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Mainstream, VOL LV No 18, New Delhi, April 22, 2017

The ‘Truth is in Custody for 115 Days’!

Monday 24 April 2017

The following piece, written by Professor Kaseem, a well-known poet and critic (who is also an Assistant Professor, Nizam College, Hyderabad), has been rendered into English by Anishetty Shankar, a writer and freelance journalist, and sent to us for publication. This is about seven members of a fact-finding team that left Telangana for Chhattisgarh to extend support to the Adivasis’ struggle there. The team members were arrested by the Telangana State Police and handed over to the Chhattisgarh Government on December 25, 2016. Since then they have been lodged in Sukma jail. This write-up is about the plight of the team members.

The rulers turn truth into untruth and make us believe in untruth by projecting it as the truth. Sometimes they keep us in delusion. It’s as true as the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun, as was conveyed to us by Copernicus. It’s as true as the fact that Galileo’s eyes were gouged out. It’s as true as the fact that Socrates was poisoned. It’s as true as the fact that Buddha received enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. It’s as true as Charvaka. It’s as true as the fact that the Sun rises everyday in the east. Truth always remains as the fire. Truth always burns the untruth. Truth always smashes the untruth. The rulers always conceal the truth. They always hunt the truth. They threaten the truth. They arrest the truth. They murder the truth. Throughout history truth always faced repression. Yet it stands erect. The wave always falls after having risen. Once again it falls to rise. That is the truth.

Fact-Fact Finding Committee,

Pull out the truth/people’s doctor/

     Our Ramanatham Brothers. 

This song I had heard long ago. The state, the symbol of untruth, murdered the truth—fact-seekers Ramanatham, Narra Raghava Reddy, Aaneda Narayana, Purushotham, Azam Al. But the fact (truth) can never became untruth. The truth-seekers never stop.

Thus, the democratic, responsible citizens, the Telangana Democratic Front activists and leaders, began their journey to find out the facts in Chhattisgarh. They started from Hyderabad to Chhattisgarh. Why did they go to Chhattis-gharh? We all know how the lives of Adivasis in Chattisgharh have been destroyed for a decade!

The children being encountered at Basaguda —the women being molested and raped, the youth either kept in custody or subjected to encounter—the private army called Salwa Judum torching houses of the poor, burning the crops to ashes, killing Adivasis and hiding the dead bodies—such untolerable, unimaginable acts of the state-sponsored illegalities are literally countless.

Why so much of violence and violation of human rights? Chhattisgarh is at the centre of a huge national wealth in the form of minerals. This wealth is under the feet of the Adivasis. The multinational companies started eyeing on this huge and immense wealth. It is most unfortunate that our country laid out the red carpet and provided all favourable opportunities for these MNCs to step into the Adivasi heartland. In such a situation, the sons of the forest are fighting to protect this wealth for us—for our furture generation. That’s why the state is so mercilessly crushing them—their fight is for their right over the natural resources.

Previously the state attacked, arrested and experimented with all their force and tactics on        Dr Binayak Sen (who was supporting the Adivasis in their struggle for their rights and extending his medical aid to these innocent sons of soil), famous Gandhian Himanshu Kumar, journalist Malini Subramanyam, Rights activist Soni Sori, academic Bela Bhatia. All these personalities in society are relentlessly straining their nerves and making all efforts to ensure people’s support for these Adivasis who have been fighting for the sovereignity of this land and thereby becoming thorns in the eyes of the state. The fault of these personalities and Adivasis is that they are standing for the rights of the people, they are asking for the constistutionally guaranteed rights to be extended to the citizens. They aren’t supporting the exploitative measures of rulers and the government! How funny! In our country the rule-framers are the genuine rule-breakers! That is precisely true. To bring such anti-people activities of the state to light, a seven-member fact-finding team started from Telangana on December 24, 2016 to Chhattisgarh. This team consisted of High Court advocates Chikkudu Prabhakar, Balla Ravindranath, Duddu Prabhakar, President, Kula Nirmulana Porata Samithi of AP, Thudumdebba leader Ramanala Laxmaiah, journalist Durga Prasad, Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika leaders Rajendra Prasad and Nazeer. All these people are actively working in the people’s domain for the last ten to thirty years. They have all actively worked in the recent Telangana agitation.

