Armed Struggle In Andhra Pradesh – Greatest Peasant Struggles In History

The state of Andhra Pradesh has written two glorious chapters in the history of peasant struggles. The exploitative nature of autocratic rule of the Nizam gave birth to Telangana Armed Struggle, spearheaded by Ravi Narayan Reddy which marked a glorious chapter in the history of peasants’ struggles. Whereas Srikakulam saw Naxalites take up arms against the exploitation by the moneylenders and landlords in the Srikakulam Armed Struggle.

Telangana Armed Struggle

Exploitations done against the Telangana people

People in the Telangana region suffered form the exploitations of the autocratic Nizam rule. The division of power was classified in a hierarchy with English imperialists on top of the ladder, followed by the Nizam who was followed by a number of other classes like zamindars, jagirdars, landlords, etc who were puppets in the hands of the Nizam. And below all of them suffered the common people of Telangana.Local officials in the good books of these puppets helped them and all of them competed in exploiting the people.

Small disputes, which are quite normal among people in villages, was an additional source of revenue for the landlords. The parties paid dispute tax to the landlord and also a bribe for the settlement of the same. This tax even chased the men to their cremation, which otherwise would be a permanent release from this burden. The body cannot be
reduced to ashes unless a tax is paid.

People were subject to many cruel punishments like running in front of the landlord's cart, standing in the sun for hours with heavy stones on the back, etc. Money had great value and moneylenders were the village officers. Taxation was so heavy that people were unable to pay and gave up their lands.

In Telangana, under the Nizam, there was a great deal of religious discrimination as the state was considered a Muslim State. And in the hope of liberating themselves from the oppression of the high-caste Hindus, Harijans and other poor people in the villages got converted to Islam. They were enticed with promises of land, employment and a better future. This move only went on to fuel the communal organizations.

Telangana Armed Struggle – Course of action

Under these conditions, there was no respect for the local languages, Telugu, Marathi and Kannada. Urdu was imposed and this led to the formation of cultural organizations like the Andhra Mahasabha. These became a mass movement and a vehicle for carrying the ideology of Congress, and also the Armed Struggle. The Andhra Mahasabha of Madapati Hanumantha Rao had many leaders like Ravi Narayan Reddy, Mundumula Narsing Rao, Boorgula Ramakrishna Rao, Suravaram Pratap Reddy, Valluri Basava Raju, Kaloji Narayan Rao and Nandagiri Venkat Rao.

After the Second World War, socialism and communism caught the attention of the idealist youth like Ravi Narayan Reddy and shaped their thinking. People like Makhdoom, Raj Bahadur Gour, Syed Ibrahim, Alam Khundmiri were in the forefront of the movement. Ravi Narayan Reddy, who started off as a Gandhian changed along with the needs of the people, he joined every movement that served the interests of the people.

The Communist Party under the leadership of Ravi Narayan Reddy spread its wings in Telangana through Andhra Mahasabha. The masses joined in large numbers. Membership of the mahasabha was seen a safeguard against the oppressive feudal lords like Visnuru Deshmukh, Ramachandra Reddy, who was a tyrant and extorted people, the tribulations he forced on people were undescribable. This forced the peasants to take to arms in open revolt against the Deshmukh. This incident catalyzed the peasants to take to Armed Struggle in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh.

People's upsurge spread all over Telangana. During this period the people of Akhnoor and Machireddipalli villages fought the oppressive regime of the Nizam. People taught a lesson to those officials who committed atrocities on them. The polio retaliated by attacking villages in a big scale beat and tortured many, raped women, looted many houses and arrested a large number of persons. This assumed all-India significance.

End of the Telangana Armed Struggle

After Independence of India from the British, Nizam tried to impose his own rule, and when he found some of his old allies, the landlords shifting their allegiance to the people's movement, he panicked and let loose a reign of terror through the Razakars.

In this intensified period of guerrilla warfare, the Nizam government came to a standstill, officials and landlords ran away from the villages and responsibility of the villages was taken over by the guerrilla squads, lands were redistributed.

After the police action, the people of the villages were in a quandry over continuing their backing to the Communists as they perceived the Union Government as a people's government. This led to a gradual fall in mass support for the guerrilla movement. And in 1951, the Communists voluntarily surrendered arms and thus ended a glorious chapter of Telangana Armed Struggle.

Srikakulam Armed Struggle

In Srikakulam, an agency area in North Andhra Pradesh, rich in forest produce, the traders and moneylenders exploited the Girijans. The CPI which joined the movement for the betterment of the lot of the tribals set up Girijan Sangham, fighting against the forced labor of the tribals.

The Naxalbari movement

The Naxalbari movement in Andhra Pradesh had impact on people like Vampattu Satyanarayana (Satyam) in Srikakulam. Chant Majumdar, the ideologue behind the Naxalbari movement established direct links with leaders of Srikakulam movement like Chaudari Tejeswara Rao, Pachadi Krishna Murty. Tarimela Nagi Reddy, who toed the Maoist line was in favour of strong training before armed struggle. The Ultra revolutionaries of the CPI (M) formed the CPI (ML) groups in 1969.

Kanu Sanyal the hero of Naxalbari announced the formation of the new party. In May 1969, Srikakulam leaders met in Visakhapatnam and decided to change their tactics by involving a large group of tribals indulging in acts of violence like elimination of "class enemies". Satyam and Adhibhatla Kailasam opposed the killings of individuals. The joint aètion of Orissa and AP Police resulted in the death of Pachadi Krishna Murty, leading to increased violence and the Government declared Srikakulam Agency "disturbed area". The tribals intensified their struggle and killed moneylenders and landlords.

End of the Srikakulam Armed Struggle

The police retaliated with increased violence. The Srikakulam Armed Struggle collapsed with the deaths of Satyam and Kailasam in a police encounter in 1970. Other leaders like Mamidi Appalasuri and D Nagabushan Patnaik were arrested.

This heralded the end of a chapter in the peasants struggle in Andhra Pradesh.

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How Andhra Pradesh came to be formed on November 1, 1956 – a brief history

This article deals with a brief history as to how the state of Andhra Pradesh was formed on November 1, 1956. It discusses the position of the three Andhra regions before and after independence till the formation of Andhra Pradesh. A brief description of Hyderabad state before and after independence is given. How the states came to be formed on linguistic basis is discussed. Ethnic and administrative differences between regions of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema with that of Telangana are brought out.

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