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Remembering Guda Anjanna – The signature song of Telangana’s Dalit Revolution


Remembering Guda Anjanna – The signature song of Telangana’s Dalit Revolution

 Written by Karthik Navayan

guda anjaiah 1

The context of hearing about Guda Anjanna’s name through his nephew was because our hostel in Dandepally was the centre for PDSU (Progressive Democratic Student Union) politics. The PDSU hostel committee was so strong that the same hostel committee was declared as the Adilabad district committee back then. We were introduced to revolutionary literature and songs. As usual, we used to listen to the very popular song “Vooru Manadira” – this song became so famous that there will be no village in Telangana region without some working people singing it. Here is a translation of the opening lines of the song*:

The village is ours! This wada is ours!
The village is ours! Every job needs us!
The hammer is ours! The knife is ours,
The crowbar is ours! The hoe is ours,
The cart is ours! The bullocks are ours!
Why do we need the Dora! Why do we need his tyranny over us,
why do we need the Dora! Why do we need his tyranny?

This song has now become famous throughout the country and has been translated into several languages. According to Mallepally Laxmaiah, this song was the signature song for the Naxalite movement. When some activists were singing this song, Guda Anjanna’s nephew Guda Rajendar informed me that this song was written by his father’s brother (uncle). Guda Anjanna was working as a pharmacist in the Utnoor government hospital then. I heard from Rajendar later that Guda Anjanna had shifted to Hyderabad on the suggestion of cine director, Narayana Murthy.

In 2000, I also shifted to Hyderabad and joined law. I saw Guda Anjanna in several meetings of people’s organisations, and I had a long meeting with him, in his house in Ramnagar, when I went there to meet Rajendar, who had come to see him. This was in 2004. I strongly remember this meeting and conversations with Anjanna because, he gave a completely different and path breaking outlook on the then existing Telangana movement. It was the time when Telangana mainstream political movement was in peak. Anjanna explained that the mainstream dominant politicians have vested interests in Telangana movement and he explained this very interestingly through a short story.

Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) joined the separate Telangana movement in 2002. Before his joining, the separate Telangana movement was headed and propagated by only left wing intellectuals, and their front organisations. With KCR joining, the separate Telangana movement and the formation of the Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS), a mainstream political party, many feudal dominant caste leaders started joining the Telangana movement and the TRS party. There were lots of debates and criticisms against the joining of feudal leaders in the movement, since there would always be the risk of the movement becoming status quoist for the benefit of the feudal Reddys, Komati, Velama and Brahman and upper Shudra castes in Telangana. Now it is realized that with the formation of a separate Telangana state, it has resulted in the transfer of state power to the Telangana dominant castes, and atrocities on Dalits have also drastically increased since then.

Post-independence, the first generation of feudal landlords became MLAs, MPs and leaders in all political parties, be it Congress, the Communist parties, BJP, or regional parties such as TDP (Telugu Desham Party) and TRS (Telangana Rastra Samithi). Many of the first generation feudal landlords also became IAS, IPS, lawyers, doctors, engineers and other professionals. Except for those who were in politics, the others left villages due to the Naxalite movement and settled in cities such as Hyderabad, or migrated to western countries such as America, Canada, Australia and UK with the advantage of modern education. The second generation also became doctors, engineers and other professionals apart from being in politics. The third generation of feudal castes are not much aware about Telangana villages because most of them were born and brought up in either foreign countries or in metro cities; they are mostly into software and other modern professions. One needs to be aware of the cultural differences between societies in foreign countries and feudal societies such as Telangana.

The first generation of feudal families enjoyed the exploitation of Dalits and marginalised communities in Telangana villages with the practice of Vetti, bonded labour and Jogini. Those were the times when no one from the marginalised communities dared to wear shoes and rumal (the traditional headdress of man) before the feudal landlords. When the feudal landlord entered the village, the people of marginalised communities were required to remove their shoes and their rumal. They were compelled to stand and fold their hands. In western societies, the situation is completely different. In this context, Guda Anjanna explained the attitude of the Telangana feudal dominant castes and their participation in the separate Telangana movement in a short story of three generations of a feudal family of Telangana.

