Comrade Saketh Rajan
It is right to rebel !
Lionheart of Mysore
Brief biography of Saketh Rajan alias Comrade Prem
into an affluent iyengar family of Mysore. He was a bright and sensitive child.Very early on in his life he displayed a genuine concern and love for the poor and oppressed of our country.
In an interview with a newsmagazine, his mother Rajalakshmi Sounderajan recounts with tears in her eyes, how a young Saketh Rajan not wanting to burden his mother or the maid, would wash his own utensils and kept only two sets of clothes, which he washed himself when his father was not home.
His dressing style was a major sore point with his father who was a Major with the Indian Army. He used to constantly reprimand young Saketh to wear better clothes and buy new ones.
Little interest did young Saketh Rajan have in flashy clothes, the poverty and oppression around him served as a constant reminder of the greater purpose he had in life.
His father Major S.K Sounderrajan was a strict disciplinarian while his mother was his closest confidant.He used to regularly confide in her, about his concern for the poor and oppressed.
His parents had expected him to become an engineer. And he did enroll in an engineering college, but after some months he dropped out of the B.Tech course and chose to study literature instead.
He was a popular student in Maharaja's college and did his B.A over there between 1977 and 1980. He studied Journalism, English literature and Public Administration.
The faculty at Maharaja's College remember him as a brilliant student, who was annoyed with the imposition of Emergency and his close friends are reminded of his generosity and humane nature. He had even gone underground during the emergency.
" I can’t imagine a gun in his hands, not the Saket I knew," says Dr Lingaraj Gandhi,now Professor of English at Mysore University. "I want to remember him playing his mandolin, intensely as he used " (The mandolin is a guitar like instrument)
" He had many parts. An intensely private man, a serious thinker, a college Romeo, a great player of the mandolin, a yoga exponent and a complete rebel who was also very soft-spoken and sensitive,"
- recalls Lingraj gandhi who lived with Saketh Rajan for four years in the hostel.
Saketh Rajan's literary interests saw the revival of Mysore University's Debating Club of which he was the vice-president.He went on to win laurels for the college in many inter-collegiate debating
competitions at the regional and national level. He not only won at debates but once even bagged an award in photography contest.
Lingaraj Gandhi adds "Saketh read voraciously and widely.The book "Wretched of the Earth", by Franz Fanon had an enormous impact on him. I was confused, but he was beginning to make up his mind..
Then there was no looking back".
He then got admission into the prestigious
Known as Saki among friends, he stood first in his batch at the IIMC New Delhi,bagging four gold medals.
In the convocation held in the capital, having secured the first rank in the Post - Graduate degree, Saketh was to receive the award and certificate from the Minister Vidya Charan Shukla. He proceeded to the dais. But, without receiving the certificate from the Minister, nor even shaking hands with him, Saketh had walked off the dais, as a show of his anger against the establishment, It is believed that he came in contact with People's War Group Activists in New Delhi.
He had a total of three post-graduate journalism degrees - one each from Mysore University, Bangalore University and IIMC,Delhi.
Saketh Rajan and Dr Gandhi had jointly written a book titled,'Newspaper in the Framework of Space: Mysore's Urban Press'. This book was written in August 1981 when they had just finished their graduation.
" It was Saketh who advised me to study English literature so that I could get a job without difficulty. He taught me English. He told me that journalism involves a lot of risks. Thus, I did MA English
literature and he took up journalism," he explains.
He co-authored a well-researched series of articles with Dr. Lingaraj Gandhi on Rare Materials Plant (RMP), a uranium enrichment plant near city under the title 'Bomb factory near Mysore' which cautioned the residents of Mysore about the hazards of the unit.
The articles published in Star of Mysore and Mysooru Mithra also Mysore Monitor weekly (now defunct) triggered a debate in the city forcing the then Mayor to conduct a meeting of concerned citizens which was also attended by Garg, Director of Indian Rare Earth Ltd., the parent body of RMP, where he tried to allay the fears about the plant.
Prior to this, Saketh had co-authored a series of articles for Mysooru Mithra in Kannada with Lingaraj Gandhi (now Reader in English, Manasagangotri) on the sufferings of tribals in H.D. Kote taluk forests.
He again co-authored a series of Kannada articles for Mysooru Mithra with Lingaraj on the newspapers in Mysore district. He joined Save Kukkarahalli Lake campaign launched by Star of Mysore during eighties and wrote series of articles on the conservation of the Lake.
He was the first person to draw the attention of the authorities to the danger of the hyacinth that had covered the lakes surface with its luxurious growth. Thus, he became a blue-eyed boy of Star of Mysore's editor K.B. Ganapathy among the city's freelance writers who contributed to Star of Mysore and Mysooru Mithra.
In fact, Ganapathy encouraged Saketh to write more on community related subjects.
As a true intellectual dedicated to the liberation of the people of India, particularly Karnataka, he adopted the Marxist methodology of understanding history from a historical materialist standpoint. He authored two volumes of "Making History" one of the most scholarly works in the historical study of Karnataka under the pen name of 'Saki'.
