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Andhra village with a bloody past is now on the path of peace

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By Mohammed Shafeeq

Kappatralla, Andhra Pradesh: The village in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, which was once a symbol of bloody factional violence in the Rayalaseema region is now on the path of transformation. Thanks to the initiative of Superintendent of Police A. Ravi Krishna, who has adopted the village, peace prevails and the families who were once at each other’s throats, have realized the futility of violence.

Going beyond the work often seen in such villages, Ravi Krishna has brought about a perceptible change by enabling the younger generation of the most dreaded factionists embark on a new journey of peace and development.

Focussing on education and infrastructure, Ravi Krishna bonded the community together, something never witnessed in five decades in this village, located in Devanakonda mandal, 50 km from Kurnool town.

In a village where government officers once feared to enter, he would stay overnight, visiting every household to understand problems and attempting to address them by coordinating with other departments and roping in NGOs, philanthropists and corporate bodies.

In one year, he brought about a visible change, as is evident from the high school building constructed at a cost of Rs.16 lakh, a project that had been pending for 13 years.

The young Indian Police Service (IPS) officer has even purchased a piece of land in this village of 5,000 people to construct a house so that he can come and stay with the villagers at least once in six months, even after he is transferred.

A blacktop road was laid connecting the village, which lies off the Kurnool-Bellary highway. Villagers say it was deliberately kept in a pathetic condition for decades as Palegar Venkatappa Naidu, the most dreaded factional leader in the region, feared a threat from his rivals coming from outside.

After escaping about a dozen attacks, Venkatappa Naidu met a gory end in 2008 when his rivals killed him in the most brutal fashion, a characteristic feature of the factional violence.

The killers rammed an empty truck at high speed into the vehicle in which he, along with 10 others, were travelling. Leaving nothing to chance, bombs were hurled and the bodies hacked with sickles.

In 2014, 21 accused in Venkatappa’s murder case were convicted by a court and sentenced to life imprisonment .The 63-year-old factionist was involved in feuds which claimed 200 lives in Kappatralla and surrounding villages.

It all began in 1969, when Venkatappa removed Varam Kistappa as the sarpanch. A bloody fight began between two families which claimed lives of their members and followers. The feud inspired many Telugu movies on faction violence.

Today, Venkatappa’s house is deserted while a stone’s throw away the house of his rival, Maddiletty Naidu, is locked as he is in jail. A few yards away is the panchayat office, which was turned into a police outpost and at any given time, there would be at least 70 armed policemen to prevent clashes between the two groups.

The families of the followers of the warring factions and those sentenced in various cases are suffering as they lost their sole breadwinners, the majority of them in their 20s and 30s.

Today, the children of the victims and the accused share benches in the school.

“Our family is facing difficult times,” says Mallika, daughter of Chinna Lalappa, who was sentenced to life in the Venkatappa murder case.

Eldest among four sisters and a brother, this Class 8 student dreams of becoming an IPS officer. The family is surviving on meagre earnings of Lalappa’s father and brother, both small farmers.

K. Rasheed, a Class 10 student, said his father K. Abdul Rehman used to work for Venkatappa’s faction and got a life sentence for killing a member of a rival faction. His younger brother is in Class 9 and their mother, an agriculture labourer, is fighting against all odds to educate them. Rasheed, a school topper, wants to become a scientist.

Revenge ran through generations to keep factional feuds alive since early 1970s. “The revenge feeling is no longer there. I told them that they have to stop this because both sides will be losers. No one wins in this faction fight,” Ravi Krishna told IANS.

Though no major incident occurred after 2008, the villagers lived in fear. The officer’s efforts are yielding results. School enrollment has increased and the dropout rate, which was as high as 50 percent is down to zero.

This year, Ravi Krishna persuaded the families of agriculture labourers who migrate in search of work to leave behind their children so that their education is not affected. He even ensured that a seasonal hostel is set up in the village for such children.

“Education is my passion. I believe that when a society is educated, crime comes down,” said the young officer, who has set a goal of producing an IPS officer from the village in six to seven years.

The officer, who sent 30 youths for training as police constables, is also conducting job fairs for youth, has formed women’s self-help groups and a society of farmers. He has also persuaded a leading bank of the district to open a branch in the village.

He is now motivating police officers in other villages to adopt schools, especially in 77 villages of the district affected by the factional violence.

The Rayalaseema region comprising Anantapur, Kadapa, Chittoor and Kurnool is notorious for factional violence, which claimed over 500 lives in the last 15 years. Factions backed by the ruling TDP or Congress have been fighting for supremacy in the villages. (IANS)

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15 Amazing facts about Indian National Song: Vande Mataram

The National song of India, Vande Mataram is considered as the foundation of encouragement to the people in their struggle for freedom.

