Balagopal’s quest to defend people’s rights recalled

Staff Reporter

VISAKHAPATNAM: Speakers, at a condolence meeting organised by the Mahila Chetana, recalled human rights activist K. Balagopal’s indefatigable endeavour to defend the rights of people across the social spectrum.

His thought, action and quest always revolved around the exploited and those deprived of their rights, Mahila Chetana general secretary K. Padma said here on Tuesday.

Though he was largely, and mistakenly, identified only with the Naxalite movement, he dared to think beyond all barriers. The land disputes between tribals and non-tribals in the Godavari districts had been solved because of the several petitions he had filed in the High Court.

APCLC leader T. Srirama Murthy recalled several incidents in the district in which Balagopal played a crucial role. When tribals were evicted from their land in Anantagiri mandal, a legal recourse was taken up on his suggestion and lawyer Bojja Tarakam got back the rights. Similarly, a ‘tribunal’ comprising former judges was run on police burning down of 50 tribal villages in Chintapalli mandal though the process was thwarted after police arrested the APCLC leaders.

Jumbo attack

It was wrong to generally identify him with Naxalite issues, Mr. Srirama Murthy said. When 100 people died in Chittoor district in elephant attacks that came from the neighbouring Tamil Nadu, he took up their cause by filing a case in the High Court. He also took up the closure of Ajam Jahi Mills, several jute mills. When weavers’ suicides rocked the State, he ran a campaign for reserving some varieties of cloth for weavers. AU Law College professor Nirmala likened his approach to life to that of Marxist leader Puchhalapalli Sundarayya. Journalist J.V. Ratnam recalled Balagopal’s keen study of issues, whether it was attacks on Christians in Orissa or bauxite or coal mining etc.