Now that SS Rajamouli’s film RRR is being shown in theatres, Kumaram Bheem and Alluri Sitarama Raju are being discussed everywhere.
The audience is interested to know about the two main characters of the film i.e., ‘Manayam Ke Nayak’ and Alluri Sitarama Raju from Andhra Pradesh and Kumaram Bheem from Telangana
The tribals of this place consider both of them equal to God. Alluri is said to have united the tribals of the Manayam area, causing fear among the British. At the same time, Kumaram Bhima fought with the Nizam for the officials of the Gond tribals.
In the film RRR, director Rajamouli has shown both of them as close friends. Rajamouli has tried to increase the height of other characters of his film with the help of these two historical characters.
But who are these two leaders? What is their history? We have tried to find out the true story of these two characters who left their mark on the pages of history.
Kumaram Bheem was born on 22 October 1902 in a Gond tribal family of Sankepalli village. His father’s name was Kumaram Chimana.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the tribals were facing a new kind of trouble. In the name of the law of protection of forests, the land and fields of the tribals were being snatched from them.
At that time, the rule of the Nizam in the princely state of Hyderabad was such that on the one hand the Razakars of the Nizam exploited the people, and on the other hand the people also had to be victims of British repression.
The family of Kumaram Bheem was also included among the Gond tribals who faced such difficulties. When Bhima was 15 years old, his family had to suffer a lot because of forest officials and businessmen in Sankepalli village.
Allam Rajaiah and Sahu wrote in their book ‘Komuram Bhima’ that, “When Bhima’s father passed away, his family moved to Shudrapur and started farming there. When the crop was ready, a man named Sadiq took the land. But Bhima’s family was doing farming. He claimed that he had land papers. Then Bhima hit Sadiq on the head. After that there was a ruckus and Bhima fled to Assam. He was there. Bhima learned to read and write and read about politics and rebellion.
Bhima also participated in the revolt of the workers of Assam. He was also detained by the Assam Police. But Bhima escaped by dodging the Assam Police and reached Kankanghat near Asifabad. There he started working under the guidance of Lachhu Patel. Later Bhima married Som Bai.
Struggle for the rights of the forest
Here Bhima’s uncles, along with other tribals, cleared the forests of twelve villages near Babajhari and started farming there. After this atrocities started on them, the police destroyed their villages.
Then Bhima was elected as the leader to talk to the administration on behalf of these twelve villages. Bhima and the rest of the tribals had to be victims of persecution by government officials on a daily basis. He could not reap the crops he had sown. They said that their rights on the forests were being snatched away.
Angered by all this, Bhima started a movement to unite the tribals of these twelve villages. The most important thing is that Bhima said that the tribals should have rights over the forests, the land there and the water of the rivers.
For this, Bhima gave the slogan ‘Jal, Jungle and Zameen’. The tribals started a movement under the leadership of Bhima to get their rights on these resources.
Bhima gave the slogan- ‘Mawa naate mawa raj’, which means ‘our government on our land’.
Allam Rajaiah says, “When the Nizam’s government felt that the situation was going out of their hands, the Nizam sent the sub-district magistrate to talk to the tribals. Adivasis of the twelve agitating villages were promised that they would Land ownership documents will be given. Their debts will be waived. However, Bhima demanded swaraj of the tribals in these twelve villages. The sub-district magistrate did not agree to this demand of the tribals.”
When the administration’s talks with the tribals failed, the Nizam sent a special contingent of police to end the agitation. The Gond tribals under the leadership of Bhima fought with the police for almost seven months. Finally, on 1 September 1940, the police shot and killed Bhima.
That day was Asvayuju Purnima i.e. the last day of the month Asvayuju. The place where Kumaram Bheem was shot was the Jodenghat village of today’s Kumaram Bheem Asifabad district.
More than 300 people of Nizam’s police had entered the village that day with heavy ammunition and weapons. This action of the police was sudden, so that the tribals were not given a chance to get ready.
On the basis of information received from the informer of a person named Kurdu Patel, the police proceeded towards the hill which Bhima and his associates had made their hideout.
The police attacked them from behind. Bhima and 15 of his companions were shot on the spot. While the rest were arrested. Bhima’s rebellion came to an end that day.
Kurdu Patel, who was responsible for Bhima’s death, was shot by armed peasant rebels of Telangana during the conflict in 1946.
