(Dr. Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad)
India attained independence because millions of persons either sacrificed their lives or physically assaulted or mentally tortured and mother lost her husband or son or near and dear but in school days we read few families/person names, as if our country got independence because of a few families. Here, I am presenting the case of an unsung freedom fighter namely Alwala Bal Reddy (born in 1917, Pochampally, Telangana), a social activist (Arya Samaj follower), and a prolific orator. Alwala Bal Reddy Garu (Garu is used as respect to Telugu persons) was in jail for his campaigns against the British Raj and misrule of Nizam of Hyderabad. I wish to mention here that more than 53,000 persons either died or were missing under the leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose of Azad Hind Fauj where many Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and others sacrificed their lives for the independence of undivided India.
Initially Alwala Bal Reddy had communist feelings later on he went to Bombay/Mumbai to participate in the non-cooperation movement (Civil Disobedience) because he was influenced by Gandhiji. He was arrested in 1932 and admitted to Yerravad central prison on 7 April 1932 for six months. Subsequently, he took part in most of the Congress-led movements under the leadership of Swami Ramanandha Tirtha who was the chief leader of the Hyderabad State Congress party. At that time, Congress played an important role to motivate and inspire the people of Hyderabad.
Reddy Garu was a selfless leader who inspired many because of his oratory skill. His speech was so impressive that many people participated to listen to him. During the Ganesh festival in 1942, he made a speech to inspire people to join the Quit India Movement, and for his motivating speech, he was arrested. The Police Commissioner of Hyderabad issued a circular prohibiting Alwala Bal Reddy to deliver public speeches and writings and later on he was also jailed.
It is pertinent to mention here that India attained Independence on 15 August 1947 but Alwala Bal Reddy, a few Arya Samaj persons, and several Congress leaders were in jail till 17 September 1948. After the liberation of Hyderabad, he along with others was released. Throughout his life, Reddy Garu struggled to build a casteless society (like Brahmo Samaj in Bengal) and also fought for women’s empowerment. In 1934 he established a primary school (evening classes ) for Harijan/Dalit. In 1949, he set up Kasturba School for girls at Umdabazar, Doodhbowli of Hyderabad. He served the first Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad popularly known as Baldia after getting elected unanimously from the Congress party for two terms consecutively (1951-56). He also helped poor persons to get land for agriculture in the Bahadurpur area of present-day Hyderabad. Reddy Garu was general secretary for Hyderabad trade union Congress from 1942 to 1954. Reddy Garu’s wife Ratnamma always supported him in his entire social and humanitarian activities. She was his source of inspiration. In this context, it may be mentioned that when Alwala Bal Reddy was arrested in the Bomb case, his house was burnt and his family members were tortured. Even shelter was denied to his family in his native village of Gundla Pochampally, later on, they moved and stayed in a small room in Koti, Hyderabad. There is a saying “God Sees the Truth, But Waits”, so Reddy Garu’s activities were acknowledged in various ways later on, inter alia of which are a)Tamrapatra, 1972, b) Freedom fighters Stupam from Warangal, Telangana c) Memento from Allahabad , etc. For his activities, my salute to the great soul Alwala Bal Reddy Garu.
(The author offers his thanks to R. Sudhir Reddy grandson of Alwala Bal Reddy, Libdom Villa, Bandlaguda Jagir, Hyderabad for providing necessary inputs to write the article)
An Unsung Hero and a Great Personality in Freedom Movement
(Dr. Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad)