Alluri Sitaramaraju - Introduction
While the movements for independence predominantly worked within the rubric of Congress and Gandhi, a major tribal revolt broke out in East Godvari under the leadership of Alluri Sitaramaraju in 1922-1924. Though it did not have the sanction of Gandhi, Alluri Sitaramaraju's Rampa rebellion as it came to be called, disturbed the imperial government in the Madras Presidency. It is indeed a happy coincidence that the 50 years of Indian independence is also the birth centenary year of Alluri.
No other contemporary leader was endowed with such mystic heroism as was Sitaramaraju. He is, even today, a folk hero of magical powers, a hero who transcended ordinary humans, who walked in the beautiful forests. "You said that you would bury this, feranghi, what a great man you must have been!"
This "young in years and eternal in his quest" son of forests, Alluri Sitaramaraju was born in 1897, decided to become a sanyasi by the time he was 18, and became interested in astrology and medicinal herbs which brought him dose to the forest people of Rampa. Despite his involvement in Non-cooperation movement he believed in armed resistance as the only means to achieve Swaraj.
Alluri Sitaramaraju's Rampa rebellion
So began one of the most glorious chapters in Andhra history, called the Rampa Rebellion. The forest laws imposed on the tribals by the British hampered the daily life of gudem and Rampa tribals, while the Muttadari system exploited the simple hillfolk. Alluri took the cause of Rampa people and launched a massive armed resistance against the two-fold exploitation.
Alluri had his base in the hills of the Godavari tribal tracts, and his strategy was to plunder police stations for arms and ammunition. He was assisted by two brothers, Gam Mallu Dora and Gam Gantam Dora. His targets were only the British, and in one such ambush he killed Scott Coward, the inspector. A sub-inspector, who was caught by Alluri, reported that "Raju was sitting on a cot with a gang all around him numbering 70 to 80 and had an automatic pistol by his side."
The legend of Alluri Sitaramaraju
The legend of Alluri Sitaramaraju spread and it is reported that even the police often took refuge in the myth to escape fighting him. The legends had that Alluri would turn into a tiger and disappear into forests. They also attributed magical powers to this leader who was waging a war against the tyrannical laws of the British. The legend that Alluri had magical powers of healing, were attributed to his intense knowledge of the herbs.
The power of legends made him look invincible and the local police, unable to curb Alluri, brought Malabar Special Police, in 1921 and Assam rifles in 1923 to crack down on Alluri, who by then carried a reward of Rs 1,500.
Alluri Sitaramaraju's Death
Between 1923-24 all his lieutenants were caught by the police, and finally, on May 7, 1924, Alluri was caught by Jamedar Kuchu Menon and was shot dead the following day. During the height of the tribal movement, the area under Alluri was well over 1,500 Sq kms. After the Rampa rebellion, Andhra did not witness another armed resistance on such a scale, nor did it produce a leader who wanted to emancipate the oppressed with such patriotic fervor. Though there is no recorded evidence of the ambitious single-handed fight against the imperialist British, the legend of Alluri lives on.
Today a statue of Alluri Sitaramaraju is present at Seethammadhara Junction and another on the beach road near The Park Hotel in Visakhapatnam.
Akshay, for all freedom fighters articles you have given same summary. What is the secret hide here?