By Konatham Dileep
History, they say, has all the answers. But, the history books written by Seemandhra writers always contained half-truths. The fact that not many people outside AP know the difference between the two states – Andhra and Andhra Pradesh, shows how the history of this state was distorted. So effective were the distortions of Seemandhra historians that even the Justice Srikrishna Committee got confused between Andhra and Andhra Pradesh states!
Every year, the Andhra Pradesh state government carries out full-page advertisements containing Gandhian Potti Sriramulu’s image on November 1st – the state formation day. The fact that Potti Sriramulu’s fast-unto-death was related to Andhra state and not Andhra Pradesh state is deliberately hidden.
Here is a piece of authentic history that helps us expose the double standards of Seemandhra leaders who constantly refer to Telangana statehood supporters as ‘Separatists’. If demanding a separate state amounts to ‘Separatism’, then our Seemandhra brothers can be safely called the first ‘Separatists’ of independent India.
Yes! After India got independence from the British in 1947, it was Telugu speaking people in the erstwhile Madras state who started the first statehood movement. And the reason why they wanted a separate state?
They felt that the Telugus were being discriminated by the Tamils!
The struggle for a separate Andhra state picked up momentum as soon as India got independent. The union government, under the leadership of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was initially sympathetic to the Andhra statehood struggle. But when the leaders of separate Andhra agitation staked their claim on Madras city, the statehood issue turned knotty.
This is when the Indian government started postponing the statehood issue citing lack of consensus!
Both Tamils and Telugus were not ready to compromise on the Madras city. To up the ante, Potti Sriramulu – a Gandhian undertook a fast-unto-death with a demand for creating Andhra state with Madras as its capital city.
(We shall discuss the conspiracy behind Potti Sriramulu’s death in part three.)
Jawaharlal agreed to declare Andhra state sans Madras city when Potti Sriramulu’s fast entered its 50th day. But for some weird reason, Sriramulu did not break his fast even then.
He died on 16th December 1952 – the 58 th day of his fast. And all hell broke loose.
The whole Andhra region burned for the next few days.
What Got Them a State? Violence or Sacrifice
History books in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere tell us that Andhra state was formed due to the ‘sacrifice’ of Potti Sriramulu. But, a careful analyis of newspaper reports and published books tells us a completely different story.
Here’s what Time magazine wrote about what happened after Sriramulu’s death:
“A wave of hysterical emotion swept Andhra territory. Students, youths and workers, led by Communists, attacked Indian government property, cut telegraph wires, damaged railroads, burned rail cars and stoned fire engines, looted railroad restaurants, hoisted black flags of mourning over government buildings. Police, firing on rioters, killed seven and wounded forty. A 13-year-old boy attempted to halt a moving bus by standing in its path, and was run over and killed.
At week’s end Prime Minister Nehru, responding perhaps as much to the violence as to Sriramulu’s nonviolence, announced that his government had decided to establish Andhra state.”
Read these lines in the book “History of India” written by N Jayapalan
So, its the ‘rampant hysteria’ that ‘forced’ the Congress Central Government to concede Andhra!
A foreign newspaper – Daytona Beach Morning Journal carried this news item on Dec 17th 1952. It clearly explains what kind of arson, looting and violence followed Potti Sriramulu’s death.
I am sure you never heard that our Andhra brothers even looted trains as a part of their statehood struggle!