Vignettes from the Telangana Movement
The Telangana movement (1948-51) was an armed revolt of peasants under the leadership of the Communist Party of India against oppressive landlordism patronized by the autocratic rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad.
The sufferings of the peasants intensified with the onset of the Second World War, as they were subjected to increasing numbers of exploitative taxes and levies and forced to perform ‘vetty’ (forced labour). The poorest strata of the peasantry were affected the most, as many of them were unable to bear the increasing burden of exactions, losing their land to the village moneylenders.
Men, women and children from different discontented villages were organized by the Communists into armed guerilla squads to fight exploitative landlords and armed battalions of the Nizam called ‘razakars’, who were increasingly deployed for crushing the movement. Parallel governments were established in about 3000 villages in the region.
P.C. Joshi, the then General Secretary of the Communist Party of India, provided inspiration for the armed struggle in Telangana. He arranged for the supply of arms and ammunition to the struggling peasants. He was supported in his endeavour by many military officers who gifted weapons free of cost and arranged for their shipment.
This rare collection of photographs taken by a party photographer, captures in vivid (and sometimes amusing) detail the many dimensions of the lives of the people of Telangana during those tumultuous times.
Note: All photograph captions in inverted commas were given by the party photographer at the time they were taken.