Alluri Sitarama Raju

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Alluri Sitarama Raju
Alluri Sita Rama Raju statue.jpg
Born4 July 1897
Died7 May 1924
Cause of deathCapture and execution by the British
Resting place Krishnadevipeta, Visakhapatnam District
Known for Rampa Rebellion of 1922–24
TitleManyam Veerudu
Parent(s)Venkata Rama Raju (father), Suryanarayanamma (mother)

Alluri Sitarama Raju (born circa 1897-98 - 7 May 1924) was an Indian revolutionary involved in the Indian independence movement. After the passing of the 1882 Madras Forest Act, its restrictions on the free movement of tribal peoples in the forest prevented them from engaging in their traditional podu agricultural system, which involved shifting cultivation. Raju led the Rampa Rebellion of 1922–24, during which a band of tribal people and other sympathisers fought in the border areas of the East Godavari and Visakhapatnam regions of Madras Presidency, in present-day Andhra Pradesh, against the British Raj, which had passed the law. He was referred to as "Manyam Veerudu" ("Hero of the Jungles") by the local people.

Indian independence movement Indian struggle for freedom from British

The Indian Independence movement was a series of activities which ultimate aim was to end The British Raj. It encompassed activities and ideas aiming to end the East India Company rule (1757–1857) and the British Raj (1857–1947) in the Indian subcontinent. The movement spanned a total of 90 years (1857–1947) considering movement against the British East India Company and the British Indian Empire. The Indian Independence movement includes both protest and militant (violent) mechanisms to root out British Administration from India.

Podu is a traditional system of cultivation used by tribes in India, whereby different areas of jungle forest are cleared by burning each year to provide land for crops. The word comes from the Telugu language.

Shifting cultivation shifting cultivation or jhoom cultivation

Shifting cultivation is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned and allowed to revert to their natural vegetation while the cultivator moves on to another plot. The period of cultivation is usually terminated when the soil shows signs of exhaustion or, more commonly, when the field is overrun by weeds. The length of time that a field is cultivated is usually shorter than the period over which the land is allowed to regenerate by lying fallow. This technique is often used in LEDCs or LICs. In some areas, cultivators use a practice of slash-and-burn as one element of their farming cycle. Others employ land clearing without any burning, and some cultivators are purely migratory and do not use any cyclical method on a given plot. Sometimes no slashing at all is needed where regrowth is purely of grasses, an outcome not uncommon when soils are near exhaustion and need to lie fallow. In shifting agriculture, after two or three years of producing vegetable and grain crops on cleared land, the migrants abandon it for another plot. Land is often cleared by slash-and-burn methods—trees, bushes and forests are cleared by slashing, and the remaining vegetation is burnt. The ashes add potash to the soil. Then the seeds are sown after the rains.

Contents

Harnessing some aspects of the earlier non-cooperation movement and taking advantage of his own reputation among the tribal people, Raju led raids on police stations in and around Chintapalle, Rampachodavaram, Dammanapalli, Krishna Devi Peta, Rajavommangi, Addateegala, Narsipatnam and Annavaram. With his followers, he stole guns and ammunition and killed several British police officers, including two near Dammanapalli. Raju was eventually trapped by the British in the forests of Chintapalle, then tied to a tree and was executed by gunfire in Koyyuru village. His tomb is in Krishna Devi Peta village.

The Non-Cooperation Movement was a significant but short phase of the Indian independence movement from British rule. It was led by Mahatma Gandhi after the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and lasted from 1920 to February 1922. It aimed to resist British rule in India through non-violence . Protesters would refuse to buy British goods, adopt the use of local handicrafts and picket liquor shops. The ideas of Ahimsa and non-violence, and Gandhi's ability to rally hundreds of thousands of common citizens towards the cause of Indian independence, were first seen on a large scale in this movement through the summer of 1920.

Rampachodavaram Census Town in Andhra Pradesh, India

Rampachodavaram is a census town in East Godavari district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is located in Rampachodavaram mandal of Rampachodavaram revenue division.

Dammannapalli is a village in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, India 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from Porumamilla. It is part of the Badvel Assembly constituency and the Kadapa Parliamentary constituency.

Life

Details of Alluri Sitarama Raju's early life vary. An official report suggests that he was born in Bheemunipatnam, Visakhapatnam District, [1] with more recent news stories naming the village of Pandrangi, which lies in the Bheemunipatnam legislative assembly constituency, as his precise place of birth. [2] Several sources say he was born in the village of Mogallu, in West Godavari District. [3] [4] [5]

Bheemunipatnam Neighborhood in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India

Bheemunipatnam, is a suburb in the city of Visakhapatnam, India. The town was named after Bhima a character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Bheemunipatnam municipality was merged into Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation. It is under the administration of Visakhapatnam revenue division and the headquarters is located at Bheemunipatnam.

Pandrangi Village in Andhra Pradesh, India

Pandrangi is a village in Padmanabham mandal in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, India.

Bheemili Assembly constituency is a constituency in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, representing the state legislative assembly of Andhra Pradesh in India. It is one of the seven assembly segments of Visakhapatnam namely Srungavarapukota, Visakhapatnam East, Visakhapatnam South, Visakhapatnam North, Visakhapatnam West and Gajuwaka.

