Andhra Pradesh

An unsung freedom fighter of Srikalahasti

Talisetti Venkatachalapathi, standing second from left, is seen along with stalwarts like Tanguturi Prakasam Panthulu during the Independence struggle in this file photo.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The task assigned to him was to trigger the quest for independence among the unlettered masses, but he had gone beyond this to burn foreign clothes to promote Swadeshi movement and even ambushed a train carrying British soldiers to kindle the embers of freedom struggle. But today, Talisetti Venkatachalapathi remains an “unsung hero”.

Born in a simple family in Bahadurpet locality of Srikalahasti town, he emerged a revolutionary leader and became known as a close follower of Tanguturi Prakasam Panthulu. When Mahatma Gandhi toured Srikalahasti, Madanapalli and Punganur towns in May 1929 to mobilise support for boycott of foreign clothes, Venkatachalapathi arranged mass burning of clothes on the banks of River Swarnamukhi in Srikalahasti.

During the Quit India movement, he actively followed fellow freedom fighter P. Subbarama Dasu during 1933-1944 and ransacked a train carrying British soldiers at Akkurthi railway station. His valorous act attracted three years imprisonment, which made him vanish from active freedom movement thereafter.

For the sensational train incident, Venkatachalapathi was projected as an ‘angry young man’, but he was actually a more sensible person with sensitivities, who cared for an egalitarian society. “He established Harijana Seva Society and fought for entry of Dalits into temples. After independence, he established a leather unit in 1948 to reach out to Harijans,” M. Deenadayal, an academic consultant in History at Sri Venkateswara University, said.

Mr. Deendayal’s research article “Freedom movement in Chittoor district and the role of Sri Talisetti Venkatachalapathi of Srikalahasti” was published in the national seminar titled ‘Perspectives of social movements in Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh’ conducted in 2018, under the aegis of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), New Delhi.

After Independence, Venkatachalapathi moved to Madras to work as a teacher and later as the Personal Assistant to the then Mayor O. Venkataswami Setti. Back home in Srikalahasti, he started a hostel for Dalit students and continued to lead an insignificant life till he died in 2002. His son, Talisetti Ramamurthy, now an octogenarian, is suffering from illnesses and financial crunch, but his representations for support to the successive governments have fallen on deaf ears.

But for the ‘Talisetti Veedhi’ name given to a street, there is no other trace of the existence of such a ‘valorous gem’ from this little town of Srikalahasti.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 10:11:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/an-unsung-freedom-fighter-of-srikalahasti/article33662340.ece

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