Anjanna spoke to me, “A first generation man (grandfather) from a feudal family from Telangana visited his grandson in America. The grandson took him around in America in an expensive car, and they partook of all the modern facilities there. One fine day, the grandson told his grandfather, ‘you are lucky to have your grandson, me, in America; I have shown you many things here in addition to going around in a big car and living in a big bungalow with all modern facilities, be proud of this’. The boy repeatedly mentioned this.

The old man got fed up with the comments of his grandson, and said ‘I enjoyed more when I was in my village than in America. Have you seen anyone folding their hands in respect for us, or anyone touching your feet here, or standing up on your arrival, or removing their shoes and rumal in respect of you in your presence? No, but it was different in my childhood in our villages. Whenever we entered the village, everyone used to stand up, remove their shoes and rumal, and fold their hands in respect. We used to get whatever we wanted free of cost (referring to Vetti, bonded labour and Jogini system) and that is our background. Now, who cares about us here in America? Who recognises us here? My life was much better in a Telangana village in comparison to your life in America”.

When the grandson expressed his desire to visit a Telangana village, the grandfather replied, “we can visit the village, but those golden years when all the people of the village used to come and work for us free of cost and serve us like our slaves are gone now because of the Naxalite movements. However, the situation has improved after the formation of the Telangana Rastra Samithi; now-a-days when we go back to our villages, people come and pay respect to us”. They both visited their ancestral village, the grandfather in this story is a political leader who was fighting for a separate Telangana. Just as the grandfather had said, all the village people arranged welcome banners; people came to their bungalow and paid respect while standing with folded hands, some of the village lower caste people also touched their feet.

The grandson felt happy to see this, and said, “It is nice that a whole village pays attention to us”. The grandfather replied, “It was much better during my childhood days”. The grandson asked, “Is it possible for those old days to return?”, to which the grandfather replied “why not, if we get a separate Telangana, we will get our old pride and golden days’.

The above story was used by some of the activists to make fun, but that is the truth about Telangana. Feudalism has come back after the formation of a separate Telangana state and Telangana NRIs want to come back to their villages. This story also tells us about the kind of politics that was played in the Telangana region in the name of a separate Telangana movement and which eventually led to the formation of the Telangana state. This story was told by Anjanna in 2004 when the Telangana political movement was at its peak.

Anjanna had foreseen the Telangana politics and imagined the public life. He was a great intellectual and artist apart from writing thousands of songs and stories, I remember one of his stories published in a small magazine that was run by Skybaba few years ago. The story was title “Beeripuri”, and in it he explained the life of a Dalit orphan boy, and how he was branded as a mad man by the village, I read that story a decade ago but I still remember the way he depicted Telangana Dalit life. Many of his works are unpublished, many of his songs published without his name. This note is my sincere tribute to this great man in my personal capacity. I hope his literary friends will write more about his literature that I am not capable to write now. He will be remembered for several generations and his songs will keep inspiring us.

The views expressed in this this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the opinion of any organisation he’s associated with.

