People lost a great Civil Liberties activist – A Dalit Leader – A True Muslim Friend
Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee express its grief and sorrow over the demise of the great civil liberties activist Bojja Tarakam and pays its deep condolences to his family members and the activists associated with him belonging to different organizations. The demise of Bojja Tarakam is a great loss to the whole civil liberties movement and the on going struggle against the oppression and repression. It is a matter of fact that he was a multi dimensional personality. He was not only a great civil liberteis activist but also a designated lawyer, a dynamic dalit leader, a true Muslim friend and a prolific writer as well. He always stood with the Muslim community at the high time when no one dared to come forward.
Bojja Tarakam was suffering from brain tumor since 2007. But till his last breath he struggled and worked for the cause of civil liberties. He was closely attached with the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee and in fact it was his encouragement to initiate a rights organization to raise the voice of the most oppressed people particularly Muslims. He advised that we should not bother that someone will come and speak for us; we have to raise our voice for ourself and our community against the atrocities without depending on others. Others will follow automatically at later stage.
In the year 2002-03 when Gujarat police started arresting Muslim youth from Hyderabad in the fabricated cases linking them with ISI, it was Bojja Tarakam who led the fact finding team and visited different areas of Hyderabad, specially Saidabad area. We went to each and every house of the youth who were arrested, knew the facts, built the confidence and encouraged them to speak out the facts boldly. Then later he conducted a press conference at Press Club of Basheerbagh wherein he declared that all the arrested youth are innocent and it was the nexus of Gujarat and Hyderabad police who were targeting the Muslim youth. His words became reality as all the arrested youth were acquitted and it was the time when all the rights organizations were hesitant to speak for those Muslim youth. He had encouraged those youth and their families to resist and fight back.
Then in the year 2007 when Makkah Masjid bomb blast took place, it was Bojja Tarakam who formed and led the fact finding team. He himself drafted the report and without any second thought he declared that the bomb blast was the handi work of Hindutva terrorists. During that time, no one agreed nor believed his words that the blast was carried out by Hindutva terrorists but later his words were proved to be true. He also had said that the police firing after the blast was also a terrorist act by the state. We had filed a case in the High Court on Police firing and Bojja Tarakam had argued the case wherin the court had issued a notice to the state as to why a case u/s 302 should not be booked against the police personnel who opened the fire on the innocent people.
After the formation of new state Telangana, encounter of five Muslim undertrial prisoners took place in April 2015, which was the first encounter in the new state. Those five Muslim youth trial was going on in the court and as their trial was going to complete wherein they would have been acquitted, before that they were killed by the escort police at Aler. The very next day we conducted a press conference and Bojja Tarakam spoke out boldly against the state saying that it was first time in the Indian history in which the state killed five undertials in the name of encounter. After that we went to his house to take his advice for the legal battle for justice to the encounter victims; he advised us to file a case in the High Court and also said that he will personally come and argue the case, he became very emotional and said, “even if at this high time if I do not come to High Court to argue the case then what is the use of my living”. During that time also his health was not such that he can walk alone, but still he insisted that he will come to the court. We took him to the court, he argued the matter and the case was admitted.
Bojja Tarakam played a key role in the fight against the upper caste people who attacked dalits in Karamchedu in 1985 and against the perpetrators of Tsundur massacre in 1992. He led several fake encounter fact findings, brought out the facts through press conferences. He successfully argued in the Hyderabad High Court that murder cases should be booked against the police officers involved in the fake encounters and got the landmark judgment from the High Court of Hyderabad that case u/s 302 should be booked against the police officers involved in the encounters.
Bojja Tarakam was a principled man and he never compromised with his principles, never bowed down before the state. During Emergency he was put behind bars from July 1975 to July 1976. He struggled for the peoples rights for almost fifty years to liberate them from the oppression. He successfully created awareness among the people especially dalit community against the Hindutva fascism and always believed and tried hard for the Dalit-Muslim unity. He always said that all the problems of the country will solve only when these two communities come together and take over the political power from the brahminical forces.
Our last meeting with him was few months back after he had come home from the hospital after Chemotherapy. Though he was looking very weak but his will power was very high. He was very much concerned that due to his ill health he was unable to involve fully in the struggles against oppression. He was very much sad on the incident of Rohit Vemula and the state behaviour. With heavy heart he said that nothing has changed for the Dalits even after 70 years of independence. He advised us to work hard under the present situation because activists have decreased in number and it is need of time that we should prepare the activists more and more to combat the situation.
Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee believes that the demise of Bojja Tarakam is the end of an era of struggle. People lost its civil liberties activist, a dalit leader, prolific writer and most importantly Muslims lost their true friend who always stood for them. Such type of personalities are born rarely but the path and the principles shown by Bojja Tarakam will remain with us forever and his memories will give us strength to work in this fascist era and to resist the anti people forces. Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee pays its tribute to this icon of struggle.
Lateef Mohammed Khan