Raja Bahadur Venkatarama Reddy (August 1869 – 1953) was the first Hindu to be made kotwal of Hyderabad as in the late 19th and early 20th century, during the Islamic rule of the Nizams, the powerful position of kotwal of Hyderabad was held only by Muslims.
Raja Bahadur Venkatarama Reddy Wiki
His tenure lasted almost 14 years and commanded a great respect among the public for his outstanding police administration.
“He had been an observer of the Telangana armed struggle, and was pained by the split between nationalist and left forces. He laid the foundation for the Telangana cultural and social movements, and developed the modern middle class in this region, all the while serving a government which was considered largely alien,”
He remains a model for the leaders carrying people’s mandate, and what the region requires now is a personality like him, he asserted.
Raja Bahadur Venkatarama Reddy was the Kotwal (police commissioner) of Hyderabad city between 1920 and 1934, and widely popular among people for his progressive and educational initiatives.
He was the force behind many educational institutions not only in the city, but outside too.
He established hostels for men and women, and strove for girls’ education by starting the Reddy Women’s School which later graduated to the well-known Reddy Women’s College in Narayanguda.
Venkatram Reddy was born in August 1869 in Rayanipet village of Wanaparthy Samsthan in Hyderabad State (now Mahbubnagar district). His father was a Patel of some eight villages and was well off. He was a grand nephew of the then Raja of Wanaparthy. His mother died three days after his birth, and the father, when he was about five.
Caretaker of Wanaparthy Samsthan, William Wahab, then took care of him. (The name might suggest that he was Christian. That was not so. The Raja of Wanaparthy had employed a Catholic teacher to educate some of his boys.
So the boys were given Christian names, and in deference to the Muslim ruler, Muslim surnames). He was educated in his village and then at Wanaparthy where he became a classmate of Raja Rameshwar Rao II.
The Commissioner of Police of the City of Hyderabad used to be called the ‘Kotwal’. It is one of the oldest establishment and used to be the most powerful job in the H.E.Nizam’s Government. A number of foreign travelers to the city have made references about this office in their writings.
As a city police commissioner he also headed the Baldia in Ex-Officio cadre. He is responsible for peaceful and neatness in the city. He has introduced street lighting as a security measure ( Those days it was called as Kandil). He appointed dedicated staff for the purpose. He introduced weekly special sanitation programme in all streets, through which it was possible to see the clean city every Friday morning.
As Hyderabad Kotwal
Suddenly, Venkatram was asked to see the Nizam. Although, he had worked in the Nizam’s Private Estate, he had never met the ruler before. He was therefore naturally very jittery. It was a Friday and when the Assistant Kotwal presented himself at the King Kothi. After his prayers, the Nizam looked up the nervous officer four or five times and then said, ‘Well, you can go’. The next day he was appointed the Kotwal. From then on he would see the Nizam not every day, but sometimes several times a day.
Venkatram Reddy handled his delicate job adroitly. Not only the Nizam, but also members of both the leading communities were very happy with them. That was a time when the Freedom Struggle was gaining strength. Hyderabad was engulfed by the Khalifat Movement. A group of agitators came from Ahmedabad and joined the local leaders in demonstration. The demonstration became violent and the doors and windows of the Residency court were smashed. Venkatram Reddy himself went to the site and persuaded the leaders to adopt peaceful means.
He also ensured peace at the Ganesh procession by making four policemen the bearers of the palanquin carrying the idol.
Venkatram did not know English. When the Prince of Wales was to visit Hyderabad, he started learning English. He use to practice speaking words and sentences loudly in his room. His orderly, not knowing the meaning, feared that his master had probably become insane. He rushed to the Police station to inform the officer there.
On the second day of the Prince’s stay there was a banquet given by the Nizam. The Kotwal reached the palace ahead of the Prince, but was refused entry by the military, which was in charge of the security inside the palace. When the Prince arrived, there was no one who could guide his party to the right block. That caused acute embarrassment to the host and the guest. The Nizam then asked Venkatram to take total charge of the arrangements.
Title of Raj Bahadur
The Nizam gave him the title of Raj Bahadur on his birthday. A year later the British Government awarded him the Order of the British Empire.
After many extensions of service, he finally retired in 1934. In relaxation of rules for pension, instead of half his salary, he was given a pension of 1,000 rupees a month. Immediately thereafter, he was appointed Special Officer of the Nizam’s private estate. He was also made chairman of the Commission for Inquiry into the Indebtedness of the Sahibzadas.