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People and Personalities and Events of Vishakhapatnam District

Tenneti Viswanatham

If we remember the heroes of the freedom struggle in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, the names that come to mind not only fought in the freedom struggle, but also became nationallevel leaders. Tenneti Viswanatham is one of them. He was born in Tallurumandal's Lakkavaram village in 1895. His parents were Sri Gaurypathi and Smt. Hittemma. He completed his primary education in Kakinada and Visakhapatnam, did BA in Madras in 1918 and studied law in Trivandrum in 1920 followed by the start of his law practice in Visakhapatnam.

However, influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, he abandoned his legal career and began his journey towards freedom in 1922 through the Non-Cooperation movement. He was active in the movement and acted as the secretary of the Congress. He led his group during the Salt Satyagraha period and sold salt packets in the great assembly held in town. He was sentenced to Barampuram, Madras and Vellore jails beginning on 24 April  1930. Despite this, he did not stop his journey and increased his activities with double the enthusiasm. He was elected to the Madras Legislative Assembly in 1937 while serving as the President of the District Congress Committee for a long time, and he served as Parliamentary Affairs supervisor to the Revenue Minister. When the entire Congress ministerial group resigned in 1939, he did the same. In 1940, he was sentenced fora year and a halffor participation in Satyagraha movement and finedRs. 250. Later, his struggles in the Quit India movement attracted the attention of the British. He was arrested on 16 August 1942 and was detained in Vellore and Amaravati jails for about two years and three months. 

After independence in 1947, he was elected as Municipal Chairman. In 1951, he left the Congress and was elected to the Legislative Assembly as an independent candidate. He then resigned from the Legislative Assembly in 1953 and served as Finance Minister in the Prime Minister's Cabinet formed in Kurnool. In 1962, he was re-elected to the Legislative Assembly and became the leader of the National Democrats in the Assembly. He resigned from his membership in the Legislative Assembly and led an all-party movement for the construction of the Visakha Steel Factory, which was successful. He was elected to the Parliament in 1967 and served as the President of the Andhra Pradesh Janata Party from September 1977 to May 1978. He died on 10 November 1979, after serving the country his whole life.

Folk Song on Alluri Sitaram Raju

The legacy of Alluri Sitaram Raju and his charismatic leadership in the Rampa rebellion of 1922 that broke out in Vishakhapatnam against the British regime lives today in folk songs and popular memory.

Born in Vishakhapatnam in 1897, Alluri Sitaram Raju from a very young age displayed patriotic fervour. Under the British regime, the Adivasis in the Manyam (forest area) had been placed under great difficulty. He took up the tribal cause by organizing a united armed resistance against the British in the form of a guerrilla war. This came to be known as the Rampa rebellion (August 1922 - May 1924). Legends on his attacks on the police station in the region have become a part of the folklore of the region. He is described as a messiah who had come to liberate the tribal people from the coercive rule of the British in the hills and remove their grievances.

 One folk song sings,

 “Alluri Sri Ram Raju! Brother Alluri Sri Ram Raju!

We depend upon you, brother for the redemption of our slavery.

They (British) were afraid to touch you…

You said you would bury the Feranghi (foreign) rule

What a great man you must have been”

In these folk songs he was described as ‘invulnerable’ and someone under whose leadership ‘no bullet would injure a fituridar’. He is celebrated today in the Rampa region as ‘Manyam Veerudu’ (Hero of Jungle).

Jani Kakari and his role in the Gudem Agitation

Since the onset of Colonial Rule, there was a growing clash between tribal communities who revered the forest as their motherland and the English East India Company, who were interested in the commodification of the forest resources. As the latter gained power and control over the Indian subcontinent, the tribal communities were pushed further away from their customs and traditions due to external impositions. The pent-up frustration and discrimination led to the tribal uprising in Gudem in present-day Andhra Pradesh. Jani Kakari, born in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, came to play an important role in mobilizing and leading the agitation.

The growing clout of traders, moneylenders, and the British led to dissatisfaction among the tribal communities of Rampa and Gudem, which resulted in frequent clashes. In the agitation of 1886, Jani Kakari, a dispossessed land owner, along with other members of the tribe and their priests, confronted the growing injustice. Religious elements were strongly evoked as the tribal communities resorted to dacoity and looted landed owners and traders in the plains. Jani Kakari and other members of the tribe made sacrifices before setting out to raid houses. They made an offering to the gods to invoke divine favour and to build new bonds of loyalty based on shared community identity.

Gudem and Rampa remained important hubs of tribal uprising throughout the Independence Movement.

Uprising of Korra Mallaya of Salur, 1900

Korra Mallaya was the tribal chief of the Salur region, in modern day Vishakhapatnam. He carried a mystical aura and garnered a strong following in the Vishakhapatnam Agency. His rebellion against the oppressive forest policies of the foreign rule in the 1900 marked the beginning of peasant movements in the north coastal districts.