Not a hero… he became a god for the tribals
Bhima may have been a revolutionary for the rest of the world. But for the Gond tribals, he is no less than God.
The Gond tribals of Kumaram Bheem Asifabad district still sing songs in his memory every year on Ashwayuju Purnima.
They worship him. He says, “Kumaram had magical powers. No stone or bullet could break his hair.”
Even today many Gonds believe in this. Sidam Arju told the BBC, “People believe that under normal circumstances no bullet could have penetrated Bhima’s body. He could not be submerged. Rocks did not hurt him. That’s why it was done by women to kill him.” The gun had to be used by wrapping the cloth used during menstruation. Only then could a bullet penetrate his body.”
This interpretation of Sidam Arju shows how much the Gond tribesmen believe in Bhima to be God.
Alluri Sitarama Raju
Alluri Sitarama Raju was a freedom fighter who fought against the British rule in the Telugu region. He united the tribals of Manayam and revolted against the British. He fought an armed struggle with the British for many years. In the end the British killed him. Mahatma Gandhi had praised Alluri Sitarama Raju in his magazine ‘Young Indian’.
Alluri was born on 4 July 1897 in Pandarangi village of Visakhapatnam district. His ancestral village was in Mogallu in West Godavari district. His father’s name was Venka Rama Raju.
Alluri’s father was a photographer. His mother’s name was Surya Narayanamma. He belonged to a lower middle class family. Alluri Sitarama Raju did his studies in various parts of Godavari region such as Narasapuram, Raja Mahendravarman, Ramachandapuram, Tuni, Kakinada and other places.
It was Godavari Pushkarulu’s era when Alluri was studying in class VI. At that time there was an epidemic of cholera. In 1908, Alluri’s father died of cholera. After this Alluri could not study much further.
He started touring North India in 1916 to meditate. After completing his spiritual journey, Alluri returned to his village in 1918. It was only during 1919 that he began to realize that injustice was being done to the tribals of Manayam area.
He jumped into the fight to get justice for the tribals. Alluri Sitarama Raju started besieging the government on issues like forcible capture of tribals’ crops, non-payment of wages to make them work. Alluri took the movement forward by organizing the tribals.
Armed struggle for three years in Manayam Agency
Alluri must have been barely twenty years old when he revolted against the oppressions of the British. In fact, in the Manayam area, the British were exploiting the tribals in collaboration with local zamindars such as Mutadhar.
This angered Alluri Sitarama Raju.
Disturbed by the oppression and violence being inflicted on the tribals by local moneylenders and contractors, Alluri Raju blew the trumpet of rebellion.
The rebels of the Manayam Agency, led by Alluri Sitarama Raju, attacked police stations and looted weapons. Alluri and his accomplices attacked Rajavommangi Addatatigala, Devipatnam, Chintapalli, Krishna Devi Peta and other police stations.
The sensation spread in the entire area due to the simultaneous attack of tribals on these police stations spread over an area of hundreds of kilometers. Alluri became extremely popular and famous among the people. Some people thought that Alluri had magical powers.
The government of that time gave the name of ‘Manayam Pithuri’ to the revolt of the tribals. This armed rebellion lasted for about three years. The government first sent a contingent of Malabar Special Police to counter Alluri Sitarama Raju’s movement. When this police force failed to control the movement, then Assam Rifles entered the area. They caught Alluri.
According to information recorded in government documents, Alluri Sitarama Raju, who was injured in an encounter, was apprehended when he was washing his wounds in a river in Mampa, near Koyuru. However, after this arrest, Alluri should have been brought alive to the police station. But historians say that when Alluri tried to escape from the clutches of the soldiers, he was shot.
An officer named Major Goodall wrote in his report that Alluri Sitarama Raju was shot on 7 May 1924 when he started fighting with the soldiers and there was a danger to his life.
After this, Alluri’s body was brought to Krishna Devi Petta, where he was cremated. Now this area has been developed as Alluri Memorial Park.
Alluri Sitarama Raju, who fought bravely against the British, died at the age of 27. He is remembered as a revolutionary of Manayam. Throughout the year hundreds of people visit Alluri Memorial Park to pay their respects and remember him.
After Alluri’s death, the British government arrested 17 people who had rebelled against him. He was imprisoned in different jails of the country including Andaman. Many of Alluri’s companions also lost their lives during this movement.
With his martyrdom, his rebellion also ended. But that spirit is still alive today and gives encouragement to the people here.