Thanks to Megastar Chiranjeevi many people started to know about India’s first freedom fighter, who fought the British long before the 1857 revolution, Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy. In his 151st film Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Megastar is portraying the role of the long-forgotten Telugu warrior hero about who deserves volumes to be written about him. Come, let’s try to learn more than what Wikipedia says about this the champion of people, who revolted against the might of the British government to fight against the atrocities against the common folk.
To know about the freedom fighter, Uyyalwada Narasimha Reddy, first we must know what the Polygar system was! Yes, without knowing Polygar system (Paalegadu), you cannot track and see what made Narasimha Reddy a heroic figure in the history of Rayalaseema.
Back then, before the Britishers laid their foot in South India, regions in Renadu (parts of present-day Kadapa and Kurnool during and after Vijayanagara Empire) had a governing system Polygar. It is a system where a selected lord (Polygar) takes care of around 100 villages of a particular region. The Polygar system was institutionalized by Vijayanagara Kings and it has been followed for hundreds of years.
Jayaramireddy, the grandfather of Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy was one such Polygar for around sixty villages between Koyilakuntla of present-day Kurnool district and Jammalamadugu of Kadapa district. But unfortunately, his region along with some other places went into the hands of the Nizam after the fourth Anglo-Mysore war owing to the agreement between the Nizam and the East India Company.
Within a few months, the region was given to the East India Company on a lease (what is known as the Ceded area). Jayarami Reddy was imprisoned and his family was given a meager amount of Rs. 11 in the form of Bharanam. Our hero, Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy was receiving the Bharanam as a family member of a Polygar.
The incident that turned Narasimha Reddy into a towering figure
The first act of Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy that sent jitters down the spine of the British government took place on July 10, 1846. To dig in the details, he was looked down upon and condescendingly talked about by the secretary, Raghavachary, of the British treasury in Koyilakuntla when one of his followers went and asked for the Bharanam of Rs.11. Angered by that insult, and observing the atrocities of the Company for years, Uyyalwada Narasimha Reddy, with his followers, attacked the British (Company) treasury and beheaded its secretary Raghavachary. He did all of this for one reason, self-respect.
Series of fights with the British
After beheading the secretary of the treasury, Narasimha Reddy became the most-wanted criminal for Company and the greatest savior for the people Renatiseema. British army with a lot of armed forces tried to capture Narasimha Reddy several times but failed continuously in each attempt. Considering the suggestion of his teacher-mentor Gosayi Venkanna, Narasimha Reddy shifted his base to Nallamala Forest with his followers and started operating against the British from there.
Around this time, he killed a forest officer named Peter for inflicting unimaginable atrocities on tribal women. With each act against the British, Narasimha Reddy was turning into a more lethal warrior, who stands by his people against all odds. The British government went to the extent of capturing Narasimha Reddy’s wife Subbabba and son, Subbayya, expecting that they could catch him when he comes to their rescue. But to the government’s surprise, he rescued his family like a (boss) by pointing a knife at the officer of the Lal Bangla, where his wife and son were imprisoned.
The final chapter of Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy
After his relentless fight for six months and numerous victories within such a short time, Narasimha Reddy was finally captured by the Company army in 1847. But it wasn’t that easy to tame him. He killed the head of the army, Norton in the fight. As expected, the British government ordered the death penalty to Narasimha Reddy. In front of all his followers, Uyyalwada Narasimha Reddy was hanged to death at the Koyilakuntla prison on February 22, 1847. For almost three decades, from 1847 to 1877, his chopped head was left hanging at the entrance of the Koyilakuntla Fort.
The unsung hero, Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy, though lost to the mighty British, was not just a leader fighting for freedom. He was a warrior who showed the people to fight for their self-respect and keeping their head held high. His rebellious attitude is what left a long-lasting impression on the people and their way of life. By such heroic acts by many others, Uyyalawada's influence could be sensed.