Every freedom movement involves toppling its masters. The masters ruling Telangana now are the Seemandhra politicians, leaders and their institutions, supported by Indian Government in New Delhi. In our revolution, we will also be toppling our masters. How that toppling will happen, will it be passive and peaceful or active and aggressive, is something that only our masters will decide. If they let Telangana form without much resistance it will be a passive revolution. Otherwise, there is a chance it will be an aggressive one. Borrowing the quote from Dileep:
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
- John F. Kennedy
When the Government of Andhra Pradesh resorted to autocratic and dictatorial methods of completely suppressing all freedoms in this region by arresting more than 100,000 Telangana people merely on suspicion, arresting most of the political leadership right before the march, and setting up hundreds of barricades in the region, the people of this region, especially some of the fiery youth who were arrested again and again in the last one year on whims and fancies of the dictatorial police force of Hyderabad, took matter into their own hands. The choice left to these protestors was no longer a passive and peaceful revolution.
In the last one year, people of Telangana have led hundreds of thousands of peaceful protests, rallies, and assemblies. If passive marches would have given us a state, then we should have got our Telangana State thousand times already. It is clear for people of Telangana that these peaceful marches do not yield any results. So, how would you convince the protestors to keep it peaceful anymore, especially when you lock up entire leadership?
People Vs Government
Government of Andhra Pradesh took it as a challenge against people of Telangana and enforced the clampdown five days before the march by arresting every leader in the districts of Telangana. Almost every protestor coming from the districts of Telangana was stopped outside the Hyderabad city. Police boarded every bus to arrest or stop anyone under 30 from entering Hyderabad. On the last day 43 trains were cancelled in the region. All bus services to the city were suspended. The whole city was barricaded with barbed wires, fencing and armed forces ensuring nobody entered the city. Within the city, barricades and massive army forces were stationed at all major entry points to make sure the Million March becomes a damp squib.
Instead, Million March became a roaring success. Thousands of Telangana supporters broke through the barricades facing the prospect of immediate arrest. It was sheer grit and determination of the Telangana supporters living in Hyderabad. They came to Tank Bund as if they have won a battle. Lawyers, doctors, young and old, showed up on Tank Bund. Some of the leaders had a dramatic entry, like Harish Rao on a boat. The people were elated and celebrated the spirit of common brotherhood. However, some young people were quite angry that Prof Kodandaram was arrested. They gave clear warning on TV that they would go ahead and topple the statues if he was not released. Government of Andhra Pradesh did not budge. It let the young people take up the challenge. And they did.
Breaking the statues
For a very long time now Telanganas were quite peeved that out of 33 statues on Tank Bund only 7 were of people from Telangana. They asked, ‘how come our hero figures don’t feature?’ Clearly it was another case of Seemandhra's marginalization and suppression of Telangana people. Today, these youth took the opportunity to topple these statues of Seemandhra hero figures.
If a woman is pushed into complete submission and raped repeatedly, if she cries for help and still nobody pays attentions, and if one day she retaliates with vengeance, slaps the perpetrator on his face and then abuses him, will we now find fault with that woman for raising her hand and for swearing abuses, calling it so-un-lady-like? Or do we sympathize with her and understand why she had to resort to hitting the perpetrator and why she had to abuse him?
When the rape victim hits back it is a sign of defiance. When the angry youth destroyed these statues and threw them into Hussain Sagar it is a sign of defiance.
Such expression of defiance is common in almost every freedom movement on the planet. In almost every people’s movement, the symbols of oppression are attacked. When Iraqi people got freedom from Saddam, they toppled his statues. When Egyptians wanted to get rid of Mubarak’s oppressive regime, they went about toppling his statues. When Telanganas wanted to get rid of Seemandhra rule, they went about toppling their statues.
Government of India and Government of Andhra Pradesh has ruthlessly tried to suppress a genuine democratic expression by deploying thousands of forces across the entire region, putting up barricades, making Telangana look like war zone, arresting people on mere suspicion, suppressing human rights, and curtailing free movement. When the fiery youth, who came to Tank Bund fighting through various check posts and escaping from the police, were vandalizing the statues, a respected Telangana activist tried to stop these youth. The youth asked him, ‘so where were you when we were repeatedly arrested by the police?’ He had no answer.
Be proud or be ashamed?
Some of our detractors, which include the national media and our beloved Seemandhra antagonists, are pained by the destruction of these lifeless statues. They think it is a shameful act. They think it is a disgrace to our movement. Some of the Telangana leaders also have been pushed to feel guilty.
Why should Telangana be ashamed of this act? Why should it be a disgrace?
While we in Telangana are pained by the arrest of 100,000 people based on mere suspicion and death of 600 students who have committed suicides, the detractors are pained by the destruction of few dumb and lifeless statues on Tank Bund. It shows where our priorities lies. While we are interested in preserving the lives of real people and protecting our inalienable rights, there are more interested in preserving objects of stone. So who is more humane?
I don’t see a reason why we should apologize for this act or feel ashamed. We have always maintained that Telangana Movement involved cultural renaissance of Telangana. We are in the middle of a revolution – maybe we can call it Pink Revolution (because you tend to see pink flags everywhere). This revolution involves de-Andhraization of Telangana. You cannot have a revolution without removing the statues of your oppressors. Removal of the statues was something that had to be done eventually. These statues are not pieces of antiquity. They were made 25 years ago and they have no archaeological value.
If Seemandhras had cooperated with our movement we would have gladly shipped these statues to their new capital. But they have given us no choice. Seemandhras say they have been emotionally hurt. Well, it’s a small price to pay for all the hurt Telanganas have gone through in the last 54 years of oppression, where we were hurt not just emotionally but politically, economically and culturally.
Today, whole of Telangana should celebrate the destruction of the statues, which are symbols of our oppressors, as the greatest democratic expression of the 40 million Telangana people. Today, we should take responsibility for what happened on the Tank Bund and say that ‘yes, we are proud of what happened’.
Today, we made it clear. This is our capital. Your statues are not welcome here anymore. You cannot impose them onto us. Sooner you realize the better it is for all of us. A movement becomes violent not because it wants to become violent, but it becomes violent only as a reaction to oppressive methods used by the ruling regimes.
Today, the government in power in Andhra Pradesh is an illegitimate government unrecognized by people of Telangana. All those in seat of power will be discredited and discarded. And the fate of the politicians in Telangana who do not put pressure on their respective parties and governments will see a similar fate - their political careers will be destroyed and submerged into Hussain Sagar, like the statues of Tank Bund.