Throughout history, the youth have been the pillar of revolutions. Wars have been won by the greatest of commanders on the back of the youth who were willing to kill and be killed on the field of battle. The difference between victory and defeat is, often enough, the enthusiasm of the cadres and the faith of the youth in the men who lead them into battle. It is always on the back of the youth that the fate of the Flags of the forefathers rest. One such youth who sacrificed his life to defend the honour of the Flag he so loved was Sama Jaganmohan Reddy. There are opportune moments in the life of any nation, seemingly insignificant, when ordinary men can cast their shadows across the tides of time if their spirit of gallantry overcomes the fear in their heart. It was one such moment.
Forty years ago, on the occasion of Republic Day, the Vice Chancellor of the Kakatiya University in Warangal, now in Telangana, hoisted the National Flag in the presence of the teaching and non-teaching staff and the students of the University. Now, those were troubled days and it was the era when Naxalism was a dominant threat in the region. Thus it happened, during the ceremony, members of the Radical Students Union (RSU), a frontal group of Maoists that has been banned since then, ambushed the flag post, pulled the Tricolour down and hoisted a black flag in turn. They shouted derogatory slogans against India and the Indian Constitution, that is often the norm, and attempted to burn the Flag. It was in that moment that Sama Jaganmohan Reddy, the then president of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), etched his legacy across the sands of time.
Sama Jaganmohan Reddy sprang forth like a lion and with assistance from a few of his trusted comrades, chased away the hooligans of the RSU and restored the Indian National Flag to its rightful place. It was an act of bravery, a moment of impulsive valour, a demonstration of great honour and one that would go on to claim his life. The situation at the time was so grim that when an inquiry was launched by the government into the desecration of the Flag by the government, students were afraid to come forward and testify against the RSU. But Sama Jaganmohan Reddy was made of different mettle.
Sama Jaganmohan Reddy not only came forward but became the chief witness in the matter. He revealed the names of those who had participated in the charade against the National Flag, which earned him the wrath of the RSU. The Maoist students’ group and another frontal organization, the People’s War Group (PWG) threatened him with dire consequences but he did not flinch. He went numerous times to the Court in order to testify against the members of the organization. And that, his obstinate sense of duty and honour, would go on to claim his life.
On the 29th of April, 1982, when the ABVP Karyakarta was returning from the Court and entered the crowded Hanumakonda Head Post Office area, a band of Naxalites pouced upon him and inflicted mortal wounds on his body. He was stabbed indiscriminately and ultimately, he abandoned the mortal flesh to depart for the Heavens above. The events on the penultimate day of the month of April all those years ago were merely the conclusion of a chain of events that were set in motion over two years prior to them. It was a tragic end to a life that promised so much more. But in the end, was snuffed out by the demons in our midst.
Sama Jaganmohan Reddy may not be with us today but the flame of his courage continues to shine its light through the ages of time and will continue to serve as an inspiration for those who revere this land we call our home. Even thirty eight years after his death, his sacrifice is remembered to this day and people continue to cherish his memory. The example he set through the act of supreme valour continues to galvanise others to serve our motherland. Innumerable people have walked this sacred land of hours but only few worthy men of honour have been able to etch their names across eternity. The ABVP Karyakarta was one such man.
Since the fateful day four decades ago, the footprint of Naxalism has greatly reduced and continues to grow weaker with every passing day. And in that time, a sibling of the ABVP, the BJP, which was formed in 1980 as well, has come to dominate the highest echelons of power. To a neutral observer, the sacrifice made by Sama Jaganmohan Reddy may appear to be insignificant in the grand of scheme of things. But it is due to the aggregation of such innumerable sacrifices that a nation attains prosperity. And over the years, the men of the ABVP have had to make countless such sacrifices. Jagan may have fallen that day but the gravity of his actions and others such as him will continue to create ripples throughout history.