Context: The President of India Droupadi Murmu paid tribute to Alluri Sitarama Raju, the freedom fighter at the closing ceremony of his 125th birth anniversary celebrations in Hyderabad.
About Alluri Sitaram Raju
- Alluri Sitaram Raju was an influential Indian revolutionary who played a significant role in the country’s struggle for independence.
- Born on July 4, 1897, in a modest middle-class family near the Coastal city of Visakhapatnam, Raju developed a strong sense of patriotism from an early age.
- His dedication to the freedom movement and his efforts to improve the lives of the Adivasi communities left a lasting impact on Indian history.
Advocating for Adivasi Rights and the Freedom Struggle
- Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-cooperation movement, Raju initially encouraged the tribals to seek justice in local panchayat courts and boycott colonial courts.
- However, these measures failed to alleviate their suffering. Determined to make a difference, Raju decided to reside in the Adivasi areas of the Eastern Ghats, specifically the forest region along Visakhapatnam and Godavari districts.
- He dedicated himself to the Adivasis, who were living in dire poverty and facing exploitation by the police, forest officials, and revenue authorities. Raju provided much-needed support to the Adivasis through education and medical assistance, utilizing the knowledge he acquired during his extensive travels.
- This region became the epicentre of his fight against the British rule. Raju learned from the Adivasis and combined their time-tested war methods with his own tactics, creating a formidable resistance against the British.
- In August 1922, he launched the Rampa Rebellion, gaining substantial local support and successfully evading British authorities for an extended period.
- Raju’s armed struggle against the British frustrated the authorities to such an extent that they offered a reward for his capture, dead or alive.
- Meanwhile, the British continued to inflict misery on the Adivasis. Seeking justice and fairness, Raju eventually surrendered, hoping for a fair trial in return.
- However, on May 7, 1924, he was treacherously trapped and shot dead.
- Recognizing his courage and indomitable spirit, he was bestowed with the title “Manyam Veerudu” (Hero of the Jungle).
- Every year, on July 4th, the Government of Andhra Pradesh commemorates his birth date as a state festival, honoring his contributions to the nation’s freedom struggle.
The Rampa Rebellion:
- The Rampa Rebellion, also known as the Manyam Rebellion, was a significant tribal uprising led by Alluri Sitarama Raju in the Godavari Agency of Madras Presidency, British India.
- Spanning from August 1922 to May 1924, this rebellion marked a critical chapter in the fight against British colonial rule.
Read also: Tribal Rebellions: Reason & Weakness
Causes of Unrest
- The Rampa administrative area, encompassing approximately 700 square miles, was home to around 28,000 tribal inhabitants. These tribes relied on the ‘podu system’, where they burned sections of the forest each year for cultivation, ensuring their food requirements were met.
- However, the British authorities sought to exploit the lands of the Godavari Agency for commercial purposes, disregarding the needs of the tribal communities.
- With the implementation of the Madras Forest Act in 1882, the Adivasis’ free movement in their forest habitats was restricted, preventing them from practicing their traditional podu agricultural methods.
- The tribal people faced starvation as their economic situation deteriorated, exacerbated by forced labor demands for road construction and perceived biases in the legal system.
Convergence of Discontent
- Simultaneously, the muttadars, who had been hereditary tax collectors and rulers in the hills, experienced discontent due to their loss of power and status under British rule.
- Previously acting on behalf of the rajas, the rulers of the plains, the muttadars found themselves marginalized and controlled by the colonial administration.
- Their shared grievances with the tribal hill people created a common ground for resistance against the British.
Alluri Sitarama Raju’s Leadership
- He harnessed the discontent of the tribal communities, combining anti-colonial zeal with accommodation for sympathetic muttadars.
- Raju’s followers comprised primarily tribal members, but he also garnered support from influential individuals within the muttadar class.
- While some muttadars remained ambivalent, Raju’s overarching vision of liberation from colonial rule united these disparate groups.
- The rebellion commenced in August 1922, taking the form of guerrilla warfare.
- The tribal fighters, adept at navigating the challenging terrain, proved resilient against British suppression efforts.
- The prevalence of diseases in the region, to which the tribal people had developed immunity, further hindered the colonial authorities’ attempts to quell the rebellion.
Read also: List of Tribal Rebellions
The Rampa Rebellion, led by Alluri Sitarama Raju, stands as a testament to the determination of tribal communities and their fight against British colonial rule. This uprising highlighted the grievances caused by the imposition of laws that restricted traditional practices and disrupted the economic stability of the Adivasis. Although the rebellion ultimately faced suppression, it left a lasting impact on the collective memory of the struggle for independence in India.