On 3 June 1947, Lord Mountbatten was asked when India would become independent. For many years Indians were fighting for complete freedom from the British and were looking for a concrete answer, not another vague statement. Lord Mountbatten was sent to India to transfer the power to local leaders but he was not prepared with a clear deadline. The first date that came into his mind was the date Japanese surrendered to Allies two years ago on 15 August 1945. He made up the deadline on the fly for India’s Independence: 15 August 1947. It took less than 3 months to create a new country out of the crown jewel of British Empire and divide a subcontinent.
We were looking for a deadline
How long will it take to carve up a state within the legal confines of Indian Constitution? Indians think that forming a state is more complex and complicated than forming a country. Srikrishna Committee is given 11 months to come up with a report. The decision to create Telangana is now on hold. So nobody knows exactly when Telangana will be formed. A cartoon in Times of India captures this well. One politician says to the other: Tell them Telangana will be formed by April – don’t specify the year or the century.
In last few weeks, the entire Telangana was looking forward to announcement of a date when Telangana would be formed. Instead, what we got was another committee. Another cartoon in Times of India captures this. A politician is announcing to the press: A core group will select experts to elect a panel to form a commission headed by…
Not another committee
How many committees will be formed to decide the fate of Telangana? How many tactics will be employed to stall the eventuality? How many more violent movements will be created before we admit our mistakes? Why has it become so difficult for India to carve up some states like Telangana while it has easily created states like Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand?
The terms of reference for this committee does not spell out anything concrete. By being vague, without giving deadlines for actual creation of Telangana, without committing to anything, India is playing with people of Telangana.
The only good thing India did to people of Telangana in the last sixty years was when they liberated it from Nizam. After that this region got sucked into a farcical experiment called Andhra Pradesh, which was nothing but a solution to quench the desire of Andhras looking for a good city to build their capital. Telanganas had to endure subjugation for the next 53 years only because Hyderabad was inside Telangana. Now, this city has become an issue of contention once again. Andhras have no love for Telanganas. But they hold the city of Hyderabad dear to their hearts and are not willing to let go.
History of Telangana in post-Independent India is fraught with false promises and riddled with broken agreements. There have been so many accords, so many agreements, so many formulas, so many legal verdicts, so many Government Orders, and so many committees. Of what use are they to people of Telangana when none of them could address their aspirations, when one of them could save them from the domination of the majority Andhras. Now, we get another committee which doesn’t even spell out if there will be Telangana or not.
What will happen if this report lists downs a set of reasons why Telangana should be formed and another set of reasons why the state should remain united? Would the center think that those supporting Telangana outweigh the other? What is the guarantee that Telangana will be formed after the report is created? Didn’t the SRC of 1950s list pros and cons for keeping Telangana separate? And didn’t the lobbying of Andhra leaders in New Delhi prevail eventually? So what stops Andhras from lobbying again after the report is ready on 31st December 2010? Fact finding missions have no validity in India. Commissions and committees don’t lead us to anywhere in India.
India plays with its people
India has been playing with people of Telangana to satisfy the greed of Andhras. India has failed to protect its minority and underprivileged groups against the onslaught of majority and privileged groups. It has failed to live up to the promises it made in its Constitution. Telangana resides inside a free and independent India but is still not free from the clutches of subjugation.
Indira Gandhi played with people’s aspirations across Indian subcontinent. She suppressed 1969 Telangana Agitation with ruthless force, killing 370 people and incarcerating more than 50,000 people. That failed movement, followed by series of betrayals led to disillusionment and disenchantment amongst youth of Telangana which got a vent in Naxal Movement. What else do you expect when a people’s movement is suppressed so mercilessly and so unjustifiably? For the next 30 years, Telanganas had to fight their own people, keeping their Telangana Movement on hold. The armies and central police force was ubiquitous, Section 144 a daily affair. Thousands died in the Naxal Movement. It continues to haunt Telangana as a socio-economic problem.
Indira Gandhi played with many other people in India. Akalis of Punjab refused to cow down to Congress for many decades. They were on their own even before India’s Independence though Congress enjoyed the support of entire country. Even Nehru could not enter the bastion of Akalis. Indira Gandhi, high on her victories against Telanganas in 1969, against Pakistan in 1971, against all opposition parties during Emergency of 1975-77, thought she could tame Akalis as well. Brindanwale was positioned to come to power but when he got the power he decided to assert himself independent of Indira Gandhi. What followed next was a series of disasters – Operation Blue Star that blasted its way into Golden Temple, vengeance of Sikhs by assassinating Indira Gandhi, reprisal of rioters that killed nearly 4000 Sikhs in New Delhi, and eventual Khalistan Movement seeking separate nation. By the time the problem was solved thousands of people were killed and lakhs of young Sikhs got jailed.
Why did India not solve its problems maturely? Why did it try to play with its people? Why did it allow creation of Naxals in Telangana and Khalistan militants in Punjab?
Here’s what some police officers think of the current situation in Telangana.
Increasing number of police officers are veering around to the view that if the Telangana issue is not resolved amicably on an urgent basis, the frustrated and disillusioned students may move over to the Maoist….
Recounting the history of the T movement, a police officer said when all means of democratic agitations including falling victim to police bullets, formation of a new party and winning of elections in 1971, failed in achieving a new state, the students felt that there was no point in remaining loyal to law.
