One was from a small village in Guntur’s Palnadu region, led the Pullari Satyagraha there, inspired by the Gandhian methods.
Another was the last of the Polygar leaders in Kurnool district, who led a violent guerilla uprising against the British, before being executed by them.
Kanneganti Hanumanthu and Uyyalavada Narasimha Reddy, two men from different backgrounds, different eras, both executed on the same date though, February 23.
Kanneganti Hanumanthu was born in 1870 to Venkatayya and Achamma, their second child in a small village near to Durgi in Guntur district. A believer in Gandhian ideology, his Palnadu Satyagraha, would be an inspiration for many other revolutionaries.
“Did you plant the tree? Did you water it? Who gave you the right to ask us to pay tax on our own land where we live?”
The Pullari tax was levied during the British Raj in Palnadu region, basically peasants had to pay tax for grazing their cattle or gathering wood in the forests. It was against this draconian tax, that Hanumanthu led the revolt as part of Gandhiji’s Non Cooperation Movement. Leading a group of youth, Hanumanthu, led the revolt against the British in Palnadu. The masses came out in full support, women, older people blessed him, as he took on the British head on, giving them sleepless nights with his constant opposition.
The British general Rutherford, along with the local collector Warner, tried to wean away some of the sections from Hanumanthu. However the support of the masses was too strong to cause any impact. And so Rutherford tried to use deceit, offering Hanumanthu the zamindari of Durgi region to win him over, and extract as much tax as he wanted. Hanumanthu however refused saying he would never collect blood money from his fellow Indians.
February 22, 1922
Some of the British officials came to Minchinapadu village, the epicenter of the revolt, and warned Hanumanthu of severe consequences if the Pullari Tax was not paid. With Gandhiji suspending the Non Cooperation Movement, Hanumanthu too agreed to pay tax. Around the same time, with the Mahashivratri festivities at Kotappa Konda taking place, Kanneganti Hanumanthu along with many of his followers, left to take part in the Prabhalu procession, leaving only women and children behind in Minchinapadu village.
Taking advantage of his absence, the British fell upon Minchinapadu, beat up the women, the older people, began to take away the cattle. On hearing the news Hanumanthu rushed to his village, and pleaded with the British to stop harassing the residents. Inspite of Hanumanthu promising to pay the Pullari Tax, and requesting the Britishers not to harass his people, he was surrounded by them, and they began to fire on him. The culprit was the village Karanam, who betrayed him to the British.
Even as Kanneganti Hanumanthu kept pleading with the British not to harass any one, they kept firing at him. Not once, or twice but 26 times, as his cries rent their air. The villagers were not allowed to even come close to the body, and his requests for water went unheeded. He waged a struggle with death for 6 hours, shouting Vande Mataram till the end. This when he had agreed to suspend the revolt, a brutal, shameful, callous murder if ever there was.
When the enraged villagers of Minchinapadu, attacked the British after the murder of their beloved leader Hanumanthu, they brutally suppressed them, and looted the entire village. It was one of the worst massacres ever, absolutely shameful. The entire Palnadu mourned Kanneganti Hanumanthu’s death. His sacrifice for the sake of Bharat, inspired many a revolutionary in Andhra. He would be an inspiration for a whole generation of Telugu freedom fighters. A true hero, who deserves a salute
Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy was one of the influential Polygars of Rayalaseema. These Polygars were basically from Vijayanagar era, small time chieftains, who had their own estates, and lent support to the Empire, found in Rayalaseema. When the Nizam ceded the Rayalaseema region to the British, as part of their agreement, the Polygars came under the British rule. Keeping an eye on their large estates and wealth, the British abolished the Polygar system, and instead they were given some grants.
Narasimha Reddy was born in the Rupanagudi village of Kurnool district, and grew up in Uyyalavada. He had around 66 villages under his control in Bellary, Kadapa, Anantapur, Kurnool districts, and was patron of arts and literature. When Nhe sent his associate to get the monthly grant due to them in 1846 to the treasury at Koilkuntla, the local Tahilsar rudely asked him to go away. The British had earlier seized his ancestral property, in lieu of a monthly grant.
When his associate, conveyed the news of the Tahsildar’s rude behavior, a furious Narasimha Reddy decided to revolt against the British. He was joined by other Palergars whose ancestral properties were seized by the British, and given a monthly grant in lieu. The zamindars of Wanaparthy, Munagala,Penugonda, Salaam Khan of Hyderabad, Papa Khan of Kurnnool, and many of the Boya, Chenchu tribes in the Nallamalla Hills joined hands with him in his revolt against the British.
With a 500 strong force of Boyas, Narasimha Reddy first attacked Koilkuntla treasury on July 10, 1846, killing the Tahsildar there, and taking the money due to him. The treasury was razed to the ground. The British sensing danger cracked down hard. After capturing and torturing Narasimha Reddy’s associates Gosai Venkana,Obanna, the British were able to find proof of involvement in the attack on the treasury, and sent the Army under Captain Knott and Watson to capture him.
In a pitched battle at Giddalur, Narasimha Reddy defeated the British and escaped into the Nallamalla Hills, with the help of the Boya tribals. For quite some time he harassed the British through a series of guerrilla attacks, as they were unable to capture him. The British captured Narasimha Reddy’s family and imprisoned them at Kadapa,. When he came there to free him, the British bribed Naraismha Reddy’s cook to mix toddy in his meal, making him intoxicated, while his gun was disabled.
The British captured the inebriated Narasimha Reddy, and after a long trial was accused of waging war against the Government, as well as looting and murder. And on February 22, 1847 Uyyalavada Narasimha Reddy was hanged in public, another son of Bharat gave up his life.