81-year-old activist, renowned poet, journalist, literary critic, public speaker and political prisoner from Telangana, all of sudden became a threat to PM Modi’s life as described by media and right-wing think tanks. As political discourse worsens in India, the extremists in right-wing and left-wing are inventing new labels. Urban Naxals is a new term the right-wing has created to label the left-wing supporters. The term has recently come into the limelight owing to events of the arrest of several activists with flimsy charges of instigating violence with none or just circumstantial evidence.
The Country is divided in ideology among people who believe these arrests are just fascist work of the ruling class and others who almost fanatically follow the ruling class. In short “Urban Naxals” are those that are branded so by the right-wing thinkers because they are more liberal in their thoughts are more seculars then being mad followers of a religion points at the flaws of governance with audacity and speaks for the equality of all people irrespective o their religion, creed, race, those who believe in a bright future and are scared of the perils ahead if we continue to bask in the glories of the past, real or imagined. It is almost paranoid to even believe in the so-called theory which states that these people have been inducted to our country to break our nation, propagate communist ideologies, gather party funds and pull the strings from the background of massive violence.
People who actually think understand that this theory is nothing but the propagation of fear among the people to turn their eyes from the drawback of governance and ensure their loyalty whether they want to or not. It is a very old rule in politics if there are problems with your public, give them an enemy to hate – real or imagined.
Varavara Rao is considered as one of the best critics in Telugu literature and taught Telugu literature to graduate and undergraduate students for about 50 years. He is known as an orator and had addressed thousands of public gatherings. Varavara Rao’s political and literary activity enraged the government of Andhra Pradesh to arrest him under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) in October 1973. The High Court of Andhra Pradesh struck down the order and released him after a month and a half. The High Court judge asked the government not to resort to such actions against writers unless their writings have an immediate and direct bearing in a physical action. After a few months, the government charged a conspiracy case wherein all the actions of revolutionaries were shown as the direct consequences of a poem or a speech or writing of revolutionary writers.
In February 1989, after 15 years of prolonged and tiresome trial. In connection with the Conspiracy Case, Varavara Rao was arrested in May 1974. He was denied bail several times and finally released on conditional bail in April 1975. Varavara Rao was arrested again on 26 June 1975, on the eve of the proclamation of Indian Emergency. During Emergency, he was a detainee under the MISA. He was one of the few prisoners whose interviews with their relatives were restricted and their mail was subjected to stringent scrutiny. Though all the prisoners were released on the day when Emergency was lifted, Varavara Rao was arrested again at the entrance of the jail and was kept behind the bars for a week more on a fresh MISA warrant. He was released only when the new Janata Party government repealed the Act itself. Varavara Rao was in the forefront in mobilizing popular and democratic support to the widespread mass movements in northern Telangana during post-emergency days. As a consequence, he had to face mental harassment and physical assaults. He survived several attempts on his life by mercenaries of landlords as well as anti-social elements. A police official at Mandamarri, Adilabad district in April 1979, beat him on a public platform. In 1983 elections, N. T. Rama Rao came to power defeating the Indian National Congress. He praised the Naxalites for their patriotism before the elections. After coming to power, he demonstrated no significant change in government policy towards the revolutionary movement. Particularly after he was elected for the second time in 1985, his government put all its efforts to suppress the Naxalite movement in the state. Varavara Rao too was subjected to severe repression during this time. Six cases were foisted against him in 1985 alone. In July that year, along with the functionaries of other people’s organizations, he undertook an all India tour to make the people aware of the repression that was going on in Andhra Pradesh. After visiting Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, New Delhi and Tamil Nadu, Varavara Rao returned to Andhra Pradesh in September to attend court cases. Dr. Ramanatham, a pediatrician and civil liberties activist was a close friend of Varavara Rao. While killing Dr. Ramanatham, and on several other occasions, the police openly declared that killing Varavara Rao was their aim.