While partaking in all the strenuous work of the party and living a life in the underground Saketh read profusely about Karnataka history. This resulted in his penning two volumes of "Making History", the second of which was published in 2004.
As the Indian Express says
" He was the only revolutionary in this country whose scholarly work was read in a university in the same state that shot him dead." Parts of this work are now being taught at Mangalore University."
The first volume printed in 1995 traced the history of Karnataka from the first signs of human habitation till the time of British conquest. It ended with the martyrdom of Tippu Sultan.
The second volume traced the development of Karnataka history from the time of British conquest in 1799 till the First war of Indian Independence in 1857.
The third volume was to explore into the impact of British colonialism on Karnataka from 1858 to 1947.
Though the third volume may never see the light of day, due to his pre-occupation with advancing the rural movement and armed struggle in Karnataka in the period before his martyrdom, the first two volumes are a brilliant example of the application of historical materialism to a study of past history of the country.
In its depth of analysis and penetrating scientific approach it can be put on par with some of the writings by the renowned Marxist historian D.D.Kosambi.
After he became an executive member of our All India Revolutionary Students Union (AIRSU) in 1985, and editor of its national journal, he came into contact with Rajeshwari a young journalism graduate who assisted him at AIRSU. They lived together for 11 years, moving from one Naxalite hideout to another.
Then in 2001 Rajeswari, who was editing Vanita Vimukti, the women’s journal of the Naxalite movement, was shot dead by police. (Read about the encounter here)
Revolutionary Life :
He adopted the nom de guerre of 'Prem' after he joined the revolutionary maoist movement.Prem literally translated intoenglish means 'Love'.
Imbibed with the great ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and inspiration for the advancement of the revolutionary movement in Andhra Pradesh, his compassion for the poor and oppressed transformed him into a dedicated revolutionary. He completely integrated himself with the revolutionary movement since 1983.
Com.Saketh started as a student organizer and was one of the most committed Communist Revolutionaries of Karnataka. He played an active role in almost all struggles and built the party from scratch. To name a few he was at the forefront in exposing the expansionist designs of the Indian ruling classes in setting up of the Rare Earth Material Plant, at Ratnahalli near Mysore, where the enrichment of Uranium, which can be used for nuclear bombs, is produced.
He played a leading role in thwarting the joint venture of imperialist and comprodor ruling classes of Karnataka in setting up the "Japan Industrial Township" at Sattanur near Bangalore and the expansion of mining activities in the Western Ghats by the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL).
On the attempts by the Government to evict tribal people in Kudremukh National Park area, Prem said the State was keen on allowing multinationals and international drug houses to exploit the bio-diversity of the region and to promote parasitic tourism.
In 1987, he was elected to the State Committee in the first state conference of Karnataka, and in the fourth state conference in 2000 was elected as the state Secretary.
He was the delegate to the 9th All India Congress of the erstwhile CPI (ML)(Peoples War) and was elected to the CC as an alternate member.
In his two decades of revolutionary life, he never wavered even for a moment. He creatively applied the ideology and party's political line to the concrete conditions of Karnataka. The revolutionary movement in Karnataka is still weak. But this did not deter Com. Saketh from proceeding in his duty to build a guerrilla zone with the perspective of Base Area in the Malnad region. It is not an exaggeration to say that he was the "brain and spine" of the revolutionary movement in Malnad.
This heroic communist, who wielded The Pen & Gun with Equal Proficiency, will be remembered by the people of India for his two big contributions to the Indian revolution.
First, it was he who, together with others, pioneered the initiation of armed struggle under communist leadership in the Western Ghats of Karnataka.
Second, it was he, under the pen-name Saki, who has penned the history of Karnataka in his two volumes of "Making History" tracing the history of the Kannadiga nationality from the earliest of times to 1857.
One important fact that has not many people know about is that in all these years, Saket had not taken part in any 'action'- a killing or attack in Naxalite parlance. He had lived with armed men in the jungles and hideouts. But Saket worked with his pen, not a gun, though he died from it.
Betrayed. This time by a bajrang dal informant Shesha Gowda who informs the police about his whereabouts.
Acting on the information about 80 Karnataka policemen divided into four groups, led by Dy. SP Shivakumar reaches the place from all directions around 1.00am.
At 6.00 am when the squad emerges, they begin to fire on Comrade Saketh Rajan and his companions while they were trying to descend down a slope in the Atyadka Forests of Chikkamagalur district in Karnataka.
Comrade Shivalingu who was Saketh Rajan's bodyguard lays down his life defending his beloved leader.Comrade Saketh Rajan asks his other compatriots to flee while he holds the police at bay.
Injured in the gunbattle, he fights on valiantly and single handedly thwarts the police from advancing and in the process saves the lives of his other comrades.
