Remembering the Un-Sung Heroes of Telangana -  Reminiscing the Safeguards Movement of 1968 and Separate Telangana Movement of 1969
Remembering the Un-Sung Heroes of Telangana - Reminiscing the Safeguards Movement of 1968 and Separate Telangana Movement of 1969

 We rarely dwell or look in to the past when we are trying to go forward but sometimes it is important that we look back to remember those people whose sacrifices and efforts over generations have led to the current day we live in. In; India and around the world, lot of great things have been achieved over the past century that raised human dignity and values. Around the world these include advancements in science, eradication of diseases, improvements in literacy, upliftment of human values, abolition of slavery and formation of UN. 

In India, especially, the things of greatest impact have been done with constitutional guarantees and rights in independent India after the fall of colonialism upon achievement of Indian Independence. From Indian context, apart from advancements in science and technology, major changes happened and many achievements were accomplished. The social changes such as elimination of sati, abolition of untouchability, equal rights for women and abomination of caste oppression were the greatest of the achievements. Each of these achievements have only been to better human values and human rights to provide justice, liberty and equal rights to all. 

In case of our state, Telangana, the youngest and newest state in India born in 2014 as the 29th state in India, we are very proud to say that the biggest of the achievements post-independence was the achievement of Telangana Statehood itself with. For the sake of the Telangana Statehood, there were two separate agitations in two different eras led by the people for the sake of separate statehood for Telangana. These movements were to create an identity for its people and region they belong to so that their problems can be genuinely cared for by the leadership and their representatives. Telangana's backwardness and its people's solemn niceness has been taken advantage for over six decades by Andhra politicians and capitalist exploiters. Of these two eras, one era was around 1969 when they started the fire and raised the curtain on many issues and regional disparities its people were struggling.  

The second era started in 1995 with a meeting held in Bhuvanagiri called “Bhuvanagiri Sabha” (Meeting held by Praja Swamika Telangana) and then many other organizations started similar conventions and meetings. However, the second era really started in 2001 when the current chief minister of Telangana K. Chandrasekhar Rao at that time formed TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samiti) party that reignited the fire after 30 years of dormancy and lit up the fire as new as it can be and took the last leg of the final stretch that lasted for 14 years. This movement was also spearheaded by Prof. Kodandaram (Prof. in Osmania University) under an umbrella organization called JAC (Joint Action Committee) supported by all parties and all organizations. This last stretch was supported by Employees, Students, Farmers, Pensioners and peoples from all walks of life. For Telangana people, this was a struggle for Identity and it was a struggle for righting the historic wrongdoings. People were enlightened, motivated and had the courage to say enough is enough the same way the will of the weak person is determined enough when going against the strong to say enough is enough.  

The regional disparities in development, well-being, education and you name it shows that Telangana was given a step child treatment and the weaker is always taken advantage of. This time they cannot be clouded just like in 1969 when agreements were made to show they will be ok. One such agreement from the past was called Gentleman’s Agreement which was supposed to provide constitutional safeguards. Today when we look back this was the weakest of the agreements and utterly flopped and was not foolproof at all and its failure itself makes a case that it was never written with the intention of making it foolproof. The violations of it over years many times itself shows that the greed can take over everything and anything. In most cases, the answer from the oppressor to oppressed person or least advantaged person is always same which is “Survival of the fittest". Whereas this mantra proves that people rights have no place in the society we live in. Now, as we look back into the past we must not forget that the first responders to this injustice were the unsung heroes of the safeguard’s movement of 1968 and those that continued to demand for the separate Telangana movement in1969. What we must not forget now is how these first responders selflessly have put this issue in forefront for the future generations at that point in time. 

Around the world, a lot of peoples’ movements as well as freedom struggles from colonialism as well as oppressive regimes started with students playing a key role in these agitations and protests and the same students are the ones who sacrificed their lives for a better future. In the past and present, the student’s role is commendable and need a salute at many levels.  In case of Telangana, the students of universities Osmania University and Kakatiya University students played a very commendable role. In the recent Telangana movement and the past, they even bear the brunt of police lathi and some have been booked with cases that have damaged their careers in many ways and their future unless the cases were lifted on them on sympathetic grounds as we achieved our Telangana already. I want to raise my toast and salute to those students of 1969 movement who lost a lot more who were resilient and strong when it came to fighting for their rights. They have never backed off or cared for any risks while pursuing the dream for a separate Telangana with their selfless acts. 

