Telangana Movement History of the Telangana movement

History of the Telangana movement

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. The 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 in vain.
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 picture.

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 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, Telangana Reddys of Rayalaseema continued to hold on to their lands and despotic power inspite of land reforms. They subjected Telangana feudals 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 parties. 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 K.V.Ranga Reddy 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 Umrender Rao, 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, healding 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. Channa Reddy 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 kind.

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. A 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. A mong parties 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 from aliens and for participatory politics. What the people of Telangana do now and how colonialists 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 colonial system but also to liberate Andhras from their selfishness and greed which is increasing in leaps and bounds. The liberation of Andhras, 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.

1969 Telangana Movement
Telangana separate movement of 1969 was not only a mass movement in Telangana, but also in the neighbouring states. There was support for the movement from Telanganites of Bombay and neighbouring districts in Maharashtra. Separate Telangana movement of 1969 had inspired Telugu community all over the country. 1969 movement years are marked by great activism and people participation, dialogue on socio-cultural and political economy issues of post separate Telangana state. Bombay Telangana Samithi was formed on September 4, 1969. There was also a Telugu monthly published during that time by Ram Das who later contested for Legislative Assembly. Separate state movement of 1969 stirred the hopes and drew activists from neighbouring states as well. Five pictures of Bombay Telangana Samithi, presented here, reflect the peak days of Telangana movement 1969. We are trying to collect and disseminate many such materials that speak of the great 1969 separate telangana movement Hope these pictures delight friends engaged in collection of materials about 1969 Telangana movement Mamidi Ramakantha Rao, sub editor of Andhra Bhoomi and Editor of Telugugadda weekly was active in the Bombay Telangana Samithi and in building support base for it among the Telugu people in

Maharashtra. Other speakers include probably Sri Ram Das and other activists from various parts of
Maharashtra. Any information about who the other speakers are is highly appreciated

We shall share a few more source materials and archives of the journals and pictures and other publications that emerged out of the 1969 Telangana Movement. Discovery Telangana is also engaged in this effort of collecting and disseminating source materials pertaining to Separate Telangana Movement of 1969. Any information and assistance in this regard from friends is also highly appreciated In the years after the formation of Andhra Pradesh state, people of Telangana expressed dissatisfaction over how the agreements and guarantees were implemented. Discontent with the 1956 Gentleman’s agreement intensified in January 1969, when the guarantees that had been agreed on were supposed to lapse. Student agitation for the continuation of the agreement began at Osmania University in Hyderabad and spread to other parts of the region. Government employees and opposition members of the state legislative assembly swiftly threatened “direct action” in support of the students.students.

Although the Congress faced some dissension within its ranks, its leadership stood against additional linguistic states. As a result, defectors from the Congress, led by M. Chenna Reddy, founded the Telangana People’s Association. In Parliament elections held in May 1971, Telangana Praja Samithi won 10 out 14 Parliament seats in Telangana. Despite electoral successes, however, some of the new party leaders gave up their agitation in September 1971 after realizing that Prime Minister not inclined to towards Telangana, much to the chagrin of separatists, rejoined the safer political haven of the Congress ranks.

During this period, the Government promised to correct what critics saw as violation to Gentleman’s agreement in jobs, budget allocations, educational facilities. Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was strongly against the division of the state but on her recommendation, P. V. Narasimha Rao became first Chief minister of Andhra Pradesh from Telangana on September 30, 1971. In the year 1972, all candidates belonging to STPS under the leadership of M Sridhar Reddy contested the assembly elections, however, only Mr Thakkalapalli Purushothama Rao got elected from Wardhannapet constituency of Warangal District and rest were defeated. In 1969, Mr Purushotham Rao unveiled Telangana map in the state assembly.Purushotham Rao was for outright separation during the 1969 movement and he supported the student views.

At the end of 1972, when the Supreme Court upheld the Mulki rules, the very next day of the Judgement, Jai Andhra movement was started in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions protesting the protections mentioned in the Gentleman’s agreement.[28] P. V. Narasimha Rao had to resign as Chief minister of Andhra Pradesh on January 10, 1973. President’s rule was declared in the state. Finally, a political settlement was arrived at under the aegis of the Central Government. A Six-Point Formula was agreed upon by the leaders of the two regions to prevent any recurrence of such agitations in future. The `Six-Point Formula’ included (1) the abolition of Mulki rules and the Telangana Regional Committee (protections mentioned in the Gentleman’s agreement) and (2) the establishment of a Central University at Hyderabad to augment educational facilities. (3) In regards to jobs, state divided into six zones, within the framework of three regions, namely, Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema, and Telangana (Zone V, and Zone VI) with Hyderabad under Zone VI. Each zone should prefer local candidates for state government jobs. However according to GOM, the regions were rezoned with Zone I,II,III Coastal Andhra, Zone IV Rayalaseema, Zone V,VI Telangana. 


After Nehru’s death, Smt. Indira Gandhi, in her father’s footsteps, became a staunch champion of socialism. Mrs. Gandhi’s socialist economics were pushing the country deeper and deeper into poverty. Politicians were clueless about why the economy was floundering despite their best intentions. Nizam Telangana economy suffered along with the rest of the country. Poverty in the region created an ideal environment to incite people against each other.

Ever since the formation of the Andhra Pradesh state, there have been occasional rumblings of dissatisfaction by the disgruntled Nizam Telangana leaders who failed in their demand for a separate state in 1956. The Nizam Telangana leaders had two main grievances: the first one related to employment in government services, and the second one involved using the balance of funds from the Telangana region.  

According to the gentle men’s agreement, jobs in the Telangana region were reserved for locals. Ironically, Nizam Telangana leaders violated this agreement in certain instances, and often for good reasons. For example, when teachers were not available in the Nizam Telangana region, they were hired from other regions. The local Telangana leaders running the zilla parishads made these hiring decisions. There were violations in other government departments, and these violations happened in all ministries, including under the very eyes of the Nizam Telangana ministers

According to the then Deputy Chief Minister J. V. Narasinga Rao, hailing from Nizam Telangana, there were 107,000 non-gazetted employees in the Nizam Telangana region in 1969. Out of these, about 4.5% were nonmulkis 1,600 were teachers, 1,800 were nurses, 400 were stenographers, and the remaining few came from other departments.

