Thursday, 4 July 2013

July 4 Alluri Sita Rama Raju (ఆల్లూరిసీతారామరాజు) Birthday

Alluri Sita Rama Raju (born July 4, 1897 – died May 7, 1924) (also known as Aluri Rampa Rama Raju, Rama Chandra Raju, and Alluri Seetha Rama Raju) was an Indian revolutionary involved in the independence movement. Raju led the ill-fated "Rampa Rebellion" of 1922–24, during which a band of tribal leaders and other sympathizers fought against the British Raj. He was referred to as "Manyam Veerudu" ("Hero of the Jungles") by the local people.

Early life

Raju was born on July 4, 1897 in Pandrangi village in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh to a Telugu Kshatriya family. His mother was from Visakhapatnam and his father was a native of Mogallu, near Bhimavaram, and was an official photographer in the central jail at Rajahmundry. The young Raju lived mainly in Mogallu and was educated in Rajamundry at the Vullithota Bangarayya school, as well as in Kakinada, Tuni and Ramachandrapuram in the East Godavari district.

Raju's father died when he was in school and he grew up in the care of his uncle, Rama Krishnam Raju, a tehsildar in Narsapur in the West Godavari district. He studied at Taylor High School in Narsapur then moved to Tuni along with his mother, brother and sister. While there, Alluri visited areas of the Visakhapatnam district and became familiar with the needs of the indigenous people.

When Raju turned 15, he moved to his mother's home town of Vishakhapatnam and enrolled at Mrs. A.V.N. College. He was dropped out of college after failing in the fourth form (Std. IX).

Rampa Rebellion of 1922

Photo: Andhra had its share of revolutionary leaders like Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad during the British Raj. Alluri Sitarama Raju was the rebel hero, who along with the tribals, put up a brave fight against the British forcing them to bend down to his pressure and accept defeat.

He was not just a revolutionary of the national movement but also a man of great qualities — he was a humanitarian at heart, a yogi who had done penance for a long time and a patriot who could die for his country. Born into a simple kshatriya family of West Godavari district, on July 4, 1897, Sitarama Raju was the eldest son of the family. His father died early in his childhood. His schooling was in different places of coastal Andhra as the family was forced to take shelter with different relatives at different times. From a young age, Sitarama Raju was drawn towards the service of the downtrodden and towards the freedom movement. Text books and a regular course of study never interested him. He had varied hobbies like acting in dramas, practice of kasarath, yoga and meditation. He was ready to sacrifice all his personal happiness for liberating his country from colonial rule.

During the period 1917-1923, there was a lot of unrest in agency (tribal) areas spreading from East Godavari to Vizianagaram and Orissa border. A lot of injustice was being done to the innocent tribals by the British. Sitarama Raju came to know of this and though he was living the life of an ascetic, he decided to help the tribals. He made them give up alcohol and taught them the art of defending themselves with their bows and arrows. In course of time he started training them in military war tactics, and soon Sitarama Raju was heading a tribal army that was ready to fight the British. His family was upset that he chose this path of life, which would be very dangerous, and they slowly moved away from him. He led the life of a missionary working with a single goal and had no family whatsoever. Since this tribal army wanted weapons like rifles, guns and ammunition to fight the mighty British agency army, Sitarama Raju resorted to looting the nearby police stations where he could find weapons. Rampachodavaram, Addateegalam, Narsipatnam were some of the areas he raided and carried away weapons. It was his habit to scribble a note or sign in the record about the number of weapons he took and the purpose of his visit. Even today the old records at Narsipatnam police station show his signature and list of weapons.

He was popular and loved by the poor tribals. He was a brave heart who was ready to fight the British single-handed. He was the first to adopt guerilla warfare in the State making the British army take to its heels. Sitarama Raju became a nightmare to the British authorities. Since his lightning strikes were too much for them, it was only with connivance and foul play that the British could finally gun him down. He was put to death on May 7, 1924 at the age of 28.
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 a protest movement in the border areas of the East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh. Inspired by the patriotic zeal of revolutionaries in Bengal, Raju raided police stations in and around Chintapalle, Rampachodavaram, Dammanapalli, Krishna-devi-peta, Rajavommangi, Addateegala, Narsipatnam and Annavaram. Raju and his followers stole guns and ammunition and killed several British army officers, including Scott Coward near Dammanapalli

In December 1922, the British deployed a company of Assam Rifles, near Pegadapalle under the leadership of Saunders. Raju, who had by then gone underground, resurfaced after about four months and continued the fight, strengthened by tribal volunteers using bows and arrows under the leadership of Gam Mallu Dora and Gantam Dora. 
Following a raid led by Raju on the Annavaram police outpost on September 18, 1923, Gam Mallu Dora was arrested. The Government entrusted the task of containing Raju's activities to the District Collector of Visakhapatnam district, Rutherford, who fired the first salvo when his forces arrested Surya Narayana Raju Pericherla, popularly known as Aggiraju, a devoted follower of Raju.

The British campaign lasted for nearly a year from December 1922. Rama Raju was eventually trapped by the British in the forests of Chintapalli then tied to a tree and shot dead with a rifle in Mampa village. Following the martyrdom of Alluri, the tribal revolt lost its momentum and petered out by October 1923. Police officer Mr. N. Ganeswara Rao responsible for Raju's entrapment was awarded Rao Bahadur.


Today a statue of Raju stands at Seethammadhara Junction and another on the beach road near The Park Hotel in Visakhapatnam. A statue was erected in Pandringi, his maternal grand mother's village near Bheemili, about 28 kilometres (17 mi) from Visakhapatnam

In 1986 the Indian Postal Department issued a commemorative stamp featuring Raju in the series 'India's struggle for freedom.

The Telugu movie Alluri Seetharama Raju was made about Raju's life directed by V. Rama Chandra Rao and starring Krishna (actor) as Raju. The popular song 'Telugu Veera Levara' from the film written by Sahitya Akademi Award winning poet Sri Sri inspired generations of the Telugu community and went on to win the National Film Award for Best Lyrics.
The only photograph of Raju, which was taken after his death, is preserved in the State Archives of Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad.

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