This relates to the National Interest article,‘ The bleeding heartless’, by Shekhar Gupta (IE, June 1). In the article, it is mentioned that Padma, the wife of leading Maoist Ramakrishna, managed an orphanage run by the NGO Aman Vedika, with which I am associated. The facts of the matter are as follows.
In several cities, my colleagues and I are helping run 45 residential homes for the education and care of around 4,000 homeless street girls and boys. There are about 20 such homes for street boys and girls in Hyderabad. For running these homes, as house mothers and home managers, it is our policy to give preference to single women, women survivors of domestic violence, and homeless and destitute women, so that the children’s home also provides them a place of safety and healing. Under the name of Sirisha, a woman came to my colleagues in Hyderabad in the year 2008,saying she was estranged from her husband and only son, and was in severe depression, and that she be given the chance to live among the children so it would help her heal.
She requested, initially, for the chance to live in the home and volunteer her services. In time, when a position in the same home fell vacant, she was appointed as one of the home managers because she performed her duties of child care well. No one had the faintest idea about her true identity. After more than two years with us, she applied for 10 days of leave for the first time. A few days later, we heard from the newspapers that she was Padma, second wife of a Maoist leader, and she was arrested by the police in Orissa.
On the larger question of “Maoist sympathies”, I have absolutely none. I have consistently written and spoken about my unambiguous and resolute opposition to all forms of violence, including Maoist violence. I have strongly and consistently disagreed with those, among them my liberal friends, who in any way romanticise or even indirectly rationalise their resort to violence, and those who suggest that their violence is justified because of the structural violence of poverty, exploitation and state violence. I feel that there is no such thing as altruistic violence. Violence, even when deployed in the name of the oppressed, ultimately brutalises all, and the oppressed suffer the most. The only legitimate instruments to fight injustice, in my opinion, are non-violence and democracy.