Eminent Civil rights activist K. Balagopal (52) died of cardiac arrest in a hospital in Banjara hills (Hyderabad) on Thursday night. He is survived by wife and son. Balagopal was one of the staunch civil liberties activist in Andhra Pradesh. Professor Balagopal gave up teaching in Kakatiya University and took to practice of law nearly a decade ago and had argued dozens of cases pertaining to encounter killings by the police. He was associated with the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) for many years. Later, he broken away from the organization on the issue of maoist violence. Then, Professor Balagopal founded the human rights form (RF) in A.P.
Born in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, Balagopal did his graduation at Tirupati. He taught mathematics at Kakatiya University where he came into contact with revolutionary writers and Left activists. Balagopal received several threats and was attacked on some occasions by police who saw him as a Maoist sympathizer.
He had even led the people against the police for duping the Maoists killings. Praja Bandu, an outfit allegedly linked to the state police, had once abducted Balagopal demanding the release of two policemen seized by the rebels. Balagopal was released only after the abducted policemen were let off. He had been under the threat of both the Maoists as well as the police.
His bold criticism of the Maoist’s propensity to indulge in violence attracted severe criticism from the naxalites. Recently, Maoist Central Committee member, Mallojula Koteshwar Rao had challenged Professor Balagopal to visit Lalgarh resistance area to know the real picture. However, Professor Balagopal opposed the state violence as much he opposed the ‘Red violence’.
The CPI (M-L) Liberation have condoled the death saying “He was among the first to confront the State on the issue of fake encounter killings. At a time when both Central and State governments of every hue are intensifying their offensive on democracy and civil liberties through draconian laws, fake encounters and muzzling dissent, K. Balagopal’s memory is a source of strength and inspiration to all those involved in the struggle to defend democracy and resist state repression,”
The Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA) Friday mourned the death of Balagopal. “Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association mourns the untimely death of India’s leading and one of the most firm defenders of civil liberties, K. Balagopal,” JTSA said in a message issued in Delhi. JTSA also said that Balagopal’s memory and legacy of brave struggle will continue to inspire them to speak against injustice.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah mourned human rights activist, writer and advocate K Balagopal. “He had fought for human values throughout his life,’’ he said in a message.
Dalit Bahujan thinker and human rights activist Kanche Ilaiah on Friday mourned Balagopal, saying that in his death not only Andhra Pradesh but also the entire India lost a great human rights activist, intellectual and propagandist. Recalling his association with Balagopal, Ilaiah said in a statement that he lost a personal friend who was a great human rights activist. He always represented human freedom and fought for the human rights of oppressed and suppressed communities
Lok Satta party president Jayaprakash Narayan said though he had an opportunity to lead a comfortable life he spent his life to wipe out the tears of poor.
Expressing shock over the demise of Balagopal, PRP president Chiranjeevi said that it was a great loss to the human rights movement Indian Association of Lawyers State president C Padmanabha Reddy and secretary B Prabhakar stated that Balagopal had fought for protection of human rights in the people and in the courts.
Kadapa MP YS Jaganmohan Reddy stated that State had lost a great intellectual and a hero. It was impossible for any other to fight for two decades for the protection of human rights, he said.
Telangana Writers Forum general secretary J Gouri Sanker said that human rights movement was the breath of Balagopal. He toured every village in Telangana and brought out the truth behind bogus encounters, he said.
Balagopal helped in spreading science among the people, Jana Vignana Vedika president N Venugopala Rao and general secretary T Ramesh said.
With the death of Balagopal poor, oppressed and middle class have lost their `rainbow of aspirations’, former Vice Chancellor of Telugu University A Manjulatha said.
President of Journalists Association of AP U Laxman and general secretary Mohan Yadav stated that with the death of Balagopal not only the State but entire country had lost a human rights activist.
The former Samata Party president, V.V. Krishna Rao, said Mr. Balagopal was one who fought especially for the rights of students, youth and farmers. He understood the problems of rural people and brought them to public notice. His efforts resulted in farmers getting a good price for their produce.
AICC leader K. Keshava Rao said that besides being a personal loss, the death of Mr. Balagopal took away a bold fighter of human rights.