VIJAYAWADA: While use of sedition law, is now a point of debate, it was widely invoked during the Indian freedom struggle. Within Andhra Pradesh, it was first applied in Bapatla, recalled representatives of Forum for Better Bapatla (FBB) while celebrating the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav here on Sunday.
Marking the 113th anniversary of what is well known as the “Bapatla Sedition Case”, FBB secretary P.C. Sai Babu recalled that after the sedition law was first enacted, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first to be imprisoned under it in 1908. Launched a year later by the then British India government was the Bapatla Sedition Case of 1909 involving Lakkaraju Basavaiah, a landlord of Bapatla. Basavaiah was accused of printing and circulating a seditious pamphlet in Telugu titled “Swarajya Sampadana – Attaining Independence”.
The landlord ensured that the pamphlet got widely distributed, including to school boys. The prosecution charged Basavaiah with inciting hatred among people and contempt against the British government. The then Guntur District Sessions Judge found the accused guilty and sentenced Basavaiah to transportation for five years.
Sai Babu said Basavaiah appealed to the High Court wherein the defence lawyer was Andhra Kesari Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu. Public prosecutor T. Richmond argued for the British government. Then Bapatla Postmaster was invited as a witness for the prosecution. Hearings in the case came to an end on December 21,1909. Judges Ralf Benson and Abdul Rehman reduced Basavaiah’s sentence by two years.
The FBB secretary said after Independence, the Government of India honoured Basavaiah by including his name among “Who is Who of Freedom Struggle in Andhra Pradesh”. Sai Babu underlined that the people of Bapatla played a quite significant role right through the Indian Freedom Struggle by launching a series of freedom protests and agitations till India attained Independence....