*Please find the full translation here, and some other songs here.

~~~

Karthik Navayan is a human rights activist.

RADICAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOD’S PRAYER AND BUDDHA VANDANA – CHAKRADHAR HADKE


# RADICAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOD’S PRAYER AND BUDDHA VANDANA.

# GOD IS NOTHING BUT CREATION OF ENORMOUS THINKING POWER OF MAN

# PRAYERS TO GOD ARE FUTILE AND MIRAGE.

Animal does not believe in god, soul or anything supernatural. Eat and to be eaten is the law of animal culture/kingdom and the same is also the law of nature too. On the contrary, man believes in all these things. Why does he believe in? Because he has enormous thinking power which is itself a unique feature. Let us deduct enormous power of thinking from the brain of man, then he will come to status of animal at par. At this stage he will forget god, soul or anything supernatural. Again take out thinking power from brain, man will again not believe in god, repeat the process so on. Thus, with this experiment, it is crystal clear that god, soul or anything supernatural is creation of enormous thinking power of man. Nature’s scientist RUSO stated, “All false (theistic) religions are enemies of Nature”. V.R.Narla said, “God is only to those who trade (emotionally and financially) in name of god, others need not worry about god”. These opinions/logics are nightmare to god traders in the world.
Prayers to god are just like a long distance telephonic conversation between two parties in which one party i.e. a devotee prays like anything , asks everything good for him , his family members, good luck, wealth, and what not! He prays very solemnly by way of devotional song, aarti, and deep meditation. But alas! the glaring fact of human life on the earth and unconscious nature (a sort of tragedy of human being) that there exists nobody (another party i.e. god) at another end of the telephone to hear all supplications i.e. prayer, hymns, aarti solemn appeasement by way of meditation. This is the whole fact of life, for one may believe or not. It is quite clear from the above that, alas! the tragedy of human life on the earth, “There is nobody (god) present at another end of telephone to receive/hear theist’s supplications, is the whole fact of life.” Then what is observed through rational eyes! i.e. The devotee prays like anything so solemnly. He asks for himself and by himself only so gravely. This is utter symptom of madness/metal disorder, because it does not adhere to logic/reason. On the other hand, Buddha -Vandana (Simple recitation of Trisharan, Panchsheel, noble eight fold path, noble ten parmitas, and other doctrines of the Buddha) where he does not ask anything from the Buddha: but his own commitment and firmness to tread himself on the said virtuous path of Dhamma. The entire teachings of the Buddha lead him to within himself, which tend to possess radical positive change in his mind. And with this, there is no need of another end of telephone in case of Buddha-Vandana. In fact, he asks for himself and by himself also like theist devotee; but what does he ask? He asks himself to refrain from all evils, embraces virtues deeply to his conscience and purify mind (summary of Dhamma path). Having been so, there is no need of far end of telephone for the Buddhist devotee. So is the crystal clear radical difference between god’s prayer and Buddha-Vandana.
It is further stated that god’s prayer is purely sentimental-cum-monetary business and of course, it is futile/useless, if anybody observes it through rational eye. Let us calculate materially/eventfully i.e. Since there is no relationship between god and fulfillment of desire, Purohits/Priests exploit fear (of god), ignorance, greed, passion and selfishness exiting in the mind of ignorant people and gullible who come all the way in form of devotees, irrespective of their high academic and professional degrees and wealth they possess. Simply, they waste their time, money and eventual inconvenience/stress cause to them, in perennial pursuit of mirage/passion/lust. For instance, Hoteliers nearby such temples never miss the chance to exploit them. Interestingly, there exists a custom of offering ‘Navas’ or ‘Mannat’. Devotee prays god and decides on his own accord that he would pay some thing in form of ‘Navas’ or ‘Mannat’ after completion of his desire. Yet, the devotee is smart enough that he does not trust god, as he does not offer ‘Navas’ or ‘Mannat’ before fulfillment of his desire. Interestingly, such people are ultimately deceived by parasite Purohit/Priest as ‘Navas’ or ‘Mannat’ is credited in account of Purohit/Priest. This is ‘Intellectual Corruption’ and I am very sorry to say, “India is an intellectual desert”. Looking to the glaring fact, temple businesses have been running in trillions of rupees for millennia in this country. For instance, Tirupati Balaji temple makes business to a tune of Rs 600 Crores turnover per annum (just like a giant business company; but without set up i.e. raw material, process unit, machinery and etc) , followed by Vaishnavdevi temple and Saibaba temple of Shirdi. Temple business earns Rs 23. 20 lakh-crore whereas this country’s earning is Rs 5. 54 lakh-crore. I.e Temple earning is around 4. 50 times more than earning of this country. (Ref.: Hari Narke, Samrat, dated30/04/06). Where does this huge money go? Bahujans must seek this answer from temple authorities or government or in Parliament. This amount should be implemented for welfare of Bahujans and other social welfare schemes of the government. Isn’t it?
