a History of the Telangana Movement
Keshav Rao . Jadav
A dying feudalism is only a part of the problem. After all,
feudalism has been a national problem. But in Telangana, it
received hammer blows at the hands of the Socialist and
Communist struggles of the forties. It received a fillip at
the hands of Andhra rulers in the fifties and
sixties who pushed the Hyderabad Tenancy Act under the carpet. But
now it is on its last legs slowly getting converted into
elitist professions and an incipient capitalism. Caste too
is a part of the problem, though the Arya Samaj Movement of
the thirties and forties tried to resolve it in its own
manner. The weakness of the movement was that it was largely
an urban movement, failing to effectively penetrate the
countryside. Communalism too is a part of the problem,
albeit a small part, being basically an urban phenomenon
bound up with history and race memory. The basic problem of
the Deccan, of which
Telangana is a part, was and is total denial of
participation to local people in the affairs of the state.
It was not always so. Tribal kingdoms and the Kakatiyas
Empire were, to the extent possible then, participatory
systems, based on the concept of the welfare of people.
The attack on the participatory system came during Bahmani
rule which was basically a military and imperial system.
Such a system which depended on foreign mercenaries for its
survival had to be exploitative, cruel and anti-local. It
depended on foreign recruits even though local soldiers were
available. It had to because its aim was not the welfare of
people but a luxurious style of life for the foreign ruling
class. Locals, both Muslims and Hindus, revolted against
this, resulting first in the massacre of foreigners,
Iranians and Turks, followed by decimation of local soldiers
and subjugation of the countryside.
The valiant Yadava
queen of Golkonda fought against the Bahamanis with a small
force against overwhelming odds and died a martyr. The
revolt of the locals in Bidar and the Golkonda battle can be
described as the first stirrings for self-rule in the
Deccan. Most Qutub Shahis, on the other hand, tried to
reconcile their political interests with the well-being of
people. The use of the Telangana language as a vehicle both
in cultural and administrative matters brought about a sense
of participation in the local population. The martyrdom of
Akkanna and Madanna at the hands of traitors, the resistance
of Abdul Razzak Laari and the arrest and detention of Abul
Hasan Tanasha, the last Qutub Shahi king, by Aurangazeb,
reversed the process. The system relapsed into imperialism
and the militant mentality and people into sullen silence.
The Asafjahis were
aliens and their support base was mainly the north Indian
gentry. They brought thousands of north-Indians to man
the administration. Though Mahbub Ali Pasha, the Sixth Nizam,
was a folk king, the process continued till it was
challenged during the reign of the Seventh Nizam, by local
Muslims who launched what is described as the Mulki (local)
movement was successful and the Nizam created Mulki rules to
protect local interests. During the same period Gonds of
Adilabad revolted against oppressive rule. The Nizam invited
Hammendorf, a reputed German anthropologist, to report on
the state of affairs in tribal areas and suggest reforms.
His proposals were accepted and martyrdom of Bhim did not go
Though it was laudatory that Urdu, an Indian language, was
used as the language of administration and education, other
language like Telugu, Marathi and Kannada also should have
been used. It did not happen. The Arya Samajis too taught
Hindi in their night schools, avoiding local languages.
Local people, both Hindus and Muslims, were ridiculed for
not knowing proper Urdu which of course meant Urdu of
Lucknow and Delhi and not the Dakhani language.
The Dakhani language,
a beautiful product of interaction between Iranian settlers
and the people of the Deccan speaking Telugu, Marathi and
Kannada was totally ignored.
Events before the police Action and after were traumatic.
Five thousand socialists, communists and common people died
fighting Nizam`s feudal system and the Razakars, a
paramilitary organisation of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul
Muslameen. Policemen and Razakars also suffered heavy
casualties. Then came the Police Action. While there was not
much violence in Telangana after the Police Action,
Hyderabad-Karnataka and Marathwada presented a different
From 1948 to 1956 Telangana passed through several
phases-Military rule, Velodis rule and the induction of a
popular government after elections in 1952. with Burugul
Ramakrishna Rao as Chief Minister.
The Hyderabad Tenancy Act, one of the most progressive acts in the
history of modern India, was passed and partly implemented.
The period between
1952 to 1956 can be described as the happiest period for the
people of Telangana for a long time. The Hyderabad State
could have continued its happy existence but for the
decision to form linguistic states. Nehru and Lohia, in
fact, advocated its continuance. But, as on many occasions
in the past the people of Telangana were betrayed by a
section of its leadership. Ostensibly on caste grounds.
