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Tackling T-agitation then and now

J.S. Ifthekhar
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Lasting memories: G. Raghava Reddy, retired IPS officer, at his residence in Vijayanagar Colony with his daughter K. Ramadevi and son Rajeev Reddy. — Photo: Mohd. Yousuf
Lasting memories: G. Raghava Reddy, retired IPS officer, at his residence in Vijayanagar Colony with his daughter K. Ramadevi and son Rajeev Reddy. — Photo: Mohd. Yousuf

Saturday's action by the police against the ‘rail roko' agitators may have raised the hackles of the Telangana protagonists, but it has found support from a retired IPS officer known for his no nonsense stance.

G. Raghava Reddy, who was in the thick of the 1969 Telangana stir, feels what the police did on Saturday was correct. “One day's anger is better than allowing disorderliness for days together”, he says. However, he is all for display of a humane approach in trouble-shooting. The way he defused an explosive situation using tact and discretion during 1969 is well known. Will the strategy work now? “I am afraid it may not as things are no longer the same”, says Mr. Reddy.

Today, Generation Next has neither patience, regard for elders nor a set programme. The leaders also lack control over the crowds they gather. Earlier, leaders such as M. Channa Reddy and Makhdoom Mohiuddin could control their followers even in a charged atmosphere just by raising their hand. “Where is such discipline now”, he asks.

Mr. Reddy, who has turned 84, vividly remembers the explosive situation he was called to handle in Hyderabad in 1969. On his arrival from Vijayawada he was given charge of the Abids police station. The very next day a huge procession was taken out by the Telangana Praja Samithi under the leadership of Channa Reddy. The 2,000-strong crowed headed to Brindavan Hotel owned by a Andhra man where then Education Minister, Bhavanam Venkatram, was staying for security reasons.

Mr. Reddy had the unenviable task of protecting Mr. Venkatram and the hotel from the mob's ire. His professional competence was on test. The procession broke the cordon at M.J Market. An undeterred Raghava Reddy waited at the GPO with just a Sub Inspector and a couple of constables. When the procession reached Abids, he walked up to Makhdoom and uttered something which suddenly eased the tension. The magic words were ‘chameli ke mandve', the famous poem written by Makhdoom. There were smiles and laughter all around!

Then he turned to Channa Reddy, clicked his heels and did a smart salute. This mellowed down the firebrand leader. By then Bhavanam Venkatram broke his leg while jumping the rear compound wall of Brindavan Hotel, afraid the police wouldn't be able to save him.

“I used less of force and more of persuasive skills to defuse the situation”, says Mr. Reddy. He feels that dealing with the complex problems today required adequate police force and zero political interference. Also officers should be able to assess the capabilities of their juniors and assign the job accordingly.

The ultimate measure of a man, Mr. Reddy believes, is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands during challenges and controversies.

Retired IPS officer G. Raghava Reddy recounts how he defused an explosive situation using tact and discretion in 1969


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