Of course, there is no relationship between god and fulfillment of his desire. Same has been conceded by noted psychologist of Harvard University Dr. Richard McNally while commenting on the project in this regard. He told, “This is a big wastage of time and money.” This comment was offered by him while research was continued on relation between the fulfillment of devotee’s wishes and prayers of god he performed so solemnly for. This project was run for 4 years worth 2.30 million dollar. Indeed! This research is a bitter fact must be known to the people who used to be in queue of Tirupati Balaji and other such temples. If the fact is known to them, they will be free from this witchcraft of priestly class. Whereas, in case of Buddha-Vandana, the Buddhist pays reverence/high respect to the Buddha by chanting Trisharan, Panch-sheel etc. and offering flowers, lighting candle etc. There is no business at all in case of Buddha-Vandana, only it is a commitment of to tread on the path of ‘Dhamma’, which must be noted by the readers.
Author :
Chakradhar Hadke,

Human Rights Forum (HRF) condemns the unjust suspension of Prof. KY Ratnam and Dr S. Tathagata


Press Release

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) condemns the unjust suspension by the University of Hyderabad administration of Prof. KY Ratnam and Dr S. Tathagata, both faculty at the UoH. We demand that the suspensions be immediately revoked.

At a time when universities are becoming increasingly disconnected from the world outside, to take a principled stand and persistently struggle on issues of justice both within and outside universities, as Ratnam and Tathagata have been doing, ought to be admired and supported. In the UoH, they have been engaged along with several students and faculty members in a collective struggle against discrimination of dalits and the marginalised.

Following the brutal crackdown on students of the university this March 22, the two faculty members along with several students were arrested and sent to judicial custody. The university has now, three months after the arrest and release of these individuals, decided to suspend Tathagata and Ratnam. This is clearly vindictive and spiteful.

This is an administration that has breached norms of justice and fair play and has deliberately targeted students from disadvantaged and dalit backgrounds leading up to the institutionalized murder of Rohith Vemula. It has been evident since many months that all this is happening with the explicit patronage of Hindutva elements within the government.

The events leading up to Rohit’s death unleashed a discourse around caste-based discrimination on campuses across the nation and struggles seeking ‘Justice for Rohith’. This has done society much good. However, the highly improper and sudden re-assumption of charge as VC by P Appa Rao in March has once again led to administrative intimidation and arbitrariness in UoH. It is intended to protect upper caste hegemony in the institution. It is well to remember that Appa Rao is booked under serious sections of the law including the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Rather than remove him from his position as VC and ensure that he is criminally prosecuted, the BJP government is brazenly backing this man.

HRF condemns the increasingly stifling nature of academic and non-academic spaces. The UoH administration’s actions subvert the very idea of a university being a space for dialogue and dissent. We urge concerned citizens and organisations to recognize the nature of changes we are witnessing around us and come together in order to uphold two very necessary components of a society working towards increasing democracy and justice: respect for diversity of opinion and an end to discrimination in all forms.

 

VS Krishna                                                                                           S Jeevan Kumar

(HRF general secretary, TS&AP)                                           (HRF president, TS&AP)

16-6-2016, Hyderabad

 

 

 

Tribute to Eleanor Zelliot – By Mangesh Dahiwale


One of the great scholar on Babasaheb Ambedkar Eleanor Zelliot has passedaway today in the morning…she was the one who started work on Babasaheb Ambedkar during 1960s…she has written many books on Babasaheb and dalit studies. Below is the moving tributes to her by Mangesh Dahiwale.

Just after the sad demise of Babasaheb Ambedkar in 1956, Eleanor Zelliot came to India in the 1960s to conduct her field work for her PhD dissertation. She was pursuing her PhD in history. Those were the days when the Sun was just gone beyond the horizon, but his impact was felt everywhere and was alive. Eleanor came as a scholar to study Ambedkar and his movement, but in the end, she dedicated herself to serve Ambedkar and his movement. Her life is a remarkable journey of one person and her determination to help the cause of liberation of India’s untouchables from the shackles of the caste system. Together with Gail Omvedt, they form the shining binary stars in the constellation of Ambedkarite movement. When she started conducting her field work in Maharashtra, she lived in the villages among the villagers and as one of them. She lived in Maharwadas and conducted many interviews of the people who worked with Babasaheb Ambedkar and documented them. It was fun and delight to hear stories of her field work in those days. She always sprinkled her communication with her sharp and timely wit and humor.

