From coolie to IAS officer: Friends, kin recall slain Krishnaiah’s struggle, triumph & tragic end
G Krishnaiah, DM of Gopalganj in Bihar in 1994, was lynched by a mob that was protesting the murder of gangster-politician Chhotan Shukla belonging to Anand Mohan Singh's party.
HYDERABAD: The fact that Anand Mohan, the man who incited a mob to lynch him over two-and-a-half decades ago, has been set free has led to the resurrection of G Krishnaiah, the district magistrate of Gopalgunj in Bihar in 1994, in the hearts of not only those who knew him personally but also those who shared his ideals. Coming from an extremely poor family and having grown up in the drought-ridden Jogulamba Gadwal district, Krishnaiah’s journey from childhood to martyrdom has been an inspiring one.
Born to G Seshanna and Venkamma, in Bhairapuram village of Undavalli Mandal in Jogulamba Gadwal district, Krishnaiah had to do manual labour from a very early age. Besides lifting cement bags for three paise and working as an agricultural labourer, he also used to help his father, a railway gangman. Krishnaiah studied in government institutions, which may have influenced his decision to pursue a career in civil services.
“He was a bookworm right from the beginning. He used to study till late, sometimes even till the wee hours. On the go, he always used to have a novel published by Emescos, or The Indian Express, or other newspapers,” recalls KM Narayana, Krishnaiah’s brother-in-law who not only shared food with him but was also his senior till his BSc from Maharani Adilakshmi Devamma government degree college in Gadwal.
Narayana recalls the day when he had gone to visit Krishnaiah at Room No. 35 in OU old PG College where the latter completed his MA in English Literature, before pursuing a course in journalism. “The books in his room could fill a tonga. He asked me to take them, but I didn’t. But some of our friends took those books home,” Narayana told TNIE.
He remembers the day when the 1985 IAS batchmates had come to Bhairapuram to pay their last respects to Krishnaiah. “One of the bureaucrats told me that he had a perception that only Brahmins have grasping power, but after his association with Krishnaiah, he realised that there couldn’t be a more knowledgeable person than Krishnaiah who had read across all the shelves in the OU library,” Narayana said.
“He led a simple life from the beginning, possibly inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings though he was not associated with any political ideology, his way of life was like a Swayamsevak,” notes Narayana, remembering the day of Krishnaiah’s wedding, when he had come in casual wear, and was reluctant to get dressed up till his elder brother Ayyanna convinced him to change his clothes.
“He initially wanted to get married in the registrar’s office, but later agreed to Ayyanna’s plan of holding the wedding at his house opposite Kurnool railway station,” he adds.
The love of Krishnaiah’s life was as ideal as him. He fell in love with Uma Devi when they were junior college classmates in Gadwal, continued the relationship through his graduation and PG and married her after completing his IAS training in Mussoorie.
Narayana was apprehensive about Krishnaiah opting for serving as an IAS officer in the Bihar cadre. “During Bharat Darshan, which the IAS officers had in those days, he chose Bihar because he had seen that the people there were suffering from mafia and politicians,” Narayana recalls.
“Krishnaiah was first posted in Hazaribagh which was full of coal mines. When calls used to come at midnight, he would just take off despite his wife trying her best to stop him. Lalu Prasad Yadav who was the chief minister at that time, used to ask him for favours, but he would just tell him on his face that such acts wouldn’t cut ice with him,” Narayana says.
Krishnaiah had four paternal uncles. The youngest of them had gone to see his administration and stayed with him for a month. “The district administration used to get woolen blankets to be distributed to the poor, and Krishnaiah used to go out on chilly winter nights and personally distribute them to the homeless,” says Narayana, breaking up in tears remembering December 5, 1994, the fateful day.
“It was bad luck not only for us, but for the poor people of the country. Will our country see such an officer ever again?” he asks. “I was in Kurnool when I received the news of his death. Initially, I didn’t believe it. I thought it was fake. I hoped it was fake. Even after watching the news on TV, I couldn’t believe it. Only after I read it in a newspaper, I believed it. I just couldn’t recover,” recalls Narayana, struggling to hold back his tears.
Krishnaiah was so duty-minded that he couldn’t attend the last rites of his father in Bhairapuram, as he passed away right after the Babri Masjid demolition, and the situation was especially tense in Bihar. It was only a week later that he paid his tributes at his father’s grave.
The Bihar government back then offered a sub-divisional magistrate’s position to Uma Devi, which she refused and returned to Hyderabad, where the government of undivided AP offered her a job and helped her traumatised family financially.
Krishnaiah’s mortal remains were laid to rest in the black soils of his ancestral land in Bhairapuram, where a ‘Ghori’ (samadhi) was built, which is currently in a dilapidated condition.