In memory of comrade Pratap (Uday Kumar)

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In memory of comrade Pratap (Uday Kumar)

- Ajith | 31.10.2019 08:09:19pm

Meeting comrade Pratap (Uday Kumar) for the first time at the 1999 merger talks between MUC, CPI (ML) and the CPI (ML) Naxalbari, led by late comrade S.A. Rawoof, what impressed me most was his insatiable thirst for information about the Maoist movements all over the world. I could manage some Telugu and Pratap would bombard me with questions. My rendering of the answers in awkward and atrocious Telugu hardly bothered him. He would patiently hear me out. Most usually he would succeed in getting what I was trying to express. At times he would repeat it to confirm whether he got it right. And so started a joyful and productive comradely relation, only to be cut short brutally within just two years. He was killed at the young age of 27 on the 9th of October 2001, by the enemyʹs bullets.

Pratap had started off on his life as a communist revolutionary, inspired by martyr comrade Naidu of his home town. He became active in the youth organization led by CPI (ML) Red Flag at the local level. And then a horrific, murderous attack that finished off the state leadership and full timer cadres of that party literally yanked him to a state level leading role in 1995. As Pratap told me, ʹSaaru (comrade Rawoof) pilichaaru, nenu vellaanuʹ. It was as simple as that for him. It didnʹt strike him, then or later, that he was perhaps being summoned to a task as yet beyond his capacities. That was the demand of the revolutionary cause, of the party. He had to fulfill it. But he was not just leading. He was also practically rebuilding everything from ground zero under comrade Rawoofʹs guidance. Pratap would tell me about those days, his trials and tribulations, repeated arrests by the police and their beatings and how through all of this he became ever more firm in his resolve. Under his leadership the RYF waged many a militant struggle for hutment rights in the urban centres of Anantpur district. One could feel the warmth and regards the masses living in those areas had for him while going there in his company. Pratap got married to comrade Aruna, if I remember correctly, just a few months before his martyrdom. She was an activist of the RYF.

After the merger an SOC was formed in the then AP state and Pratap was elected its secretary. At COC meetings and otherwise too we would often meet up or travel together. As usual he would have a long list of queries and doubts to clear. Our conversations gradually helped me get to know him better and improve my Telugu. He wasnʹt very keen on theory. Rather his interest lay in the practice of armed struggle. Most of his questions were about the Peopleʹs Wars in Peru and Nepal, two prominent revolutionary wars of those days. The organisation in AP was undergoing a transition. A party structure was to be built up while continuing mass activities, as preparation for initiating armed struggle. This involved a lot of struggle against counter-tendencies. Pratap tried his best to carry out these tasks. Some of its results were seen in the peasant agitation combined with armed propaganda squad activities that was developed in the Rayadurgam area after his martyrdom. Yet the pull to start armed activities immediately was quite strong.

Soon a squad was formed under his leadership and it started its activities. As could be expected it was enthusiastically welcomed by the masses. But it was ill-equipped. Vital logistical support was only being put in place. Pratap had an opportunity to get some basic training. Yet, that by itself wasnʹt sufficient to face up to the increasing suppression of the state. Finally he was cornered by them, with the help of a betrayer. From what we came to know later he (along with comrades Nagendra and Anjaneyalu accompanying him) was surrounded by the police. After capturing Pratap they shot him in his arm and tortured him. But that did not deter him from protecting the partyʹs secrets. All three stood firm and died shouting revolutionary slogans.

Telengana, Andhra Pradesh and Pratapʹs home town Nelluru have innumerous martyrs. And each one of them has a tale of dedication to the people and the revolutionary cause, of consistent party commitment and courage in the face of the enemy, to tell us. Pratap is one among them. Yet he is also special, for me and all those who have worked with him. I can still recall his smiling face and the patient nodding of his head as I explained things to him, his enthusiasm on being chosen for training and the hatred and anger expressed when describing the crimes committed by the landlords of Rayalseema. Though I have never had the opportunity to work with comrades Anjaneyalu and Nagendra, I take this opportunity to pay homage to their revolutionary sacrifice along with that of comrade Pratap.

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