Tekam Mane, the last survivor to have seen Kumram Bheem

Kolam tribal, Tekam Mane, at his home at Babejhari.

Kolam tribal, Tekam Mane, at his home at Babejhari.  

The frailty wrought by age, surprisingly, has not affected his vision, sense of hearing or memory for that matter. Tekam Mane, the geriatric Kolam tribal from the historic Babejhari village, vividly remembers some of the happenings associated with the rebel campaign of legendary Adivasi leader Kumram Bheem, whose 79th martyrdom anniversary will be organised at Jodeghat on October 13 as per Adivasi customs. Assumed to be about 100 years old, Mr. Mane is perhaps the last survivor who had witnessed the events leading to Bheem's killing by the armed forces of the Nizam of Hyderabad on September 1, 1940. “Bheem's fight took place much before Pakistan-Hindustan fought,” he recalled of the period in which the martyr had waged his struggle against the then ruler demanding rights to cultivate in forest lands in the 12 villages which lie on either side of the 22 km stretch of road between Hatti and Jodeghat in present day Kerameri mandal of Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

"It was Bheem who asked my father Tekam Bheem and three others of our tribe to live here. Our families had made clearings in the jungles stealthily to cultivate and survive," he added of the times when the Tekam clan families shifted to Babejhari located in the Kerameri uplands.

The old tribal recollected the martyr striving to establish a 100-house village but had to leave Babejhari for Jodeghat as the Nizam's forces were in hot pursuit, and where he was finally killed. "His fight was against forest department people," he remembered clearly mentioning that the forest department it was which had stopped the tribals from cultivating in forest lands.

"His first fight had taken place on that hillock," the old tribal pointed out towards the lush green high ground in the opposite direction of the shed in which he is spending time after being rendered immobile due to age. "Bheem was accompanied by 11 others but was the only one to carry a gun," he added from his memory of the first brush that the martyr had with the armed forces in which all the rebels escaped with their lives.

Mr. Mane recalls himself being very young during that period and had engaged in grazing cattle of Movvad village headman Bheemji Patel. "I was small, so was not allowed to participate in the rebellion, and was married to Muthubai much after the death of Bheem," he remembered indicating towards his wife who is much younger to him.

Like other Kolams, the old man too had attended the martyrdom events until a few years back when he got debilitated. Among his cherished memories is the rule of N.T. Rama Rao when the Kolams were given houses by the government.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 1:03:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/tekam-mane-the-last-survivor-to-have-seen-kumram-bheem/article29650170.ece

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