The Telangana Police arrested this team at Dummugudem (Khammam district) on December 25, 2016 and handed over the team-members to the Chhattisgarh Government. The Chhattisgarh Police is second to none in violating the existing laws and Acts. That’s why without any enquiry, applying the ‘Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act’ on the ‘Fact-Finding Committee’, the police drove the team members to the Sukma District Jail. Arresting the fact- finding committee members who were going to inquire into the facts about the social conditions of the Chhattisgarh citizens there—was this a crime! This act of arresting and remanding the members of the fact-finding committee was nothing but murder of democracy! If anyone asks any question he/she becomes anti-national and anti-police!

In fact, these seven arrested members are the Telangana activists who worked tremendously in the recent Telangana agitation. Chikkudu Prabhakar had been active in the movement since 2007. When the people were in complete despair—he had mobilised them in large numbers in Khammam, Warangal, Godavari-khani, Mandamarri, Manch-erial, Hyderabad, Mahaboobnagar for public meetings. The people powerfully exhibited their aspiration for the separate State of Telangana. In all these activities, Prabhakar worked from behind the curtain. When the people and students were fighting actively for the State, the politicians made the agitation defunct. At that time the forces agitating for Telangana organised the Coordination Committee of the JAC and Prabhakar moved from district to district and built up rootlevel JACs. With the clear vision of politics for the separate Telangana State, different forces came together under the chairmanship of balladeer Gaddar to form the Telangana Praja Front. In its organisation, Prabhakar worked tirelessly. He was second to no other activist.

Duddu Prabhakar, born in a Dalit family in coastal Andhra, with a vast experience of caste, and revolutionary politics, travelled a long distance to shape alternative politics in the State. During the heavy repression in the tenure of YSR, he organised the Kula Nirmulana Porata Samithi and made it an active participant in the Telangana movement with the sole intention of giving justice to the Dalits in democratic Telangana. He involved the entire Dalit community in the Telangana agitation, as he dreamed of the vast number of Dalits getting justice in their own State. Thus, his organisation actively participated for Telan-gana and joined every agitational step of the Telangana Prajaswamika Front.

Ramanala Laxmaiah has been working since a long time for the welfare of the Adivasis. When the Coatal Andhra rulers were destroying the lives of lakhs of Adivasis, he felt that at least the Telangana State would fulfil the rights of the oppressed Adivasis. He is fighting for the protection of the resources and at the same time standing firmly for the existence of Adivasis.

Durga Prasad, being a journalist, worked hard to bring the whole journalist fraternity into the Telangana movement. After the formation of Telangana, he worked untiringly in organising the Telangana Democratic Front in the State. And he is seriously working in the State as a journalist.

Balla Ravindranath is a lawyer by profession. In fact during the agitation, the lawyers of the High Court seriously worked in the movement Participating in the challo Assembly programme, going in rallies to the Arts College to show solidarity with the Arts College students—his role was commendable. He is the main person in the CRPP working for the rights of the prisoners in India.

Rajendra Prasad and Nazeer both spent their lives for achieving the Telangana State. Rajendra Prasad has been working since 2007 in the formation of the Telangana Students Forum in the Telangana movement. He is very active in every activity/agitational step of the TVV. He is an active member of the students JAC. Nazeer worked hard to build the TVV unit at the Arts College and ensured the continuous participation of students in the agitation. He kept the spirit of Statehood alive.

I have explained the roles of these seven individual activists to bring their activities and aspirations towards Telangana before the public. And the government arrested these activists and handed them over to the Government of Chhattisgarh! The people should know who their rulers are! What is their mentality, their concerns towards the Telangana activists! The government must initiate action to get them released. This should be our immediate demand. It’s the duty of one and all to protect the rights of the people when the government itself violates those rights. Our mass support paves the way for the release of all these persons from the jail. It also gives moral support to the voice of the Rights movement.