Kursenga Motibai alias Radhakka, 40
Ex-Naxal back home after 25 years underground, 2 years in jail
Widely believed to be the first woman Maoist from Telangana region, Motibai was 12 when she left home — in Pippaldhari village of Adilabad — in 1988 to join the “movement”. She had attended a meeting by a group of Naxalites in her village and come away impressed “at their passion and zeal to work for the poor”, and their promise to distribute land from the zamindars.
Motibai, now ‘Radhakka’, rose to prominent ranks in the Maoist hierarchy, spending 25 years underground, before her arrest in 2013. After two years in jail, she was released on December 12, following acquittal in 28 of the 29 charges against her, including murder and firing at police. Trial in one case is on.
She returned at the age of 40 to find her parents dead, and her two younger brothers married with children of their own and living far away from their native village.
Still wary of police, she agrees to meet only 150 km away from Pippaldhari, on the other side of Adilabad district, post nightfall. The car has to be parked in the street, and the last stretch to her covered on foot. She waits inside a room, lit only by a zero bulb. The bulbs in the kitchen and the porch to the house have been taken out, to ensure few notice the occupants.
Radhakka has gone back to being Motibai now. Living in a “proper house” after all those years “when the forest was the four walls and sky the roof” is taking longer to adjust to.
Motibai gets by with the help of the following:
A Sony transistor pocket radio
“This is my most prized possession. It has been with me for many years and I listen to BBC Hindi service, mostly news, everyday. Now, of course, I can watch news on television but I still love my radio. It has been with me through thick and thin,” she says.
A pocket diary
“I write all my thoughts in it, make note of the day-to-day events, happenings in my life. I started writing in it when I was probably 18, and since then the pocket diary has been my constant companion. Whenever I find time, I note my thoughts and feelings, and write down briefly about important events in my life.”
A favourite song
She won’t reveal what that is. “It is inappropriate to talk about it now that I am no longer actively associated with the movement. It is a very inspiring song and I have hummed it all my life,” Motibai says.
“Several days after I was arrested in Khammam in 2013, I received a note that someone has come for ‘mulaqat’ in jail. When I saw the address mentioned on the note, I knew it was someone from my family… My two brothers were aged 10 and 8 when I left home. My heart was pounding when I went to the meeting room.”
Her younger brother who had come didn’t recognise her, nor could she place him. A guard stepped in to introduce the two. “We both broke down. There were no words spoken, just sweet tears and hugs.”
Both her brothers are married, with two children each. “Now I am among a big happy family with nieces and nephews and sisters-in-law. It is a week since my release and they have showered so much love and requested me so many times to stay with them and never even think of going back.”
The one thing left behind she misses most
Husband Pulluri Prasad Rao alias Chandranna, a member of the Maoist Central Committee. “The marriage was arranged by elder leaders in 1998. I was very happy with him.”
That’s another reason she is afraid of police, that they may detain or arrest her on some pretext to interrogate her about the whereabouts of her husband.
As for them getting back together, Motibai says, “I have not given much thought as to what will happen — him living there and I living here… But I am sure things will work out fine.”