- Shankar Varisetty
- BBC correspondent, Hyderabad
41 minutes ago
Have you heard of Robinhood?
You must have heard many of those stories where thieves and dacoits rob the rich and then distribute the loot to the poor. Many movies and series have been made about such thieves as well.
The most popular name in such stories is Robinhood.
But in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, there was a man known as Robin Hood.
Gokari Nageswara Rao is called ‘Tiger’ by the people of Stuartpuram in the state and some call him ‘Robin Hood of Andhra’.
Now comes a movie called ‘Tiger’ Nageswara Rao. It stars well-known actor Ravi Teja as the lead.
Story of the ‘Tiger’ Nageswara Rao
According to police records, Gokri Nageswara Rao was one of the most notorious thieves in Stuartpuram. Many serious cases were recorded against him.
He died in an encounter with the police on March 24, 1980. Prior to this encounter, he had escaped the clutches of the police several times.
Nageswara Rao’s brother Prabhakar Rao says that the reason for his death was his misdeeds.
Prabhakar Rao says, “Before my father, people in our family used to steal. We have also done a lot of theft and dacoities. My younger brother, Nageswara Rao, was also trained in the same discipline. But whatever he earned, everyone used to donate it. “.
Prabhakar Rao now lives in a small house in Stuartpuram. He has committed robberies worth lakhs. He says that even his younger sister never tried to hide money from him. On the contrary, what they steal is distributed among the people.
For this reason, he had tremendous support among the common people. Finally, when he died in a police encounter, there was a wave of anger among the people at that time.
Bungan Parish feeling robbed in
In 1974, a bank was looted in Bangaan Palli, in present-day Nandyal district. By this time this news had spread throughout the country.
Despite tight security measures, the robbers entered the bank. The robbers made off with a large amount of cash and jewelry. It is said that at that time there was loot of Rs 35 lakh in this dacoity.
The incident of the looting of the entire property upon entering the bank in the middle of the night became the topic of discussion throughout the country.
Prabhakar Rao told the BBC: “A total of ten members of our gang were involved in the Banagaon Palli robbery. As the bank was opposite the police station, we took precautions. We opened the back door of the bank in the middle of the street”. night. Withdraw money from security. ” And taken to the crematorium.
Regarding the looted goods, Prabhakar Rao says, “It contained 14 kg of gold and 50,000 rupees in cash. After bringing it from there, all the gang members could have distributed the loot among themselves before the police cordoned off our village.” Nageshwar Rao escaped by breaking this cordon, but I surrendered.”
Nageswara Rao started petty theft with his brother during the 1970s. Prabhakar was already a famous thief.
After this, Nageswara Rao was active in many big dacoities for about 15 years.
Nageswara Rao’s fans used to call him ‘Tiger’ because he had escaped multiple times from police bullets despite committing large scale robberies in states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Says Prabhakar Rao, “We were arrested in Tamil Nadu around 1976. We were both put in different jails. When we met during a court appearance, Nageshwar said he couldn’t stay in jail anymore. After that, one day he attacked to jail officials and escaped. After his escape, some Tamil Nadu police officers told me that his brother is actually a tiger.”
How Stuartpuram became a ‘thieves’ town’
Until the 1980s, Stuartpuram was known as the Thieves’ Village. Stuartpuram people formed many gangs and committed robbery and dacoity in different areas.
Between 1911 and 1914, people involved in various crimes got together and settled in ‘Stuartpuram’.
That’s why no matter where or where any crime was committed in the area, suspicion used to fall on the people of this town.
The village was established in 1913 after Harold Stuart, a member of the then Madras Presidency.
The government’s goal was to confine all thieves to one place so they could be strictly monitored.
The name of Stuartpuram was completely tarnished due to the crimes of ‘Tiger’ Nageswara Rao and his henchmen. Catching this gang had also become a challenge for the police.
The Village’s reputation is at stake
During the British rule, the support of Christianity was also taken to reform these robbers, but it was not successful.
After that, along with the police and the government, NGOs also entered the fray. Especially Hemlata and her husband Lavanam, the founder of Nastik Kendra.
After a dacoity at Bangaan Pally in the late 1970s, several attempts were made by Hemalatha and Lavanam to reform Stuartpuram. Both of them met Nageswara Rao in jail and tried to convert him through letters.
Kompally Sundar, who has researched the history of Stuartparam, said that providing land and other facilities to thieves in this village, even after they were released from prison, had paid off.
K Sundar says, “Due to the tireless work of Hemalatha and Lavanam, Stuartpuram has changed. Initially, everyone thought that along with Prabhakar Rao, Nageswara Rao has also changed.”
Says Prabhakar Rao, “But crimes committed in the past hampered efforts to integrate Nageswara Rao into the mainstream. Eventually, he returned to the world of crime again. And he was eventually killed by police gunfire.”
don’t heal the wounds
Many movies have appeared in Stuartpur before. Now comes a Telugu film titled ‘Tiger’ Nageswara Rao. That’s why this town is back in discussion.
The film is being directed by Vamsi Krishna. He currently continues shooting the film.
The people of Stuartpuram have different opinions on making a film about Nageswara Rao.
Prabhakar Rao told the BBC: “The film unit argued with me. They asked me for details. But I don’t want the story to be distorted.”
“When we used to study in Stuartpuram, people used to look at us differently. There was a misconception. Now it is shrinking. There have been many changes in the village. There are many people who have higher education and are out. They have settled down. The people of Stuartpuram have forgotten old wounds.
Sharda is a resident of this village.
Sharda is currently working in the IT sector in Chennai. He worries that these movies will give the town a bad name, which may lead to more problems.