She got her PhD dissertation submitted as “ Ambedkar and Mahar movement”, and later on she became very unhappy with the unfortunate title of “Mahar movement”. She was aware of the all India movement, but somehow she could not cover the entire Ambedkarite movement in her thesis, the shortcoming she wanted to overcome in her four decades of dedication to the movement in India and through publishing many papers and essays on various dimensions of Babasaheb Ambedkar and his movement. Her thesis was not published for a long time. She became largely popular in the Ambedkarite movement through her papers, some of them were compiled in the book “From untouchables to Dalits”, and her talks delivered all over Maharashtra in fluent Marathi. I would be always delighted and happy with the small part that I played in getting her thesis published, but I will share that story later. She tried to cover as much ground as possible in exploring, studying, and documenting Ambedkarite movement. The book “from untouchables to Dalits” is just the tip of iceberg of papers and essays she wrote on Babasaheb Ambedkar and his movement. She had in her writings, for example, also documented “from the Dalits to Buddhists”. I used to urge her to publish her all papers and publish which would certainly be compiled into a couple of books. But during those days were when the copies were printed and sent to seminars and conferences, and there were no soft copies. She had lost track of many of her papers and essays.

Besides contributing to the academic and scholarly work on Babasaheb Ambedkar, she initiated many young Americans to study Babasaheb Ambedkar and his movement. I know many people who were directly inspired by Eleanor Zelliot to study Babasaheb Ambedkar and his movement. The burgeoning interest in Ambedkar studies abroad is one of the great gifts of Eleanor Zelliot to the Ambedkarite movement. There is a network and informal association of scholars that Eleanor activated and encouraged. Through American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), she got many young Americans to study Marathi and various aspects of Ambedkarite movement. She contributed to the development of AIIS which is one of the major refuge for the scholars in America even today.

Eleanor developed lifelong friendships with Ambedkarite people and communities. She used to travel regularly and extensively in India, particularly Maharashtra. Her Quaker background made her a relentless fighter for peace and social justice. She had zero tolerance for hypocrisy in the name of religion and she remained fighter for the cause of liberation till the end of her life. Her good friends included the Moon couple. Vasant Moon Saheb and Minaxi Moon hosted her in Nagpur. Without the Moon couple, Eleanor, and Gail, it would have been difficult to get the documented Ambedkarite movement. The highest mark of their collaboration was the English Translation of Vasant Moon’s autobiography “Vasti” which was translated by Gail Omvedt as “Growing up as an Untouchable” and the preface written by Eleanor Zelliot. It is a shining document of struggle and movement.

She was a good friend and mentor to me. I first came to know her through emails which she wrote in the Buddhist circles and other egroups. She coined a word for likes of young Ambedkarites like us “Digital Dalits”. She used to read every single email with interest and write whenever she could with her unparallel intelligence and wisdom. She introduced many people and many ideas then through her communication. In fact, I owe one of my first publications of an essay to Eleanor Zelliot, which was a very small article on Guru Ravidas. So when she came to New Delhi, we organized a program in Ashoka Mission. It was great to see Eleanor and Gail together; two grandmothers of Ambedkarite movements. By the way she never used to like to be addressed that way, and she used to warn me to call her “Maushi” in Marathi which means “Maternal aunt”.   I wanted to read her PhD thesis which was not available then and she was very shy about the unfortunate title. She sent a copy of that in 2003. It is really an important work. She didn’t want the title and she was reluctant to publish it. Mr. Rawat of the Blue Moon publication was my friend  and we worked on republishing a book of Lakshmi Narsu: The History of Caste. I showed him the thesis and he was immediately interested. We got that book published as “Ambedkar and the Untouchable movement” then, now that book is republished by Navayana as “Ambedkar’s World”: better title than the original one!!

Her compassionate was exemplary. In 2007, Maitreyanath and I went to tour USA to talk about our work. Eleanor was supportive of this initiative. She was in her late 70s then and she didn’t drive at all. But on that day though she was old, fragile, and not well, she came to the airport to receive us and drive us to her home. That face full of radiance, compassion, and warmth is difficult to forget ever. She lived at the part and parcel of the Ambedkarite movement and she will be long remembered for her commitment to the movement in India. For the service she had rendered to the people of India, particularly to India’s discriminated communities, she deserves the highest honor of the land. She has already earned a place of respect and reverence in the hearts of millions of Ambedkarites.

Support US senators are raising strong voices on Human rights issues in India including Dalit rights


Jaibhim!

Few US senators are raising strong voices on Human rights issues in India including Dalit rights. We need to show our support to them by sending emails in an individual and origination capacity. Please see more details below.

We request you to send your mails before 6th Jun.

