It is but natural that when I write on the subject ‘Telangana and Gandhiji,’ the question that crops up is how many times the Father of the Nation had come to Hyderabad or Telangana.
In fact, it is not important as to how many times he had visited Hyderabad but what is important is to what extent his preachings had influenced the people of Telangana.
Gandhiji turned a new chapter in Indian history in 1915 when he returned home after fighting for the rights of the blacks in South Africa for 20 years.
In fact, he began his non-violence movement - satyagraha - in South Africa itself. After arriving in India, he took the leadership of the national movement for independence.
He wielded enormous influence on the vast populace of Telangana which was under Hyderabad State then just as the way he held sway over the rest of the country.
Students, teachers, intelligentsia, poets, writers, lawyers, doctors, merchants, farmers, journalists, scholars, litterateurs and editors were all influenced alike by the preachings of Gandhiji. He professed non-violence, peaceful resistance and satyagraha.
His preachings motivated them to take a lead in kindling social, cultural and political movements. In 1930, several leaders including former prime minister late PV Narasimha Rao took an active part in the Vande Mataram movement and went to jail.
In Telangana, the movement found traction mainly in Warangal, Hanamkonda and Hyderabad. Students bid goodbye to studies at Osmania University and took a plunge in the movement.
In those days, Sir Akbar Hyderi, who was the prime minister to the seventh Nizam, was an admirer and follower of Gandhiji. It was Hyderi who first realised the influence of Gandhiji’s preachings had on the people.
In those days, the population of Telangana was about one crore. Many people from Telangana used to go to Sevagram near Wardha in Maharashtra and the Indian National Congress meetings to see him in flesh and listen to his inspiring speeches.
Gandhiji, while on his way to Andhra region or while returning from there, used to stop at railway stations in Telangana and cheer the people by standing at the doors of his train compartment.
On October 17, 1920, while he was returning from Andhra, the train stopped for a few minutes at Manukota (Mahabubabad) and a Muslim police officer was on duty at the time at the railway station. After seeing Gandhi, he returned home to learn the good news that he became father of a son.
He named his son Shoyabullah Khan who became a legend in his lifetime. Shoyabullah Khan chose journalism to fight for the rights of the people. He was murdered in broad daylight on August 22, 1948.
On April 6, 1929, Mahatma Gandhi came to Hyderabad from Bombay.The next day, April 7, he spoke at Viveka Vardhini High School in Jam Bagh. He also visited a few more schools. Inspired by Gandhiji’s preachings, a weekly newspaper Golconda was started by Suravaram Pratap Reddy, a Gandhian and a genius nonpareil. Later it became a daily newspaper.
It played a key role in promoting political and cultural awakening among the people. The newspaper later went on to help in establishing Hyderabad State Congress which led several movements. For Telangana poets and writers, Gandhiji’s life, his philosophy and preachings remained a source of inspiration.
When Gandhiji was assassinated on January 30, 1948, poet Dasaradhi paid a tribute with words laced in tears. In fact, Dasaradhi gave an image to feelings of the people for the land of Telangana by defining it as Telangana Thalli, while praising Gandhiji. The poem was addressed to Thalli Mahabharathi, which meant Telangana.
Devulapalli Prabhakara Rao, Chairman, Telangana State Official Languages Commission.