Interview - March 2, 2012
I retired from a public sector enterprise.
I knew George from 1970-72. I finished my BSc in 1967 and did M.Sc. in Statistics from 1969-72.
I first saw George in the Arts College canteen. I didn't know who he was, but saw a short man throwing a steel Godrej chair at a tall fellow, some Reddy. Later, I came to know that this was George Reddy. He was a regular in the library. I would follow him there and watch appreciatively as he made notes, filling up papers in his fine handwriting. He spoke mostly in Hindi, sometimes in English. He used to tell me of Socialism, Marxism. At that time, Vijay Kulkarni, Rajaram Atre, Bhatnagar, were with him, as were Ashwin, VK Sharma and Aniruddha. We usually gathered at the Science College canteen behind the Astronomy block. Other students also gathered there, not all of whom accepted what George said, some openly opposing his views.
Once while going to his house, he told me suddenly: I am likely to be attacked here. Two days later, he was indeed attacked with rods and knives. Though badly injured and bandaged, he was in the library the next day.
Once, he gave his scholarship amount of Rs. 2,000 to Iqbal to set up a pan shop. Iqbal told me this.
In those days, the ladies' seats were at the rear of RTC buses. George, Kulkarni and I were in a bus one day when some Arts College goons teased a girl. One of those chaps threw a book at her. When the teasing became more severe, George got up and scolded them, though we held him back. There was a mild altercation, and when they got off later, it was with a threat to 'see him' the next day. The next day, George came prepared with a knuckle duster and we expected a full fledged fight. No one came. They would have known later in the evening that their opponent was the fabled George Reddy and prudently stayed away.
He was a huge figure. He evoked awe. Students knew that here was a man who was not scared, a hero with a cause, committed and totally sincere. He was a legend and, naturally, girls were after him. He was very disciplined. He would be in the library at 8.30 in the morning, and attend classes thereafter. Outside class, he spoke of nothing else but his passion for change and socialism. He was so convinced that he would not speak of anything else. He used to travel alone despite being the target of the RSS guys, he was so brave. How can we term him a goonda? He was a fighter. He was fighting for a cause. He had a bright face – what we call `kala' in it, and he spoke convincingly. He was the talk of the campus.
At that time, we did not view the BJP as communal, we saw them as right wing. You see, there were no communal riots at that time. Hindus were slowly occupying the space vacated, again slowly, by Muslims. The BJP was vying for supremacy on campus. They had no commitment to even their politics. They saw George as a challenge to their supremacy.
In M.Sc. Previous, there was a tough paper, and students complained that it was out of syllabus. George scored 84, the next mark being 41. He was not at all one to learn by rote, he understood the concepts; and his concentration levels were so high that he would not know who sat next to him when he was reading.
Who made George Left? No one, I think. There was no one, I think, who could influence George. He would have read and come to a conclusion himself.
I remember George was there when I took my first cigarette. He remonstrated with me, told me not to pick up the bad habit.
George was a fighter before rustication, but became political after that.
A R Datta, Hyderabad