Prime Minister unveiled a 30-foot-tall bronze statue of Alluri Sitarama Raju at Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh as the year-long celebrations of the freedom fighter’s 125th birth anniversary.
Alluri Sitarama Raju:
Raju is believed to have been born in present-day Andhra Pradesh in 1897 or 1898.
He is said to have become a sanyasi at the age of 18.
He 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.
He channelled the discontent of the hill people in Ganjam, Visakhapatnam, and Godavari into a highly 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 for 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.
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.
In 1986, the Indian Postal Department issued a stamp in honour of Raju and his contribution to India’s struggle for Independence.
In July 2019, on the occasion of Raju’s 122nd birth anniversary, the government of Andhra Pradesh announced the naming of a district after the legendary freedom fighter, acceding to a long-standing demand of the tribal population of Andhra Pradesh.
The district of Alluri Sitharama Raju came into being in April 2022, made up of Paderu and Rampachodavaram of the existing districts of Visakhapatnam and East Godavari respectively.
These two areas have tribal populations of 10.4 per cent and 4.1 per cent.