Girijana Peasant Struggle

'Srikakulam' 50 Yeas Later

M A Krishna

[Peasant struggle became a role model for the accurate leadership of communist revolutionaries T N Nagi Reddy and D V Rao. The Spring Thunder over Darjeeling broke out 1967. Girijan Peasant Movement in Srikakulam got new impetus after 'Naxalbari' peasant uprising. But Repression and state brutality continued unabated during the period 1967-1975. Poor adivasi peasants resisted the police atrocities and made the Srikakulam struggle and historic event. Looking back 50 years later it seems the relevance of 'Srikakulam' still inspires thousands of Girijan peasants. Reevaluation of 'Naxalbari' aggressive posture by peasants demand reevaluation of 'Srikakulam' struggle too. 'Srikakulam' produced the most powerful and beautiful poet of the era—Subba Rao Panigrahi. Let Movement produce hundreds of Panigrahis who could motivate thousands of hundreds of revolutionaries to perform revolution. Revolution means life, no Revolution means death. Let hundred flowers bloosm and contend. The struggle was basically aimed at capturing state power.]

Legendary communsit revo­lutionary leader Tarimela Nagi Reddy (TN) died on July 28, 1976, and he is remembered along with his political fellow travellers in arms, D V Rao (1917, June 1–1984, July 12), every year across Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Telengana State (TS) in memorial meetings held at several places in July. Hundreds of activists and supporters, including landless, poor and adivasi peasants attend these meetings in the main.

Agrarian crisis, repression on rural poor movement, in particular state offensive to evict adivasi (ST) peasants from lands they cultivated for decades, the need and ways to address there questions are among the issues focussed in these meetings this year.

The governments are on an eviction offensive in the name of afforestation and people are resisting, invoking among other laws, the FRA, Forest Rights Act, 2006.

As part of a series, meetings were held near Suryapet on July 12, and on July 21, at Hyderabad. Another is due on July 29 in Khammam, a district  in Telengana that was and is presently witness to peasant struggles. About 10000 acres of land was occupied by adivasi and other landless peasants in the last two decades by GPS (Grameena Pedala Sangham), or Organisation of rural poor.

Yet another is going to be held on July 30 in AP, in Gumma Laxmi Puram, a key centre of Srikakulam Girijana Peasant Revolt of (1967-72 period) in which upto 350 peasant and communist revolutionaries where shot dead by the Indian state. In this area also, over 6000 acres of land was occupied by adivasi and other landless peasants in the last two decades, led by GPS and its sister organisation, the Srikakulam Girijana Sangham (founded in late 1950s) that was revived and re-organised after 1980s, following its suppression during 1969-72 period. D V Rao had given call and guidance to re-organise the movement. More meetings are scheduled elsewhere.

These meetings are held by communist revolutionaries of UCCRI(ML) founded by D V Rao and TN, to recall the history of struggles to educate cadres and people on contemporary situation, and to organise them into militant struggles with a thrust on agrarian revolution that has 'Abolition of landlordism and land to the Tiller' or its central slogan.

Comrade Doddi Komarayya, the first martyr of Telengana, shot dead by landlords on July 4, 1946, is also remembered in these meetings. Martyrs of Srikakulam Girijana Peasant are also remembered. Their memories are invoked to carry forward the struggles.

TN gave a historic in AP Legislative Assembly in March 11, 1969, in which the seasoned legislator called the legislatures as mere "talking shops" that did little to help the cause of the exploited and the oppressed and resigned as MLA opting the extra-parliamentary revolutionary path.

He had organised a militant movement in Anantapur, his home district, the landless peasants to occupy about 3000 acres of banjar lands in Garlandinne area.

TN had resigned as MI.A in 1969 March, and paved the way for an extra-parliamentary path along with DV Rao, in a Convention of Communist Revolutionaries of AP.

It was 50 years ago in 1969 December, TN and DV, both Members of Lok Sabha during 1957-62, were arrested in Madras, and were framed up in the famous Hyderabad Conspiracy Case 1970, with TN as A-1 and DV as A-2 (Crime No 57 of 1969). The Prosecution's case was primarily based on (DV Rao-drafted) the Immediate Programme, April 1969, that gave a call for an agrarian revolution. Originally there were 68 accused but only 48 persons were tried. They were sentenced with Rigorous Imprisonment for four years and three months. It was a massive case that involved 325 witnesses and 824 Prosecution documents, and is cited by the police as a successful Text Book Case.

This case was soon followed by the Parvatipuram Conspiracy Case with 140 accused persons and 502 witnesses being examined by the Court. Com N formed, and worked as the President of the Defence Committee for that case too. This case was focused on the then ongoing Srikakular Girijana Peasant movement.

