Saga of Fight For Independence!
Chapter 19: Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy
The Megastar of Telugu Film industry, made a movie recently on an unsung warrior from Andra Pradesh who was first of very few who dared to raise their voice against the atrocities carried out by the British East India Company. But how many of us knew about ‘Narasimha Reddy’ even before the movie was released. Many of such stories of bravery did not find place when history of our country was written.
Telugu soil has seen some brave freedom fighters who laid down their life in the freedom struggle. One such brave heart, an unsung hero, who was one of the early freedom fighters was the fierce Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy. The British were ambitious to extend their rule from Madras to the parts of the country. They imposed heavy taxes and fleeced the local rulers and chieftains. There were made to forcefully collect the taxes from people. Many feared to revolt, but some of them came forward to fight the injustice.
One such ruler was Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy of Rayalaseema. He was born around early 1800’s to the local chieftains’ (Zamindari) family in the present Kurnool district on the banks of Kundi River. Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy is one of the earliest freedom fighters in India. Reddy, who had 66 villages under his control and an army of 2000 men. Unlike many of his contemporaries he was not was not happy with the policies employed by the British. Even being a zamindar he could not contain the atrocities committed by the corrupt officials of East India Company and suffering his people had to go through under their colonization.
The Rayalaseema region was transferred to the British by the Nizam and Reddy refused pay taxes directly to the British. On 10 June 1846 he raided the treasury at Koilakuntla and marched towards Kambham, Andhra Pradesh. On the way, at Rudravaram he killed the forest ranger. This being a serious matter, the then Collector Thomas Monroe issued orders to arrest him. The British East India Company had put a price on his head Rs. 5000 and Rs. 10,000 for his head.
This did not affect Narasimha Reddy even a bit, with his army he launched a serious attack on the British forces camped at Giddaluru on 23 July 1846 and defeated them. At that moment British realised that they even though his military strenghth is negligable compared to their infantry they can not defeat Narasimha Reddy on a battle field. Unable to capture him even after several attempts, the British deceptively imprisoned his family at Kadapa. Narasimha Reddy moved to Nallamala forest to save his family but the British forces were tipped off by someone about the hideout of Narasimha Reddy. To avoid being caught by the British in the Nallamala area, Narasimha Reddy returned to Koilkuntla area and hid in Jagannatha Konda.
Unable to be at large for a long period, Reddy was caught as the army moved in upon a tip-off and arrested him and his followers at mid night of 6 October 1846. The East India Company put heavy fetters on him and paraded him right in the streets of Koilkuntla before his people, with blood-stained clothes so that it would be a warning to them. Around 112 of his followers were arrested and convicted for 5 to 14 years and some of them were jailed in Andaman. The special commissioner of Kadapa conducted the trial and Narasimha Reddy was charged with revolt, murder and was labelled as a dacoit and was convicted on all charges. He was publicly hanged on 22nd February 1847, on the banks of nearby river in the presence of Collector Kokcrane. His head was kept on the fort wall in public view for 30 years from 1847 to 1877 to instill fear in the people so that another rebellion won’t be tried by others against the British.
Another blot in the British India history. A patriot was dubbed as a murderer and robber and, at last, was mercilessly killed by the early British rulers.His revolt in India against the British occupation was 10 years earlier than India’s First War of Independence of 1857 also known as Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. The vestiges of the early events are well frozen in the ruins of the fort at Kotthakota, near Giddalur. Plans are afoot to erect a statue in honour of Reddy and the government also has plans to include his brave story in the school text books.
When Even Strongest Of Polingar Were Surrendering To British, The Ruler Of Nelkattunseval Fought Against Them Like A Tiger! Know The Story Of ‘Puli’ Thevar An Able Administrator And A Great Warrior!
Dr. Sindhu Prashanth