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Potti Sreeramulu

Potti Sreeramulu




Potti Sreeramulu, , was an Indian freedom fighter and revolutionary revered as Amarajeevi, meaning "Immortal Being," in the Andhra region for his self-sacrifice for the Andhra cause. He is most famous for his 56-day hunger strike demanding a separate state for Andhra Pradesh, a protest that ultimately led to his death. His martyrdom ignited public outrage, compelling Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to announce the creation of Andhra State just three days after Sreeramulu's death. This event marked a pivotal moment in the struggle for a separate Telugu-speaking state from the Tamil-dominated Madras Presidency.

Sreeramulu was born on 16th March, 1901 in a Telugu Hindu family to Guravayya and Mahalakshmamma in Padamatapalli, a region within the Nellore district. His family later moved to Madras due to famine conditions and eventually settled in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh. Sreeramulu completed his high school education in Madras and pursued sanitary engineering at the Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute in Bombay. After college, he worked for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway in Bombay. In 1929, personal tragedy struck when he lost both his wife and newborn child. Two years later, he resigned from his job and joined Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram, dedicating himself to the Indian independence movement.

Sreeramulu's commitment to the independence movement saw him participating in the 1930 Salt Satyagraha and being imprisoned multiple times between 1941 and 1942 for his involvement in the individual Satyagraha and Quit India movements. He was actively involved in village reconstruction programs in Rajkot, Gujarat, and Komaravolu, Andhra Pradesh. Sreeramulu's dedication was so profound that Gandhi remarked, "If only I have eleven more followers like Sreeramulu, I will win freedom from British rule in a year."

From 1923 to 1944, Sreeramulu promoted the widespread use of the charkha (spinning wheel) in the Nellore district. He was known for his inclusivity, accepting food from households regardless of caste. His advocacy extended to the Dalit community, undertaking three significant fasts between 1946 and 1948 to secure their rights to enter temples, such as the Venu Gopala Swamy Temple in Nellore. His efforts resulted in the Madras government passing favorable orders for Dalit upliftment and instructing district collectors to address Dalit issues regularly.

Sreeramulu's most significant contribution was his campaign for the creation of a separate Andhra state. He aimed to protect the interests and preserve the culture of Telugu people within the Madras Presidency. His first hunger strike led to Prime Minister Nehru's promise of support, but progress stalled due to disputes over retaining Madras as the capital. Undeterred, Sreeramulu resumed his hunger strike on 19 October 1952, at the Madras residence of Maharshi Bulusu Sambamurti. Despite the Andhra Congress committee's lack of support, his fast garnered widespread attention.

Sreeramulu's death on the night of 15 December 1952 was a catalyst for mass unrest, with public riots and property destruction occurring across the region. His death procession saw thousands chanting in his honor, and the ensuing chaos resulted in police firing, causing fatalities in Anakapalle and Vijayawada. The agitation persisted for several days, disrupting life in Madras and Andhra regions. On 19 December 1952, Prime Minister Nehru announced the formation of a separate Andhra state.

On 1 October 1953, the Telugu-speaking Andhra State was officially established with Kurnool as its capital. Subsequently, the Telugu-speaking districts of Hyderabad State, known as Telangana, merged with Andhra State to form Andhra Pradesh on 1 November 1956, with Hyderabad as the capital.

Potti Sreeramulu's legacy is immortalized in various forms, including a commemorative stamp issued by India in 2000. The house where he died, located at 126 Royapettah High Road, Mylapore, Chennai, has been preserved as a significant monument by the Andhra State government.

Place of Birth: Madras Presidency

Date of Birth: 16th March, 1901

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