Born on July 4, 1897, in the quaint village of Mogallu near Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh, Alluri Sitarama Raju was a true symbol of courage and justice. He dedicated his life to fighting against the unjust policies of the British Empire during India's struggle for independence. A sanyasi by choice, Sitarama Raju renounced worldly pleasures at a young age and embraced a life of simplicity and spirituality.
After completing his initial schooling in his native village, Sitarama Raju moved to Visakhapatnam for higher studies. However, he felt a calling to devote himself to a higher purpose and become a sanyasi. He wandered through the hills and forests of the Agency area, forming deep connections with the local tribal communities. The tribals saw him as a mystical figure, a savior who would liberate them from the oppression of the British authorities. Initially influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's Non-cooperation Movement, Sitarama Raju encouraged the tribal people to seek justice through local panchayat courts and boycott the colonial courts. However, when these efforts failed to alleviate their suffering, he realized the need for more significant changes and used the movement to spread awareness among the tribes about their rights and the need to fight for them.
In August 1922, Sitarama Raju launched the Rampa Rebellion, also known as the Manyam Rebellion, against the British. The Rampa administrative area was home to about 28,000 tribes who practiced the 'Podu' system of cultivation, clearing some forest tracts every year for their sustenance. However, the British sought to evict them to exploit the forest resources for building railways and ships. The Madras Forest Act of 1882 was enforced to restrict the movement of the tribal communities and curtail their traditional agricultural practices, leading to a revolt. Using guerrilla warfare tactics, Sitarama Raju and his tribal army launched daring attacks on police stations, killing British officers and seizing arms and ammunition. The local support he received helped him evade capture by the British for an extended period. His two-year armed struggle against the British authority frustrated the colonial administration to such an extent that a substantial reward was announced for his capture.
However, despite his efforts, the tribals continued to suffer under British rule. With a desire to secure justice for his people, Sitarama Raju eventually surrendered, hoping for a fair trial. Tragically, on May 7, 1924, he was deceitfully trapped, tied to a tree, and shot dead. His martyrdom marked the end of his glorious fight against the British Government. Today, Alluri Sitarama Raju is remembered as a fearless revolutionary who fought for the rights and freedom of the tribal people. Even though he was not a tribal himself, he embraced their cause and earned the title "Manyam Veerudu" (Hero of the Jungle) for his valorous spirit. Every year, the Government of Andhra Pradesh commemorates his birth anniversary, July 4, as a state festival to honor his contributions to the nation's struggle for independence.
Alluri Sitarama Raju's legacy serves as an inspiration for generations to come, urging them to stand up against injustice and tyranny, and to fight relentlessly for a just and free society. His sacrifice and determination continue to echo in the hearts of Indians, reminding us of the indomitable spirit of those who laid down their lives for the noble cause of India's independence.