The second major issue was the balance of funds. In Circar districts, alcohol was banned; as a result, there was no excise revenue. That was not the case in Nizam Telangana districts, which generated significant excise revenue on alcohol sales. Consequently, the government received more revenues from the Nizam Telangana region than from the rest of the state. The gentle men’s agreement stipulated that the excess revenue should be invested in the Nizam Telangana region for economic stimulation. The government failed to fulfill this clause effectively. All party Telangana legislatures determined the balance of funds to be 33 crores. Undoubtedly, a significant sum in those days, but it was accrued over 15 years. The state government agreed to resolve the issue of balance of funds. Based on all party legislatures’ demands, the government planned to spend 33 crores in the early part of the fourth five-year plan.

With that background, let us now delve into the bloody fight for the separate Telangana state that was fought for less than 5,000 non-mulki jobs. In other words, the issue affected a minuscule 0.033% of the approximately 1.5 crore people living in the Nizam Telangana region.

There were two major people movements between 1968 and 1973— the first one was Jai Telangana, and Jai Andhra followed it. With these movements, Telugu politicians reached the lowest depths of opportunism and demagoguery. This must be one of the darkest chapters of our modern Telugu history.

There were three main players in this tragic story. Dr. Marri Chenna Reddy, a prominent leader at the time of state formation. In 1956, he was an integrationist who supported Vishalandhra. However, when he realized that Nehru was against an integrated state, Chenna Reddy quickly changed colors and became a separatist and a proponent of a Telangana state. Chenna Reddy later advocated a bilingual state of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. His changing position on the separate state issue is ample evidence of his opportunism and lack of conviction. After the formation of the state of Andhra Pradesh, Dr. Chenna Reddy went on to become the central minister of steel in the Congress government.

In 1968, the High Court nullified Chenna Reddy’s election, and the Supreme Court upheld the decision. He was found guilty of using religion as a platform for his election campaigning. As a result, Chenna Reddy was forced out of power, and he had to stay out of public office for six years. Chenna Reddy made the Telangana movement his fulltime job, puppeteering the student movement for a separate state from behind the scenes. Once the movement caught on people’s imagination, he burst onto the separatist movement scene as its leader.

The second important player was the Deputy Chief Minister B. V. Subba Reddy, a staunch integrationist who later went on to lead the bloody Jai Andhra movement. As deputy chief minister, he, along with Chief Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao, took out full-page newspaper advertisements promoting peace and urging people to stay calm during the Telangana movement. His position changed when the Jai Andhra movement took off. He became the fiery leader representing Kosta, and he was blamed for large-scale violence occurring in the region.

The last player in the tragic saga of separate state movement was Smt. Indira Gandhi. Unlike Chenna Reddy and Subba Reddy, Smt. Gandhi is the unintentional hero of our story. She ( though not out of trying to the real cause, but…) single-handedly saved Telugus from disintegrating. She understood the legacy of Telugu glory, though her ulterior motive was to preserve national integrity. If it were not for her iron will, our state and Telugu people would have been torn apart into pieces long ago. When it came to toughness, Indira Gandhi was unlike her father Nehru. She displayed an uncanny ability to understand the separatist leaders’ psychology. She adamantly refused to give in, even when leaders threatened her with violence in the region and made good on their words. She did not flinch when the Nizam Telangana and Kosta regions erupted like a volcano. In the end, she walked away with getting what she wanted and did not give up an inch of her territory. ( Telugus believing in the unity of our race owe her a great deal. If there had been any other leader at the helm during that time, today, the so-called integrated state of Andhra Pradesh would be confined to history books. )

Let us now walk through the separate state movements occurring from 1968–1973.

The gentlemen’s agreement coming into effect at the time of state formation had now been in effect for 15 years and was ending. As a result, the term of the Telangana Regional Council, overseeing development in the region, was also ending. The regional council created to oversee development in Nizam Telangana, failed in ensuring that excess revenue from Telangana would be spent locally. During the 15 years of its existence, the regional council, whose members were ministers, MPs, and MLAs from Nizam Telangana, never once objected to the government misspending.

The Telangana legislative members of all parties woke up from their slumber in February 1968 and demanded that the balance of funds from Telangana be invested in the region. These members also demanded removal of the ban on alcohol sales in the Andhra region, which was ineffective anyway. In addition, they demanded extending the term of the Telangana Regional Council by another five years. Political parties and their leaders did not object to any of these reasonable demands.

The Telangana Regional Council and the state government estimated that about 33 crore rupees (difference between income and expenditure) in the Telangana balance of funds have accumulated since the state’s formation. Responding to the legislators’ demand, the state government agreed to spend the balance of funds in the early part of the fourth five-year plan.

An insignificant event in 1969 acted as a trigger for a massive student uprising in Nizam Telangana. On January 8, 1969, a student named Ravindranath started an indefinite hunger strike in Khammam demanding protection for Telangana. It is unclear what motivated him, but this was mostly a localized protest. Five days into the strike, students in Khammam ransacked some government offices and burned the road transportation corporation (RTC) buses. Students in Warangal also organized protests in solidarity with their fellow students in Khammam.

On January 12, 1968, the Osmania University Student Union held an extraordinary meeting to assess the situation in the districts where students were protesting. The union expressed its profound dissatisfaction with the political leadership from the region and demanded the resignation of MLAs and nine cabinet ministers from the Telangana region.
In addition, they laid out a set of demands:
  • Release the 70-crore balance of Telangana funds ( it is unclear how the 33 crores that even the Telangana Regional Council agreed as the balance of funds became 70 crores ).
  • Create a separate five-year plan for Telangana including the balance of funds from the region.
  • Complete the Pochampad Project on a priority basis (Pochampad is the current Sriram Sagar Project.
  • Strictly implement Mulki rules.
  • Extend special protections to Telangana by another 10 years.
  • Give Telangana graduates local jobs and transfer non-locals immediately.
  • Establish teacher training institutes in all the Telangana districts.
  • Have the Andhra and Telangana regions bear expenses incurred on all the government buildings in the capital city in a 2:1 ratio.
The students announced that, unless the government met these demands, they intended to go on an indefinite strike starting January 15, 1969. The student demands went up in number and size when compared to the original demands of the all-party Telangana leaders. 

