Hyderabad

‘George was fearless and continues to be an inspiration'

George Reddy   | Photo Credit: arrangement

The nationalist Bismil in one of his famous poems, “Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai”, writes, “Teri qurbani ka charcha ghair ke mehfil mein hai” (Even in the enemy camp they talk of your sacrifice with praise). This is perhaps true in the case of George Reddy, the Gold Medallist in Physics and a boxer, who was killed on April 14, 1972, on Osmania University campus by communal forces.

Those were the tumultuous sixties, the second half of the decade in particular stretching into the seventies.

A period when young rebels and revolutionaries among the students in the universities and colleges in many developed capitalist and underdeveloped countries of the world were building images of ‘revolution'. Some conjured up images of revolution as emerging from the mountains and the countryside. There was that ‘rage' that manifested itself in various ‘movements'.

Dominant mood

The Soweto student revolt against the apartheid in South Africa, the May Student upsurge in France, the emerging Black Panthers movement in the US, and above all the Vietnamese people's struggle against US imperialism and at home the peasant uprisings in Naxalbari and Srikakulam were important political events of those times.

As Tariq Ali says, “…if the Vietnamese were defeating the world's most powerful State, surely we too can defeat our own rulers… That was the dominant mood of the more radical of the 60s generation.” George grew up to be our hero in this political milieu.

As one who was on the OU campus doing graduation in Science College, I had the opportunity to associate with George as one of the members of the progressive group that was a precursor to the PDSU that was formed after his death.

Even before my first formal meeting with George sometime in June 1971, I had heard of him as a fighter with a group of his own. In those days, the CPI-affiliated Marxist Educational Society used to organise lectures on topical issues and I remember to have attended two such meetings in YMCA where the CPI ideologue Mohit Sen was the speaker.

It was here that I saw a short-statured fair looking person raising questions and debating the issues. That was George, whom I did not know as George then. After my formal meet up with George, interactions became frequent and the canteen adjacent to the Astronomy department in Science College became some kind of a regular ‘adda' where we would sit and listen to him discussing a variety of subjects. Those who were frequenting this adda included opponents of Marxism and Socialism holding in their hands books like ‘Atlas Shrugged' and ‘Fountain Head' by Ayn Rand. It was in this rendezvous that debates around issues of ideology and philosophy, science and revolution used to take place. George had a clear Marxist world out-look and in order to spread and inculcate socialist ideas and ideals, he formed study circles. I was a part of one such study circle studying Lenin's classic, “Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism”.

Multi-faceted

George was a multi-faceted personality. An academically brilliant student, it was said that when he enrolled for Ph.D., none of the professors from the Physics Department volunteered to be his guide and it was only after a professor in the Astronomy department accepted to be his guide that he proceeded to do research. George was concerned about the downtrodden in society and I remember when we were talking about the rickshaw workers in the city, at that time they were huge in numbers, he asked as to how one felt sitting in a rickshaw when another human being was pulling it on the up. He was an altruist in a sense. He was a fearless person who, to many of us, was a symbol of courage who would not hesitate to take on a bunch of goons single-handed. It looked as if he had conquered fear.

Two months before his death, he was attacked by goons near his house in the DD colony. He fought back but was injured. Some told him to take precautions and not move alone. But he would say that death would not get him so early. He was an adventurer alright, but as Che said of himself that he was “of a different kind, of those who risk their skins to prove their truths”. Above all, he was a revolutionary who dreamt of a society free from exploitation and oppression. That was the rage of the sixties that created extraordinary personalities like George, who continues to be an inspiration, an exemplary martyr in the cause of the people.

In the last forty years many like many fell to the bullets of the State, but the rage continues till today. Dreams for a better future are still alive and they cannot be snuffed out. As one poet says, the most dangerous of all dangers is the death of dreams. Malcolm X speaking to the black students once said “you will get freedom by letting your enemy know that you will be able to do anything to get your freedom, then you will get it. It is the only way you get it… They will call you an extremist or a subversive or seditious or a red or radical. But when you stay radical long enough and get enough people to be like you, you will get your freedom”.



(The writer is a former president of PDSU)


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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 6:17:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/george-was-fearless-and-continues-to-be-an-inspiration/article3314122.ece

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