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Telangana separate movement – Keshav Rao Jadhav డిసెంబర్ 13, 2009

Posted by Telangana Utsav in 1969, agitation, Andhra, Congress, Culture, Hyderabad, Identity, Mulki, regionalism, Six Point Formula, Telangana, universities, youth.
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Times of India Dec 13, 2009

‘My father was Hyderabadi, I call myself Mr Telangana’

No one calls him ‘Mr Telangana’ but Keshav Rao Jadhav is arguably the original ideologue of the movement for a separate Telangana state. In 1952, he led protests against the fact that 30,000 government jobs had been given to people from coastal Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The protests, he recalls, turned “bloody”. Today, this retired professor of Osmania University remains active in a movement he hardly dared dream might be successful. He talks to Mir Ayoob Ali Khan about the history of a separatist struggle no one ever thought viable. Excerpts from the interview

The state of Andhra Pradesh was formed in 1956. People in coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana speak the same language. So why did the movement for a separate Telangana start just 15 years later?
In December 1968, the students of Osmania University organized a rally to protest against discrimination in government jobs against the people of Telangana. Sudershan Singh and I were the teachers supporting these students. The police used brute force to break up the rally. In response to the police action, protests broke out in several towns, especially in Warangal. Anger simmered. On May 1, 1969, the students took out a procession from Charminar to Raj Bhavan. The procession, which started despite a ban, continued to grow. At Siddi Ambar Bazaar mosque, police shot dead a person looking out of a building. That was the start of the police firing. Several people were killed including a student leader. The police used .303 rifles to kill protesters.

When was the Telangana Praja Samithi (TPS) born? What role did it play in the movement?
After the December 1968 event, two major developments took place. One was the formation of the TPS and the other was the birth of the Joint Action Committee of the students. Madan Mohan, a lawyer, was chosen as the TPS president. The entire Telangana region was tense. The movement was decentralized. The neighbourhood committees would decide their own plans, which kept the government on its toes. The change in the TPS leadership came about on May 21, 1969, when Madan Mohan was replaced by M Chenna Reddy. The argument put forward was that after the agitation, leaders required to talk to a towering personality like Indira Gandhi, so the TPS too needed a strong leader. Chenna Reddy enjoyed that reputation, so he was made TPS president. Some of us believed that he would destroy the objectives of the TPS. So I resigned in protest along with another leader. Later, we formed Sampoorna TPS.

What were the highlights of the struggle? What role did the TPS play?
In 1971, nobody questioned the authority of Indira Gandhi in Congress. Even in a time like that, when Lok Sabha elections took place, TPS won 11 of the 13 seats in Telangana. That was obviously the result of the 370 lives lost in police firing. The assembly elections followed in 1972. By that time, Chenna Reddy had entered into a deal with Indira Gandhi and merged TPS with Congress. P V Narasimha Rao was brought in as CM. The merger of the TPS with Congress, without realizing its basic objectives, was seen as a betrayal. Frustrated and cheated by the politicians, many young educated people and students joined the Naxal movement. It was sad.

What happened after the 1969 debacle? What did you do?
I joined the Jayaprakash Narayan movement. I was nominated by JP to the Total Revolution Committee. When Emergency was imposed, I was arrested along with several other people in Hyderabad. The people had not forgotten the movement. Unfortunately, promises were not kept. People were unhappy. In 1989 the Telangana Liberation Students Organization (TLSO) was formed. We were advisors to the TLSO. Next year, Telangana Students Front was formed in Kakatiya University, Warangal. These organizations kept the Telangana flame alive. In 1996 a workers’ conference was organized in Bhongir, near Hyderabad. It was a major success. The government feared that the Telangana movement was being hijacked by the Naxalites. There were several fake encounter deaths. In 1997, a new organization, Telangana Aikya Vaidika, became active and held several meetings. By 2001, the movement was picking up again and that was when K Chandrasekhara Rao entered the scene and formed Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

Do you think Telangana will become reality some time soon?

It would be foolish on the part of the government to go back on its word. In the last two weeks, 31 people have committed suicide demanding a separate Telangana. I fear that if the government goes back on its promise, the movement will turn violent. It would be terrible. The whole of India would be affected by it.

Will you describe yourself as ‘Mr Telangana’?
Till about 1956, there was no separate, strong Telangana identity. Only after the merger of Telangana into coastal Andhra that identity became prominent. My father used to write his name as Shankar Rao Jadhav ‘Hyderabadi’. But now I can safely call myself ‘Mr Telangana.’



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