As announced, students across the twin cities boycotted classes on January 15. They headed to the Nizam College grounds for a meeting. Two groups emerged among the students: one group demanded protections for Telangana whereas another group demanded a separate state for Telangana. During the debate, the group demanding a separate Telangana state clearly had an upper hand. After the meeting was over, President of the Osmania University Students Association Mallikarjun led a student rally from the Nizam college grounds to the Abids Circle. Despite heavy police security, there were stray incidents of students throwing stones at city buses.

Student Ravindranath who lit the Telangana forest fire in Khammam was still on fast, and his health continued to deteriorate. In solidarity, students intensified their protests. Kodada is a Nizam Telangana town on the Coastal Andhra border. Agitators stopped the buses going from Kodada to the Kosta districts, stranding 500 passengers.

As days passed, the student movement gradually turned violent. Two student groups, one demanding a separate state, another demanding special protection for the region, staged rallies in the city. Students blocked the gates of the Secretariat for 90 minutes. In Khammam, students resorted to throwing stones and damaged many Road Transportation Corporation (R.T.C.) buses. They also attacked the telephone and telegraph offices and destroyed the communication infrastructure. Because of the violence, the R.T.C halted bus services between the Telangana and Andhra regions.

CM Sri Kasu Brahmananda Reddy urged people not to be misled by the separatist slogans. He said that, with the limited resources it has, the government was doing everything in its power to develop backward regions of the state. He reminded people that, out of 165 villages electrified in the state, 85 of them were in Mahaboob Nagar alone.

The Employee Union leaders concerned with politicians dragging their issues into the controversy signed a statement requesting their members not to act in a way that hurts the cordial relations existing among employees. They also stated that in the Telangana protections debate, it was unfortunate that the issues of state employees came up. They stated that the employee union needed to address these things. The A.P. Non-Gazetted Officers (N.G.O.) Union President Sri A. Sriramulu, Telangana N.G.O. Union President Sri K. R. Amos, Secretariat Employees Association President Sri P. Satya Moorthi, and the Teachers Union President Sri Rama Brahmam and others signed this statement.

During the early part of the separate state movement, government employees resented politicians and students using their issues. However, that changed quickly. Amos, a main signatory of the Employee Union resolution, who urged employees not to get involved in separate state politics, became a firebrand leader of the separate Telangana movement.

Student protests continued to rock the capital city. Both the student unions—one demanding a separate state and the other demanding protections for Telangana—marched on the city. Police tried to keep the path of these marches away from each other. Despite their best efforts, the marches crossed paths at the Abids center. In the ensuing clash, students attacked each other with sticks and stones. They threw stones at the R.T.C. buses passing by and at the street lights, and then resorted to throwing stones at the shop windows in the Abids center. Police lathi-charged and fired teargas while eight students and a few police officers were injured.

Chief Minister Brahmananda Reddy started realizing that he needed to deal with the problem more aggressively. He called for a meeting of all the political parties to find a solution to the student movement. Forty-five members of all the major political parties operating in the state met and held a 10-hour marathon meeting. They reached an agreement that addressed the issues raised by the students. The agreement assured the people of strict enforcement of the gentlemen’s agreement. In addition to that, the agreement stated the following:

Andhra employees in the jobs reserved for Telangana locals will be immediately removed and provided alternate employment in the Andhra region.
Mulki rules will be extended by another year, and corporations, such as R.T.C. and the Electricity Board funded by the state government, will be brought under the purview of Mulki rules.
An executive appointed by the auditor general of India will determine the extent of Telangana’s balance of funds.

Given this agreement, which all the political parties accepted, the CM urged students to end their stir and help restore peace in the state. Student leader Mallikarjunn met with his organization’s members and announced that they would continue their agitation because they were dissatisfied with the all- party agreement. He said that the agreement did not address the injustices done to Telangana, as it merely repeated the gentlemen’s agreement. He protested the policy of giving access to educational facilities in Hyderabad to people of all the regions. He then raised frivolous issues such as the government not doing anything about grants to Osmania University.

The Student Union, under Mallikarjun’s leadership, resolved to continue their agitation and boycott the classes. Mallikarjun urged all thestudents to come to the Nizam College grounds for a meeting on the following day at 11 a.m.

The students’ stance exasperated CM Brahmananda Reddy, especially after he spent so much of his political capital to get all the political parties and public representatives to agree to a deal. He probably felt that it was time to get tough with the students. The government imposed a ban on all public meetings and processions in the twin cities for the next six days and instructed law enforcement officials to implement the ban strictly.

Telangana fever at this point spread to primary and secondary schools in the region. For instance, students from Shamshabad’s primary and secondary schools, after completing the school prayer, boycotted their classes. They then headed to a local Umda Nagar railway station, threw stones at the station office, and damaged the windows. The school kids then proceeded to stop traffic. They did not allow the vehicles to move until 2 p.m. in the afternoon, causing a major traffic jam in the area. Police eventually decided to intervene to remove the blockade. Students welcomed them by pelting stones. Police retaliated by lathi-charging first, and then opened fire, injuring some students. All the students injured were between 11 and 16, while two students, aged 12 and 14, were admitted to the hospital in critical condition.

As violence spread across the region, student union leaders met the CM. The never-ending list of demands the students put forth continued to grow. The new set of demands included raising the age limit for job applicants from the Nizam Telangana region from 25 to 27 and a demand for a post- graduate center at the Gandhi Medical College.

The following day, the student union came up with one more demand. This time, the union leaders wanted to open new medical colleges in the Telangana region to match the numbers in the coastal districts. The CM, exasperated with the ever-growing list of demands and unabated violence, announced the closure of all educational institutions until January 27, 1969.

In the interim, he did not waste any time implementing the all-party agreement, as he feared the student union would take advantage of the issue.

On January 22, 1969, the state government issued a Government Order (G.O.) to remove all the non-Mulkis from their current positions and set a deadline of February 28, 1969. All the department heads were required to certify by March 7 that all non-Mulkis had been removed. The government threatened action against department heads who did not comply with the G.O.

On the state government’s request, the comptroller and the auditor general of India agreed to send a senior executive to determine the Telangana balance of funds. The state government also announced that it was extending Mulki rules to the Electricity Department, as the government funded it.

