17 January 2011. A World to Win News Service. The Indian Supreme Court has ruled that the Union (central) government and the state government of Andhra Pradesh must respond to two petitions demanding a judicial inquiry into the killings of Communist Party of India (Maoist) spokesperson Comrade Azad (Cherukuri Rajkumar) and journalist Hemchandra Pandey.
Azad and Pandey were captured and murdered on the night of July 1 2010, in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh, close to Maharashtra by Indian security forces who subsequently announced that the two were killed in an armed "encounter", a claim often made when revolutionaries are illegally and secretly executed.
The Supreme Court was responding to a petition from Pandey's widow, Bineeta Pandey, and Swami Agnivesh, who had been involved in an exchange of letters with Azad, a leading member of the CPI(M), concerning the possibility of talks between the party and the government. India's Home (Interior) Minister had previously turned down a request from Agnivesh for an inquiry into the killing, arguing that such a move would be up to the Andhra Pradesh authorities.
On 14 January 2010 two Supreme Court justices gave the central and state governments six weeks to answer the questions raised in the two petitions, which cite post-mortem reports that both men were shot at very close range and fact-finding carried out by the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations.
In explaining the ruling, one of the two judges on the bench, Aftab Alam, said; "Our Republic cannot bear the stain to kill its own children. We will issue notice. They [the governments] will have to respond. We hope there will be good and convincing answers to the questions [raised in the petitions]."
In a "Letter to comrades and friends of the Indian revolution" dated 30 November, the CPI(M) wrote, "losing comrade Azad is one of the biggest blows party and Indian revolution had suffered. Azad was one of the topmost leaders in our party. He has been leading the Indian revolution since a long time. In our country, People's War is intensifying with each passing day. With the aid and support of imperialists, particularly the American imperialists, the Indian reactionary ruling classes are trying to suppress the revolutionary movement and are carrying on ruthless atrocities in an unprecedented severe manner. In this war between the people and the ruling classes, the enemy had particularly schemed to murder our leaders and concentrated on comrades like Azad who are leading the revolution. It is as part of that conspiracy that comrade Azad was caught and killed in the most brutal and cowardly manner. Comrade Azad was leading the entire urban movement on behalf of our Central Committee and was also looking after political propaganda, party periodicals, party education and other such crucial responsibilities. He was a most experienced and popular mass leader. He maintained close relations with many comrades at various levels and with the revolutionary masses. In the midst of severe repression, he worked selflessly and unflinchingly in spite of the many risks involved. It is under such circumstances that the enemy came to know about his whereabouts somewhere and could catch him by laying in wait."
On 27 December 2010 the CPI(M) has issued a major statement calling for a united protest movement against the killing of Maoist leaders, the imprisonment of alleged Maoists and other activists and the general repressive climate the government is unleashing against a broad range of political opponents and critics in the context of the central government's Operation Green Hunt, a military offensive against the jungle areas where the Maoist-led revolution is strong among the tribal peoples.
These two statements and other CPI(M) documents can be found at www.bannedthought.net .