Brahmins belonging to the Congress raised the bogey of Reddy
rule. Thus was formed Andhra Pradesh, much against the
recommendations of the Fazal Ali Commission and advice of
Nehru and Lohia.
The Andhra leadership still smarting at the
ill-treatment meted out to them by the Tamil ruling class in
the old Madras Presidency, transferred the injury to the
people of Telangana. But it was not merely a collective
psychological problem. What was important was the lust for
power and money of the feudal classes of the Andhra area,
Kammas, Reddys and Brahmins. While Brahminic influence was
eliminated by kammas, Reddys their own lust for land, power
and money increased. They agreed lusted for the river waters
of Telangana. Kammas, for a long time had been lusting for
power. Their anti-Brahminism had nothing to do with the
elimination of the caste system. They only wanted to replace
Brahminic rule with their own dispensation. But Reddys of
Rayalaseema, in alliance with the frustrated feudal elements
of Telangana, checkmated them. Thus, Reddys of Rayalaseema
continued to hold on to their lands and despotic power
inspite of land reforms. They subjected Telangana feudal to
every type of humiliation imaginable. Yet a character from
this class betrayed the great peoples` movement for
Telangana of 1968-1972.
As early as 1952, people of Hyderabad had revolted against
alien rule. Six students laid down their lives in the
anti-non-Mulki agitation. This agitation too was betrayed as
also the 1956 agitation against the merger of Telangana with
the Andhra State. Such is the character of Telangana
leadership. Let the people beware!
The Naxalite movement
itself was a product of the betrayal of the 1968-1972
movement as also tardy
implementation of land reforms by the Coastal area-Rayalaseema
feudal coalition. It is absurd to say that there is no
feudalism in Andhra area. It is in fact along with north
Bihar, the most despotic feudal system of India. Like North
Bihar, it is a totally castist system too. can anybody
imagine anything like Karamchedu and Chundur happening in
Telangana? While both the feudal system and the caste system
in Telangana have become extremely weak, they have been
strengthened in the Andhra area with the influence of film
capital and misuse of Telangana resources for agricultural
development. A marauding capitalism has been superimposed on
a casteist and feudal society. The ill-gotten film wealth
and colonial exploitation of Telangana water and power
resources have created an insane society. This can be seen
in the casteisation and feudalisation of the communist
The Congress and Telugu
Desam of course are the official representatives of this
insanity. An attempt is being made
to paper over contradictions in the Andhra area by throwing
some crumbs to other castes and turning them into a
comprador class. All the contradictions of the Andhra area
are sought to be resolved by involving oppressed sections
into a wholesale exploitation of Telangana link what was
done by the ruling classes of West Pakistan in the then East
Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
Wholesale exploitation of Telangana resources for the benefit of the
Andhra area is accompanied by attacks on the way of life of
Telangana people. In fact, the insistence on the
formation of Andhra Pradesh was itself with the intention of
taking control of Telangana resources. A separate Hyderabad
State or Telangana would have prevented such a take-over.
But people can be totally enslaved only when their language
and culture are destroyed. The Andhra burden is a
continuation of the notion of white man’s burden. Those
humiliated by the British and the Tamil ruling class have
not learnt any lessons. They imagine that they can lord it
over Telangana indefinitely. The British also thought so.
The sun however has set on the British empire.
Telangana language is no Telugu, Telangana people are lazy,
and they are also fools and criminals at the same time: Such
are the officially sanctioned Andhra attitudes. While the
entire country lauds Hyderabad and its way of life the
Andhra rulers are never tired of saying that Telangana
people are uncultured. Thus, the suicidal attempt to
subjugate Telangana permanently continues. Even the recent
outburst of kapu anger after the planned killing of Mohan
Ranga has been forgotten. It is one of ironies of history
that oppressors do not seem to learn anything from the
searing experience of history.
What is described as the Telangana movement of 1969 actually
commenced in December 1968 On 6th December1968, students
took out a procession from Vivek Vardhini College in
Hyderabad. The procession was attacked both by rowdies
recruited by so-called integrationists and the police. In
the melee that ensued along, several students were injured.
Thus commenced the movement. Soon in Khammam and Warangal
demonstrations were organised which later spread to
Nizamabad and other parts of Telangana. Integrationists
decided to organise a public meeting on 6th April 1969, at
Buru Mahadev Hall, Secunderabad. Students gave a call for
boycott of the meeting.