On Tue 7th Jun Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is organizing a hearing that will examine the current state of human rights in India, challenges to fundamental freedoms, and opportunities for advancement. Please see more details below.
https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/challenges-opportunities-advancement-human-rights-india

How to Email:

Senator Cory Gardner

https://www.gardner.senate.gov/contact-cory/email-cory

Sen. Bob Corker

https://www.corker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailme

Sen. Ben Cardin

https://www.cardin.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm?type=assistance

Sen. Kaine

https://www.kaine.senate.gov/contact

Articles:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/ahead-of-pm-modis-visit-top-us-senators-voice-concern-over-religious-freedom-in-india-2818396/

http://www.financialexpress.com/article/india-news/us-senator-ben-cardin-criticises-india-on-religious-intolerance/271610/

http://scroll.in/article/808967/what-explains-india-getting-such-a-public-lashing-from-us-lawmakers-on-the-eve-of-modis-visit

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/01/u-s-senators-attack-indias-human-rights-record-before-modis-capitol-hill-address/

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-ahead-of-modi-visit-us-senator-ben-cardin-rakes-up-religious-intolerance-and-human-rights-violations-in-india-2218985

Sample letter from AIM to Sen Bob Corker:

Dear Sen. Bob Corker

We are reaching out to congratulate you and to extend our unflinching support towards your efforts in realizing the lost-gone rights for the world’s oldest continued discriminated community – the caste based Dalits, Untouchables and Tribal of India. This is such a large magnitude problem wherein 300 million Dalits suffer day in and day out. Their population is close to that of our United States of America.

Your statement on the modern forms of slavery and its execution via state resources is one of the boldest and never made statement to our record from the US congressional body. More so it is a very true statement.

Your role as the leader of the Foreign Relations Committee resounds the commitment of nurturing democratic transparency and to hold them responsible who ruckus massacring people without impunity.

The assertive recognition of Indian imagery in the US eyes, is mostly determined by the Indians living in the US. The American Indians who are mostly privileged caste provide falsified narratives to the American public by reinvigorating the Indic values. This is a misnomer and utter rubbish, as Hindu values propagate caste and it is where the rationalization of caste oppression takes route. You will notice, the religious conversion is the result of caste oppression. Most of the Dalits who are tired of their subjugation opt for non-Hindu religions, viz. Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.

Hence, an attack on the Christian mission and the Islamic constituency has to do with the emphasis on caste. Privileged caste Hindus demonstrate violence with a muscular form of domination. This violence is intended to annihilate the favorable position of the subordinate caste groups. It is in this thought, that we come as a coalition group to refute the violence on subordinate caste groups in India. The coalition affirms its unanimous position to challenge caste dominance and its violence.

Your leadership and bold reiteration on the pathetic Indian caste values affirms our hopes in the American government to pressure the otherwise dismissive Indian state governed by oppressor caste group[s].

The usual defense given by the Indian state to the UN committees and other international bodies is about the constitutional and statutory safeguard accorded to the Dalits and other minority groups. However, as you have pointed out in acumen that there is “zero persecution ability and zero law enforcement” for the Indian State.  This is the true state of affairs. The conviction rate for Human Rights violation of Dalits is between 10-20% only. And we continue to be the most forlorn community living on the pathetic caste values that determine us by the mere virtue of our birth. Dalit women is another group that is witness to everyday forms of brutal violence on account of caste principles that thralls to the male oriented gaze.

In your efforts for the Dalit rights, sir, we extend our warmest wishes and proactive support. Please let us know how we could assist in delivering your mandate on caste issues. Happy to meet with a Dalit delegation

In solidarity,

Dr.Ambedkar International Mission Inc U.S.A.

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) calls upon the government to bring about a comprehensive ‘Drought Relief Code’


Press Release

30-5-2016

Hyderabad

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) calls upon the government to bring about a comprehensive ‘Drought Relief Code’. This statutory drought code should encompass measures that must be implemented towards effective drought relief and mitigation. The duties of the State to the people affected by drought and the rights and entitlements of those who suffer from drought must be codified in this law. Such a code is imperative because governments continue to exhibit adhocism and tokenism in the matter of relief towards the drought-hit.

