Comrade Riyaz: Blood on the hands of the State


Karthik Navayan & Karunakar

(This is the translation of a Telugu article written on 3rd July, 2005)




Riyaz, who had come for peace talks*, was killed by the Government. He was detained around 10 pm in the night on 30th June, 2005, in Barkatpura area of Hyderabad, and was shot dead around 3 am in the early hours of 1st July, 2005, within 5 hours of his arrest, in a mango orchard near Badankal village of Karimnagar district. There is nothing more unjust than this. Riyaz was a member of the Central Committee of the CPI-ML. He had spent 14 years in revolutionary politics. The passing away of Riyaz-- an exemplary communist worker, leader, young revolutionary intellectual, and strategist— is an irreparable loss not only for CPI-ML (Janashakti) but for the entire revolutionary movement. For the activists in the revolutionary movements, for its well-wishers and followers, Riyaz's death comes as a great shock, a bolt of lightning. The killing of a peace envoy was unheard of even during the days of monarchies and itihasas but has been accomplished under democratic rule. It is shameful that this kind of rule has to be endured.

Riyaz belonged to a family of fishermen in Tamil Nadu. He came from a caste that had had to bear its share of 'graded inequality' and oppression doled out by the caste system. He was only the second individual in the whole community to have completed higher education (Engineering). Riyaz, despite being born in a community excluded from education and knowledge for ages, acquired higher education and grew up to become a fearless, lion-hearted revolutionary who sacrificed his life for the cause of changing society.

Chenchengari Venkateshwarlu became Riyaz only seven months ago. When the Andhra Pradesh government decided to hold talks with Naxals, Riyaz who was until then looking after the legal affairs of the party was assigned the role of emissary by the leadership. The government turned the peace talks into talks of unrest and deliberately scuttled them. It killed Riyaz who had come as an ambassador of peace. This reveals the true nature of the state.


Riyaz, seated on extreme right, with other CPI-ML (Janashakti) leaders

I got to know Riyaz because I had worked with the revolutionary students' organization PDSU Vijrumbhana. This gave me the opportunity to know him from up close, staying together with him. We always found his simplicity and childlike naiveté very surprising. But what we found more amazing was the scientific precision and clarity with which he analyzed problems. Which problems need to be dealt with, what kind of programmes should be taken up to resolve them? His strategies on these questions were always based on accurate reasoning. His solutions seemed acceptable to us under all conditions.

Even now, there are many times when we miss Riyaz's wise counsel in resolving even our personal problems. No one could beat Riyaz in spending money frugally. Any expenditure would be made only after thinking carefully about it for several times, and every expense would be meticulously recorded. Riyaz's pecuniary conservatism seemed to resemble the ways of old style communists but he wasn't a rigid, inflexible personality. He used only one pair of footwear during the whole year he stayed with us. No matter how many times they got damaged he would get them mended and use them again. He used to say 'The Party's money is the people's money and therefore it should be used as sparingly as possible on personal expenses' and also put that belief into practice. He used to smoke around 4-5 cigarettes a day. He had no favourite brands, anything from king sized cigarettes to the smaller charminars would do. He used to argue that fruits and juices are not the poor people's food. He believed that those who worked among the people should not eat, speak or dress differently from them. Activists' conduct should bring them closer to the poor, as one of their own, he used to say. Riyaz was a truly selfless person. The part of his life he lived for himself and his family was very little. During the year that he lived with us, for every week he stayed at home, he would be traveling to different places for another. He would tell us very interestingly about the places he visited and the conditions there without referring to the party related affairs. We are proud that we lived together with a young, revolutionary intellectual like Riyaz for at least an year. With his death, it seems like we have lost a member of our family.

Riyaz, who used to be shy and unassuming in his personal affairs, was very forthright and lucid when expressing his views on social and political issues. It was his forthrightness that had caused him some trouble with a few leaders in his own party, and because of them he had to leave the party for a short while and go home. But later, recognizing his importance to the party, he was sent to Hyderabad. That was when we met him.