All this for the future of the future generations and the current generation who were having hard time leading a decent life with day to day struggles. These students bore the brunt by losing years of school which they can never get back, more so the 369 plus of their fellow students who lost their lives. We don’t talk much of them and their shattered families and I only wish they are identified and their families given justice after all this years. I wish they would mark a memorial with the names of each person who died for the sake of Telangana and provide the justice their families are longing for which is to be recognized for their sacrifices. I hope their families are compensated too for their loss. We definitely should remember and pay respects for each one of them by paying respects to them on the Telangana State Formation Day ( June 2nd) of each year.

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Martin Luther King, Jr."

In any movement or struggle of people there are always unsung heroes. They can only be remembered and given proper respect by remembering the ideals for which they fought for. The same goes with the unsung heroes of Telangana and its 60-year struggle there were many unsung heroes especially those who sacrificed a lot. There are some who sacrificed their lives in the police shootout and some who went on to do suicides and some who could not make ends meet due to the neglect and depriving opportunities for making a living. Often the victors celebrate, boast and rumor the greatness of their victory but never tell the effort of the sacrifices of the many who made this victory possible. This in fact is the shame of our society in the current day.  It is unfair but true that history is always written by those who did not live during that time. Most times the story teller makes mends and loses the originality of the story. With respect to Telangana, often people come to conclusion today we always wanted the separate Telangana state but that was not the case. We started with asking for safeguards and that was the original demand and which eventually turned into asking for a separate state. 

The famous quotes during that time were:

"Nau Zillon Ka Nara Hai .... Telangana Hamara Hai" (One voice from the nine districts that Telangana is ours…)and the Rangareddy district came later as 10th district. 

"Lati Goli Kayinge ......Telangana Layinge...." (We will face the batons and the bullets but will achieve Telangana) 

Rather than waiting for a historian to tell me this true story, I wanted to dig deep into the history of the Telangana movement. Who better for me to ask other than my father Puli Sarangapani who was very active in the 1969 Movement. He was the student leader and Adhoc committee chairman in 1969.  My father often mentioned how the movement of 1969 was very emotional and very militant type movement.  As I write this article, I am hoping to unravel something by end of this article that will give a deeper insight.

Occasionally, when I ask people if they knew how the Telangana Movement started or why we call JayaShankar sir as the father of Telangana or what were the original demands by Telangana people. The answer may vary but I never get the right answer. While the talking points in the recent movement with the help of TV and social media have been discussed extensively it still amazes me how the 1969 movement is still considered feverish. 

In an argument of discussion or in an appeal for something like statehood we need to be better informed on why we are making a case for Separate Telangana which in the current day is a piece of cake as TV channels provide a whole morning to put people from both sides of aisle to discuss and discuss. But to my original question, where did it all start? often, the answer never comes back on what were the beginnings of this humble journey of Telangana movement which led to the now youngest state of India called Telangana. To learn the story, I want to take you back to the beginning of the journey. I happen to be those one of those luckiest people who learned this first hand from my father Puli Sarangapani who was just in college when all this started and I want to present you the firsthand account of the story. 

My question to my father was:

“What started the1969 Telangana movement? Could you tell me where the seeds of a separate statehood for Telangana were initially planted?”.

To my above question, I have got an elaborate answer which I will present it in the rest of my article. Apparently, one year before the 1969 in 1968, during October or November time frame, my dad and his friends were chatting about different current topics in the Madina café, Warangal which was at that time a nice gathering spot for youth in Warangal. During this time, they heard about a hunger strike being done by a person named Ravindranath in Khammam near the Railway Station. Also, that he was on an indefinite fast and his prime demand was to implement Telangana safeguards. One other demandwas his insistence on implementing Gentleman’s agreement.