Student Ravindhranath of Khammam, the original source for the inferno spreading across the region, decided to end his 15-day fast based on the assurances the government and the opposition leaders gave. However, it was already too late for him to stop what he started.

Readers might recall that there were two student unions: one demanding protections for the Telangana region and another demanding a separate state. The student union demanding protections for the Telangana region met the CM. Brahmananda Reddy, not wanting to let the situation get completely out of hand, conceded to the students’ demand for increasing the age limit of the job applicants from Nizam Telangana to 27. With that assurance, this student group announced that they were ending their strike.

However, Osmania University Student Union leader Mallikarjun announced that their strike would continue until a separate Telangana state was achieved. At this point, it was an open secret that politicians from behind the scenes were managing the student union leaders.

As the CM continued to concede to the Telangana students’ demands, students from Andhra and Venkateswara Universities were alarmed. Seeing the effectiveness of the pressure tactics of their peers in the Nizam Telangana region, they jumped into the fray, claiming that the government had failed to protect the properties and lives of the Andhra people living in the Nizam Telangana region and gave a call for a boycott until February 10, 1969.

The following day, on January 25, 1969, violence erupted across the Andhra region. Students attacked a sub-inspector’s residence in Sadasivapeta. When police opened fire, several students were injured. They all were between 17 and 22. Two youngsters, 17 and 18, were critically injured.

Violence at this point caught on like wildfire. People were attacking each other across the Andhra and Telangana regions, including Ellandhu, Karaypalli, Kothagudem, Bhadrachalam, Ashwaraopeta, Dhaamapeta, Nirmal, Bhimavaram, Manchiryala, Karimnagar, Medak, Suryapeta, and many more places.

Student leader Mallikarjun was taken aback at the scale of violence. He probably did not realize the power of his vitriol to incite people to commit violent acts. A day after widespread violence across the state, Mallikarjun called off the students’ strike. While ending the strike, he expressed sadness at the protests organized by the Andhra and Venkateswara University students.

However, Mallikarjun’s decision to end the strike was a little too late. The wildfire had been lit, and it was now unstoppable and had engulfed the entire state.

In the Andhra region, agitators stopped trains in Bapatla, Bhimavaram, Undi, Aravalli, and Tanuku. In Nandigama, police opened fire when the mob turned violent. Eight hundred students attacked a police station near the Nagarjuna Sagar right canal, and police opened fire, killing one student. An eighth-grade student, Shankar, injured in the Sadasivapeta firing, succumbed to his injuries. Shocked by the levels of violence, all activist groups in Telangana called off their strikes.

Despite it, violence continued unabated. In Warangal, an electric parts shop, two auto spares shops, a general store, and two hotels belonging to Kosta people were set on fire. In addition, a trader’s store was looted and another store of the same trader, hailing from Kosta, was burned down. Hooligans entered a low-income neighborhood, beat up two post-graduate students from Kosta, and threatened other residents from Kosta districts to leave. In Kothur, two houses were set on fire. In Karimabad, mobs looted a rice mill and burned a car and a lorry. In Nalgonda, Deputy Surveyor Sri Rangacharyulu, hailing from the Coastal Andhra region, was set on fire with petrol, and he died of his burn injuries. In Gajwel town, high school students processed to the Block Development officer’s house to warn him to leave the town, as he was a non-local. When students resorted to throwing stones, police opened fire, and a 12-year-old 7th grade student Narasimhulu died.

Border towns on Andhra resorted to retaliation as well. From the Andhra border town of Nandigama, many lorries filled with people and weapons headed to attack the Telangana border town of Kodada. Police tried to stop the vehicles. When the lorries failed to stop, they opened fire, injuring two persons. However, a few lorries managed to get past the police barricade. God only knows what violent acts were committed as a free flow of news was not there.

In another example of hatred gone amok, in Nalgonda, two men went to the house of L.D.C. Chandriah and asked him to come out. They poured kerosene on him and set him on fire. The miscreants thought that Chandriah was from Coastal Andhra. However, what they did not realize was that he was from the Telangana heartland, Warangal.

Coastal Andhra people living in the Nizam Telangana region left the towns and villages and sought the safety of their native places. Student leader Mallikarjun announced the end of even the relay hunger strikes going on at the Osmania University campus and said that Andhra people have a right to live in Telangana and vice versa. People ignored all these calls. Their minds had already been poisoned.

The living icon of the erstwhile separate Telangana movement, Konda Lakshman, in January 1969, while condemning hate speeches, chastised the leaders for grossly exaggerating a few stray events to incite people against other regions. He further assured people that he would strictly implement the all-party agreement. He announced that he was cancelling all his travel plans and urged concerned citizens to meet him personally.

Because of unabated violence, Chief Minister Brahmananda Reddy called the army into the state. However, the Indian Army could not control the violence. He then requested Central Reserve Police Force (C.R.P.F.) reinforcements, and that turned out insufficient to quell the violence as well. He then called the police from the neighboring state of Mysore (Karnataka), and even that had limited success. Eventually, 40 days of non-stop violence that started on January 8, 1969, took a reprieve in late February. Taking advantage of the situation, the government announced that it would reopen the schools.  

On February 17, 1969, the Supreme Court issued a stay order on all the removing of non-Mulki employees, putting the entire Mulki issue in limbo.

It was an open secret that politicians were coordinating the ongoing agitation from behind the scenes. This group of politicians was a coterie formed against CM Brahmananda Reddy’s rule. For the first time, these leaders started to emerge into the open.

On February 20, 1969, the octogenarian politician K. V. Ranga Reddy, father-in-law of Dr. Marri Chenna Reddy, after whom Ranga Reddy district was later named, stated that if the central government failed to implement the recent agreements, he would be forced to start the satyagraham. While referring to the reduced levels of violence in the last week, he made a veiled threat and said there was a peaceful environment in the state now; this could be a temporary state unless the CM took actions ensuring peace in the state. Through that statement, Ranga Reddy was not only hinting at his group’s ability to ratchet up violence in the state, but was also establishing his complicity in the violence that had happened in the past few weeks. It was widely known that Marri Chenna Reddy was using his senile father-in-law K. V. Ranga Reddy as his proxy.