The meeting to be addressed by a few Congressmen and
Communists, was finally held but it was a very small
gathering in a small hall. But thousands hand gathered
outside the hall denouncing the holding of the meeting.
Policemen opened fire on a totally peaceful crowd killing
several young men. The martyrdom of young men was the spark
that lit the fire all over Telangana.
A little before this, at a meeting of intellectuals, it was decided to
from an organisation called Tellangana Praja Samithi. Pratap
Kishore and Raghuvee Rao were the prime movers behind this
move. A.Madan, an advocate, was elected as President.
Madan Mohan had no experience in politics and was chosen
mainly because most others were employees in some
organisation or the other. Under the banner of Telangana
Praja Samithi, the movement spread to all corners of
Telangana. A remarkable feature of this movement was its
totally decentralised character. Praja Samithi and Students`
Action Committees were formed everywhere without any
direction from above. Whenever funds were required
collections were made at the local level. By March 1969, the
organisation was in shape to take on the Andhra Government.
After the police firing of 6th April the agitation began
building up. Finally, the Praja Samithi decided to take out
a rally to Raj Bhavan on 1st May 1969 which can be described
as the golden day of the movement. The Government banned the
rally. For about a kilometer on all sides of Charminar,
movement of people was banned. Yet a night before hundreds
had left their localities and taken shelter in Ghansi Bazar,
Alijah Kotla, Kali kaman and Pathargatti areas around
Charminar. Most of them were from the old city. The writer
himself could reach Charminar after persuading armed
policemen that he was going to offer pooja at the Charminar
“Gudi’ (temple). For that purpose he carried coconut, arti
karpoor and agarbattis. Of course, the pooja was performed,
the only pooja he preformed in his life. Parikrama too was
performed around Charminar and not merely around ‘Gudi’.
By that time
had arrived. He had become so weak that he could be taken to
the Chabutra with the greatest difficulty. He was almost
blinded and deaf. Yet when he spoken his voice was firm,
not betraying old age. By the time he started speaking
hundreds had gathered at the site defying thousands of armed
policemen. He spoke very briefly.
The last sentence of
his speech will ever remain etched in my memory-”Ghulami Ki
Zindagi se mouth acchi hai” (death is preferable to a life
of slavery). Even before he could be escorted out of the
place teargas cylinders were bursting all around.
The grand old man of Telangana had spoken and people spoken
with their blood. More than a hundred teargas shells were
fired at the procession. But there was no stopping the
procession and by the time it reached Afzalgunj it had
swelled to a few thousand. The police started firing at
Siddiambar Bazar area which continued all along the
procession route, till it reached Raj Bhavan. But even then
firing continued intermittently and
President of Secunderabad College Union (Evening), fell to a
bullet near Raj Bhavan. It was said later that a section
of Telangana policemen had refused to open fire in the Raj
Bhavan area. Yet in spite of all the tear-gassing and firing
the procession continued to swell and by the time it reached
Raj Bhavan there were more then fifty thousand people. It
was an amazing spectacle.
Generally crowds disperse as soon as policemen open fire.
But here was a procession which was swelling with every
round of firing. By
March itself Congressmen had started infiltrating the
movement. Later they proved to be Trojan horses. They
started propagating the pernicious thesis that the movement
needed a `leader of stature` whatever it might mean. And
they started canvassing for Channa Reddy, suggesting the
resignation of Madan Mohan from Presidentship.
Alternatively, they threatened to form a parallel samiti. At
this critical juncture, courage and common sense were
needed. White Madan Mohan proved to be totally spineless,
B.Satyanarayana Reddy and Badri Vishaal Pittie supported
Channa Reddy`s plans. Others followed him.
On 21st May 1969, six
months after the agitation was launched Channa Reddy who had
nothing to do with the movement, became the President of
Telangana Praja Samiti. The Trojan horse had entered the
organisation. He started dismantling the organisation at
every level, disbanding student, trade union, NGOs and
women`s Committees. Centralised collection of funds started.
Corruption seeped in. Yet the movement continued since it
was still alive at the grassroots level. A call had been
sent out to boycott examinations to be held from 1st June
onwards. The NGOs` strike was continuing. The entire
administration had been paralysed.
