K G Satyamurthy, 84 years old, a Dalit Naxalite leader, a literary icon, and one of the founders of People’s War Group (PWG) passed away on Tuesday. He died of illness at Kandulapadu of G Kondur mandal in Krishna district.
Satyamurthy started his career as an English teacher at Fatima School in Warangal, where the legendary Kondapalli Seetharamiah was teaching Hindi. They quickly became friends. Kondapalli shared his disillusionment with the mainstream Marxist parties with his new friend.
Along with Kondapalli, he founded the People’s War Group to translate their ideas into action in 1980. He visited villages, organised squads and wrote poetry under the pseudonym Shiv Sagar.
Satyamurthy was known better as Shiv Sagar or Siva Sagar, the pen name by which he wrote some of his most enduring revolutionary poetry.
The Virasam leader Varavara Rao later published all of Shiv Sagar’s poetry in the magazine he headed and also published all his books. SM steadily grew in the party. At one point there was a Rs 25,000 reward on his head. He was arrested in 1974 by the police.
Satyamurthy became acutely aware of his caste background and how it impacted even within the revolutionary party. “I am a Mala, an untouchable. Whenever I went for a bath, someone would leave something valuable in the bathing area to see if I stole it. They thought it was a caste habit and I guess they were testing me,” says SM. He did not react, trusting that the revolutionary culture would eliminate it in time.
However, it was not to be. He later differed with the PWG leadership and decided to bring together Ambedkar’s philosophy and Marxism. He ran a few magazines like Edureetha and established Bahujan Party.
He focused all his energy in his last years talking about the need to tackle the caste factor in Indian society before any revolution could change the power equations in our society.