By – Adv. Arem Paparao and Vivek Sidam
(Adv. Paparao practices at Hyderabad High Court and Vivek Sidam is a student of LLM at Osmania Unviersity.)
It has been over a year and 9 months since Kayam Ramakrishna went missing while his family still awaits for his return. On August 23, 2014, Kayam, a native Adivasi in his early thirties, had gone to appear for UPSC entrance exam. He is reportedly kidnapped by a group of men under the order of Tavurya Naik and Dr. Shanker Naik, belonging to another ST community of Telangana. The motive behind the kidnap being ensuing jealousy and power dominance of one community over the weaker one, to whom Kayam belongs. The evidences shows that Tavurya Naik wanted to remove Kayam, who ranked first in a job recruitment exam. It has been nearly two years since the incidence but still due to the indifference of police and government, Tavurya, who is politically connected, is still free while Kayam is still untraceable. It shows how hollow is the system’s concerns towards the Adivasis.
A massive protest was organized at Indira Park, Hyderabad in December 28, 2016 by the Adivasis demanding an inquiry on whereabouts of Kayam.. Mr. MA Mujeeb, National Convener of Bahujan Sena (also National Patron of All India Adivasi Parishad) expressed his despair over the silence of Andhra and Telangana governments. A search committee headed by Prof. Apka Nageshwar Rao, assisted by Kayam Ramkrishna’s sister Dodda Aruna, is formed. The committee is soon planning to submit a memorandum to CM and Governor of AP and Telangana state. Mujeeb, condemning harassment of Kayam by Dr. Shanker Naik, a non native Adivasis, reiterated the demand for re-classification within the STs so that native Adivasis, vis a vis the non-native Adivasis, be given proportional reservation in order to ensure the rights of weaker communities. (indianwhitepaper.com)
A native of Khammam district, Kayam was resident of Kotthagudem village. He belongs to Koya/Koitur tribe. Kayam’s father Abhaya is a farmer and mother works in Singreni Collery as contract based sweeper. According to his close friends, he has always been a bright student. After completing his intermediate from APRJC, Andhra Pradesh Tribal Welfare Residential School, he joined Junior college from Kinnesani, Khammam district. Kayam then earned his B.Tech. Degree from Gokkaraju Gangaraju Engineering College, Hyderabad. After this he went into completing LLB from Padala Ramreddy College, affiliated to Osmania University. He was awarded gold medal for LLB by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister.
He got a job as a Junior Scientific Officer at Manuguru Power Plant, Khammam District, Telangana. After working for 3-4 years he applied for long leave and started preparing for civil services exams. Twice he reached mains of UPSC exam and had even appeared for interview once. In 2013, a job notifications for Singreni management Junior Estate Officer was released. Kayam had applied for it and recured first rank in the entrance exam under Schedule Tribe category. However, on October 6, 2014, when Kayam went to Singreni Colleri to report on his first day, he was stopped at the gate of Colleri by Dr Sankar Naik, Tavurya Naik and his men. They did not allow him to join the office that day and forcefully made him write and sign in a paper stating “I will not join this job”.
Tavurya Naik belongs to Lambada community, listed under Schedule Tribe in Telangana since 1976, which is considered a dominant community among STs of Telangana. Tavurya had secured second rank in the same entrance exam. Therefore he was trying to get Kayam out of his way to secure the job position. For the same reason, Dr Sankar Naik met recruitment board officers and bribed them to give Kayam’s position to Tavurya. However, as Kayam went and filed complaint with Chief Management Director Mr Sridhar, IAS, the position was put on hold until further notice. Kayam then also met mining minister Harish Rao regarding this issue and submitted his complaint on December 12, 2014. He then filed a police complaint at Kotthegudem Police Station at Khammam. However, the police refused to file the FIR against Tavurya and Sankar Naik. Dr Sankar Naik,a TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samithi) leader is politically influential in the region and currently the president of Singreni Employee Union. He has contested for MLA election from Pinapaka constituency in the general elections in 2014. He worked as doctor in Singareni co. Hospital, from where he was suspended due to his participation in Telangana agitation. According to Kayam’s father, Dr. Sankar Naik had tried to offer 7 lakhs to his son and had even threatened him.
On the date of his disappearance, August 23, 2015, Kayam went to Vijaywada to appear in UPSC prelims exam. After the exam, Kayam spoke to his father and sister and told them that his exam went really well. Soon when he got out of the exam centre, Esam Suman (a Koya leader who was hired for kidnapping) met him. Then both went for tea, where Tavurya and Sankar Naik joined. That day onwards Kayam went missing. The FIR was filed in Vijaywada but the enquiry has not yielded any success.
Advocate Paparao (author of this article) was a senior of Kayam Ramakrishna in Law College. According to him, Kayam had mentioned about the threats and pressure he was receiving from Tavurya. So, once when Paparao met Tavurya in RDO office he asked him why he was threatening Kayam to leave the job? To which Tavurya replied, “I will do whatever it takes to get that job”. Tavurya’s friends got details about Kayam through RTI application and then approached Dr. Sankar Naik for help. He also threatened Kayam arguing – “You (Kayam) have enrolled in bar council, so you don’t have eligibility to get a job”. Esam Suman also told Paparao that he got 1 lakh advance as a mediator to give to Kayam, but Kayam refused the money. Kayam did not mention these issues but told Paparao that he is being threatened to leave the job and he doesn’t know what to do.
Kayam’s parents filed FIR in Kothagudem police station but police did not pay attention to this case and had been indirectly supporting Tavurya and Dr. Sankar Naik. His sister and family has filed a PIL in Hyderabad high court but the concerned advocate left the case due to external political pressures from Telangana government. While the court has earlier questioned Kothagudem Police, they have yet not responded clearly on the issue. This incident raises serious concerns over the internal dynamics of Adivasi/Tribal politics in Telangana and how the government had been playing blind to it. Meanwhile the family still seeks legal help to continue their fight for justice.
Image : Priyanka Purty