Alluri Sitaram Raju– a Sannyasi (Ascetic -at the age of 18) who declared war against the British Raj in order to attain Swarajya (Self rule by the people). He was heavily inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his Non Cooperation Movement (started in 1920) and often talked about his greatness. He convinced the tribal people to quit drinking and encouraged them to wear Khadi. Armed with traditional weapons like bow, spears and swords , this son of Bharat Mata terrorized the British forces who were much more superior and better equipped than him.
Early Life of Alluri Sitaram Raju:
Born on 4 July 1897 , in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. Alluri Sitaram Raju is especially remembered for leading the Rampa Rebellion against the Draconian British laws.He completed his high school education from Taylor High School in Narsapur. He then went to Visakhapatnam with his family and enrolled himself at Mrs A.V.N College. But he did not complete his college education and at the age of just 18 years he quit the materialistic life and became Ascetic (Sannyasi).
Meanwhile at this time due to the First World War, the British started forced recruitment of soldiers in rural areas which caused widespread anger, custom duties and taxes were raised which resulted in extreme hardship for the tribal and village people.
Finally when the British in 1919 hurriedly passed the Rowlatt Act which gave the government (British Raj) enormous powers to repress political activities, and allowed detention of political prisoner without trial for almost two years, Gandhiji decided to launch a nationwide Nonviolent Civil disobedience against it.
Involvement in Freedom Struggle
Alluri Sitaram Raju was inspired by this movement of Gandhiji and decided to support him in order to attain Swaraj. Initially Raju was following Gandhian methods of Nonviolence but when the Noncooperation movement was called off Raju decided to attain Swaraja by the use of force. He adopted the same policy as those that the Freedom Fighters of Bengal followed.
Raiding and stealing the ammunition of the British were some of the tactics adopted by Raju. The British back in 1882 passed the Madras Forest Act. The main aim of introducing such act was to use the forest land of the Godavari region.
The tribal community of this region was heavily depended on forest resources. They followed the traditional method of cultivation known as Podu. But due to this act the colonial government had closed large forest areas, preventing people from entering the forest to cultivate, graze their cattle. The colonial powers even began forcing the natives to contribute BEGAR (Labour that villagers were forced to contribute without any payment) for road building, and harassed the tribal people every other day.
This enraged Raju and soon he started strategizing his plans to throw out the British from his homeland. Instead of conducting an open battle against the British who were superior in arms, ammunitions and in military tactics, Raju decided to use the terrain and geography of the region i.e. Gudem Hills and adopted Guerrilla tactics.
Tribal Army of Alluri Sitaram Raju
He gathered the support of tribal people and on August 22 1922 (start of Rampa Rebellion) his team of 300 warriors attacked Chintapalli Police station. Using traditional weapons like bows and arrows they later raided several police stations like Rampachodavaram, Dammanapalli, Krishna Devi Peta, Rajavommangi, and Annavaram.
They were able to steal the ammunition and guns such raids and used these in ambushes against the Bristish under the leaders like Gam Mallu and Gantam Dora.From these heroic attacks Alluri Sitaram Raju claimed that he had a variety of special powers and can heal people. He later proclaimed that he could survive bullets.
The rebels under him suggested that he was an incarnation of God. Due to this Rampa Rebellion continued for months. The Guerilla army of Raju were able to kill two British officers namely Hiters and Scott Coward. The British tried many ways to capture him but nothing worked for them.
Martyrdom of Raju
But eventually on 7 May 1924 the British were able to capture Alluri Sitaram Raju at Chintapalli’s forests. initially he was brutally tortured . Later the draconian British tied him to a tree and shot him dead.
Tons of money was spent by the colonial powers just to kill this brave son of our country. To honour him the tribal people gave him the title ‘Manyam Veerudu’ (Hero of the Jungle). His tomb currently resides in Krishna Devi Peta village, Visakhapatnam district.
To honor this great and courageous freedom fighter of Bharat Mata ,the government of India had issued a postal stamp of his name.
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