Ranga Reddy announced that he would be making himself available to all the political leaders and students for discussions on the 26th and 27th of February 1969 between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. He said that a plan would be charted out after these discussions.

It is unknown what plan was schemed at these meetings, but the color of the Telangana movement changed from that point on. Politicians singing the integration tune changed their positions overnight to become separatists. Not only that, but if the violence across the region was bad so far, it became worse. Leaders operating from behind the scenes openly emerged on the public stage. These leaders, without an iota of shame, used students, including young children, to achieve their selfish goals.

On March 6, 1969, the Supreme Court confirmed its stay on the transfer of non-Mulki employees. It went a step further and blocked the creation of super-numerary positions. This effectively tied down the hands of the CM Brahmananda Reddy, who was under pressure to implement the Telangana protections.

Now a full three months into the movement, 52 MLAs from Telangana served an ultimatum to the CM that unless he took actions toward implementing protections to the Telangana region by March 16, the MLAs would not participate in the Assembly sessions, and the ministers from the region would resign from the cabinet. These MLAs knew very well that there was a Supreme Court stay on non-Mulki transfers and that the CM could not fulfill their demands.

Student leader Mallikarjun re-emerged on the stage with renewed energy. There can be no doubt that the top political brass of Nizam Telangana reinjected him into the separate state politics. Mallikarjun, who a few weeks ago seemed shocked by the violent consequences of his seemingly insignificant actions, now seemed more comfortable with his newfound power. His first step was to give a call for bandh across the Telangana region, effectively bringing the students back into the violent movement. The bandh was successful, except for the districts of Khammam and Nizamabad. Congress Party leaders behind the students’ movement continued to emerge, one after the other, from backstage.

Former Minister Smt. T. N. Sadaalakshmi presided over a meeting with 1,500 student leaders from all the Nizam Telangana districts. The delegates, under the guidance of Sadaalakshmi, met for six hours. At the meeting’s end, they released a statement, saying that the students of all nine districts would not go to classes until the formation of the Telangana state. They then passed a resolution demanding the resignation of all the Telangana ministers and MLAs. Later, in a meeting held at the Reddy hostel, 30,000 people participated and took an oath not to rest until they achieve a Telangana state.

Sadly, leaders such as Sadaalakshmi and many others were personally overseeing the destruction of students’ futures by helping them organize the college boycotts and sending them into the streets to protest, which often turned violent. What the innocent students, sacrificing everything they had for the crooked politicians, did not know was that they would be cheated and left in the cold as soon as the opportunistic politicians’ ulterior motives were met.

Universities fearing violence announced closure of colleges until the end of summer holidays and indefinitely postponed exams. As a result, students were on their way to losing their entire academic year.

CM Kasu Brahmananda Reddy, still hoping to defuse the crisis, busied himself with fulfilling other items in the all-party agreement not constrained by the Supreme Court stay.

One major point of contention was the balance of funds—that is, additional tax revenue obtained from the Telangana region over its fair share to the state exchequer. On the state government’s request, the Auditor General of India appointed a senior official, Sri Lalith Kumar, to assess the balance of funds issue. Sri Lalith Kumar submitted his report on March 14, 1969, and determined that the balance of funds between November 1, 1956, when the integrated state was formed, and March 31, 1968, was Rs. 34 crores and 10 lakhs.

Telangana leaders disagreed with the auditor general of India’s assessment. They claimed this time that the balance of funds was 107.13 crores. The Telangana Regional Council approved this number. This was the same council that a few months ago determined that the balance of funds were 33 crores. Minister Konda Lakshman, for his part, claimed that the balance of funds was 82 crores. He also proposed a new model of administration for Telangana. He suggested a self-governing authority for the region, while continuing to exist as a united state. Konda Lakshman along with Sri Chokka Rao took this proposal to the PM but failed to impress it upon her.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi called for a high-level meeting to discuss the Telangana issue, and she precisely knew whom to invite to the meeting—Dr. Chenna Reddy. It is worth noting that Dr. Reddy still was not publicly supporting the separate state movement and was, on paper, an integrationist.

In addition to Dr. Marri Chenna Reddy, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi held extensive discussions with the state and central leaders, including Home Minister Chavan, Congress Party President Nijalingappa, Kaachuraj, Sanjeevaiah, Central Minister Kotha Raghuramaiah, CM Brahmananda Reddy, Andhra Pradesh Congress President Kakani Venkataratnam, Minister V. B. Raju, Nookala Ramachandra Reddy, and Chokka Rao. At the end of these extensive discussions, the prime minister proposed an 8-point formula to resolve the ongoing crisis.

Dr. Chenna Reddy and the other Telangana leaders participating in the discussions expressed their disappointment with the outcome. They complained that the regional council did not have the constitutional authority to implement planning, development, and employment and that the PM had not invited the leaders, Achyutha Reddy and Konda Lakshman.

For the next round of discussions, Prime Minister Gandhi invited all the prominent Telangana leaders, including Konda Lakshman, K. V. Ranga Reddy, Jalagam Vengal Rao, and C. H. Vidya Sagar Rao, for talks. They all declined the invitation. K. V. Ranga Reddy went a step further and suggested that the PM should come to A.P. to assess the situation personally. Though Ranga Reddy said it politely, he was trying to show off his position of strength by asking the PM to come to the state, instead of his going to Delhi.

K. V. Ranga Reddy committed a political blunder. With his extensive political experience, it is surprising that he did not realize that he was dealing with a woman who did not like to be muscled around. The tough position taken by the Telangana leaders made Smt. Gandhi even more resolute.

Meanwhile, the Telangana Regional Congress Committee met in Gandhi Bhavan. During the two days of discussions, Dr. Chenna Reddy argued for a Telangana state, and P. V. Narasimha Rao argued for an integrated state while admitting that the government made some mistakes that affected the Nizam Telangana region. Rao said that the separatists had exaggerated these mistakes to such a point that they sounded absurd. Alluding to Chenna Reddy’s role in dragging the students into the movement, Rao warned that the leaders were taking the students down a wrong path. P. V. Narasimha Rao remained a staunch integrationist throughout the movement and never flinched, even when the public mood was overwhelmingly for separation.

