Telangana  and Martyrdom of Doddi Komarayya

July 4 is the day martyrs of  armed struggle  of Telangana are remembered.

That was the day, in 1946,  of martyrdom of Doddi Komarayya, a young man from a poor peasant and shepherd family of Kadivendi village of the then Nalgonda district. (Now it is in Warangal district of Telangana state, TS.)  He was  the first  among  4000 communist and peasant  revolutionaries  of Telangana  People’s Revolutionary Movement (1940-51)   who were  killed by the ruling classes,  represented by the Nizam of  princely  kingdom of Hyderabad upto  the Police Action of September 13-18, 1948,  and later by new India’s  Nehru-Patel regime.

This day is regarded  as  a milestone  indicating  the beginning of  the later, armed phase (1946 July -51 October) of the peasant movement.  This was recorded in Martyrdom of Komarayya: A Turning Point in Telangana People’s Revolutionary Movement, which is  the title of  an elaborate  article written and published  by  Comrade Devulapalli Venkateswara Rao (DV Rao 1917 June 1 -1984 July 12 ), in June 1979  in the Proletarian Line, the communist revolutionary journal founded by  him. It was reprinted in the same journal, later also. This title  sums up  the significance of that phase  of Telangana  struggle.

Doddi Komarayya

Doddi Komarayya : A visualized drawing (no photo is available)

This significance was stressed also in a very rare, long and detailed interview DV Rao gave to a team of 5-6 JNU historians led by Bipan Chandra. An ex-MP of Loksabha (1957-62) that he was, he was, at that time, still forced to  lead  an  underground life as he pursued his revolutionary work. That proved to be the last major interaction of DVRao who died within a few days of the interview. The interview is in the JNU archives.

Incidentally, July 12 marks the death anniversary of DV Rao,  and he is inseparable from Komarayya, and the like.

Days before his death on July 12, 1984,  he penned an article (dated 22-6-1984), on the significance of those days. Let us advance the mass movement to higher levels was the title of that article published in the Proletarian Line, (No. 45, June-July 1984, the last issue he edited before death. Though Komarayya was an ordinary grass-roots level cadre, and not a big leader, DV Rao made it a point to remember him, in a purposive manner as the title indicates, because  he symbolised the revolutionary trend in Telangana. He wrote an article in 1983 July too.

Given below  are extracts from  articles written by DV Rao in 1983 (29-6-1983) and 1984(22-6-84)

 The titles are as  given by DV Rao. They deal with many aspects including theoretical, and lessons.  The Proletarian Line No. 101, of July 2018,  reprinted both of them in view of their significance.  All emphases and notes in brackets are added. Paras are divided into smaller ones  to suit the web format.

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Part 1 : Different views on Telangana

March towards armed struggle by building the revolutionary movement

(From The Proletarian Line, No. 35; July 1983)

July 4 is the day of martyrdom of Komarayya. It was 37 years ago that the henchmen of the Deshmukh of Visnooru of Janagaon Taluka (presently in Warangal district), shot dead Komarayya, a young peasant volunteer. He was taking part in a protest demonstration in Kadivendi village, where the Deshmukh’s mother used to live. The demonstration was organised by the then Communist Party and Andhra Maha Sabha. It was not a single one. A number of demonstrations were organised daily and in every village wherever these two organisations were functioning and extending their activities. Obviously it was directed against the zulm of landlords including the above mentioned Deshmukhs, and the atrocities of the police of the Nizam’s government.

It was first of its kind during the long history of Andhra Maha Sabha and the short period in which the Communist Party was born and grew. It marked a turning point in the onward march of the people’s movement in Telangana. Ever since the movement took the form of armed struggle which continued till 1951. It was the beginning of the distribution of the land of the landlords and setting up Grama Rajyas (Village Soviets). Drawing lessons from the experiences of the struggle, communist revolutionaries have concluded that the path of Indian Revolution is the same as shown by the people of Telangana in general and the peasantry in particular.

Every revolutionary movement of this nature has non-revolutionary trends, besides the revolutionary. The revolutionary trend is the main and will always be growing, which, if properly developed by applying Marxism-Leninism to the revolutionary practice, will ultimately defeat the non-revolutionary trends. This is the only way to advance the revolutionary movement. The same is the case with the Telangana people’s movement which consisted of two trends, one revolutionary and the other reformist and non-revolutionary. While the revolutionary trend manifested in developing the communist party, Andhra Maha Sabha (United Front) and armed struggle, the reformist one was opposing and diluting it all along.

There have been controversial views about the armed struggle in Telangana.

There is a view that it was a “spontaneous movement”, from a section of those who call themselves revolutionaries of some hue (CPI (ML) People’s War Group). It is not new to those who know what had happened during the struggle. Military offensive of the Congress government at the Centre was severe leading to heavy losses to the movement.

