dies a natural
-- By K.G. Kannabiran
Raghava Ranga Rao is fairly well known in Telengana districts of our state.
He was a communist who played his role in the Telengana Armed Struggle
and later came into the Civil Liberties Movement and played a crucial
role in the development of civil liberties movement in the state. He along
with Sri and Japa Lakshma Reddi of Karimnagar believed, as many of us
do, that the fight against an oppressive system is a basic human right.
He died on the 28 October at the age of 87. He fell down and sustained
a fracture of the hip and one thing led to the other and he passed away.
He died a natural death.
But why am I taking so much of pains to convey that he died a natural
death? Because he is the first civil liberties activist-leader who was
allowed to die a natural death. All the others who predeceased him were
killed by the police and quite brazenly. It all began in 1983. In the
month of January that year I was in Karimnagar on a fact-finding mission
along with my colleagues, when I received a message that our young activist
Gopi Raj Anna, a lawyer, was shot dead by ABVP boys of that area in the
presence of his wife. That was the beginning. Later in the same year on
3 September Dr. Ramanathan, a children's doctor was shot dead in his clinic
by the police.
was justified as a sequel to the killing of, Yadgiri Reddy, a subordinate
police officer in Warrangal. He was the Vice President of APCLC. By all
accounts he was a fine physician and a fine human being. He was silenced
because he was fighting on a day-to-day basis the oppressive practices
of the state against the revolutionary dissent. Japa Lakshma Reddi of
Karimnagar was dragged out of his house and shot in the early hours of
the morning of 7th November 1987. It was justified as a sequel to the
killing of ADB Reddy a police officer the previous day, After the Armed
Struggle he joined the civil liberties movement of the state and was committed
to the cause of human rights and social transformation. Narra Prabhakar
Reddy, a young lawyer practicing in Warrangal was shot inside his house
in the morning of 7th December 1991.
is supposed to be a sequel to the killing of Hayagreeva Chari, a Congress
politician, by no means the best of them, At a time when he was receding
into obscurity he was killed by CPI ML PW and rewarded him with a state
funeral. Prabhakar Reddy was the General Secretary of the District Bar
Association and was the Sarpanch of his village. He was a courageous advocate
who could withstand the threats by the police in defending the Naxalites
in courts. Desire to defend the dissent alone was not sufficient to practice
in Warrangal, as quite a few advocates realised. State sponsored hoodlums
killed Purushotham of Mahboob Nagar and Syed Azam Ali of Nalgonda, as
the state was not provided with a pretext by PW to kill them.
were killed for no reason at all. Deft but disingenuous paper work would
be there to misguide any casual inquiry about these deaths. Inquest enquiries
and similar inquiries by executive magistrates into causes of unnatural
deaths are passed off as valid accounting of deaths to the uninformed
and the disinclined But is it sufficient to refute the charge of culpable
homicide? Civil liberty activist Kaira was killed because his auditing
of the dead in Punjab had dangerous propensities. Andrabi, a lawyer of
Kashmir was killed for the reasons for which the others spoken to about
earlier were killed. Despite all these the efforts to civilise governance
has not stopped.
All these human rights activists were killed because the state was afraid
that they might enforce the constitution. They had, and those who continue,
have the possibility of creating conditions for enforcing the pivotal
fundamental obligations contained in the Directives of the Constitution,
They were helping the state to realize its authentic character given to
it by the Constitution. The Indian State is not an abstract entity to
enable a Ruler to cockily reply, "I am. the State". It is a
state with well-defined limitations and form a well defined value system
of the Constitution. The unlawful killings diminished the state and its
officers and not the movement.
The news of the death of my friend Raghava Ranga Rao brought back to my
memory my life in the movement and the brutal deaths of some of my colleagues
in the movement. Raghava Ranga Rao's was also subjected to stresses, strains
and uncertainties. Some of us, like the proverbial cat, had many lives.
Emerging from the flash back I realized that my journey to Nalgonda was
tension -free unlike the earlier journeys, and that was because Raghava
Ranga Rao died a natural death. I thought I should thank the Chief Minister
and his men for permitting a civil liberty activist to live his full span
and allowing him to die a natural death!