Hyderabad’s cosmopolitan essence and storied heritage have indelibly shaped its unique character. Throughout its history, from the Qutub Shahis to the Asaf Jahis, each ruling dynasty has strived to serve the best interests of the region and its people. Their administrators played a crucial role in this endeavour.
One such illustrious figure is Kotwal Bahadur Venkatarama Reddy, who held the position of commissioner of Hyderabad police during the reign of the 7th Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan. Records indicate that the police commissionerate system in Hyderabad dates back to 1847. The esteemed administrative role of Kotwal, typically filled by Muslims, was, for the first time, held by a Hindu named Venkatarama, who served from 1920 to 1934.
During his 14-year tenure, Venkatarama earned immense respect from the public for his exceptional policing and administration. His visionary leadership led to the enactment of The Hyderabad Police Act of 1938, which continues to guide law enforcement to this day. The Kotwal in the Hyderabad state was entrusted with maintaining law and order, preventing and combating crime, and prosecuting criminals.
Born into a Reddy peasant family in Rayanipet village, now in Mahbubnagar district, Venkatarama, with his dedicated work ethic and composed demeanour, climbed the ranks within the police force. He served in various districts before becoming one of the most distinguished figures in the erstwhile Hyderabad State. As the 1920s ushered in the Indian freedom movement, Venkatarama garnered the trust of diverse religious and ethnic communities, ensuring the region’s peace and harmony remained undisturbed.
Beyond his administrative role, Venkatarama championed education and literacy in Telangana. He encouraged young men from his community to pursue education and government jobs. At a time when female education received inadequate attention, he emphasised the importance of educating girls. Venkatarama played a pivotal role in founding the Narayanguda Girls’ High School (now known as Madapati Hanumantha Rao School) and RBVRR Women’s College, Narayanguda. He also established hostels for rural boys and girls pursuing their studies in Hyderabad in 1918 and 1933, respectively.
Venkatarama passed away in 1953 at the age of 83. His dedication to social reform and commitment to maintaining peace and harmony in the city have left an enduring mark on Hyderabad’s identity.
Today, on August 22, his 146th birth anniversary, an autobiographical play depicting his life is being performed at 6 pm at the Ravindra Bharathi auditorium in Hyderabad, celebrating his remarkable legacy.