Bhimey and they too moved into the kitchen. Kosi and Bhimey are sisters-in-law. By then everybody in the village had listened to the firing sounds. The in-charges of Krantikari Janatana Sarkar immediately sent the militia members to the place of firing. The militia members gathered all their weapons and ran towards the battleground. It is not that far off.

There is vigor in Radha’s movements that day which one doesn’t see daily. She is hurrying to finish cooking the gruel. Radha does not belong to this village, Panchayat, Area or even this Division.  Some 25-30 years back, the Party had sent Radha to organise KAMS in this area and since then she has become a daughter of this area. Two years back she informed the Party that physically it is becoming difficult for her to move around as before and settled in this village. Even now she did not think of going home. She told the villagers that even if she dies she should be buried here. She shares her experiences, gives advice and answers the queries of KAMS or other young activists who come to her. She sends the vegetables grown by her to the PLGA whenever she can. She is like a village elder, playing a crucial part in the villagers’ lives and has entrenched herself deeply in their hearts. So neither can she live without them nor they without her.

She finally placed her gruel pot on the furnace and sat on the cot as her legs were paining after the running around.

‘Nowadays these rogues are coming wherever or whenever they want. They started coming in helicopters too. They are even abducting people and taking them away in helicopters. Do not know where our people are. Just day before yesterday Sita and others had come to collect vegetables from me for the PLGA, maybe they are somewhere nearby. Did those scoundrels come after getting some information about our comrades? When they attack the villages, it is complete destruction. When they attack the PLGA, most of the time they are able to escape, but if something like Puvvar encounter happens, it would be a big loss,’ Radha’s mind was in a turmoil.

Some days back the CRPF and the police had attacked the village where Radha had settled and the other surrounding villages in large numbers. The forces descended from helicopters and had taken away the arrested persons in the helicopters too. Radha was not able to run away as fast as the other villagers. So the villagers had carried her by lifting her up, hid her and thus protected her.

‘That day I insisted that I cannot run along with them. If they had not taken me away in that manner, the police would have definitely killed me on that day. They had burnt so many houses. Even now the marks are visible.’ Radha’s mind was racing even as she is going about her chores. She stirred the gruel and had just come out of the house to wash the utensils when she heard Bhimey shouting.

“Our people have attacked didi. It seems they have encircled the jawans. Kummal went there, saw with his own eyes and brought back the news for us. He ran there again.” Bhimey conveyed the whirlwind message to Radha and ran into the village.

Radha’s agitated heart calmed down a bit. A smile spread on her face.

“Good. I think our comrades are dealing another big blow to the police. It is a revenge for the recent operation. But it has not been just this one operation. Operations are taking place all the time. It is war after all. Our people should win, oh, they should win. Otherwise the lives of our people would worsen. It was not like this before. There used to be so many villages in the past which hadn’t experienced a single attack by the police. But since four, five years their operations have increased. They became nonstop. Unless a big blow is given to them, they won’t stop attacking the villages at their will and whim. It would be a relief, at least for a few days….’

Either Kosi or Bhimey used to get water for Radha daily. Since Bhimey went into the village, Kosi brought water, filled her pots and immediately went back saying, “I have to feed the boy and get him to sleep didi.”

Radha could discern happiness in Kosi’s face too.

‘Why won’t she be happy? During the previous attack, though she shouted hoarse that she had just given birth to a baby, the police thrashed her. She could not leave her baby or her old father-in-law alone and run away and so the dogs pounced on her.’ Radha was washing the utensils and remembered the badly bruised back of Kosi. She had been beaten black and blue.

She saw Bhimey returning and asked, “Are all the didis ready to go?”

“Yes, some of them are carrying water and some of them gruel. Some dadas had already gone carrying cots,” replied Bhimey elatedly.

“Bhimey, please take my gruel too, I very much want to come, but…” There was both hope and disappointment in her voice.

“How can you come didi, at your age? Don’t worry, I will carry your gruel,” replied Bhimey affectionately.

“So be it. But after we win I will come to see how many weapons and how much ammunition we had gained,” replied Radha with a laugh.

