Mumbai: On Maoist’s death anniversary, call for ‘struggle in streets’

Sridhar Srinivasan, a top urban Maoist operative, died of heart attack last year

Written by Chandan Haygunde | Mumbai | Published:September 4, 2016 12:52 am
Activists perform protest songs during the programme to remember Maoist Sridhar Srinivasan in Mumbai on Friday. Activists perform protest songs during the programme to remember Maoist Sridhar Srinivasan in Mumbai on Friday. Express Photo

A top urban Maoist operative and central committee (CC) member of the banned CPI-Maoist, Sridhar Srinivasan, who was also active in Pune, was remembered by his “friends” on the occasion of his first death anniversary at a function at the Bhupesh Gupta Bhavan in Prabhadevi, Mumbai, on Friday evening.

A former student of arts in Mumbai’s Elphinstone College, Sridhar died of heart attack on August 18, 2015. To remember him, a group named “Friends of Sridhar” held a function in Mumbai, in which N Venugopal, editor of A Telugu monthly journal, delivered a talk on “Significance of 50 years of Chinese cultural revolution, significance of cultural revolution to our times”.

Members of Sridhar’s family, his friends, activists and those who had worked with him were among the 80-odd people present for the function. After recalling his moments with Sridhar, Venugopal talked about “blending the political armed struggle with social and cultural revolution” and also about “annhiliation of caste”.

Narrating incidents of cultural revolution in China, he spoke about the need of the same in India. Venugopal called India as the most unequal society. Speaking of the Una incident, he stated three points for Indian cultural revolution – challenging hierarichal order, struggle on streets and not in Parliament and land for the toiler.

Artists of Republican Panther (RP) presented protest songs on the occasion. RP leader Sudhir Dhavale, who was arrested for his alleged Maoist links in January 2011 under the stringent UAPA Act and acquitted of all charges in May 2014 after 40 months in jail, was also present on stage.

Shouting slogans of “laal salaam,” activists released book “S Sridhar – Protrait of the revolutionary as a warrior- intellectual”, mainly carrying articles written about him by his family members and activists who knew and worked with him.

According to a CPI Maoist statement, Sridhar gave up his studies in 1978-79 to join “revolutionary” politics. He led student agitations in Mumbai under the banner of Vidharthi Pragati Sanghatana. Along with trade union leader Dutta Samant, he galvanised workers during the mill workers’ strike in early 80s. In 1990s, he moved to the Vidharbha region, where he organised coal mine workers in Chandrapur, Wani. He was state secretary of the CPI (Maoist) for two decades and was promoted to the CC in 2001, re-elected in 2007.

The Maharashtra ATS arrested Sridhar along with Vernon Gonsalves in Mumbai in 2007. Both were convicted under various sections of the UAPA, Explosives Substances Act and IPC.

The Maoist statement mentions that while in jail, he “educated and inspired” young inmates, interacted with various Islamic activists, wrote several letters and political notes. He was released in April 2013.

Police said Sridhar played a key role in indoctrinating youths like Arun Bhelke from the Deshbhkati Yuva Manch in Chandrapur to join CPI Maoist. Bhelke was arrested with his wife Kanchan Nanaware by the ATS in Pune in 2014.

According to ATS, Sridhar also guided Angela Sontakke alias Iskara, who was arrested in Pune with members of the city-based cultural front Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) in 2011, for alleged Maoist links.

According to KKM founder Amarnath Chandaliya’s statement to ATS, Dhawale introduced him to one Vijay in 2006 at Empress Garden in Pune, when Vijay talked about gathering intellectual support for armed movement in jungles.

Chandaliya stated that Vijay had introduced Chandaliya to Iskara in Pune, but got to know this person is Sridhar only after watching the television news of his arrest in August 2007.