These two are among the all-time biggest cases against revolutionaries. TN and DV, both convicted, came out on bail pending their Appeal in High Court. Despite conditions that restricted their travel outside their places of stay, they did their best to revive movements crushed in the wave of repression of 1967-72 period.

The two leaders together founded the UCCRI-ML in 1975 April that was soon after banned in 1975 June-July by Ms Indira Gandhi's Emergency regime. Both skipped bail and went underground at that time and both died while being underground. They were united in their revolutionary political life, in dedicated work with the same line and organisation, id in their death.

As an MLA in the AP Legislature, and after resignation from it, as a revolutionary, he highlighted the peasant and adivasi struggles and stood up in their defence. He did the same in the Court too.

INDIA MORTGAGED, the magnum opus by TN was originally presented as his Defence Statement in the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Hyderabad, who conducted the trial of the famous Hyderabad Conspiracy Case 1970.

TN's Defence Statement, made under Sec 313 of CrPC, was published in book form as India Mortgaged (of about 580 pages) the first time in 1978 with a Foreword by his close associate and co-accused, Devulapalli Venkateswara Rao (1917-1984), veteran communist revolutionary known for his unique role in leading the Telengana People's Armed Struggle (1946-51).

The Telugu translation of TN's book was first published in 1980. Later on several editions appeared, also in Hindi and Tamil. DV Rao wrote and made a separate statement, on behalf of nine accused leaders including TN, and read it out in the Court from December 14 to 18th of 1971. This magnum opus of DV Rao was later published in book form as People's Democratic Revolution, An Explanation of the Programme (of around 370 pages). Together they served, as intended by the then imprisoned authors, as authentic text books and Hand Books for three generations of communist revolutionaries, with repeated reprints, unique in India's revolutionary literature.

The Girijan movement in Srikakulam was reaching a higher level towards the end of 1966. The then congress government unleashed severe repression by deploying armed police to suppress the movement. More than 10000 CRPF were deployed, Disturbed Areas Act was invoked, and encounters on a massive scale became the order of the day. The month of March 1968 saw a severe wave of repression starting with two major raids on March 3 and 4 in which women were raped and two Girijans, Koranna and Manganna, were killed by police bullets in addition to committing atrocities on the Girijans on a mass scale. The people put up resistance to the police attacks.

Below are given extracts from INDIA MORTGAGED, Chapter XV, which give a picture of adivasis in AP, their life and struggles 50 years ago. It should be remembered that he was narrating it all to the Special Court that was trying him. He was basing himself on media reports of the day so as make the State and the judiciary see the picture from sources that should be acceptable to them.

Thanks to the Srikakulam and such other struggles various reforms and welfare measures were brought in AP and TS, if only in such areas. There is however no basic change in the attitude of the ruling classes to this day, one can see. In TS, STs number more than 41 lakhs and constitute more than Ankamma and Saraswathamma were the martyrs of the brutality of the Andhra police. It was the Andhra police that laid the path for others to follow.

The greatest poet of the revolution, Subbarao Panigrahi, who inspired millions through his art fell in the course of the battle for land and freedom; with pen in one hand a gun in the other, he blazed a new path such as Ralph Fox and Christopher Cauldwell in the Spanish Civil war. Tortures could not loosen him. Savages finally shot him and produced for public consumption a false incident of a 'clash'.

Soft and kind-hearted Panchadi Krishan Moorthy, brilliant young Dr Bhasksr Rao, Tamada Ganapathi, the most popular Girijan leader Vempatapu Satyanarayana, and many hundreds of known and unknown communist revolutionaries have blazoned the path of revolution to fulfil anti-feudal and anti-imperialist tasks of national liberation.

The following comments in Patriot, in its December 25,1969 issue, reveals the true nature of what are known as 'encounters'.

Once again there has been an 'encounter' between the Andhra Pradesh police and persons described officially as Naxalites in the Ranga-matiya hills of Srikakulam district... It seems curious that, in the many clashes that have taken place in this district, although False 'encounters'-Cold Blood Murders.

False 'encounters', in fact cold-blooded murders of captured revolutionaries have taken place. The pattern of fascist gangsterism is a continuing process, not only in Srikakulam district, but also in various parts of Andhra Pradesh—especially so in all its ferocious brutality in the Telengana forest belt of Khammam and Warangal area. The advent of Vengal Rao as the Minister for Home was a signal for freedom to the trigger-happy savage to implement their plan of capture torture and murder in all its heinous forms....

[source :]

Back to Home Page

Vol. 52, No. 18, Nov 3 - 9, 2019