Whenever he had some time to kill, we would spot him reading or writing something. He used to read English magazines like Frontline, Force and The Hindu regularly. Once, when we had sold an old stack of newspapers to the raddiwallah, he went after him and got them back. He had good proficiency in English. He used to help out the B.Ed students who lived next to us with problems they faced in the subject. As far as we knew, Riyaz spent more money on books than on any other needs. Every Sunday, he used to go around all the second hand book stores in Kothi, Sultan Bazar and Abids and buy the books he wanted. He would specially buy books on weapons design, training and war strategies, no matter how expensive. But Riyaz did not know how to haggle over prices of books, so he would take along one of us!

We knew him only as Venkateshwarlu, so we used to call him 'Venkanna'. Only when he was chosen as a representative of the party at the peace talks that we came to know that he was Riyaz. Whenever he found time, he used to lead us into discussions on various issues. Caste in the revolutionary parties was one of the main subjects of discussion.

Riyaz was a unique personality; we would come across people of his integrity and character very rarely in life. The days we spent with Riyaz are not mere memories now. The bitter truth that we have lost a great friend haunts us often and causes great pain in the heart.


Epilogue: After killing him, the DGP of Andhra Pradesh, Swaranjit Sen, gave a press statement saying that 'there are 26 murder cases pending against Riyaz'. That was a wonderful joke, because even if we had counted the number of mosquitoes that Riyaz had killed, that would not have equaled 26.


*The first round of peace talks between the Andhra Pradesh government and various Naxal groups began in October 2004, but they did not go beyond the first round.


Karthik Navayan is a human rights activist.


[Translated from Telugu by Kuffir]


Other Related Articles

Bheel Intellectual Forum: Heartbeat of Dalit Activism in Pakistan
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
  Sufi Ghulam Hussain On 26th of March, the Bheel Intellectual Forum (BIF) organized a Scheduled Caste Jagarta Rally, the first ever rally that saw the participation of all major Dalit... Read More...
जे.एन.यू. में ब्राह्मणवाद की खेती: जितेन्द्र सुना
Monday, 27 March 2017
  जितेन्द्र सुना मुथुकृष्ण्न की संस्थानिक हत्या के विरोध में 16 मार्च,... Read More...
Collector Murali's 'controversial' speech on Brahmanism
Monday, 27 March 2017
  Round Table India Akunuri Murali, District Collector of Bhupalpally in Telangana, echoed the views of a major section of the Bahujans when he critiqued the dietary practices imposed by... Read More...
Dr. Khatumal Jeewan on the Rise of Meghwars in local Politics of lower Sindh
Saturday, 25 March 2017
  Dr Khatumal Jeewan Dr Khatumal Jeewan (Khatu) is the most celebrated Dalit leader of Pakistan. He has been senator, four times MNA (Member of National Assembly)  and two times MPA (Member... Read More...
Slaves of Manu
Friday, 24 March 2017
  Nitin Dhaktode Some peopleBorn in the socially marginalised community,Forget their rootsSpend their life practising slaveryThe bootlickers of the oppressor casteOppressors from Right, Left,... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Index of Articles in Features
Friday, 24 March 2017
  2016 ~ Uniform Civil Code & Ashrafiya obsession with Triple Talaq by Ayaz Ahmad ~ Maratha Kranti (Muk) Morcha: When will Maratha women cross the threshold? by Sandhya Gawali ~... Read More...
Where are the Women Professors from the SC/ST/OBC categories?
Wednesday, 26 October 2016
  Prachi Patil Speech made at the protest organised by United OBC Forum and BAPSA on 9th June, 2016 against the discriminatory Anti-OBC Reservation circular of UGC/MHRD which denies OBC... Read More...
Caste Attacks on Buddhists in Nashik
Wednesday, 12 October 2016
  Amar Khade  On Sunday, 9th October 2016, rumour spread across social media like Whatsapp that a 14 year old Dalit boy molested a minor girl in Talegaon (Nashik district, Maharashtra). It... Read More...
फिल्म पार्च्ड और स्त्रीवाद: क्या सब औरतों की कहानी एक है?
Sunday, 16 October 2016
   आशा सिंह कई दिनों से देख रही हूँ कि हमारे दलित-बहुजन साथी लीना यादव की... Read More...
Parched and Feminism: Are All Women's Stories the Same?
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
  Asha Singh In the past few days, I have noticed that a few of my Dalit-Bahujan friends are engaged in an uncritical celebration of Leena Yadav's feature film titled 'Parched'. I would like to... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more