By – N Venugopal
His parents might have chosen the name Bhoomaiah as it is so common in Karimnagar district, but he indeed lived a life of complete realisation of that name. For over forty five years in his life of 64 years, he had close association with the land and the struggle for its liberation.
I first came to know Bhoomaiah saar as a science teacher interested in revolutionary literature, particularly as a reader and well-wisher of Srjana way back in the late 1970s, in the wake of Jagityala, Siricilla peasant struggles. He was then active in Andhra Pradesh Teachers Federation (APTF) along with R Ravindar Reddy, who together brought the organisation to Telangana area in 1978. During the next three decades and half, we might have met thousands of times and shared hundreds of daises. His death, apparently in accident but most probably a deliberate attempt in Latin American mode, snatched a friend, leader, scholar, steadfast revolutionary and a dedicated person to people’s cause.
Born in Kachapur of Julapalli mandal into a large agricultural family of seven brothers as the eldest son, Akula Bhoomaiah (1948-2013) had to balance farming and education. He chose education, not leaving agricultural work and did his graduation from Adarsha College Jammikunta, after his pre-degree in Karimnagar in the late 1960s. That was the time Adarsha college as well as the entire district were under the sway of Separate Telangana movement on one hand and the nascent Naxalite movement on the other. Having Mallojula Koteswara Rao, Nalla Adi Reddy, Kandi Lachchi Reddy and Malla Raji Reddy as either college mates or friends, it was but natural for Bhoomaiah to be drawn towards both the movements. With the failure of Separate Telangana movement and rise of Naxalite movement and most of his friends joining the latter, he also became a fellow traveller. In the meanwhile, he also came into contact with Muppala Lakshmana Rao as both of them did their B.Ed together.
After B Ed, he joined as a teacher and as one of the founder members of the APTF in Telangana he strived hard to make it the strongest teachers’ organisation in Karimnagar as well as in whole of Telangana. He became its state president also. Under his leadership, the APTF had taken up an innovative plan of holding vidya sadassulu (educational seminars) in as many places as possible. These seminars would normally have an inaugural session involving local ministers, legislators and educational officers and the other sessions will have speeches on current political, economic, educational and social issues, mostly by alternative, progressive and revolutionary speakers. The contribution of these seminars in keeping alive the fire of consciousness during heavy repression on people’s movements in Telangana is yet to be fully recorded. Beginning mid 1980s these seminars went on till early 2000s on a regular basis educating thousands of teachers on concerned issues. The seminars helped immensely in developing a strong critique of globalisation policies, among many other issues.
In 1998, due to political differences, APTF got split and Democratic Teachers Federation (DTF) was born and Bhoomaiah was one of the key figures of the DTF. The DTF continued and enriched the alternative and revolutionary traditions of the previous organisation.
Soon he had to take up another responsibility. With the reemergence of Telangana aspirations beginning from 1996 against the suffocating atmosphere of Chandrababu Naidu’s rule, Bhoomaiah became a part of an international seminar on nationality question held in Delhi in 1996 and a conclave in Warangal in 1997. As an outcome of these consultations, Telangana Jana Sabha was formed in 1998 and Bhoomaiah was its natural leader. TJS along with its sister organisations Telangana Students Front and Telangana Kala Samiti made a great impact on the movement during the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, due to the same reason, TJS became a target for brutal repression from state soon and beginning with Belli Lalita in 1999, till 2004 at least six activists of TJS and TKS were murdered by the state or state-sponsored forces.
Bhoomaiah also had to live on the razor’s edge during those days. A deputation transfer from teaching to be a resource person in State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) in Hyderabad was a blessing in disguise. For at least a couple of years he could be secure in Hyderabad without suspending his activities.
Besides a number of arrests and threats, in 2004 Bhoomaiah had a narrow escape from being killed in a fake encounter when two of his associates were killed. In the wake of talks with the government the then CPI (ML) Peoples War wanted to discuss with TJS delegation and when the discussions were going on in Warangal forest, police surrounded and started firing. Sudarshan, TJS co-convener and Vasanth, a functionary of TRS were caught and killed point blank while Bhoomaiah escaped. Subsequently TJS could not function and yet Bhoomaiah continued his activity on Telangana front. Later he along with Gaddar founded Telangana Peoples Front and after Gaddar’s resignation from the position, Bhoomaiah became its president. During the last four years of its existence TPF became a force to be reckoned with and stood as a check to the mainstream Telangana political forces.
He was a very popular public speaker and writer. Soft spoken and accommodative he could gain the confidence of all Telangana forces and despite being branded as a Maoist, he had the following of considerable number of Telanganites and took up a number of programmes. Bhoomaiah’s demise is a huge loss for not only Telangana cause but also to alternative politics and thought in Telangana.
Courtesy: Hans India