This hunger strike by Rabindranath has already been happening for the past 25 days and the news is spreading about this silent protest. This is when some of the student leaders around Warangal thought they will go visit Khammam on the passenger train as a day trip to show their solidarity and be back by the evening. My dad and his friends from Warangal went to Khammam to show solidarity and came back. This instance made the students really moved and they thought they need to show their support and that’s when they thought of starting something that will show their support to the protest. This is what made way for their own relay hunger strike in Warangal in support of Ravindranath.

Once they were back from the visit to Khammam, they were equally motivated as well as enraged on our inability to do more and then they formed a coalition of the colleges to join the protest. The student leaders and students of the colleges who came together were CKM College, Polytechnic College and ITI in Warangal. They joined hands and started a protest with a 48-hour relay hunger strike. My dad Puli Sarangapani tells me he was very proud to say that he was the first student leader to sit in the relay hunger strike. What started as a 48-hour hunger protest turned in a 10-day affair with the increased presence and interest from more students. What really came as a surprise was a support from Lorry Owners Association to them in support of their strike and in support of the Telangana Safeguards. This historic protest was right in front of the polytechnic college near MGM hospital where it still stands today. 100's of lorries joined their protest and they took them in procession on top of lorries. They were crowd surfed with garlands to be taken to the top of the lorries and then a grand parade of the city as if they were the celebrities.

In those days, hunger strike camps were common form of protest. The students used to participate in the relay hunger strike for 48 hours. Students were so emotional and used to put "Rakta Tilak" (Blood Tilaks) in the fore head of students who are on the sitting in the hunger strike camp. Students in Warangal used to meet every day at Madina cafe and used to plan the program for the next day. 

Along the same lines, the students of the adjacent city Hanamkonda used to sit in the Kohinoor café and plan for the future course of action.  Also, during this time of agitation to express their resentment and protest, my dad and his friends also erected a hunger strike tent in front of the house of the then MLA of Warangal  Dr.T.S. Murthy who originally hailed from Andhra region. Because of this activity, this matter was reported to Intezargunz police station in Warangal. The inspector of police station at that Mr. Sadathulla Khan (who was known as “Aggibarrata” meaning ferocious) has taken my dad and his friend Somarathi Satyanarayana to the police station and have been seriously warned and instructed not to be rude with the MLA Dr. T.S. Murthy.

While the health of the student leader Ravindranath in Khammam started deteriorating, the movement has ignited with the fuel and spread like a wild fire where most schools and colleges were boycotted daily for days thereafter. Under the leadership of the students from all three colleges (CKM, ITI, POLYTECHNIC)in Warangal they erected a tent in front of the Polytechnic college, Warangal whereas the students of Hanamkonda erected a tent in front of the Old Municipal Office, Hanamkonda (in front of Ashoka Hotel, Hanamkonda)  and then more colleges joined the protest at this point which included Medical College, REC, Islamia College, Sanskrit College. Each school in Warangal, Hanamkonda and Kazipet boycotted the classes and joined the townhall meetings where they decided they must fight for separate Telangana and not safeguards alone. While this was going in Warangal equally the conflict and ignition for separate statehood was also being discussed in Osmania University and at state level by some NGO organizations. 

Now that we know that the ground zero for Telangana movement is Ravindranth in Khammam but among the first followers of this agitation were the student leaders of Warangal as claimed proudly by my dad. This seems to be also claimed by Osmania University organizations too. While the TNGO general secretary at that time was, a person named Jagan Mohan Rao for AP but hailed from Warangal, the student leaders in Warangal presented their view which was a unified and concrete resolution for a fight for Separate Telangana and just not safeguards. This was to be presented at State level meetings by Jagan Mohan Rao. He was carrying the voice of Warangal to state level meetings being held in the state capital. KR Amos was also there at these state level meetings and this demand was discussed and solidified and resolution was passed to solidify this demand. 

During this time my father was studying his bachelor’s degree at CKM college which was a premier institute at that time. Some of the prominent leaders and the colleges participated were given in a table at the end of this article.

This above story covers the beginnings of the Telangana movement. While for every movement including Indian Independence, there were collective revolts from various parts of the country so was for the Telangana movement in its first phase the dissent came from many regions in Telangana and then started the fight for the separate Telangana movement with a solidified demand. Warangal played a key role to this demand and as we dig more we will find more. Remember, those were the times of no internet, no social media and no TV. In Warangal, there were these two historic cafes that played major role and one was Madina Cafe in Warangal and other was Kohinoor Cafe in Hanamkonda. 