“Yes, you can come then,” replied Bhimey going into her house.

Radha could hear the commotion going on in the village.

‘After the previous big attack, the Party proposed that they would shift me to another village. I did not agree. The villagers did not agree too. What the Party said was also true, the conditions have changed. If the attacks increase it would be difficult for me to survive. When I started working as a KAMS organiser I used to recruit only young women into the organisation. Then Aruna didi enlightened me saying that an organisation should have members of all ages, young, middle aged and the old women. I could not understand at first, what with all my hot blood. I used to think young women would actively participate in all activities and that the other women do not come forward so easily. Gradually in the course of my work I understood why it is important to have women of all generations inside the organisation. Now that I have myself become an old woman I understand with more depth how important the experience of the likes of me is to the organisation. That is why the Party insisted that it would shift me…’

Radha poured the gruel into a large utensil, covered it with a lid and made a small packet of salt by placing it within a leaf. She began waiting for Bhimey. Women began arriving carrying utensils or pots of water or gruel balanced on their heads. Kosi was also ready with a water pot.

“Radha didi, the boy is sleeping, if he gets up look after him, he never cries when he is with you,” said Kosi.

‘So many of them are going, why don’t you stay Kosi?’ Radha wanted to ask. But she did not utter those words. ‘Let her go, something inside her may find some solace,’ she thought.

Though many of the village women were sweating because of the hurry-scurry, their faces were pleasant. They went away chitchatting and laughing as if they were going to a village fair and Radha watched them go till they were out of vision.

‘It has been more than thirty years since our struggle started. The young women and men who started working in the early days like me have turned old; illnesses are stalking some of us. People like me are living depending on the people. The guerilla bases are protecting us like the pupils of their eyes. Not just this, schools, agriculture, health care, mass organisations, Sarkar works…so many activities are going on because of the guerilla bases. If we don’t defend them so many welfare works would just stop. If our people deal a big blow to the enemy in this attack, again for some days they would not come to attack us and all our works would go on without any hitch. Our people had encircled them it seems. No, they won’t let them slip away, they would definitely destroy the force.’

She sat for some time listening to the sounds of firing and explosions of shells lobbed by the enemy. She did not feel like doing anything. So she got up and went to Seethi’s home just four houses away. Seethi was the same age as her. 

***                                          ***                                          ***

Deval and Raamal were among those who were speedily carrying cots in the direction of the firings listening to the sounds. Deval was around forty years old and is the father of two children. He was working full-time as the President of the Panchayat level DAKMS and his wife is working the fields at home and looking after the children with the help of the villagers. Raamal was five years younger than him. He was a peasant and also functioning as a member of the Justice Department of the Krantikari Janatana Sarkar.

“By the time we got the news one jawan had died. We did not suffer any losses, but it is a battle, and we cannot be sure. In the Tadimetla attack eight of our comrades have died and some were injured. We must reach as soon as possible. The nearby villagers might have reached already. Only if we can carry back the injured persons quickly we would be able to save them. We must carry them back before there is severe blood loss.” Deval was speaking as fast as he was walking.

“Just look at the number of shells the criminals are exploding!” said Raamal who was walking as fast behind him.

“The number of rounds they are firing is no less. Looks like all of the guns are AKs and Insas rilfles. It seems they are being instructed not to let us have any of the ammunition. We just needed this on top of our scarcity of ammunition,” Deval said impatiently.

‘Some years ago we never knew what a shell meant. When the police started firing shells even at the villagers, we were scared to death. But gradually we learnt to tell apart the sound of the shells and learnt where and how they would land. Thus we learnt how to dodge them. Every new weapon brought by the enemy, every new tactic adopted by them in the battlefield is teaching us new experiences each time. Many of us can even discern what kind of weapon was fired by just hearing the sound of the firing.’ Raamal’s thoughts were in continuation of what Deval said.

“This time our people should deal them a big blow. That is what we have demanded lately,” Deval said as if speaking to himself.

