In the 17 and a half years that they were married, V C Jenny said, K Muralidharan and she never lived together at a stretch for more than 17 days. But, when the alleged top Maoist leader was arrested, she was among the first to rush to his side.
“Police were earlier a bit reluctant to allow me to meet him, as we are divorced. The inspector asked him if he wants to meet his divorced wife. Murali replied that legally we may be divorced but that doesn’t mean I am not his wife,” said Jenny, herself the state secretary of Revolutionary Women’s Organisation.
She added that Muralidharan told her he was not arrested from Moraya Hospital in Talegaon Dabhade near Pune, as the ATS has claimed, but while out on morning walk early May 8 by the Andhra Police.
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Muralidharan alias Thomas Joseph alias Skaria alias Gopi alias Raghavan alias Ajith (62) had been held along with alleged close aide Ismail Hamaza Chiragpilli alias Pravin alias James Mathew (29). On Friday, a CBI court remanded him in six days’ judicial custody.
Jenny and Ismail’s elder brother C P Rasheed came to Pune Wednesday to meet them, along with Ajithan C A, the joint convener of Porattam. Both Ajithan and Jenny have faced multiple arrests themselves for ‘damaging property’ etc.
Jenny claimed they were not informed about Muralidharan’s arrest. “We came to know about it from the local media.”
Demanding that as a political prisoner, Muralidharan be provided books, she added, “On the day he was arrested, he was questioned till late night. He is a heart patient. He is 62 years old. This is clear case of human rights violation. The court thankfully ruled the next day that he cannot be questioned after 7 pm.”
Rasheed, who is a member of the Human Rights Organisation in Kerala, claimed his brother had been beaten up. “When I asked him if he had been physically tortured, he said, ‘When you are a revolutionary, physical harm is not a big thing. I did not count the number of times I was beaten’,” said Rasheed.
Rasheed also questioned why he was allowed to meet Ismail only in the presence of two policemen from Kerala.
The ATS refused to comment on the claims of torture, while reiterating that the men had been held from a hospital.
Rasheed said Muralidharan was an intellectual and believed in the Maoist ideology but not in violence. “Murali was a secretary of the CPI(ML)Naxalbari. Only last year this organisation merged with the CPI (Maoist). Since last year there have been no attacks by this organisation that would call for the UAPA to be imposed. Secondly no cases have been filed against him in any police station in Kerala, where he is supposed to be involved in Maoist activities… Why is there so much secrecy?”
Talking about the life of Muralidharan, the son of a diplomat, Jenny said he studied in Europe till Class X. Later, he was enrolled in REC Kozhikode, where he was a classmate of P Rajan, who was taken from his college hostel and died in police custody.
Muralidharan left engineering during the Emergency and was arrested.
Muralidharan is believed to have played a crucial role in building the Maoist movement in the college, including initiating Rajan into it.
About how they got married, Jenny said Muralidharan was well known. “I had heard about him when in school. We were inclined towards working for people. We didn’t have a love marriage. The comrades arranged it. He was 12 years older but both of us agreed as fellow comrades. We were married for almost 17.5 years and must have lived together at a stretch for not more than 17 days. That’s how seriously we took our work. I lived a life of a widow without the death of my husband.”
However, she has kept their son away from this revolutionary life. “He completed electronics engineering from an REC. He is 25 and working in a software firm. He is used to living without his parents. He may come to visit Murali at the next hearing but nothing is certain,” Jenny said.