Dr. Chenna Reddy who was running the Telangana Praja Samithi (TPS) from behind the screens now came out in the open, became its president, and announced his support for a separate Telangana state. His home became a hub for political activity. Thirty Congress Party legislators met at his place to discuss their plan. Chenna Reddy threatened to launch, in a few days, a “powerful movement that would paralyze the entire administration in Telangana.” The leaders’ language turned highly provocative with open threats of violence. Chenna Reddy warned the Coastal Andhra employees in the Telangana districts that unless they behave as servants of the Telangana people, very serious consequences would follow.

Telangana NGO leader K. R. Amos, who mere weeks before had been concerned about politicians dragging employees into the controversy, was now in bed with the Telangana separatists. He raged that unless India’s government announced the formation of the Telangana state before June 15, 1969, there would be “bloodshed and destruction.”

Chenna Reddy’s TPS called for a region wide bandh on June 3. The events following the bandh seemed as if the leaders of the movement wanted to prove it to the state and central government that they were not making empty threats of violence. As its leaders promised, the Nizam Telangana region erupted like a volcano on June 3, 1969.

Telangana separatists attacked public and private properties with vengeance. Capital city Hyderabad looked like a war zone. There was collateral damage to many businesses and stores. The fire department attended at least 85 incidents of arson. Thirty-eight people were injured in police firing, including six dead that included a young girl. Stray bullets fired by the police as they were clashing with the separatists hit four members of a family sitting in the living room of their home. TPS activists set the Durga Vilas Hotel in Abids on fire after the hotel employees lynched an 18-year-old protestor who tried to force the hotel’s closure.

Skirmishes between the protestors and the police went on until 10 p.m. in the capital city. As things got out of control, the state government called the Indian Army in and clamped curfew on the city for 33 hours. After four days of non-stop violence, 30 people were dead, and life in the capital city of Hyderabad came to a standstill.

TPS President Chenna Reddy, now openly using students for his political means, demanded that the government postpone the final exams. If the government proceeded to conduct the exams, he threatened that he would call for another bandh, which by now everyone knew was synonymous to large-scale violence.

India’s Home Minster Chavan abruptly ended his trip to Maharashtra and headed back to Delhi to assess the situation in Andhra Pradesh. CM Brahmananda Reddy also headed to Delhi for consultations with PM Gandhi. At the end of their huddle, PM Gandhi released a statement that the government would not yield to violence.

Chenna Reddy, for the first time, hinted the real motivation behind his support to the Telangana movement. He announced that he was willing to pause the Telangana movement if the president’s rule was imposed in the state—in other words, if CM Brahmananda Reddy was removed from power. He also set that as a precondition for any talks with the Center.

The state government got tough with the leaders of the movement and started arresting them. “Those arrested included the Mayor of Hyderabad Smt. Kumud Nayak, the wife of Dr. Chenna Reddy, Smt. Saavitri Devi, and the wife of the Vice Chancellor of Osmania University Smt. J. Eshwaribhai.

When taken to court, the judge sentenced them to seven days of jail time. Police also arrested prominent leaders of the movement—Chenna Reddy, Konda Lakshman, Achyuth Reddy, T. Anjaiah, and Maanik Rao—under the Preventive Detention Act.

Ministers from Telangana, resenting the government’s tough stand against separatists, resigned from the state cabinet. A seemingly distraught Kasu Brahmananda Reddy announced that he was also resigning and sent his resignation to the Congress President Nijalingappa. However, his resignation was not accepted.

A group of Osmania Unversity students demanded reopening of the colleges. They blocked the vice chancellor’s car as he was on his way to the office and vented that, while the American university professors were sending their students to the moon (referring to Neil Armstrong’s recent landing on the moon), our professors were busy with politics and sending us into the streets.

CM Brahmananda Reddy continued to give sops to the Telangana region. He announced a plan to build a fertilizer factory in Ramagundam with 60 crores investment. He allocated more funds to the Pochampad Project for its speedy completion. None of these actions could stem the violence across the state.

Twenty-five-year-old Sriram Chandar and ten-year-old Dasthagir died in police firing when they gate crashed into a felicitation ceremony organized for the Home Minister Jalagam Vengal Rao in his native district of Khammam. In another incident in Secunderabad, an eighteen-year-old Ravinder was killed when the satyagraha movement got out of control.  

On August 23, 1969, a full eight months into the movement, the tough Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi said she would only intervene to find a solution if the leaders for a separate state ended the agitation and peace reigned in the state. As a conciliatory gesture to make way for the peace process, CM Brahmananda Reddy released the TPS leaders from the jails.

Upon his release, Chenna Reddy went to Delhi for discussions and made a statement that TPS would end the stir if the CM was changed. However, on his return to Hyderabad, he distanced himself from the news reports and said that the creation of a separate state was the only solution, setting September 1, 1969 as the deadline. The date came and went. Violence in the state started to recede gradually.There were stray incidents of violence such as pelting stones at buses.

The crescendo for the resignation of the Chief Minister Kasu Brahmananda Reddy was building. Telangana legislators gathered 50 signatures of their peers and planned to collect 36 more and send their petition to the Congress Party President Nijalingappa.

It had been nine months since the students of the region left their classrooms, and most of them lost an academic year. Those in the final year of schools and colleges were particularly hard hit.

On September 22, 1969, President of India Sri V. V. Giri was on a state visit to Andhra Pradesh. TPS was already taking much heat for playing with student’s lives by involving them in a political movement. On the eve of the president’s visit, TPS and the Students’ Union gave a call for all the students to return to their classes. Student leader Mallikarjun said that the union had decided to ensure that the movement did not affect the students’ education. After ruining an entire academic year, student leader Mallikarjun realized that he needed to protect the students’ futures.

Chenna Reddy personally visited President V. V. Giri and gave him the news that the students were returning to classes. President Giri was elated and assured Chenna Reddy that he would do his best for a speedy resolution of the crisis.

The government continued to give sops to the Telangana region in an effort to win over the people’s hearts. Education Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao announced that the government would open 10 more junior colleges in the Nizam Telangana region. In the fourth five-year plan, the state government earmarked 45 crore rupees for Telangana, including 28 crores of the balance of funds. The government also announced that it would spend 38% of the state’s total development budget on Telangana. In addition, CM Brahmananda Reddy agreed to increase Telangana’s share of the budget to 42% for the next two years. The government, for the first time, released water to 40,000 acres under the Pochampad Project. It further announced special subsidies to industries coming in six districts of Nizam Telangana and two districts of Rayalaseema. These subsidies included 7.5% interest on industrial loans and a choice to pay the first installment after five years from the time the enterprise raises the loan.