"They took up arms. That was the birth of Naxalism in Telangana. The situation looks to me similar to the 1969-1971 period. If the students see no hope in continuing with their democratic struggle, there is clear danger that they might walk into the open arms of the Maoists. But unfortunately, the government wants us to treat the T agitation as purely a law-and-order problem which it is not," the officer explained.
India is on the verge of creating another violent movement. India continues to play with its people not learning the lessons from history. It continues to betray us not realizing the consequences.
A chance to set things right
For many years now, people of Telangana paid a heavy price for the mistakes done by New Delhi succumbing to the lobbying of Andhras. Now, India has a chance to correct those mistakes.
What are your plans on solving this problem? Do you want to submit to Andhra lobbying once again? Do you want to convert entire Telangana into Naxals so that you can put us in jails making the path clear for Andhras to continue ruling us? You thought you suppressed our movement in 1969. You did not. Make no mistake about it. You cannot crush this movement with your silly tactics. It will survive another hundred years with the same vigor.
Telanganas knows its enemy now
Unlike in the past, the whole of Telangana knows who the enemy is without a shadow of doubt. The answer to the question why Telanganas are not able to get Telangana is one word: Andhras. Had Andhra leaders kept their promises of their election manifestos there would have been Telangana now. Only their flagrant volte-face on this issue launching a counter-agitation has made the Center retract their December 9th statement on Telangana. The formation of Srikrishna Committee is not a step forward towards formation of Telangana as read out on December 9th but a precursor to that step. It is a step back for people of Telangana.
Now, Andhras have lobbied hard to make sure this Committee has a vague mandate. According to Telangana people this committee has come in place only to buy time so that this agitation subsides or takes a violent form. Either way it is in the best interests of Andhras. If it takes violent form, then they can bring in central police like in 1969 to crush the movement citing it a law and order problem. It is clear our enemy wants to see this movement turn ugly.
The question is does India want to see this movement turn ugly? The question is when will India learn to solve its issues without having to convert every movement into a violent one?
You are playing with us
We have been played before. And it doesn’t feel good. A friend told me, his father used to advice him - don’t hit a cat inside a closed room. The cat will eventually strike back. That’s what you are doing to us now. You are cornering us and beating us down.
Not a single Andhra was attacked in the last sixty days though the people of Telangana are quite passionate and agitated- their anger seething, the feeling of betrayal overwhelming. Though the movement was mostly peaceful with some minor exceptions the whole country thinks we are goons, because the media has only telecasted those small exceptions while they completely ignored our peaceful methods.
Though thousands of peaceful agitations have happened in the last sixty days, nobody is covering them. Telangana people are doing all kinds of innovative ways to express – vanta varpu, dasha disha, dhoom dham, marathons, kabaddi, kho kho, mahila gharjana, blood donation camps, etc. Of late, the agitators of Telangana are beginning to get a feeling that their peaceful protests are being seen as a weakness.
Suicides and Naxalites
There is an explanation for why the young people of Telangana commit suicides or become Naxalites. When you are betrayed again and again, where every promise is overturned, when nobody can be trusted- not even the senior most leaders of this country, young people get disillusioned with the system. The weak-hearted ones commit suicide while the impatient ones become Naxalites. And most others just trudge along in their life carrying their grudges.
The best way to convert Telangana into Naxalana or a mass-suicide land is to continue playing with them. Play with them because you are more concerned about your vote banks and power politics. Play with them because you are greedy. Play with them because you don’t want to stop your exploitation of its people or resources. Play with them because you don’t want to give up your colonies.
Right now the movement is still peaceful because the young and emotional agitators are still listening to the saner voices. But many of them are tired of peaceful methods that are being prescribed and enforced. They have been restraining themselves with the hope that New Delhi will live up to the statement made on 9th December. The current volte-face is a slap on their face.
Patience will not last long
No movement of this size has been so peaceful. You are only testing the patience of Telanganas. The saner voices will soon lose their grip on the movement. Soon, the young agitators will not listen to those who preach peace and restraint.
We request India to put to a stop to all these agitations so that people can go back to doing what they were doing. The animosity and frustration amongst youth has not spilled over yet to become uncontrollable. Don’t let this feeling of betrayal continue because it is going to turn ugly. We don’t like that to happen inside Telangana, because we know what such violent movement brings in. It will bring in leaders who preach violence. It will bring hatred. That is not good for Telangana which wants to build a great state with a great start. Right now, it has embraced so many people into its fold. Even the Muslims of Telangana have joined this movement. Let’s keep this transition peaceful so that saner voices will be respected.
Grant Telangana right away
Andhras want this movement to turn ugly so that they can justify why a new state should not be formed. They don’t understand the extent of the ugliness a suppressed movement this size can create. They don’t know how people react when they are betrayed so many times.
It is in the best interest of everyone in these regions to take quick decisions and put an end to all these agitations. Table the bill in the Parliament right away or hold a referendum in Telangana right away. Scrap Srikrishna committee because we don’t trust their recommendations will be implemented. Our fifty three years history of broken promises is a testament to our mistrust.
Andhras want Hyderabad and nothing else from Telangana, not even Telangana people living in Hyderabad. Just settle the dispute of Hyderabad. Don’t waste time on fact finding missions. Give Telangana right away and save us from ourselves.