They apparently used to plan movement activities by first listening to the Urdu news radio program for evening news called  “Ellake Kabre” at  5:50 p.m and take the follow up action items. Based on what the news said, they felt the temper and planned the next day plan of action. At this same time, from Warangal and Hanamkonda they formed a Students Action Committee for Warangal and a student leader from Arts College whose name is Tuppani Sidhulu (Arts College Students Union President at that time) was made the leader of this committee.

Now the student leaders realized that they need to make unified demands list for what they lack and what they need at that time. One of the demands was to ask for a University in Warangal. The demand started in year 1969 and Kakatiya University came to existence in 1976. Their slogans at that time were for University, Water, Employment, the lost 100 Crore Surplus budget that Telangana had before merging with the AP. In the recent Telangana movement, at least half of the press covered Telangana movement in positive light and social media was not available for affirming the cause. 

Back in the 1968 and 1969 movements, 100% of the press was not in favor of the students and their agitation. The media was totally controlled by the Andhra people and the student agitation barely got any coverage in positive light. Students risked everything and anything to show their support by stopping buses, boycotting classes and in this movement, they had to be careful otherwise their careers and life is at risk. Some students who refrained from participating in this agitation were sent bangles, sarees and vernom (pasupu/turmeric) by the women’s college students apparently for those bystanders to come out and join this agitation in open.

A selfless struggle for one’s identity is Telangana Struggle and it spanned over many generations.1969 student leaders are proud to say they were the first torch bearers who carried the torch for the next generation to pick it up. They are the proud 1968, 1969 warriors of Telangana Movement. The first martyr of Telangana movement was a student named Shankar who hailed from Sadavashivapet, Medak District and died on June 24, 1969. Before someone shatters the history and forget the sacrifices of the 369 martyrs who were killed in police firing for the statehood of Telangana, I want to make this humble effort to bring this story to fore front.All I can say is that as you dig more you will learn more from the history. You can learn, adapt and grow from this history. In India’s Independence history, sepoy revolt of 1857 is never forgotten as it was the first revolt for independent India. Same goes with Telangana Statehood struggle and movement, the1968, 1969 struggle for Safeguards and Separate Telangana respectively are not to be forgotten. Long Live Telangana!!! Viva Telangana!!!

Many students actively participated from Warangal and Hanamkonda during this Telangana movement. Here is the list of some of the prominent student leaders:

Colleges and Student Leaders of 1969 Telangana Movement from Warangal and Hanamkonda

Arts and Science College, Subedari, Warangal

Chanda Kanthiah Memorial College (CKM College), Warangal

Polytechnic College, 
Warangal

T. Siddulu

Puli Sarangapani

A. Madan Mohan

Surrender Reddy

Kuchana Satyam

M. Pullaiah

B. Muthilingam

T. Rameshwar

Maddi Narayana

Pramod

A. Mohan

Vidyasagar

 

G. Rajendra Prasad

Narsi Reddy

 

M. Prakash

Gattaiah

 

 

Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Warangal

Kakatiya Medical College (KMC), Warangal

Evening College, 
Warangal

Somarathi Satyanarayana

Raghotham Reddy

Varada Chary

Chander

Muralidhar Reddy

Sheshaiah

Saraiah G

Kolluri Chiranjeevi

Johnson

Sudarshan Kadali

Rajeshwar Rao

G. Dayanand

Prabhakar Vanchanagiri

 

 

 

 

Regional Engineering College (REC), Warangal (NIT)

Post Graduate(PG) Center, 
Warangal

Pingle College for Women, 
Warangal

Raja Reddy

Indra Sena Reddy

Gopamma

Purushotham

Murali Manohar

 

 

Agaiah Chary

 

 

High School Student Leaders of 1969 Movement from Warangal and Hanamkonda

Durga Das, Baswaraj Saraiah, Dayasagar Dandu, Nageshwar Rao, Manohar Madipeally, Sudershan, Upendar, Sudershan, Shakunthala, Damayanthi, Suguna, Amrutha, Sudershan Singh

By- Avinash Puli


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