ALLURI SITHARAMA RAJU AND KOMARAM BHEEM
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Context: With a win for Best Original Song for ‘Naatu Naatu’ at the 2023 Oscars, the Telugu movie ‘RRR’ is garnering attention on the global stage. Its story and characters have roots in real historical figures, inspired by the lives of Indian freedom fighters Alluri Sitharama Raju, who is played by actor Ram Charan in the film, and Komaram Bheem, played by Jr NTR.
- Both men were 20th-century revolutionaries who led tribal people in present-day Andhra Pradesh against the British and the Nizams.
- Bheem was a tribal man but Raju was not. Both leaders died young while resisting colonial rule.
Who was Alluri Sitharama Raju?
- Raju is believed to have been born in Andhra Pradesh in 1897 or 1898.
- He is said to have become a sanyasi at the age of 18 and gained a mystical aura among the hill and tribal peoples with his austerity, knowledge of astrology and medicine, and his ability to tame wild animals.
- At a very young age, Raju channelled the discontent of the hill people in Ganjam, Visakhapatnam, and Godavari into an effective guerrilla resistance against the British.
- Colonial rule threatened the tribals’ traditional podu (shifting) cultivation, as the government sought to secure forest lands. The Forest Act of 1882 banned the collection of minor forest produce such as roots and leaves, and tribal people were forced into labour by the colonial government.
- While the tribals were subjected to exploitation by muttadars, village headmen commissioned by the colonial government to extract rent, the new laws and systems threatened their way of life itself.
- Strong anti-government sentiment, shared by the muttadars who were aggrieved by the curtailment of their powers by the British, exploded into armed resistance in August 1922.
- Several hundred tribals led by Raju attacked the Chintapalle, Krishnadevipeta and Rajavommangi police stations in the Godavari agency.
- The Rampa or Manyam Rebellion continued in the form of a guerrilla war until May 1924, when Raju, the charismatic ‘Manyam Veerudu’ or Hero of Jungle, was finally captured and executed.
- The Rampa Rebellion coincided with Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement.
Who was Komaram Bheem?
- Komram Bheem was born in the Gond tribal community at Sankepally village in Komarambheem District, renamed after him in 2016.
- It is said a jagirdar, who was an informer of the Nizam, occupied his family’s land and Bheem killed him in a fit of rage. To escape authorities, he went to Assam and worked as a labourer in coffee and tea plantations for five years.
- Around that time, the Nizam government used to collect tax in the name of ‘Bambram’ and ‘Dupapetti’ from people grazing cattle and collecting firewood for cooking. In opposition, Bheem spread the message of “Jal, Jangal, Zameen” (water, forest land) among tribal people. This has become a clarion call for indigenous people’s rights to natural resources, used in many parts of India to date.
- Villages in Adilabad were ready with the help of a guerrilla army composed of Gond and Koya communities’ men. Bheem trained tribal people to fight with weapons.
- However, the Nizam’s army overwhelmed them and Bheem died at their hands in the Jodeghat forest.
Q). Alluri Sitharama Raju and Komaram Bheem were 20th-century revolutionaries who led tribal people in present-day Andhra Pradesh against the British and the Nizams. Discuss. (250 words)