His birthdate is also disputed. Several sources report it as 4 July 1897, [3] [5] [6] [ page needed ] but others claim he was born in 1898 [1] and, more specifically, his date of birth as 4 July 1898. [7]

Raju's parents were Venkata Rama Raju and Suryanarayanamma, [8] and the family were of the Kshatriya varna. Contemporary reports indicate that he had an undistinguished education but took a particular interest in astrology, herbalism, palmistry and horse-riding before becoming a sannyasi at the age of 18. They note that as he then wandered around the Godavari Agency, these interests and his charismatic nature gained him a reputation among the tribal people as being someone possessed of magical powers and holy, even messianic, status - a reputation that was bolstered both by myths he created about himself and by his acceptance of ones about him that were established by others, including ones concerning his reputed invincibility. Combined with his desire to overcome the colonial presence, expressed almost as if it were millenarian certainty, this was a powerful mixture. [4]

Kshatriya is one of the four varna of Hindu society. The Sanskrit term kṣatriyaḥ is used in the context of Vedic society wherein members were organised into four classes: kshatriya, brahmin, vaishya and shudra. As per the caste system, after Brahmin, Kshatriya is regarded as the second highest caste. Traditionally, the kshatriya constituted the ruling and military class. Their role was to protect their interests by fighting in wartime and governing in peacetime.

Varna means type, order, colour or class. The term refers to social classes in Dharma-shastra books like the Manusmriti. These and other Hindu literature classified the society in principle into four varnas:

Millenarianism, from Latin mīllēnārius "containing a thousand", is the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming fundamental transformation of society, after which "all things will be changed". Millenarianism exists in various cultures and religions worldwide, with various interpretations of what constitutes a transformation.

Rampa Rebellion of 1922

Origins

After the passing of the 1882 Madras Forest Act in an attempt to exploit the economic value of wooded areas, its restrictions on the free movement of tribal peoples in the forests prevented them from engaging in their traditional podu agricultural system, a subsistence economy which involved shifting cultivation. [9] The changes meant that they faced starvation and their main means of avoiding it was the demeaning, arduous, foreign and exploitative coolie system use by the government and its contractors for such things as road construction. [4]

A subsistence economy is a non-monetary economy which relies on natural resources to provide for basic needs, through hunting, gathering, and subsistence agriculture. "Subsistence" means supporting oneself at a minimum level; in a subsistence economy, economic surplus is minimal and only used to trade for basic goods, and there is no industrialization.

Coolie labourers from Asia

The word coolie, meaning a labourer, has a variety of other implications and is sometimes regarded as offensive or a pejorative, depending upon the historical and geographical context. It is similar, in many respects, to the Spanish term peon, although both terms are used in some countries, with slightly differing implications.

Around the same time as the Act, the Raj authorities had also emasculated the traditional hereditary role of the muttadars, who had been de facto rulers in the hills as tax collectors for the plains-living rajas. These people were now reduced to the role of mere civil servants with no over-arching powers, no ability to levy taxes at will and no right to inherit their position. Thus, the cultivators and the tax collectors, who once would have been in opposition to each other, were instead now broadly aligned in their disaffection with colonial power. [4]

Raju harnessed the discontent of the tribal people to support his anti-colonial zeal, whilst also accommodating the grievances of those muttadars who were sympathetic to his aim rather than merely narrow-minded in their pursuit of a revived status for themselves. This meant that his followers were mostly from the tribal communities but did include some significant people from the muttadar class that at one time had exploited them, although many muttadars were ambivalent about fighting for what Raju perceived to be the greater good. [4]

Raju adopted aspects of the Gandhian non-cooperation movement, such as promoting temperance and the boycott of colonial courts in favour of local justice administered by panchayat courts, to attract support. Although the movement died out in early 1922, it had reached the plains area and he had been involved in propagation of some of its methods among the hill people as a means to raise their political consciousness and desire for change. It was these actions that caused him to be put under police surveillance from around February of that year, although the fact that he was using them as a camouflage to foment armed uprising seems not to have been recognised by either the movement's political leadership or the British. [4]

Actions

The armed rebellion began in August when Raju led a mob of 500 people in the looting, on consecutive days, of police stations at Chintapalle, Krishna Devi Peta and Rajavommangi, from which he gained possession of guns and ammunition. He subsequently toured the area, getting more recruits and killing a member of a British police force that had been sent to find him. The British struggled in their pursuit, in part because of the unfamiliar terrain and also because the local people in this sparsely populated area were generally unwilling to help them and often outright keen to materially assist Raju, including with shelter and intelligence. While based in the hills, contemporary official reports suggested that the core group of rebels dwindled to between 80 and 100 but this figure rose dramatically whenever they moved to take action against the British because of the involvement of people in the villages. [4]

Further deaths occurred on 23 September when Raju ambushed a police party from a high position as they went through the Dammanapalli Ghat, killing two officers and cementing his reputation among the disaffected people. There were a further two successful attacks against the police forces during the month, after which the British realised that his style of guerilla warfare would have to be matched with a similar response, for which they drafted in members of the Special Malabar Police who were trained in such methods. [4]

Attempts to persuade local people to inform on or withdraw their support for Raju, through both incentives and reprisals, did nothing but encourage them to further their actions. [4] Further raids were later made on police stations at Rampachodavaram, Addateegala, Narsipatnam and Annavaram.[ citation needed ]

Death

Alluri Sitarama Raju on a 1986 stamp of India Alluri Sitarama Raju 1986 stamp of India.jpg
Alluri Sitarama Raju on a 1986 stamp of India

Raju was eventually trapped by the British in the forests of Chintapalle. He was tied to a tree and shot dead in Koyyuru village. [10] His tomb is in Krishna Devi Peta village. [11]

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References

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Further reading