People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) salutes the life and activism of Professor S. Seshaiah who succumbed to Covid 19 on October 10, 2020 at Anantapur, Telangana.
Professor Seshaiah began his active participation in politics from his student days in the 1970s and he was the State Joint Secretary of the Radical Students Union of Prakasam district of the then undivided Andhra Pradesh. After he joined as a lecturer of Law at Nagarjuna University, Guntur, he became active with the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) in 1986 and his long journey in civil liberties began from this period. Professor Seshaiah’s contribution as a member and as a General Secretary of APCLC from 1998-2005 has been enormous as he steered the organization and its district units through their many debates on armed resistance in the 1990s.
Professor Seshaiah was instrumental in filing cases before the Andhra Pradesh High Court on matters of state sponsored violence. He was the invited mediator from APCLC for peace talks between the Government and the Maoists in 2004. He also paid the price for his vocal and active participation in civil liberties issues when his house was attacked in 2005 by the state-sponsored vigilante group, code-named Rayalaseema Tigers. However, he was undeterred and he was one of the leading activists behind the success of the famous AP High Court judgement of 2009, APCLC v. Government of Andhra Pradesh, which made it mandatory for the police to file an FIR under Section 302 (murder) against officials involved in encounter killings. After the formation of Telangana (2014) and Civil Liberties Committee (CLC), Professor Seshaiah continued his activism, despite his health problems. He was currently a Co-ordinator of CLC Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
An extremely popular teacher, Professor Seshaiah blended his activism with his academic pursuits. In 2016 he retired as a Professor of Law from Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anantapur, where he had served as a Dean too. He was instrumental in developing the syllabus on Human Rights for Hyderabad Central University and he was a guest faculty at many other law universities in India.
S. Seshaiah has been an important contributor to the civil liberties movement. PUDR remembers his constant presence in meetings, fact-findings, discussions and joint civil rights work over the years, and in several activities of the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organizations (CDRO). PUDR will miss the active support and guidance that Professor Seshaiah gave to the democratic rights movement.
Radhika Chitkara and Vikas Kumar