Remembering the freedom fighter who started the Rampa rebellion against the British

In honor of Alluri Sitaram Raju’s 125th birth anniversary and the 100th anniversary of the Rampa rebellion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a 30ft tall bronze statue of the freedom fighter on Monday July 4.

The 15-ton statue, costing over three crores, was placed in ASR Nagar City Park in Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh, as part of India’s 75 years of independence celebrations.

In his speech, Modi spoke in Telugu after the unveiling of the statue and said the Alluri is an inspiration to the whole nation. He added that the sacrifices made by Alluri from his birth to his death immortalized him in the history of Indian independence.

Popularly known as the hero of the forest

Alluri Sitaram Raju was born on July 4, 1857 in the Mogallu village of Palakoderu Mandal in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. He started the Rampa Rebellion and was popularly known as “Manyam Veerudu” or Hero of the Forest.

The freedom fighter was only eight years old when his father died. After his father’s death, his education was disrupted and he started traveling through western, northwestern, northern and northeastern India during his teenage years. During his pilgrimages, he saw the socio-economic situation in various parts of the country, especially the tribal areas, and was deeply moved by it.

During these travels, Alluri met revolutionaries in Chittagong and decided to gradually build a movement against the British by organizing the local Adivasis along the Godavari coast. Hence, the Rampa Rebellion or Manya Uprising was born, which rocked the British forces. He led many attacks on the British using traditional weapons like bows and arrows. However, these weapons were obsolete compared to the heavily armed British forces.

The famous attack on the Chintapalli police station on August 22, 1922 highlighted the sheer bravery of the freedom fighter, which left the British in awe. He carried out similar attacks later on Krishnadevi Peta and Raja Ommangi police stations, where revolutionaries under Alluri’s leadership snatched the arms and armory from the British.

Alluri Sitaram Raju would have become a sanyasi at the age of 18 and would have acquired a mystical aura within his tribal and mountain community thanks to his austerity, his knowledge of medicine, as well as his ability to tame animals.

Launch of the guerrilla warfare against the British

He launched effective guerrilla warfare channeling the anger of the highlanders of Visakhapatnam, Ganjam and Godavari to uproot the British. It also safeguarded traditional village agriculture called PODU (Shifting) agriculture, which was threatened by the British under land encroachment.

Under the Forest Act of 1882, tribals were prohibited from growing minor forest products essential to their livelihoods and were forced to work for the colonial authority.

Alluri was apprehended and executed during the Rampa or Manya rebellion in 1924, in which anti-government resistance led to guerrilla warfare. He fought for the rights of tribal communities and was martyred on May 7, 1924, at the age of 27.

In 1986, the Indian Post Department, the Government of India, issued a postage stamp commemorating Alluri’s contribution to the Indian freedom struggle.

According to a Times Now report, he is celebrated and revered as a folk hero among the tribes of Andhra Pradesh and is admired by left-wing parties in the state, who had previously demanded that a district be named after the fighter of freedom.

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Thelma J. Longworth