This article is part of a series called #HeroesAndSheroesOfPluaralIndia under #AnHourForCommunalHramony campaign. This series will celebrate the Heroes and Sheroes who struggled to shape modern India in all its plurality. We kick off the series with the revolutionary Adivasi leader Komuram Bheem who raised the slogan ‘jal, jangal, jameen ‘ ( water, forest and land). All are welcome to contribute an hour of your day, in celebrating these Heroes and Sheroes of plural India
Very few people outside Telengana and Andhra Pradesh know about the valiant adivasi Komuram Bheem (22 October 1901 – 8 October 1940) who led a great struggle against Nizam regime and was one of the first to give the slogan ‘ jal, jangal, jameen ‘ ( water, forest and land) which is an important issue even to this day. In the present situation, the contribution of Komuram Bhim should be known to the country.
He was born in a ‘ Gond’ adivasi ( koitur) family in the forest areas of Adilabad district of Telengana . He was not exposed to the world and had no education. His father was killed by forest officials for asserting adivasi rights. His family migrated to another village. As he grew up, he saw the atrocities of Nizam officials on adivasis. He was inspired by the struggles of another tribal leader of Andhra Alluri setharamaraju who fought against British in ‘ manyam’ forest agency area of East Godavari district.
Bheem travelled to many parts of the country including Assam where he worked as a daily wage worker. He learned Hindi , English from a press owner named Vitoba. He also got acquainted with various struggles of workers and adivasis.
Telengana including Adilabad was part of Nizam government ruled by Asifjhahi dynasty. The nawabs committed severe atrocities on adivasis and imposed heavy taxes. He formed guerilla forces and launched attacks on the exploiters from 1928 to 1940 making Jode Ghat in the district as his centre.
He inspired his tribal community with speeches and marched towards liberation. Even Nizam could not stop his March towards liberation. He was asked to surrender, appeased with land ‘ pattas’ ( documents) to stop the demand for autonomy to gonds. But he did not listen. Then, Nizam government officials bribed kurdu Patel of the Gond’ community to work as informaer and conspired to kill him. He, along with many followers were martyred in a one sided battle on 8 October 1940.
With the Telengana movement, Komuram Bheem became a popular figure not just for adivsis but also to the whole movement. Long before the movement, Gadar wrote a lyric on the adivasis and their leader Bheem.
After formation of Telengana, the TRS government has carved out a new district Komuram Bheem ( asifabad ) district . In 2012 Komuram Bheem statue was installed at tank bund in the centre of Hyderabad city.
But the land rights and autonomy of adivasis still remains a mirage.
His story was originally written by comrade Puchalapalli Sundaraiah, of Telengana Rebellion.
In Telugu Allam Rajaiah wrote a book titled ‘ Komuramu Bheemu ‘ and Dr. V. N. V. K Sashthry wrote ‘Komuram Bheem -mundu, tarvata, ippudu’ ..(Komuram Bheem before, after and now). Even an award winning movie was made by A sridhar.
Sheshu Babu is a writer from anywhere and everywhere