Ramaal nodded. ‘A few months back in one of the attacks by the PLGA only one CRPF jawan had died. The CRPF attacked our village and beat us so black and blue that it was just unbearable. So many of us could not even get up for weeks together. And when our people came, we all demanded only one thing – see, if you are to attack them, make it a big one, and kill them in large numbers, not one here and one there. Only then they would stop their combings and attacks. If not they would not let us live. We were all very angry and shouted at our comrades. All the anger at getting beaten that was simmering inside burst out and we vented it on our people. But what will they also do? Even they want to make big attacks. But the opportunity doesn’t present itself always. But I think today it would happen.’ Raamal remembered PLGA comrades affectionately.

They came across two militia members of their neighbouring village going at top speed on their cycles. Deval stopped them.

“Three jawans died. Some are injured. No casualties on our side. Our people are giving tit for tat. Our Panchayat militia has also joined the attack. We have to go, our people told us to do something very urgent.” They did not even actually stop and went away cycling hard.

“Oh, did we get any guns?” Deval shouted after them but Raamal hurried him on, “Oh common, let us go and join the battle too.”

***                                          ***                                          ***

Rajesh was scrutinizing the .303 rifle to gauge what its problem was. It had been sent to him for repairs. Mukesh who belonged to the same Technical Department as Rajesh came running to him.

“Rajesh dada, our people have encircled the CRPF forces, we got news from the neighbouring village militia. Many in the neighbourhood had already gone there. Even the villagers on whom we are depending for our camp now have left. Shall we go too?”

Rajesh immediately got up. “Where? How far?”

Mukesh told him the location and added, “It may take two hours to walk. But on your cycle we may arrive earlier.”

“Okay then, let’s go, I will hand over this job to Ranita and come.” He told Ranita about the happenings and started for the battlefield along with Mukesh.

Mukesh was pedaling away. Rajesh’s mind had already flown to the battlefield. Once upon a time he was part of those combat forces too. All of them were his fellow comrades. All of them had participated in several big attacks together. In one such big attack, he got injured in the leg and could not continue in the combat forces. So the Party transferred him to the Technical Department. It also allotted him a cycle. Rajesh was not even thirty. After working so actively in the forces in the early days, he found it very difficult to work in a department which mostly worked staying put in one place. But gradually he got the feel of the work and has even been promoted in this work. When he heard that his old comrades are making the attack, it was difficult for him to stay put.

“What else did they say?” asked Rajesh.

“A part of the enemy force was separated from the main force and been encircled. People think the entire part would be wiped out, just like you did then,” Mukesh replied pedaling very fast.

Rajesh gets goose bumps even today when he thinks of ‘that attack’. ‘It was the biggest attack in the entire history of the Indian revolution. I thought a jawan had died and advanced to capture his weapon. But the jawan was not dead. As soon as I approached he tried to fire upon me. I had no option but to pounce upon him. I gained the upper hand and killed him but his bullet had penetrated my leg. It was since then that I…’

“We had been thinking that unless a bigger attack is carried on, we would not have the flexibility to carry on our experiments and now our comrades had achieved it, don’t you agree dada?” said Mukesh his voice betraying his excitement.

“Yes. Looks like a big attack from the reports. But we cannot say from far. But in the battlefield things must have become clear by now. If the enemy gets reinforcements sooner it would be difficult. The conditions have changed, unlike before, now there is carpet security everywhere,” said Rajesh deep in thoughts.

“I think our people are going to make it this time. If so, we will have more flexibility to carry on our experiments. If they are successful, then our people will have new weapons in their hands. Then our comrades can win even bigger victories in the battles. Don’t you think so?” Mukesh said rhetorically. So Rajesh did not reply. He just said, “Ingo.”

But in reality Rajesh was also thinking on the same lines.

‘Our Party has reviewed that our movement is facing hard times. We have made the necessary plans to overcome this situation. It is very important to properly assess the situation and make plans to overcome that. But it is just the first part. The second part where we bring it into implementation is very crucial. Counter-attacks conducted to defend the guerilla bases are a very important part of that plan. Doubtless our comrades would achieve victory. Who else knows this better than me who has lived with them so many years and worked like a close knit family…’

***                                          ***                                          ***

The attack, that started early in the morning ended at mid-afternoon. Fifteen CRPF jawans had died. At least another fifteen must have been injured. The weapons, ammunition, ammunition belts and other military equipment have been seized by the PLGA combat forces and the militia together. The battlefield looked terrible. Only one PLGA comrade had been injured slightly in the shoulder. Immediately the PLGA doctors had attended to it and bandaged the shoulder. Even that comrade was walking along with others under the very hot sun.