There was heavy police firing on 1st and 2nd June. Aruna a high school student, who was picketing an examination centre
near Chandarghat was killed on 1st June, 1969. Several
more student fell to police bullets all over Telangana.
It was then that
Indira Gandhi, heading a weak minority Government, paid a
flying midnight visit to Hyderabad to pacify people, perhaps
also to purchase some leaders. In the meantime a
parallel Samiti was formed with M. Sridhar Reddy as Chairman
who soon left for America.
announced the suspension of the movement even though Nagam
Krishna Rao and Madan Mohan had been elected to the Assembly
as people’s candidates. With the approach of 1971
midterm poll, the TPS decided to contest the election and
won, inspite of Channa Reddy`s leadership. Channa Reddy in a
volte-face announced the merger of TPS with the Congress.
Students stormed the TPS office but Channa Reddy had
escaped. The merger
was a stunning blow to the people of Telangana and their
aspirations. More than 370 had fallen to police
bullets., hundreds more had been crippled. The people of
Telangana were overcome with a sense of despair and
hopelessness. They had made immense sacrifices even the
movement was with drawn. What else were they expected to do
The Socialist Party, the Republican party and a few
unattached intellectuals revived the agitation under the
banner of TPS and gave a call for Telangana Bandh on 23rd
November 1972, which was total. A young man was killed in
police firing near Charminar. In the meantime, an agitation
had been started for a separate Andhra State. Congressmen
soon took over the reins of that movement also which was
originally led by Tenneti Vishwanathan and Gouthu Lachanna.
In fact. a joint committee to fight for two separate states
of Andhra and Telangana was formed of which the writer was a
member. Using the Channa Reddy model Congressmen took over the Jai Andhra
movement, sabotaged it and demanded cancellation of all
Telangana safeguards. Channa Reddy and his Congress
followers collaborated with them and all the safeguards were
taken away to be replaced later by the six Point Formula.
In the meantime 1972 Assembly elections had arrived and
Sampurna Telangana Praja Samiti whose President was
B.Satyanarayana Reddy and the writer, the Secretary, decided
to contest 49 seats.
Three candidates of STPS were victorious and a large number
lost with narrow margins. All this without any
resources. But the decline had started and by the end of
1972 the agitation petered out. It was the longest, most
spontaneous, non-party, toughest, most-intense and the
greatest movement of free India. It was a totally peaceful
movement. Yet those who are never tired of calling
themselves followers of Gandhi unleashed the most terrible
violence on the movement. Telangana had been turned into a
National Police Museum. Malabar Special Police, Maharashtra
Armed Police, Uttar Pradesh Armed Constabulary, Jammu
Kashmir Militia, Karnataka Armed Police, Tamil Nadu Armed
Police, Bihar Armed Police companies were posted all over
Telangana. The Gorkha Marhatta regiments of the army were
also deployed. In fact officers of the Gorkha Regiment were
amazed at the ability of Telangana people to improvise new
forms of agitation. Gorkhas came face to face with a 8 feet
high barricade in Hussaini Alam area and could not believe
that it was erected by civilians !
Yet most horrible atrocities were inflicted on the citizens.
Lakhs went to jail. Most school and college buildings in
Telangana had been turned into prisons. With Telangana jails
full, detainees were sent to Rajahmundry and Vizag jails.
White no Andhra was touched in Telangana two Telangana
citizens were burnt alive in the Andhra area. We were
witnessing the unfolding of regional fascism of the worst
I cannot forget a few incidents. In the 1952 agitation the
shirt of a slain student had been turned into a flag-the red
flag of anger, martyrdom and relentless battle was
fluttering in the air and policemen were firing at the
procession on the Abids Chowrasta. On women’s satyagraha in
1969 day I saw hundreds of women, from the age of 15 to 75
marching along the Puranapul-Hussaini Alam road towards
Charminar and being lathicharged by policemen, On another
day about twenty young men singing, an Urdu song “Telangana,
Telangana Telangana ki Jai” were marching towards a police
platoon posted near Charminar to stop processions. There are
thousand of such stories.
leaderless agitation head emerged morally victorious even
though politically betrayed. But the movement
continued, undaunted by betrayals. Twice every year large
numbers gathered at the Martyrs Memorials in Secunderabad
and Hyderabad and paid tributes to martyrs. In January, 1986
some activists decided to form `Telangana Information
Trust`. Soon “Ma Telangana” was launched, which was closed
down after seven months due to financial troubles. More then
a thousand people had gathered at its inaugural function at
Basant Talkies, Kachiguda,. Around 1991 two organisations,
Telangana Student Front and Telangana Liberation Students
Organisation were launched in Osmania Universty. In 1992 the
Kakatiya Unit of Telangana Students Front was formed. A
national seminar on small state was held in Landscape
Gardens and Tagore Auditorium in August 1993 .
