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Solidarity, Suffering and ‘Divine Violence’: Fictions of the Naxalite Insurgency

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After the killing of the high-ranked police officer K.S. Vyas in Hyderabad in January 1993, the People’s War squad member Mohammed Nayeemuddin alias Nayeem was offered a deal by the Andhra Pradesh police department, allegedly under the orders of the then Home Minister A. Madhava Reddy: to buy his freedom he was to organize the murders of top Maoist leaders with the help of a criminal gang run by his brothers. Even before his release, Nayeem’s gang would mastermind a spate of killings under police protection, but the most shocking of them was the brutal murder of a Maoist sympathizer and a revolutionary singer called Belli Lalitha in 1999, whose body was cut into 17 pieces and thrown into wells and lakes around the Bhonagir district (Sridhar 2012). Buoyed by the ruthlessness of Nayeem’s gang, during the 1990s the state of Andhra Pradesh would go on to fund and sponsor a number of anti-Maoist groups with names like Fear Vikas, Green Tigers, Narsa Cobras and Nallamalla Nallatrachu, among others, which would inspire the Salwa Judum (‘Purification Hunt’)—a private army of anti-Maoists—in Chhattisgarh a decade later. When the Maoists finally captured the Salwa Judum’s founder, Mahendra Karma, a local legislator, in October 2013 in an ambush near the town of Dharba, they ‘fired 30 to 40 bullets’ into his body and ‘smashed his head with the butt of their guns after killing him’ (Singh 2013, para. 5; italics added).

“This publication is supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: MA 7119/1-1.”


  • Police Encounter
  • Splinter Group
  • Subjective Violence
  • Home Minister
  • Terrorist Violence

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  1. 1.

    See Neel Mukherjee’s novel The Lives of Others (2014) for a more situated historical account of the urban response to the Naxalite movement in 1960s Calcutta.

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I would like to thank Ashok Kumbamu for discussing Belli Lalitha’s case and for verifying a number of historical facts related to the Naxalite movement.

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Malreddy, P.K. (2016). Solidarity, Suffering and ‘Divine Violence’: Fictions of the Naxalite Insurgency. In: Tickell, A. (eds) South-Asian Fiction in English. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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