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Varavara Rao – Activist, poet, writer and an unsung leftist Hero – Part 2

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With Varavara Rao’s life at risk, he could not discharge his duties as Secretary of Virasam and spokesperson of the revolutionary literary movement. He was not able to move freely in Andhra Pradesh. Warangal has become a forbidden place for him. Armed and unarmed ruffians and police in civil clothes attacked his house on several occasions. Persecution against his friends in the movement was also mounted. Taking into consideration all these developments, Varavara Rao chose to cancel his bail in Secunderabad Conspiracy Case. On his request, his bail was canceled and he was sent to jail on 26 December 1985.

After Varavara Rao went to jail, his interviews were restricted and under severe surveillance. His mail, including registered newspapers, was censored for months together. He was implicated in two more cases while he was in jail. One of them was another conspiracy case by name, Ramnagar Conspiracy Case. Foisted in 1986, this case went on to break records and after 17 years of trial, Varavara Rao was acquitted in 2003.

Also Read: Varavara Rao – Activist, poet, writer and an unsung leftist Hero – Part 1

In 1986, one of his poetry anthologies “Bhavishyathu Chitrapatam” (Portrait of the Future) was banned by the state government. Varavara Rao was released in 1988 when he was acquitted in Secunderabad Conspiracy Case and from 1990 onwards he started living in Hyderabad.

After a stifling repression period between 1985–89 under the Telugu Desam Party rule, the newly elected Indian National Congress government allowed a little relaxation for a short period after December 1989. Beginning from January 1990, when Virasam held its twentieth annual conference in Hyderabad to May 1990 when Andhra Pradesh Raithu Cooli Sangham held its annual conference in Warangal, millions of people attended the meetings and expressed their unity with the movement. The media reported that 1.2 million people attended the Warangal meeting; almost double the population of that city. Varavara Rao played a very important role in all these meetings as an organizer and speaker. But within a short time from this massive gathering, repression on the revolutionary movement resumed with the killing of N Prabhakar Reddy, a lawyer, and leader of APCLC. Varavara Rao had to shift to a relatively safer Hyderabad, where he joined as a post-doctoral research scholar studying oral traditions in literature at the University of Hyderabad.

Varavara Rao, along with a number of organizations stood in the forefront in exposing and resisting the pro-globalization and liberalization policies of Chandrababu Naidu who came to power in 1994. During Chandrababu Naidu’s government, three Central Committee members of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Peoples War was arrested in Bangalore and killed. Some private criminal gangs killed T. Purushotham and Md Azam Ali, leaders of APCLC and life-threat to Varavara Rao turned imminent. In 2001, the Telugu Desam government accepted a proposal to have peace negotiations with Naxalites and the then Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Peoples War announced the names of Varavara Rao and Gaddar as its emissaries to work out modalities for the proposed talks. The Naxalite party was under ban at that time and these two writers were chosen as emissaries, keeping in view their yeomen services in people’s causes for over three decades then. The government had also named two ministers as its representatives and after three sittings held at a time of unabated encounter killings, Varavara Rao and Gaddar pulled out of the talks’ process, that went on between May and July 2002.

The then opposition Congress party criticized the stand of the Telugu Desam Party with regard to the talks and made a categorical promise in its Election Manifesto 2004 to hold talks to arrive at a meaningful peace. The Congress came to power in May 2004 and initiated the talks’ process in June. This time around the then Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Peoples War named Varavara Rao, Gaddar and novelist G Kalyana Rao as its emissaries.

The emissaries assumed their position on 13 July 2004 and had involved themselves in several rounds of discussions on modalities with the government including the Home Minister and the government representatives. Finally, leaders of two Naxalite parties. Janashakti also joined the talks process and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Peoples War became CPI) came for the talks held between 15 and 18 October 2004. After this first round of talks, the negotiating parties had to meet for subsequent rounds but after the encounter killings of some Naxalites in January 2005, the Naxalite parties withdrew from the process on 16 January. After some failed attempts to revive the process, Varavara Rao and other emissaries withdrew from their positions on 4 April 2005. The peace process ended with the imposition of ban on CPI, Virasam, and some other people’s organizations on 18 August 2005.

Within 24 hours of the imposition of ban on Virasam, Varavara Rao and Kalyana Rao, were arrested on 19 August 2005 under AP Public Security Act and sent to Chanchalguda Central Prison in Hyderabad. Since his arrest, 7 new cases were charged against him. Apart from an earlier case of 1999 (pertaining to a protest meeting against the killings of three top leaders of Peoples War), and the case regarding the ban on Virasam, the remaining six cases pertaining to the period of talks between the government and the Naxalites. When the government revoked the AP Public Security Act against Virasam through GO Ms No. 503 of 11 November 2005, the cases against Varavara Rao and Kalyana Rao should have become redundant. after years of fight, finally, the court struck down the case on Varavara Rao under the Public Security Act on 31 March 2006 and he obtained bails for all other cases by the time. He was released from jail under bail on 31 March 2006 after a period of about eight months. In 2014 June, Telangana state was formed. He was arrested four times during the two-year rule of new Telangana state, along with restrictions on meetings, widespread arrests, and continuation of the ban on RDF. Pune police re-arrested Varavara Rao in Hyderabad on 28 August 2018 in a case relating to an alleged conspiracy to assassinate Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is languishing in jail from past two years; he is now 81 and his physical and mental condition deteriorating. Neither jail is new to him, nor the punishment, only difference in then and now is AGE.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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