Hyderabad: G. Krishna Prasad, the additional superintendent of police, sacrificed his life fighting for the nation 30 years ago. His wife and daughter succumbed to COVID-19 and post-covid complications in the past month.
Late Krishna Prasad (1950-92) fell to the bullets of ISI terrorists in 1992. At the time of this tragedy, his daughter Deepti was just eight years old and her brother Vivek was three. She used to go around the offices to secure the entitlements of her martyred father to take care of mother and younger sibling. She steered the family through the crisis and educated herself and her brother. She, on her own merit, achieved success in public service examinations and rose to the level of the general manager of the Telangana State Mineral Development Corporation.
Her colleagues in the Corporation remembered how she had helped organize COVID-19 tests and how without any fear or hesitation she had provide moral support to the patients. Many of them visited her residence and paid tributes before her last rites were performed. Deepti also used to present dahez (entire kitchen requirements) to hundreds of newly-married couples.
Deepti and her husband Vikas had provided cooked meals to around 600 COVID-19 patients in 2020 from their house in Tirupathi. The Chittoor collector had profusely thanked them for their service. Both were instrumental in connecting a Shiva Temple in Chandragiri with electricity and had arranged for regular Abhishekam on Maasa Shivarathri every month. Vikas said Deepti never missed the Satyanarayana Vratam on every Pournami.
Deepti was planning to start a skill development institute for unemployed educated youths. She also planned to organize a small residential colony for senior citizens with all facilities and medical help at Tirupathi.
She could not bear the demise of her mother Janaki on 4 May 2021 due to coronavirus. While her brother Vivek recovered, she valiantly fought and won over the virus but heart failed her.
Deepti and her mother Janaki.
He knocked at the door of a house, when two unsuspecting girls opened the door and tried to prevent Krishna Prasad from making his way into the house. Suddenly, the terrorists opened fire with automatic rifle, killing him and his gunman. But the officer courageously opened fire with his service pistol. His great valour did not go in vain. The girls, who received some bullet wounds, were caught when they approached a hospital for treatment.
Subsequent interrogation revealed the terror module that led to the arrest of Mujib and the encounter of another killer. The most important rule of war is "To know the enemy is half the victory". Not knowing is complete defeat. No victory or defence can be devised or pursued without knowing who one is fighting. Failure of Intelligence is more disastrous than an ISI human suicide bomb. If the state does not know that terrorists are camping in its capital, and is ignorant of their AK-56s, its brave officers will be martyrs. The tragedy of Krishna Prasad's martyrdom was the result of lack of intelligence
Krishnaprasad fights ISI terrorists
On 29 November 1992, Krishna Prasad was hunting down some terrorists hiding in Brindavan Colony in the Tolichowki area of Hyderabad. He was not informed that ISI-sponsored terrorists were armed with automatic rifles.
Another tragedy that followed was worse than Intelligence failure. Krishna Prasad's killer walked out free. Mujib Ahmad was sentenced to life but that did not mean imprisonment till the end of his life. After serving just seven years, he walked out of jail. When he was freed from Visakhapatnam Central Jail as a gift on Independence Day, Krishna Prasad's family was shocked. The government adhered to the remission norms without any application of mind, and a terrorist was not distinguished from an ordinary killer. The result was that a terrorist was released. Who should get the gift of remission on Independence Day? An Indian convict or a foreign terrorist? A possibly regretting criminal or a ruthless killer?
The explanation of the jail officials was: "The government has decided on the criteria for remission, and whoever fulfilled that condition was released. It happens irrespective of the fact whether the prisoner had reformed his ways or not. Mujib Ahmed was transferred from Cherlapally jail in Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam Central Jail on disciplinary grounds. Here he was lodged in single cell allowing for little interaction with other prisoners. When reporters asked whether he was a reformed man, Mujib just smiled.
Krishna Prasad's wife and two children were surprised that reformation of a self-confessed terrorist could be so swift. "I have nothing to say about it," said Prasad's widow G. Janaki to a reporter at the time.
It is another tragedy that the Vishakha Central Prison pampered prisoner Mujib and helped him with cell phones to talk to his terrorist colleagues. Naidu Nagarjun Reddy, a Naxalite prisoner who was released in August 2004, claimed that jail authorities supplied cell phones to Mujib, who made three calls from these mobile phones, continuing his terror links.
"Mujib used to make anti-India statements and misbehaved with fellow inmates. How could he be released for good conduct on Independence Day?" Nagarjuna Reddy asked. The jail authorities denied all these allegations and told reporters that Vizag jail was outside cell phone coverage area. Even the jail authorities could not use mobile phones then how could Mujib? The asked.
Strangely, the authorities also claimed that "bad conduct is not a bar against releasing prisoners as per GO". Prasad's family were surprised at the way the killer was freed as if he needed to plan some more attacks. And he did. He was caught planning terrorist activities in north India but managed to evade the police.
The AP government did not find any difference between an ordinary killer undergoing a life sentence and an ISI terrorist who killed a police officer. No due recognition was given to the martyr Krishna Prasad, while his colleagues became DGs or held higher positions. Ignored or forgotten. The people do not know that the government is not paying due attention to terrorist roots in the Old City of Hyderabad nor is it taking any effective action to make Hyderabad or India terrorism-free and remove risks to police officers like Krishna Prasad.
The police officers murdered by Naxalites get more recognition while a young officer who laid down his life fighting the terrorists in Hyderabad was forgotten or ignored. The brave Krishna Prasad, hailing from a middle-class police family, had won the DSP position by sheer merit in Group I examinations.
He was born to Gaddam Venkatappaiah, an inspector of police, and Venkata Subbaiamma on 31 July 1950 in Katuru village, Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh. A postgraduate in science, an NCC cadet, a sportsman, a poet and a photographer, Krishna Prasad was married to Janaki and had daughter Deepti and son Vivek. His career as a police officer reflects the story of a brave, courageous, and duty-conscious personality fighting with extremists, mafia, and terrorists.
Apart from working in troubled areas of Andhra Pradesh, he served in Nowgong and Tezpur districts of Assam when separatist agitation was at its peak. With his sincere and well-organised work in extremist areas, he arrested 42 notable leaders of various groups of Naxalites, while several leaders surrendered. Though 13 people died in 14 encounters there were no doubts about the genuineness of the encounters.
We sing the glory of Tanguturi Prakasham for throwing himself against the .303 British guns in Madras during Independence struggle. We revere him as Andhra Kesari (Lion of Andhra). Prakasham was facing the aimed guns of the British police, while Krishna Prasad faced AK56 of foreign terrorists. If the former could be a lion, what should this officer be? Though his family was permitted to reside in the official quarters up to his retirement age, they were denied an extension. No suitable recognition was waiting for him during his life or after.
A fatal mix of terrorism, failure of Intelligence, and absence of good governance convert brave officers into martyrs. The local administration was so shameful that none knew that Tolichowki was a breeding ground for terrorist groups. It is not absence of good governance, but brazen bad governance.
(The writer is former Central Information Commissioner and professor, School of Law, Bennett University.)