‘Janadharma’ Acharya, ‘Jeeva Gadda’ Vijay Kumar, ‘Kekalu’ Ramdass, and ‘Mantalu’ Prabhakar — these titles are not their surnames but names of the magazines or newspapers published by them. And the publications were so popular in Telangana that they became the first names of the publishers. Also belonging to this category was ‘Navatha’ Chukka Reddy, who passed away at a hospital in Hyderabad on Thursday at the age of 72.
Janadharma, Jeeva Gadda, Kekalu, Mantalu and Navatha have inspired a generation and have left a great impression on the people of Telangana. These people have, at one time or another, for whatever the duration, published magazines or newspapers with a fearless and independent attitude.
MS Acharya used to publish ‘Janadharma’ from Warangal and later also founded the daily ‘Warangal Vaani’. Its office in JPN Road, Warangal, was a hotbed of political thinking and was deemed as a journalism school. Many of today’s eminent journalists are products of this school.
Noted professor and present member of Central Information Commission Mr Madabhushi Sridhar is his son. Mr Ramdass ran “Kekalu” from Nizamabad facing many a difficulty. He later started another publication called ‘Poddu’. ‘Jeeva Gadda’, a daily published by Vijay Kumar from Karimnagar, was much talked about and many journalists began their careers with this organisation.
Allam Narayana, Chairman of Telangana Press Academy and Ghanta Chakrapani, Chairman of Telangana State Public Service Commission, had started their journalistic careers with ‘Jeeva Gadda’. Its office located at Ganesh Nagar of Karimnagar was the most happening place with politicians and journalists thronging it. Various Left organisations and their members were regulars there. And ‘Mantalu’ Prabhakar, published from the small town Jagitial and true to its name, boldly highlighted several social issues over the years.
Komatireddy Chukka Reddy was born in Chegyam village of Velgatur mandal of old Karimnagar district. Although born into a well-to-do agricultural family, he was drawn towards literature from a young age. His writings were published in ‘Yuva’, a well known magazine of the yesteryears. People have always referred to him with his new surname ‘Navatha’, the publication he started in 1978.
‘Navatha’ came out till 1990, and was known for its people-oriented stories and fighting for people’s rights. Many stories published in the so-called mainstream newspapers had their roots in the investigative stories published in ‘Jeeva Gadda’ and ‘Navatha’.
Apart from his editorial duties, Chukka Reddy was always involved in several people’s movements. From the well-known Karimnagar leader Juvvadi Chokka Rao to ward-level leaders, politicians of all hues consulted him for his opinion.
Mr Chokka Rao was always in touch with Chukka Reddy and another personality who went by the name ‘Union Bank’ Srinivas. Chukka Reddy used to analyse politics without any prejudice — maybe this was the reason why the ‘clean’ politician Chokka Rao valued his opinion.
He was always the first person at R&B Guest House, whenever Chokka Rao visited Karimnagar. Chukka Reddy was involved with many a movement, right from Karimnagar Film Society to Lok Satta. He was well read, and he must have read almost all the known books in Telugu and English.
His demise is a grave loss for Telangana people’s movement and the society. I wish the Telangana government takes steps to preserve these publications, which were guiding lights for Telangana. It’s with these kind of efforts only that we can save memories of these ‘unsung editors’ for posterity.
(The author is a senior journalist)