There was a trend as represented by an area committee (Huzurnagar) in Nalgonda, which advocated the withdrawal of armed struggle. Its contention was that Telangana armed struggle was “spontaneous” in its character; therefore, it could not sustain the onslaught of Union armies, according to them.  Of course the revolutionary trend as represented by the Provincial Committee was strong enough to give a rebuff to it. Experiences have proved that the persons who advocated this line are in the CPI (I.e., post-split of 1964) which is pursuing a line of class collaboration and revisionism.

The present-day (Left) parrots of this theory, while posing themselves as revolutionaries, are in the service of the ruling classes to the extent it is possible in the given situation (working for them in the elections, acting as agents to one section of them as against the other etc.). Thus there is a common point in class collaboration in both the cases.

There is another section, who again claim to be revolutionaries, of Chandra Pulla Reddy group, (now it is divided into several factions) who contend that there was a period of armed struggle without the programme of land distribution, for partial demands and against the atrocities of the landlords. This contention is baseless because facts do not confirm it. They have been scissoring their activities in such a way that they did not cross the limits of partial struggles. They have been acting as agents of one section of the ruling party against others as well as some in the Opposition [CPI(M)]. The murders etc. which they have been committing have nothing in common with armed struggle. As such this group has also proved to be class collaborationist though it parades as being revolutionary.

The (present) CPI contends that the Telangana armed struggle is national in the main though it had its own agrarian features. Here again the facts do not confirm this. Ever since the communists started their work in Telangana, the character of the mass movement took the turn of agrarian revolution. That it had the support of national forces did not change this character. This section of the united party was opposed to armed struggle against the Congress government. Experiences have shown that this section of the united party has turned class collaborationist long ago.

The (present) CPI(M) is of the view that the struggle is agrarian revolutionary in its character. It was a struggle for basic demands before ‘Police Action’ (September, 1948) and for partial demands subsequently, as it contends. The armed struggle has its ups and downs in its course. But this does not mean its basic character changes though certain aspects of it are likely to change according to the change in the political situation. The same was the case with the armed struggle in Telangana after “Police Action”, when there was a change in political set-up from one of Nizam’s regime to Congress regime, with all its concomitants including military setup. Such a situation demands a change in the tactics, which does not mean a change in the basic character of the struggle. It is also clear that CPI(M) is also class-collaborationist in a different form than CPI.

….                        ….

Komarayya as a martyr has a unique place in Telangana people’s revolutionary movement in that, with his martyrdom, it reached a new stage, a stage in which peasants started distributing the land of the landlords and adopted the form of armed struggle. This event coincided with the post-war people’s upsurge that swept the length and breadth of the country.

 Communist revolutionaries draw the lessons as following:

  1. People will learn through their experience the need for armed struggle in the course of development of revolutionary movements. (There was a revolutionary mass movement under the leadership of the Communist Party and Andhra Maha Sabha, preceding July 4, the day of martyrdom of Komarayya).
  2. We should assess the favourable and unfavourable factors in a given situation (post- Second World War upsurge in our country etc.)
  3. We should be able to understand the mood of the masses, so that we may adopt the necessary forms of struggle and forms of organisation (armed resistance, armed volunteers and land distribution).
  4. We should be able to lead the people boldly while adapting ourselves to the changed situation. (Necessary changes in the composition of the leadership so as to implement the new programme )

A wobbling, conservative and stagnant leadership cannot orientate itself to the new situation. Rather it would like to cling to the old programme and organisation which becomes obsolete. Situated as we are, more disruptive forces are at work than what they were in 1946. So also the revolutionary sweep is not the same as it was. We are in a new situation in 1983, which is different than what it was in 1946. We, communist revolutionaries, take the objective situation as it is and work out such tactics as are necessary to advance the revolutionary movement.

Komarayya is immortal. The message he gives us is to unite and strengthen the movement so that it reaches higher level as soon as possible. This is the task he enjoins us and we are here to fulfill it.

Red Salutes to Komarayya.

Long Live Telangana Armed Struggle.

Long Live Indian Revolution.

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Part-2 : It was not a spontaneous but an organised movement.

July 4th is a turning point in the Telangana people’s struggle against Nizam’s autocracy and for democracy. The movement had not reached this point overnight. It has begun when the local people organised themselves into a volunteer squad and inarched from Devaruppala to Palakurthi to fight against the landlord’s armed mercenaries to defend the land and the harvest of a peasant family belonging to Ailamma.

Ever since the events marched in such a way that all the villages where the Communist Party and Andhra Mahasabha had set up their local organisation have organised their respective volunteer squads to fight back the landlords’ mercenaries who were to be found in all villages where there were oppressor landlords. The issue between the landlord and the people was one of confiscation of grain belonging to the landlord of Kadivendi village who was the same as that of Visunur against whom a struggle was being carried for more than a year under the leadership of the Communist Party and Andhra Mahasabha.

Within a few days of Komaraiah’s martyrdom, peasants in the neighbouring village of Dharmapuram came forward to seize and distribute their lands once snatched by the landlord. The next day of Komarayya’s death saw the setting up of a people’s court to try the landlord and his mercenaries for the atrocities thus committed including the murder of Komaraiah. They put up an organised resistance against the mercenaries on that day. All this goes to show that the people’s movement has reached a higher level than what it was before.

There are theoreticians of past and present who characterise the armed struggle of Telangana as spontaneous. It is an irony that while such theoreticians were rightist in their nature when the armed struggle was going on, but the present ones claimed to be revolutionaries adhering to Marxism Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. That the struggle was headed by the Party and Andhra Mahasabha with a programme of land distribution and armed struggle to defend the land and other gains of the struggle is common knowledge. The struggle could not have lasted for five years in the face of Nizam’s military and armed police, to begin with, and union military in the subsequent period, if it were spontaneous. Added to this it did not start in 1946; in fact it took the form of armed struggle in that year. The mass movement was there even in earlier years which was headed by the party and the Andhra Mahasabha not only in the district of Nalgonda but elsewhere in Telangana also.

The rightist theoreticians argued that people took to arms against the Nizam who was hated to the core, and they had no other go except to stage a revolt like a cat which, when teased after being closed in a room, attacks the person who teases it. They failed to see the movement which has undergone changes during earlier period. There was a time when Andhra Mahasabha was led by liberals who did not go beyond adopting resolutions against exploitation of the peasants by the govt. and for civil liberties. Such a period lasted about 20 years.

Then came the leadership of the Communist Party which led the struggles of the peasants against the landlords’ feudal exploitation and for democracy. This was the period which lasted about six years when the development of the mass movement took swift turns.

It was a local movement confined to a few villages in 1942-1943. Subsequently it spread to about 40 villages against bigger and more autocratic feudal landlords. It was a struggle with legal forms with mass mobilisation to begin with; but later it took the form of armed resistance once the people shed away the legal illusions. The rightists of 1948 did not see this phenomenon of a continuous and organised struggle against the Nizam’s autocracy.

The armed struggle against the Union Armies was but a continuation of the same carried out against the Nizam. That there were weaknesses in the movement, and mistakes committed by the leadership, does not transform the movement into a spontaneous one. The rightists, in order to adopt a parliamentary path in relation to Congress government, opposed the continuation of the armed struggle after the Union Armies entered the Hyderabad state in September 1948. To substantiate their point of view they went to the extent of denying the existence of an organised movement headed by the party and Andhra Mahasabha.

The ‘lefts’ in their turn, have characterised the armed struggle as spontaneous only to deny the revolutionary role played by the Communist Party and Andhra Mahasabha.

That the top  leadership was right opportunist is indisputable. ((all India General Secretary at the time was PC Joshi.) But it was not the same down below.

At that time the leadership of the Provincial Committee (PC)and the District Committees did play a revolutionary role in leading it. Added to this, the district leadership of Nalgonda was giving the mass movement an organised form taking it to ever new higher levels as and when mass movement grew. For this the leadership diligently studied the experiences it gained during these struggles, drew correct lessons and worked out a new programme to meet the requirements of the higher levels of the movement.

(The PC was the underground  leadership committee  common  to both Hyderabad  princely state, supposedly not part of British India,  and the Andhra  region that was part of the then British-ruled Madras province.  DV Rao  was the key leader from Telangana, later its secretary, and was in the PC, and later a Member of  its Secretatiat. There was a team in the PC that represented the revolutionary wing, despite a  right opportunist leadership at the top. There was an inner-party struggle between the two, and that can be seen in the documents of the day.)

This it could do because it applied Marxism-Leninism to the practice of the revolutionary movement to the extent it could in the given situation. The ‘lefts’ can neither understand the role of the Party nor appreciate it for their own reasons. Taking this standpoint, they are denying the essence of armed struggle in Telangana to force the wrong and anti-Marxist theory of annihilation of class enemies, in its different forms, on the people.

Though the arguments are different, the rights and ‘lefts’ joined together in denouncing the role of the Communist Party in organising and developing the mass movement in Telangana from a preliminary stage to that of armed struggle. This coincidence is not accidental.

Both of them do not believe in developing mass revolutionary movement headed by the Communist Party to overthrow the existing state. Instead, rightists advocate the Parliamentary Path, whereas the ‘lefts’ the annihilation of class enemies of various forms. Experience has shown that the lines adopted by these two sections helped the ruling classes to retain their state apparatus, while at the same time they could disorganise and disrupt the mass revolutionary movement that was developing in a given situation against numerous odds.

July 4, the day of martyrdom of Komaraiah, is a day when communist revolutionaries take a pledge to fight against such anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist deviations that exist in the communist movement of our country. We can unite communist revolutionaries and further the unity only when we carry on a systematic struggle against the deviations which are appearing in ever new forms under new conditions. We are confident that the communist revolutionaries guided by Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought will carry on the struggle successfully, unite revolutionaries and advance the cause of revolution.

We take a pledge to advance the revolutionary movement in spite of the obstacles created by the ruling classes by resorting to the brutal repression on the revolutionary movement that is developing in various parts of the country under the leadership of the communist revolutionaries.

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