TPS got an opportunity to test its mettle in the electoral waters. In the by- election necessitated by the death of the candidate in the Khairatabad constituency, TPS presented its candidate. TPS candidate Nagam Krishna Rao won with a landslide majority. Encouraged by this success, TPS, on July 23, 1969, decided to become a political party. Three months later, in the Siddipeta re-election, the TPS candidate again won with a landslide majority of 20,000 votes.

On December 10, 1970, the A. P. High Court passed a judgment, reversing its prior verdict, that the Mulki rules are legal. CM Brahmananda Reddy promptly announced that he would implement the Mulki rules in compliance with the high court’s judgment.

Around this time, the political scene at the center was changing rapidly. Indira Gandhi and her young cohort’s aggressive adoption of socialism put Gandhi at odds with the older generation leaders that believed in a more moderate approach. Smt. Gandhi’s bank nationalization turned out to be the last straw. The Congress Party split in two, and Gandhi did not have the majority in the Parliament to continue as the PM. As a result, the Loksabha mid-term elections were around the corner. To strengthen her position for the upcoming elections, Mrs. Gandhi expressed renewed interest to resolve the Telangana crisis.

By winning two by-elections with a landslide margin, Chenna Reddy succeeded in sending a message to the PM that he was a force to reckon with. On January 1, 1971, PM Gandhi, CM Brahmananda Reddy, and TPS leader Chenna Reddy met face-to-face for 90 minutes. It became clear during the discussions that state division was not acceptable to the PM, and she did not want TPS to contest the elections by themselves.

Indira Gandhi therefore made an offer that was by far the most she had ever offered since the agitation for Telangana started. She offered Chenna Reddy the following:

TPS should not contest the Congress Party in the Loksabha elections.
Allow five years of time until 1977 for the eight-point formula to affect the region.
In the year 1977, if two-thirds of the Nizam Telangana legislators supported separation, the center would agree to the formation of the Telangana state.

The third point in her offer was the most crucial one and the closest she ever came to agreeing to the bifurcation of the state. However, Chenna Reddy was not interested in something that would happen five years down the road, but was interested in immediate results.

Chenna Reddy came back to Hyderabad and presented the PM’s proposal to his party. TPS members overwhelmingly rejected Indira Gandhi’s offer. As a result, a contest between the TPS and Congress in the region then became inevitable.

The decision to run against the Congress party probably was the worst political blunder Chenna Reddy committed during the separate Telangana movement. He was haughty with his successes in the by-election and thought that he could arm-twist Mrs. Gandhi by winning the elections in Telangana by a landslide. He certainly got the landslide, but he terribly miscalculated the leverage such a win would give him when negotiating with Mrs. Gandhi.

In the run-up to the elections, CM Brahmananda Reddy announced more sops to win over the Nizam Telangana voter. He announced that the Kothagudem power plant would become operational in March 1972 and started construction of another plant in Ramagundam. He announced plans to provide electricity to 1000 villages a year in the state—600 in the Telangana region, 200 in Rayalaseema, and 200 in the Coastal Andhra region.

None of the sops announced by the CM affected the Nizam Telangana voter. TPS won 10 of the 14 Parliament seats it contested in the mid-term elections.

Two months passed after the elections. Chenna Reddy did not get the recognition he was hoping to get. It gradually dawned on TPS politicians that they had been victorious electorally but defeated politically.  

Chenna Reddy was arguably in an advantageous position after winning 10 of 14 loksabha seats that they contested. In the upcoming state assembly elections, his candidates would easily win many seats in the Nizam Telangana region.

Despite his position of strength, Chenna Reddy was now, more than ever, eager to strike a deal with Mrs. Gandhi.The reason for his angst lay in the political game of numbers.

Indira Gandhi won the mid-term elections with a huge majority and got 352 seats. She did not need the support of the 10 TPS MPs in the Parliament. In the upcoming state assembly elections, even if Chenna Reddy won 70% or more of the seats in the Telangana region, Congress was almost certain to win by a landslide in the Kosta and Rayalaseema regions—thanks to the seeds of hatred planted by the Telangana politicians. If that happened, TPS would be confined to opposition in the state assembly and would become a no-name party in the Parliament with its miniscule 10 seats.

For TPS leaders, if the Telangana state was not going to happen, they did not want to sit around wasting their time with agitations. Instead, they would rather be enjoying power in the Congress Party. Chenna Reddy and his fellow TPS followers were in an interesting quandary. They knew that they could win the elections by a landslide, yet they did not want to contest the elections on their own party platform.

In this backdrop, Chenna Reddy went to Delhi for negotiations with Prime Minister Gandhi. Several original TPS demands did not appear anymore, as they either were fulfilled or were in the process of being fulfilled.

Chenna Reddy presented a new list of demands and they were:
  • Remove CM Brahmananda Reddy.
  • Depending on the performance of the Telangana region over time, give Telangana legislators the power to make a decision on the separate state.
  • Create a separate Pradesh Congress Committee for Telangana.Ensure that the Telangana Regional Council is effective.
  • Eliminate the regional disparities existing between Telangana and the other regions.

Quintessential politician Indira Gandhi took full advantage of the quandary that TPS was in. She knew well that TPS was eager to merge with the Congress Party before the upcoming state assembly elections. She fulfilled one demand and one demand only. She agreed to the demand most important to Chenna Reddy and the easiest one for her to fulfill—removing CM Brahmananda Reddy from his seat. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi called CM Brahmananda Reddy to Delhi and asked him to resign in the interest of the state’s well-being. He obliged.

Chenna Reddy congratulated Brahmananda Reddy for making the right decision and thanked the PM for making it happen. Chenna Reddy said that he hoped that the PM would act equally quickly on the rest of the demands. As it turned out, that was the first and the last demand of Chenna Reddy that Indira Gandhi would ever accept.

