The year of 1897 has a special significance in our country’s struggle for freedom. This was the year in which our nation saw the birth of two revolutionaries who brought in an all new meaning to the word ‘Revolutionary’. One of them is Subhas Chandra Bose whom we have already met :-) . Alluri Sitarama Raju, also known as Aluri Rama Raju and Rama Chandra Raju is the second legend, a young Indian who fought a brave battle for the oppressed tribes. Apart from Jhansi Laksmi Bai, he is still the most popular character to be played by many children across various competetive forums, especially in Andhra Pradesh. The fact that I belong to the same soil might make many feel that I am biased. But the fact is, he remains an inspiring role model till date for those who fight against oppression. A terror to the alien rulers, Alluri Seetha Rama Raju was one of
The only photograph of Raju, which was taken after his death is preserved in the A.P. State Archives,
He was born on July 4 1897 in Mogallu village of West Godavari district and was educated in
He was deeply moved by the plight of the tribals, whose rights were infringed upon by the British with the implementation of the Madras Forest Act of 1882 which placed restrictions on their free movement in the forest areas and prevented them from engaging in their traditional cultivation, and use of the forest produce for their livelihood. The repressive measures and policies of the British Raj, coupled with the deeds of the greedy contractors who exploited the forced labourers of the hilly areas of
Beginning Of The Unrest
While he was studying at
Soon Raju's plan of action took shape with vigour and quickness. He set free the revolutionary, Veerayya Dora from jail. The British Army got alerted and platoons of Police and Army were sent to capture Seetarama Raju. At Peddavalasa, Raju attacked the British Army. They were defeated during this battle and suffered very heavy casualties and retreated. From that day onwards there was a regular warfare between Raju and the Britishers. Raju came out triumphant in all. Virtually for two years from 1922 to 1924 Seetarama Raju ruled over vast agency area and became a terror to the British rulers.
The Rampa Rebellion
Sita Rama Raju carried out his campaign in the border areas of East Godavari and
Under the leadership of Saunders, the British deployed a company of the Assam Rifles, near Pedagaddapalem, in December 1922. Sita Rama Raju, who had by then gone underground, resurfaced after some four months and continued the fight, strengthened by tribal volunteers, using bows and arrows. He was assisted by two brothers, Mallu Dora and Gantam Dora, who were also tribal leaders.
On September 18, 1923, Sita Rama Raju raided the Annavaram police outpost and subsequently, Mallu Dora was arrested. The Government entrusted the task of containing Sita Rama Raju's activities to Rutherford, the then Collector of Vizag District who had his first win when his forces arrested Surya Narayana Raju Pericherla, popularly known as Aggiraju, a strong follower of Sita Rama Raju.
Subsequently, Rama Raju was trapped by the British in the forests of Chintapalli and was shot dead without a trial in May 1924 in Mampa village while following the law of jungle instead of the judiciary system they were proud of. After the martyrdom of Alluri, the tribal revolt lost its momentum and petered off by October 1923.
Sri Alluri Seetarama Raju is remembered as a great son in the annals of Indian History. He was born in a renowned Kshatriya clan and fought against the mighty British war machine, leading tribesmen of Andhra Pradesh with old traditional war weaponry. sacrificed his life true to his clan in the battle field.
Unfortunately, even fifty years after independence, Dalits and Adivasis have benefited least from the advent of freedom. Although independence has brought widespread gains for the vast majority of the Indian population, Dalits and Adivasis have often been left out, and new problems have arisen for the nation’s Adivasi population. They must have special access to educational, cultural and economic opportunities so as to reverse the effects of colonization and earlier injustices experienced by the Adivasi communities. That would be a fitting tribute to this fighter who was dearly known as Manyam Veerudu ('Hero of the jungles')