The commander of the forces, Kosal was too tired for words. A military life where timely food or rest was impossible gave him a ‘gift’ – ulcer. He was also reaching his forties and so fatigue was very much noticeable on his face. But his eyes were sharp and were observing everybody and everything. His brain is registering everything with precision.

Though all the PLGA comrades were tired, their faces were aglow with victory.

‘Truly this is a big success. As with every attack, even this attack has its own significance. This is the first big success won by us after Modi came to power. This was won amidst carpet security that is spreading very thickly day by day. This success was won because everyone had fought so bravely. Lal Salaam (red salute) comrades!’ Kosal silently saluted his forces.

The militia comrades were more enthusiastic than even the combat forces. They were describing the happenings during the attack to each other while walking briskly, their shoulders weighed down by the equipment the PLGA had seized.

‘As soon as they knew that an attack was on, not only the militia which was already with us, but even scores of militia members from the neighbouring villages arrived immediately and took part in the attack. This has been happening in all our big attacks without fail. Learning to wage war by participating in the war is something that is applicable not only to us but also to them. Surely, several of these militia members are going to demand that they be recruited full-time into the PLGA,’ thought Kosal looking fondly at the militia members.

They had just walked a short distance and then the scene that they encountered moved not just Kosal but everybody in the attack team. Scores of villagers sat there in several rows with their pots and vessels full of gruel and water, waiting to serve them to the guerillas. They were not bothered whether they sat in the shade or under the hot sun. They were just waiting patiently for the guerillas that would arrive dog tired after the battle.

Seeing them like that Kosal felt so refreshed that all his fatigue just vanished in a jiffy. He felt as if he entered the shade of thick foliage after walking under the hottest sun.

‘How thick a shade, how vast a shade is this! As long as we have this shade, what is it to us how hot the sun is?’ This thought filled even that daring commander with new courage and energy.

Kosal is looking at that sea of people without batting his eyelids. He found the mass organisation members belonging to DAKMS, KAMS, CNM and children’s organisations, Krantikari Janatana Sarkar members, other PLGA members, comrades of various departments of the Party and several kinds of common villagers too among them. He had been born and brought up here and has been working since twenty years in this same area. So he personally knew many of the people assembled there. But there were several new generation young women, men and children too…He could see that none of them think this is something concerning only the PLGA. The battle and the success is something they all had fought and won collectively – this was the expression he read on their faces.

‘People are not afraid and they are resisting the Indian State. But their demand is that the PLGA should carry on big attacks. They are demanding weapons, and military training. When we told them that they should earn their own weapons, they are conducting some daring attacks on the enemy, putting their lives at stake and seizing some weapons too, one or two at a time. This attack would increase the morale of all these people one more time. Thus it would also give us another opportunity to increase our mass base too.’

Kosal was looking at everybody with his heart full of love and then he saw Rajesh who was standing beside his cycle. As soon as Rajesh felt Kosal’s eyes on him, he lifted his right hand in a fist and swung it robustly as if to say ‘Lal Salaam’. Kosal too lifted his hand in a fist to convey his ‘Lal Salaam’. Happiness spread on Rajesh’s face.

At once a roar of slogans went up – ‘CPI (Maoist) Zindabad! PLGA Zindabad! Down with Operation Green Hunt! Let us defeat OGH! Krantikari Janatana Sarkar Zindabad! ‘

The slogans rented the air in wave after waves

The combat forces and the militia mingled with the sea of people and continued their walk.

The scene there looked like a village fair, like a festival.

It looked like a parade and a challenge to the rulers.

It also looked like the solution to several knotty problems and plaguing doubts.

The olive green military dresses merged completely into the medley of colors in that sea of people surging forward, and could no longer be seen separately at all.


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