A day after Chief Minister Brahmananda Reddy announced his resignation, Mrs. Gandhi called Chenna Reddy back to Delhi for talks. PM Gandhi and Chenna Reddy spent two days behind closed doors in marathon discussions. We might never know what kind of give-and-take political agreements were made in those meetings. Obviously, the bargaining was for political seats, particularly for MLA tickets and ministries. 

Chenna Reddy returned to Hyderabad and met the TPS Central Working Committee. He briefed them about his discussions with Indira Gandhi. After a mere three hours of discussions, TPS announced that they are merging with the Congress Party. The decision required the TPS State Council’s ratification.

On September 18, 1971, after nearly two years of death and mayhem over a Telangana state, the TPS State Council met to discuss their movement’s future. During the TPS State Council meeting, several members argued that the TPS should not have agreed to the merger just based on Kasu Brahmananda Reddy’s resignation. Members argued that the TPS should have insisted on the six-point formula that Chenna Reddy took to Delhi.

Council member E. V. Padmanabhan brought copies of the letter he wrote to the TPS president and distributed it to the members. In the letter, he said, Thanks to the TPS, Telangana today is in a worse state than it was prior to October 31, 1956, before the Gentlemen’s Agreement was signed. He added, “I am fortunate to have worked with you all for this great cause. You all fought bravely for a common goal. However, now, you have dumped the people of Telangana in the middle of the lake. What else can I say? Till Telangana is fortunate enough to see good days, I take leave from you all.” Former MP Baqar Ali Mirza, who resigned from the Congress Party for the Telangana cause, said that, in his 40 years of political life, he had never seen an instance where this sort of deceit was done for political positions.

The TPS State Council, after four hours of discussion, unanimously approved merging TPS with the Congress Party. Members expressed “hope” that the remaining five of the six demands put forward by the TPS would also be implemented immediately.

As the council meeting was underway, students descended on the TPS office, raised slogans against the leaders, and accused them of treason. They argued with the members who were entering the building. These students probably wanted to know why they had to sacrifice a year of their academic life.They probably wondered what purpose the deaths of 12-year-old, seventh- grade student, Narasimhulu; 10-year-old Dasthagir; 18-year-old Ravinder; eighth-grade student, Shankar; and hundreds more like them served.
TPS members claimed that the students were not even students but outsiders. In an ensuing scuttle, TPS members physically assaulted some students and forcibly removed some from the premises.

In the end, Chenna Reddy and his clan dissolved the separate Telangana movement based on a mere “hope” that Indira Gandhi would concede to their demands. They clearly knew that she would not fulfill their demands. Indira Gandhi did not budge when the state was going up in flames; why would she concede to their demands now.

At the end of September 1971, Congress legislators elected education minister P. V. Narasimha Rao, who hailed from the Telangana region, as their leader and made him the chief minister of the state. The new CM inducted former TPS member Achyut Reddy into the 14-member cabinet.

The tragic saga of the Telangana movement that consumed hundreds of innocent young lives, caused massive collateral damage to pubic assets, and pushed the state economically back by many years thus ended.

Now let us look at how the leaders and proponents of today’s separate state movement are distorting facts to further their agenda.

Professor Jayashankar wrote the following: The Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1956, which was an assurance of fair play given to the people of Telangana to facilitate the formation of Andhra Pradesh, was scuttled the very same day on which the state was born, by the very same Gentlemen who were signatories to the agreement.” The Vice Chancellor makes a profound statement about violating the agreement but does not clarify how.

The gentlemen’s agreement was not scuttled, and large portions of it were effectively implemented. The Telangana regional council was formed according to the agreement. During its reign, the council unanimously passed all the resolutions, and no dispute whatsoever existed with the government. In terms of ministerial appointments, all rules laid out in the agreements seem to have been met because none of the leaders raised this as an issue, even during the height of the separatist movement in 1969.

The agreement fell short in only two areas: balance of funds and government jobs. The first issue of balance of funds was resolved without much controversy. The second issue involving a mere 5,000 jobs was delayed as the judgment was bogged down in the courts.

Today, the Telangana Martyrs Memorial stands tall at Gun Park opposite the State Assembly Building. The Web site dedicated to those who died during the separate state movement says the following: “After the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre it was the 1969 Telangana movement which took more than 370 brave Indian sons, unparallel in the recent Indian history. The real culprit was Kasu Brahmananda Reddy, known to be General Dyer of Telangana.”

The culprit was not Kasu Brahmananda Reddy.The culprits were the cowardly politicians who did not have the guts to fight for their cause democratically and resorted to using young men and children for their selfish ends. Who is the real villain of this tragic episode—Kasu Brahmananda Reddy or Dr. Marri Chenna Reddy?

The Telangana memorial is neither a symbol of bravery nor martyrdom. To the contrary, it is a sad reminder of political opportunism. It is a standing reminder of scores of innocent children who laid their lives down for a mere 5,000 jobs and 33 crore rupees.

The philosopher George Santayana said, Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Unfortunately, students are particularly prone to repeat past mistakes. Given their age, students lack the historic perspective and are driven by emotions, rather than facts. Today’s students, for the most part, do not know how the leaders duped students in 1969–1970 and how they lost an entire academic year while many lost their lives.

KCR so far has not fully exploited the students for his cause. However, when push comes to shove, he is capable of using students as his trump card. On July 2, 2007, he said, “In 6 years of Telangana movement we have not shown a desire to include the students in the agitation. However, the time has come where the role of students is needed.” KCR instructed the leaders of his organization to make a personal visit to every intermediate and degree college in Nizam Telangana. He instructed them to form committees of 15– 24 students. These committees of students, he said, would then receive special training in Hyderabad’s Telangana Bhavan.

Special training to do what—training on how to recreate the mayhem of 1970 or training on how to become targets of police guns? It is repulsive that the Telangana leaders continue to exploit 15- to 17-year-old children for their selfish ends.

The hero of our story, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, probably patted herself on the back for skillfully defusing the Telangana crisis. Little did she know that there was a much larger problem brewing on the horizon that would fully test her leadership capabilities—and that challenge was the Jai Andhra movement.


A memorial called Gun Park was built near Public Gardens, Hyderabad to commemorate students who lost their lives in the struggles of 1969. 369 people died during this agitation, most of them were students and were killed in police firing. 
Professor Jayashankar Artical About Telanagana: 
తెలంగాణ కథ

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