The Indomitable Spirit of Sardar Gouthu Latchanna
Sardar Gouthu Latchanna was a born leader of ordinary people. He was a noticeable freedom fighter and social reformer. He participated in Salt Satyagraha of Palasa and the Quit India Movement. Gouthu Latchanna received the title “Sardar” for his courageous fight with the British Government. He was the leader of weaker sections of the society. He established the trade union Indian National Trade Union Congress. He was the INTUC founder and a Madras Trade Union Board member.
He joined the freedom movement at the age of twenty-one. He participated in Salt Satyagraha of palasa. In the same year, in April 1930, when the British government conducted a raid for salt makers at Naupada, Gouthu Latchanna was arrested for the first time. During the trial, he was sent to Tekkali and then to Narasannapeta sub-jails in Srikakulam. After the verdict, he was sent to Berhampur jail in Ganjam. During this one month of jail, he faced tremendous torture. 1931 The Gandhi – Irwin Pact was signed between Mahatma Gandhi and the Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin. After that pact, Gouthu arranged a Satyagraha camp in his birthplace Baruva. He also organized picketing of liquor, foreign clothes shops and palm toddy in Sompeta, Tekkali and Ichchapuram. He also joined the Civil Disobedience Movement under the Congress leadership in Baruva. The movement faced a lathi-charged, and he was arrested. This time he was jailed for six months in Rajahmundry Central Jail.
He was also a social reformer who fought against untouchables, well distributed based on social class and other issues. When he was released from jail, on those days, he was inspired by Gandhi’s “fast-unto-death” on the issue of the untouchable. He noticed that his birthplace Baruva is mostly affected by the social classification and its evil effects. In those days, Harijan couldn’t use the water of the well, Harijanchildren didn’t get any chance to study, and they didn’t have a proper decent way to earn a livelihood. He also arranged “HarijanSevaSangram” at his birthplace to help the Harijans. He started a night school for Harijan children for their education. He organized a district-level agitation for the untouchable. He made a well for the Harijans at Baruva to solve the drinking water crisis. This was the reason why he and his companions were socially prohibited.
In those days, he was aggressively engaged in the freedom movement. In 1942, he joined the Quit India Movement, which transformed into the ferocious raids on the Kalingopatnam post office, the no-tax campaign, the raid on the Srikakulam sub-collector office, and weapon stored train derailment in his village. He became the most wanted criminal by the Madras government. Madras government declared a ten thousand rupees award if anyone could provide information about Latchanna. That trick of the government failed. So the Madras government issued an order of shoot-at-sight. He was underground for a few months when he was invited to a meeting of the South India Congress at Madras. When he moved to the Madras with KilliAppala Naidu, he was arrested for the third time. Andhra Congress leader Sampath Kumar sent this information to the government. He was condemned for one year for his rebellious acts, and this time he was sent to the Alipuram camp jail. He was re-arrested at the jail gate when he was released after one year of imprisonment. Then he was sent to the Cannanore central jail, then to the Tanjavur central jail and then to the Rayavallore jail. He finally got freedom in October 1945.
While in the Rajahmundry central jail, he met with Bijay Kumar Sinha and Siva Verma. Bijay Kumar Sinha and Siva Verma were convicted in the Lahore Conspiracy Case. GouthuLatchannawas plans to form a similar revolutionary party in Andhra Pradesh, like the “Indian Republic Revolutionary Party,” with his mates Anne Anjayya and AlluriSatyanarayanaraju. He started visiting the Cuttack, Kharagpur, Calcutta and Tatanagar to meet the Indian Republic revolutionary party leaders to keep his promise to the Bijay Kumar Sinha and Siva Verma. But he failed to meet the leaders.
When he returned to the Baruva, he joined the No-Tax Campaign. He supported and joined the movement of farmers. He understood that the farmers failed to pay the land revenue tax and suffered heavily from the tax system. He participated in the foot march organized by NG Ranga, which was started from Varanasi to Chatrapur. Then he struggled the eliminating the Zamindari system. He organized All India KisanSabha at Palasa in 1942, in which N G Rang A Tribute to the great Heroes of India, SahajanandSaraswati, PullelaSyama and SundaraRao were joined. They burnt the model of the Zamindari system and arranged a public meeting.
Latchanna also supported the people belonging to society’s weaker section, which needed help. During the Second World War in 1941, when Burma was devastated by the bombings, he set the “Burma Refugee’s Conference” at Narasannapeta. This conference was organized to assist the Indian laborers of Burma who came back to their birthplace India. At that time Madras government was obliged to provide relief to those people through the “Burma Evacuees Relief Committee”.
He was the leader of Harijans means Dalits. He organized the Andhra Pradesh Backward Classes Conference at Guntur to earn their general rights and benefits from the Indian Constitution of 1948. He fought for the rights of the reservations and social, economic, and educational benefits for the backward classes. He traveled across the state to meet the backward people.
He fought for the laborers and workers. He fought for their pay scale hike, organizing strikes for several issues and the right of the laborers. He established the Indian National Trade Union Congress, the Andhra Pradesh section. He was the President of that unit till 1955. He was also in the position of President of the Shipyard Labour Union of Vishakhapatnam.
He served as an Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly member for about 35 years. He was the MLA from Sompeta Constituency from 1948 to 1983. He won both the election of Loksabha and the Assembly election from Srikakulam in 1967. He left the Congress Party in 1951 and joined Lok Dal Party. After that, he joined Janata Dal.
The Andhra University of Vishakhapatnam awarded him Doctorate in 1997. He also received Doctorate from Nagarjuna University in 1999. In 2006, a Veteran politician and freedom fighter took his last breath when he was 96.
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