Andhra Pradesh is home for many heroes, some very celebrated and some forgotten. Here is one such man who was forgotten by us, Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy!
Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy was a Polygar (also called Paalegaru) i.e. the head of the village Koilkuntla in modern day Kurnool district. He is one of the earliest known Indians to fight against the British rule. Here’s a look at his incredible story.
● Parts of Rayalaseema were ceded to the British by the then Nizam around 1800.
● The British East India Company (EIC), which was on an expansion mode, and all the locals were forced to pay excessive taxes.
● Most local chiefs were forcibly paying taxes but Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy rebelled against the British.
● He built several forts to protect his area from the British, Nossam, Uyyalawada, Rupanagudi, Gulladurthi, Uppaluru, Giddaluru. Now these villages are in Prakasam, Kurnool, Kadapa, Anantapur districts of Andhra Pradesh and in the Bellary region of Karnataka
● Narasimha Reddy had about 60 villages under his control and he managed to raise a militia of a few thousand men (2000-5000 according to various sources).
● With the support of these men, he first raided the British treasury at Giddaluru on 23 July 1846.
● He defeated the British forces present there and this incident put him on the EIC’s target list.
● The EIC then put a reward on his head. It was of Rs. 10,000, which was a massive amount in that time.
● The British forces also captured his family in Koilkuntla, to pressurise him to surrender.
● Narasimha Reddy then took refuge in the dense Nallamalla Forest and made attempts to free his family.
● When the British tightened his movements in the Nallamala region, Narasimha Reddy came back to Koilkuntla area and hid in Jagannatha Konda near the village of Ramabhadrunipalle.
● One villager, who happened to be an informant of the British, gave his location to the British
He was captured at night on 6 October 1846 and was tortured by the British.
● He was chained and was paraded in chains and bloody clothes by the British, as a warning to others.
● Overall, about 900 people were charged with crimes against the British, along with Narasimha Reddy, out of which about 120 were convicted.
● Narasimha Reddy was charged with revolt, murder and dacoity and convicted on all charges.
● He was publicly executed by hanging on 22 February 1847 and later his body was kept on public display as a warning to others to not revolt against the British.
● The British didn’t stop there. They took away all the lands held by his family and reduced them to poverty and also wrote in the records that Narasimha Reddy was a poor man who lived on a pension from the British.
● They kept his head hanging on a wall for 30 years!
Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy was a braveheart who didn’t let the British take away his lands and he fought against them more than 10 years before the 1857 revolt (which is often called as the first war of independence).
After 50 years of his demise is born the next big hero of freedom movement Alluri Seetharama Raju from the Telugu Land.
A salute to this unsung hero from Andhra Pradesh who fought against the British and was forgotten by us all.