Surendera Mohan inaugurated the conference and Justice Madhav Reddy
addressed the gathering. George Fernandes addressed the
concluding session. Delegates from various parts of the
country including Vilas Bhongade from Vidarbha and Laxman
Dasti from Hyderabad-Karnatak attended the conference. Both
TSF and TLSO organised demonstrations on and outside
O.U.campus and forced Osmania University to sanction 15 per
cent supernumerary seats to Telangana students.
Stirrings of a new
movement could be clearly seen in Warangal on 1st November
1996 at the Telangana Praja Samiti convention attended
by more than five thousand delegates from all parts of
Telangana. The Hyderabad convention was held on 1st December
1996 and after that a series of conferences, group and
public meetings have been held at Godavarikhani, Karimnagar,
Siddipet,Jangaon, Aler, Ghanpur, Nizamabad, Khammam,
Nalgonda, the old city of Hyderabad and Bhongir. The Bhongir
conference and the public meeting proved to be a turning
point. The Bhongir conference was addressed among other by
Kaloji Narayan Rao, Dr. Jayashankar, Prof.P.L. Vishweshwer
Rao, Dr.Srinivasulu, Sidda Reddy, Dr.Simhadri and many
others who had come from all parts of Telangana. The public
meeting presided over by shri Mallayya Gupta, a respected
Communist leader and addressed by Gaddar among others was a
huge gathering, much beyond the expectations of organisers.
Gaddar called upon the people to launch a totally peaceful
agitation for achievement of a separate state while the
writer called for a new type of leadership from grassroots
upwards, emphasizing total control over leaders by masses.
opposing the Telangana movement of 1969 were the Communist
party, Jan Sangh and Majlis-Ittehadual-Muslimeen. While
the first two represented upper-caste, upper-class section
of the Andhra area, the Majlis represented upper-caste,
upper-class, and non-Daccani section.
However both Hindus
and Muslims supported the movement and dealt a crushing blow
to all the above mentioned parties in the 1971 Lok Sabha
elections. The role of Daccani and Urdu in the Telangana
movement cannot be ignored. While Telugisation is a
historical and necessary process it would be a folly to
ignore Urdu and Daccani. Such an act would be a repetition
of Nizam`s mistake in ignoring Telugu, Marathi, Hindi and
Kannada. Hindi and Urdu are based on Dahhani and Khadi Boli.
They are a part of our heritage. Who can forget the part
played by Maqdoom Mohiuddin, Ibrahim Jalles, Sulaiman Areeb,
Raja Dube, Jeelani Bano, Om Prakash Nirmal and many others
who have enriched the politics and culture of Telangana
through their. writings. The Andhra elite in their
linguistic chauvinism of regarding Guntur Telugu as the only
Telugu have tried to rodeo roughshod over Telangana Telugu
and Daccani as also Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, and Kannada,
Similarly tribal language were sought to be destroyed. New
Telangana will nurture all these languages which are a part
of our cultural and literary heritage.
Telangana now stands
on the verge of another movement for liberation
and for participatory politics. What the people of Telangana
do now and how anti-telanganites react will decide the future
course of Indian politics. The demand for small states
is a demand for responsible and participatory politics. The
Telangana movement of 1969 was the first Indian struggle for
economic and cultural autonomy. The movement going on now
has added a demand for social emancipation. This is as it
should be. The whole world is moving towards liberation from
racism, sexism and casteism.
Telangana has stood in the
vanguard of such movements for the last fifty years and
awaits Correct Leadership. What then shall we do now? The
job is not to liberate Telangana from a age-old colonial system but
also to liberate Andhra Pradesh from the selfishness and greed
( Of privileged few )
which is increasing in leaps and bounds. The liberation of Andhra
Pradesh, however, can only commence with the formation of a
separate State of Telangana. How do we visualise Telangana?
Because people are asking us for whom Telangana is sought to
be formed? What is the point in fighting for Telangana if
nothing is to change? One thing that will change for sure is
that we will have control over our resources, jobs and
education. But, that has to be only the beginning. Other
policies have to be visualized and projected.