HRF surveys in several districts during April-May this year revealed that all nine districts in Telangana and much of Rayalseema are severely drought-hit. While in essence drought means shortage of water, even in times of a seemingly ‘normal’ rainfall season there can be drought if water sources are mismanaged, as they currently are in both these regions. Governmental response to the ongoing crisis has been pathetic, even after the recent Supreme Court directions on drought. To take one instance –  that of the NREG Act; even where a pittance of funds have been released by the Centre, there has been very little concrete relief for rural labourers in terms of availability of work, decent wages and prompt payment. Governmental insensitivity is evident in the fact that not even a single mandal in Adilabad and Khammam districts of Telangana been declared drought-hit. Senior officials are even denying that there is distress migration from Mahbubnagar district!

Placing people in such a position is to deny them their right to life. Yet, the sad reality is that drought-mitigation is not a statutory right in our country. Since we have a Constitution oriented to welfare, the time has come to speak in terms of the right not to be tormented by drought. In the immediate context therefore, this means that where there is drought, people should as a matter of right be provided with the three basic requirements to preserve life: work for people, fodder for animals and drinking water for both.

The grim reality is that despite public pronouncements to the contrary, governments are doing precious little for the provision of even these three rights. HRF feels that it is time all political parties and peoples movements got together to demand a statutory drought code which will ensure these minimal reliefs as a matter of right so that the drought-hit people need not beg or fight every year for mere survival when the water sources dry up.

 

VS Krishna                                                                                       S Jeevan Kumar

(HRF general secretary, TS&AP)                                    (HRF president, TS&AP)

 

 

Criminalising the dissent on the name of Maoists – Democratic Students Union


Criminalizing the dissent in the name of Maoists
That is what Telangana Govt is saying. Telangana Govt denied permission for a rally and public meeting on “Fight against the Govt witch hunt on the Adivasis, Dalits, Women and Minorities of the Nation” to be held at Warangal on 24-05-16 organized by Telangana Democratic Forum (TDF) on the pretext that TDF is a frontal organization of CPI(Maoist).
Permission for the rally and public meeting was granted by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Warangal on 14-05-16 itself. Now, on 21-05-16, two days before the meeting, Chikkudu Prabhakar, convener of TDF received a letter from ACP, Warangal stating that the permission for the rally and public meeting has been cancelled. The permission was denied on the pretext that TDF is a frontal organization of CPI Maoist and this meeting is aimed at implementing the agenda if CPI Maoists. They also started arresting the activists, intellectuals and students who are part of TDF. 
How ridiculous it is! TDF as a collective forum was formed by coordinating 370 organizations across the state to protect the democratic, fundamental rights of Dalits, Adivasis, Minorities and Women. TDF has been continuously raising their voice against the Anti-people policies of Govt which are responsible for the Farmers’ Suicides and Drought in Telangana. They also have been fighting against the Institutional murder of Rohith Vemula and fake encounters that are aimed at suppressing the people’s movements. TDF lead a massive people movement against the fake encounters of Tangella Sruthi, and Vidya Sagar Reddy who were brutally tortured and murdered by the Telangana police. Just because they were members of CPI Maoist, it doesn’t mean that they deserve this kind of brutal torture. In the case of Cherukuri Rajkumar aka Azad who was murdered in fake encounter, Supreme Court of India clearly said that “Republic cannot kill their own children”.
KCR, in his election campaign has promised to create an encounter free Telangana, and also said that “Maoist’s agenda is my agenda”. But, ironically he has been continuing the legacy of his Seemandhra predecessors by killing tribals in fake encounters and hunting the activists and intellectuals of Telangana by branding them Maoists.
And, this is not the first time that KCR Govt is doing this. After formation of Telangana, on September 21, 2014, when intellectuals and activists of Andhra and Telangana tried to conduct a meeting on the future of alternative politics under the banner of ‘Alternative Political Forum’, they were denied permission and around 5000 people have been arrested on the same false charge that APF is the frontal organization of CPI Maoists. Chalo Assembly call by TDF on the issues of Drought, Farmers’ Suicides and Fake Encounters in Telangana was also stopped by Telangana police. 
It has become a fashion for the State to brand anybody who fight against the oppressive policies of state as Maoists. The intellectuals who are in the forefront in opposing the anti-people policies of State has been branded as Maiots and they have been slapped with false charges under draconian laws such as Sedition and UAPA. The recent examples are Dr. Gn Sai Baba and Dr Kaseem. State is using this Maoist tag to criminalize the dissent and to suppress the democratic voices. 
We strongly condemn the Telangana Govt for denying the democratic right to hold public meetings on people’s issues!
We demand the immediate release of the people who are arrested under false charges!
We demand the scrapping of all draconian laws!

Kancharla Badri (President)
Arunank (Gen-Sec)
Democratic Students’ Union
Telangana

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