Armed with bamboo sticks to be used as riffles, nearly 5000 tribal people joined Korra Mallaya to raid the colonial authorities. He was a charismatic leader of the Konda Dora movement. He told everyone that he was one of the five Pandava brothers in a previous life which pushed him to fight injustice. Korra Mallaya promised that he could turn the tribals’ bamboos into guns and the governments’ weapons into water. He was passionate and determined to drive the British out of the country.

As the rebellion gained significant momentum, the Reserve Police was sent by the District Magistrate to suppress it. Several people were killed and Korra Mallaya and his son were put in jail, where the latter died.

Vizagapatnam Sepoy Mutiny: 1780

This Vizagapatnam Sepoy Mutiny was led by Shaik Mohammad Khan, who was a Subedar of the Grenadiers Regiment who worked at Vizagapatam in the 1780s. During that period, two troops of Indian sepoys led by British officers were posted in Vizagapatam and Masulipatam (Machilipatnam), of which the majority of the Indian Sepoys were Muslims and it was during that period the Anglo- Mysore war between Hyder Ali and East India Company was at its peak. The war with Hyder Ali and the Carnatic war had weakened the British in the south and to reinforce its strength, the then Governor of Madras, John Whitehall, addressed a letter on September 14, 1780, to the then chief of Vizagapatam and Masulipatam settlements, James Henry Casamajor, to send troops for reinforcement. As per the Gazetteer and Prof. Suryanarayana, the Sepoys of Vizagapatam and Masulipatam were by then a disgruntled lot as they were not paid any commission for the tax collection duty, which they felt was additional work to their normal Sepoy duty. This apart, being Muslims they were averse to the idea of fighting a fellow Muslim like Hyder Ali.

The sepoys in Vizagapatam were supposed to board the Sartine frigate under the command of Capt. Lysaught on October 3, 1780. After the inspection of guards, at around 3 pm the Sepoys refused to board the ship. This argument reached a flashpoint when a few British officers tried to use force. Led by Sheikh Mohammed Khan, a few of the Sepoys leveled their muskets and fired a volley, instantly killing Lt. Crisps, Cadets Kingsford Venner, and Robert Rutherford, the paymaster.

Capt. Maxtone and Capt. Lane was seriously injured and the rebels took hold of the town, took Casamajor and several other civil servants into captivity, and freed a French spy who was confined in the prison for some time. The mutineers looted the Company’s property including cash kept in the treasury amounting to Rs.21,999. On the morning of October 4, the mutineers marched out of the town with the chief Casamajor and the other officials as their captives, to join the forces of Hyder Ali. But at the behest of Gajapathi Narain Deo, a local zamindar, they freed the captives, and that turned out to be their faux pas.

Casamajor returned directly to the Sartine and ordered Capt. Ensign Butler to gather the sepoys loyal to the Company and with the help of the crew and weapons on board, to go after the rebels. He also instructed the neighboring zamindars, to support them. “It is learned that the rebels were cornered near a gorge in Gudderallywanka at Payakraopeta, now a border town in Visakhapatnam district. There is no clear understanding or record of what happened to them. But it is believed that some of them were killed in the ambush and the others, including Shaikh Mohammed, were executed mercilessly by the Company’s men. Although this was a small mutiny in scale, its effect shook up even London.


Kamayya was a resident of Madugula, Chodavaram Taluk, Visakhpatnam district, Andhra Pradesh. He opposed the oppressive acts of the British Government against the tribal’s of the Madugula agency. Kamaya was influenced by the vertical exploitation of tribals by non-tribal people. The tribals had to pay high-interest rates on loans taken by them from money lenders. They were denied access to villages, education, medical care, postal facilities, to name a few.  No matter how hard the British government tried, no reason could be found for Kamayya's arrest. Kamaya was arrested in 1940 in a conspiracy by Mobi Forest officials, police, for cutting down large trees and building huts for congressional meetings and for the convenience of activists from far and wide. After his release, his detention increased and he went into hiding with his family. Seven years passed while changing secret bases in the woods.

He was convicted in 1939-40 for one year for resisting the forest guard while on duty. Again he was detained in the Vellore Jail during 1942 for the Quit India Movement. He escaped from the jail and continued his struggle in the underground. He was the first man to introduce the charkhas among the tribals in the Agency area. He took great pains for the propagation of khadi, prohibition, and adult education. He passed away on 6 March 1942.

Mallu Dora Gam

Mallu Dora was the close associate of Mannem Veerudu, the leader of the Rampa Rebellion of Alluri Sitarama Raju. He was the native of Battapanukula village in Chintapally taluk of Vishakhapatnam district. He was the son of Jogu Dora. Mallu Dora was a great believer in the armed revolution against the British. Mallu Dora stood in solidarity with Alluri Sitarama Raju in more than fifty encounters with British police between 1922-24.  In the year 1924, he was caught by the police and put behind bars for more than 14 years. In the year 1952, Mallu Dora was elected to Lok Sabha from Vishakhapatnam Tribal Constituency.

Balram Raju

He was shot dead on 17 August 1942 during Quit India Movement. He was hardly 17 years of age. The nation salutes this young martyr and remembers his sacrifices.

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Last Modified : 8/10/2023

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