Surrounded by heavily armed police,an injured Saketh Rajan fights on, when his AK- 47 rifle jams rendering him inactive and defenceless.The police overpower him and torture him for information and kill him by firing a shot into his head.
Apprehensive of the public sympathy that might arise for the slain naxalites, the police cremated the bodies,without handing them either to the relatives or friends.This despite the chief minister of the state making a public promise to hand over the body to his supporters !
Comrade Saketh Rajan was tortured before he was killed and was one of the main reasons why the body was never handed to hundreds of his supporters who had gathered to bid farewell to their beloved leader.
It is estimated that Comrade Saketh Rajan and Comrade Shivalingu were martyred anytime between 4.30 a.m and 7 a.m on 6th February 2005. For more details click here
February 10th, 2005
The Peoples Guerrilla Liberation Army of Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh avenged the death of the Maoist leaders of Karnataka by shooting dead Six Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP).
More than 200 naxalites, which included about 50 women, attacked a KSRP camp in a school at Venkatammanahalli in Pavagada taluk of Tumkur district late on Thursday night.
A bajrang dal goon and informer Sheshiah was shot dead on Tuesday May 17th 2005.A press release from the Communist Party of India (Maoists) claimed the responsibility for the
killing of Sheshaiah. Refuting the claims of the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Chikmagalur, B.K. Singha that, Sheshaiah was not a police informer, the release asserted that he was directly responsible for the encounter killing of Saketh Rajan and Shivalingu.
Despite cautioning, Sheshaiah refused to mend his ways and finally there was no other way for them but to eliminate Sheshaiah,the release stated.
Memorial erected for Comrade Prem
Naxalites commomerated the martyrdom of their leader Sakethrajan alias Prem on Monday .On February 6,2005 Sakethrajan, along with his associate Shivalingu had been martyred.
The Naxalites installed a memorial on the top of the rock from which police fired bullets. A cement brick is fixed on the top of the rock with cement.
A pre-cast CPI (Moist) symbol made of mud is fixed on the top of the brick, all of which is painted in red colour. A nearby rock bears the line
‘Prem Amar Rahe' (Comrade Prem shall remain Immortal).
Lot of pamphlets were strewn around the memorial.
April - September 2007
A split takes place in the CPI(Maoist) Karnataka unit and a majority of the frontal organizations and cadre form a new organisation initially called the Karnataka Maoist Swatantra Kendra but later renamed to the Revolutionary Communist Party of Karnataka.
2007 - 2008
Reports appearing in media indicate that hundreds of students have joined the revolutionary movement in Karnataka.
Naxal watch in Bangalore colleges
Naxals recruit educated youth to their fold
The CPI (Maoist) has suffered setbacks in the state and some of it's state committee members have been killed while others are languishing in jails.
The current status and activities of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Karnataka which split from the CPI (Maoist) is not known.
Dr. M.V. Vasu popularly known as Vasu Malali a Kannada author, historian, columnist and film director made a short film loosely based on Saketh Rajan titled "Lal Salaam". Watch it below :
A full length kannada movie called "Shastra" based on the life of Com Saketh Rajan was being directed by Dr Vasu Malali, but mid-way thorough the shoot of the film, she unexpectedly passed away from cancer. The film was canned, all that remains online are a few pictures of the actors and the film set.
Note : The status of the film is not know, please verify through your own sources whether it saw a commercial release.
Vidya Charan Shukla, 84, died in a hospital in Gurgaon on the 11th June 2013. He was injured in a Maoist ambush that took place on a convoy of Chhattisgarh Congress leaders on 25th May 2013 in Darba Ghati valley, Sukma about 345 km south of the state capital, Raipur.
Incidentally, this is the same Vidya Charan Shukla who was snubbed by Com Saketh Rajan at IIMC, Delhi when he was an education minister in Indira Gandhi's cabinet during the emergency.
Truth is stranger than Fiction.
Two Maoist leaders from Karnataka, Sirimane Nagaraj and Noor Zulfikar surrendered in Chikmagalur. These two were considered to be close to Com Saketh Rajan.
The 10th Death Anniversary of Com Saketh Rajan was commemorated by progressive organizations of Chikmagalur district. A video of the memorial built for him is available below :
A article by Com Raji, wife of Com Saketh Rajan has been uploaded on to the site. The article was published in 2003 in Peoplesmarch.
In Memoriam of Saketh Rajan - An article written in Kannada which was originally published in May 2013 has been uploaded to the link below.
Last updated on 1st April 2016.
Each blood cell of a martyr can give
birth to thousands of revolutionaries.
Never does the blood of martyrs flow in vain....
The cause in which they have fallen is sacred to us....
"No powerful social victory has been
obtained without a payment in advance
of one or several bloody defeats...
Neither to desert not to sink away
at the fatal hour....
The worst defeat,the only irremediable
defeat,is that inflicted not
by the enemy but by one's self."
- Romain Rolland, I will not rest
Let us pay our red tributes and homage to our beloved martyrs by advancing the struggle in the path shown by them.
to be continued....
All work licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License