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Telangana Statehood Revisited: Entry of students propelled statehood movement

DECCAN CHRONICLE | Narender Pulloor

Published on: May 27, 2023 | Updated on: May 27, 2023

Barricades being removed in Osmania University. (DC File Image)

HYDERABAD: The active participation of students accelerated the second phase of the Telangana statehood movement. In fact, this, and the fact that many students sacrificed their lives for the cause, expedited the process of Telangana state formation. This was more so with regard to students from Osmania University and Kakatiya University. Being the epicenter of the movement, Osmania University was in the national headlines on an hourly basis.

In the first phase of the Telangana agitation in 1969, around 369 youth, including students, sacrificed their lives. The academic prospects of thousands of students took a life-shattering hit.

The second phase of the movement gained momentum after the formation of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in 2001.

Initially, TRS founder-president K. Chandrashekar Rao made it clear that he will not involve students in the movement. He stuck to his words till 2009. There was no involvement of any student organisations, at least not directly. Using a peaceful democratic approach, Rao ensured that the entire region was involved in the cause.

Telangana Students Joint Action Committee chairman Pidamarthi Ravi said that the role and sacrifices of students were instrumental in achieving statehood. The then UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi deeply concerned at the martyrdom and sacrifices of students, gave the statehood nod. He said that since the formation of Telangana around 300 students had lost their lives.

He said that the intensity and spark were missing when the TRS spearheaded the movement till 2009. It was only after students came to the spotlight with their committed involvement that the movement reached peak levels", he explained. It was at that point in time that the UPA government began the separate statehood process, he said.

Ravi lamented that for their active support, the TRS leadership after coming to power in the new state ignored students and their welfare. All universities, including Osmania University, lost out as the state government failed to make adequate budget allocations, he alleged.

The TRS/BRS government failed to recognize the services of Telangana protagonists and peoples’ organisations, he said.

Ravi pointed out that barely a handful of student union leaders, who fought for Telangana state, were inducted into BRS but they did not get ministerial berths or MLC posts.

The movement began in Kakatiya University in Warangal and flared up in Osmania University. Barbed wires and barricades were used to prevent students from progressing further. Teargas shells, lathi-charges and arrests became commonplace in the campus. Undeterred, many girls took part in the separate statehood movement.

Student union leader Gellu Srinivas Yadav, chairman of the state tourism corporation, said that the TRS safeguarded the interests of students while in the first phase students were devoid of any political support and were dealt blows. In the second phase they became fearless as they had the backing of Chandrashekar Rao, who managed to bring together student leaders from different ideologies.

Students are getting benefits now because Rao has mandated 9o per cent jobs for locals in Telangana, he said.

Student leaders from Osmania and Kakatiya universities — Balka Suman, Gadhari Kishore, Manne Krishank, Anjaneyulu Goud, Pidamarthi Ravi, Rajaram Yadav, Errolla Srinivas, Daruvu Yellanna, Warangal Ravi, Madhusudan Reddy and others were praised for their selfless service to achieve the cause. Based on their ideological leanings, they joined different political parties. Incidentally, many student union leaders are sailing with the BRS.

Academicians said that Prof Kodandaram as TSJAC chairman played a key role in the statehood movement. Political parties encouraged student union leaders based on their social and political equations. Many students, including the unsung heroes, are hoping for jobs and pursuing higher education.