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Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote the lyrics of Vande Mataram. Wikimedia Commons
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote the lyrics of Vande Mataram. Wikimedia Commons
  • Vande Mataram was originally written in 1876 and appeared in Anandamath in 1881
  • Well before the Congress’ Varanasi session on September 7, 1905, Vande Mataram was adopted as the `National Song’ and won India’s heart as its war cry of freedom
  • Poet Sarala Devi Chaudurani sang the national song in the Benares Congress Session in 1905

‘Vande Mataram’, is no less than an epic for our country and holds a special place in the heart of every Indian. The first two words of the title itself are sufficient to induce a great feeling of patriotism.

It would be a surprise for many to know that September 7, 2006, was not the centenary of Vande Mataram. On the contrary, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote the lyrics of Vande Mataram well before he penned Anandamath, his novel, which described unified Bengal’s sanyasi uprising against tyrannical Muslim rule in the 1770s.

For better clarification, Vande Mataram was originally written in 1876 and appeared in Anandamath in 1881.

The National song was a part of Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s most famous novel Anand Math. Wikimedia Commons
Vande Mataram was a part of Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s most famous novel Anand Math. Wikimedia Commons

Thus, 2006 was not the 100th year of Vande Mataram, but the 129th anniversary of the `National Song”, which was first recited at the Indian National Congress session of 1896.

Also Read: 10 Must Knowing Facts about Indian Flag

Well before the Congress’ Varanasi session on September 7, 1905, Vande Mataram was adopted as the `National Song’ and won India’s heart as its war cry of freedom.

On January 24, 1950, it was brought at par with the National Anthem officially by the Constituent Assembly.

The protest against Vande Mataram because of its ‘idolatrous’ content began in the 1890s. The Congress party surrendered before Islamic opposition at its Kakinada session in 1923 not only on the Vande Mataram issue but also to all symbols and values held national.

The recent HRD ministerial diktat to compulsorily sing the song throughout the country occupied much media space and ignited a debate on India’s national song’s journey over the last 130 years.

Also Read: 15 Amazing Facts About The Revolutionary Bhagat Singh

The song served as a source of immense strength and inspiration for freedom fighters before India gained freedom.

The Sangh Parivar, better known as the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) celebrated the 125th anniversary of the song in 2002. Wikimedia Commons
The Sangh Parivar, better known as the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) celebrated the 125th anniversary of the song in 2002. Wikimedia Commons

Take a look at some of the glorious facts related to our National song, ‘Vande Mataram’.

  1. The National song, ‘Vande Mataram’ was written by the great Bengali poet and writer, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee.
  2. On January 24, 1950, it was adopted as the National Song of India.
  3. The National song of India, Vande Mataram is considered as the foundation of encouragement to the people in their struggle for freedom. The National song of India is versed in the Sanskrit and Bengali languages, in the novel ‘Anandmath’ by Bankim Chandra Chatterji.
  4. The former President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on January 24, 1950, came up with a declaration in the Constituent Assembly that the song Vande Mataram, which had played a significant part in the historic freedom struggle held in India, should be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and must give equal status to it.
  5. The National song was a part of Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s most famous novel Anand Math (1882) which is set in the events of Sannyasi rebellion.
  6. The first translation of Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s novel Anand Math, into English was done by Nares Chandra Sen-Gupta, in 1906.
  7. In the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress, it was the first political event when the National song was sung. On the same occasion, the national song of India was first sung by the Rabindranath Tagore.
  8. Poet Sarala Devi Chaudurani sang the national song in the Benares Congress Session in 1905.
  9. The Iron Man of India, Lala Lajpat Rai, published a journal called Vande Mataram from Lahore.

    Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on January 24, 1950, came up with a declaration that Vande Mataram should be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and must give equal status to it. Wikimedia Commons
    Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on January 24, 1950, came up with a declaration that Vande Mataram should be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and must give equal status to it. Wikimedia Commons
  10. Vande Mataram was recited in the first political film made by Hiralal Sen in 1905.
  11. The Sangh Parivar, better known as the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) celebrated the 125th anniversary of the song in 2002.
  12. Two stanzas of the original song have been officially declared as the National Song of India in 1950 after the independence of India.
  13. The song was originally written in two languages, Sanskrit and Bengali, in the novel ‘Anandmath’.
  14. It was also sung by the Dakhina Charan Sen in 1901 after five years during another Congress meeting at Calcutta.
  15. India’s first political film Hiralal Senmade, made in 1905 ends with the chant Vande Mataram.