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Reflections of Circa 1969 డిసెంబర్ 13, 2009

Posted by Telangana Utsav in 1969, agitation, Andhra, Hyderabad, Identity, Mulki, Nalgonda, politics, Telangana, Warangal.
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Times of India Dec 13, 2009

Reflections of Circa 1969

The memories of 1969, that saw a massive separate Telangana movement, are varied, depending on the region of the person who witnessed them. But these eyewitnesses agree on one thing – violence and faith in politicians – never yield anything. The violence left those from Andhra shaken and those who put their faith in Marri Channa Reddy (for a separate Telangana) betrayed, finds Roli Srivastava

Hyderabad: At 16, Keith Trevor had taken the Telangana folk songs his mother sang at home for granted as much as his grandmother’s love for qawwali and shayari. But it wasn’t until 1969, when he was caught in a police firing on protesting students, that he started feeling for Telangana and all that it symbolised. Forty years hence, he vividly remembers the gunshot that hit a protesting student in front of him, the blood splattering on him, leaving him shocked, and his hands red. “It wasn’t a violent protest but the police firing was indiscriminate. The bullet could have hit me,’’ he says.

The incident turned Trevor, whose family history in Hyderabad is about 150 years old, into the staunch Telangana supporter that he is today. An Anglo-Indian, Trevor has travelled across the T region and has seen the same culture that he found in his home as a child. That the region was sidelined for so many years has him believe firmly that a separate state is the solution (though he doesn’t find the solution in the current scenario).

Like Keith, Ramakrishna Acharya, owner of Kadambi Book Stores (that was then located at Clock Tower), too witnessed the mass movement for a separate Telangana state in 1969. Unlike Keith, he did not turn into a Telangana sympathiser, even as he continued to describe himself as a true blue Telangana person. “Two students were shot dead in front of my shop,’’ the 83-year-old recalls. It wasn’t the bullets but the aggression in pro-Telangana voices that had left Acharya, a Kannadiga, perturbed. “Each time I raised my head when a customer walked in, I would say Jai Telangana,’’ he says, adding how he witnessed the longest curfews and shop closures during that time.

But unlike both Keith and Acharya, B V P Rao, a former bureaucrat, wasn’t an incidental witness to the 1969 movement. A high school student in a Warangal school, Rao was a young student leader and remembers feeling frustrated at Indira Gandhi’s adamant ‘no’ to the separate state demand, which had claimed close to 400 lives. “There was a news bulletin, Pranti (regional) Awaz on All India Radio in those days and people would wait to catch the latest developments,’’ he remembers, adding that the movement then saw 100 per cent cooperation of students across the T region.

If agitators were awaiting news on a separate state, those from Andhra region working in various parts of Telangana were keen to know about their safety. A Shastri (of Andhra origin), a retired manager and divisional accountant with the accountant general of AP, was then posted in Kodad (in Nalgonda district) and remembers a morning in 1969 when he saw a traffic jam and heard gunshots when he was on his way to buy a newspaper. “I had already been transferred to the roads and buildings department but I was waiting until the month end to move,’’ he says. However, that cold January morning changed his mind. “My assistants advised me to stay with them as their guests so that we were safe,’’ he recollects. However, he was too shaken to stay on any longer. He remembers packing his essential belongings and moving with his family to Nagarjunasagar dam side, where many families like his had moved.

“People were sweeping down houses at that time, moving from door to door in areas like Kodad and Miryalguda. It was a very unpleasant experience,’’ Shastri says, recollecting the moments of fear he spent at Kodad worrying over his family’s safety when he was at work.

The memories of 1969 are clearly varied. The violence left those from Andhra shaken and those who put their faith in Marri Channa Reddy (for a separate Telangana) betrayed. “He did not even pay the boy for the newspapers and periodicals he bought from my shop to deliver to him. I had always warned the boy not to give anything on credit to Channa Reddy,’’ Acharya of Kadambi Book Stores sums up.

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