|Vedaranyam salt march memorial ,TN.April,1930.kavyarmenon.wordpress.|
|Vedaranyam Salt March led by Rajaji April 30, 1930.www.pinterest.com|
|Rajaji with Madurai Vaidyanatha Iyer .www.maduraiavaidyanathaiyer.com|
|Map showing Dandi,Gujarat,.bluejayblog.wordpress.com|
One may recall, the English Parliament gave the East India Company a monopoly on the importation of tea in 1698 and later to jack up the money starved British India company and its debacle in tea trade overseas, they imposed tax (the Tea Act of May 10, 1773) on tea imported into the British colonies on the east coast of present USA. This finally led to the famous Boston tea party on December 16, 1773. Subsequently the American Revolutionary War began near Boston in 1775.
|Boston Tea Party 1773. Quest Garden|
His carefully chosen group, included great patriots like Sardar Vedaratnam, a salt merchant and patriot K. Kamaraj (former CM of Tamil Nadu), K. Baktavachalam (former CM, TN), Kakkan (former minister in TN), Madurai Vaidyanatha Iyer, a prominent lawyer of Madurai, T.S.S.Rajan and many other well-known persons - roughly 100 people.
The highly motivated people with true patriotic zeal started off from Tiruchirappalli, in Madras Presidency (now part of Tamil Nadu), to the coastal town. After making illegal salt there on 30 April, 1930, the group was arrested by the British. Vedaranyam, after 1991 became part of the newly created Nagapattinam district.
The march, coinciding with the Tamil New year commenced on 13 April,1930 from from the house of T,S.S. Rajan, a well-known congress worker in Trichinopoly Cantonment. As the march proceeded toward adjacent Tanjore district, its tough District Collector J. A. Thorne, ICS tried to stop it at any cost. Through newspapers, Tamil handbills etc, Thorne warned that anyone offering food or shelter to the marchers was liable to six-months' imprisonment and a fine. Upon hearing Collector Thorne's severe, but inimical warning, Rajaji in his crisp style replied, ''Thorne and thistles cannot stem this tide of freedom." However, the patriotic supporters of the march came up with a novel way of feeding the marchers to go ahead with their difficult journey in Thanjavur district to the salt pans in the coastal area.
Food packets and water containers were found tied secretly to branches of roadside trees on their per-determined path, and when the group rested for a break by the Cauvery river bank, they found markers where water and food containers were buried or hidden. The marchers continued their journey without feeling thirsty and pangs of hunger with recharged energy.
On the other hand, the British police and the administration faced a different situation. It was simply pathetic and they found it difficult to wiggle out of their predicament. They were haunted by starvation and parched mouth when local residents refused them food or even water. Indians employed by the British stopped their work, barbers, washer men and janitors and a host of other service people joined the band wagon and refused service to the government. It was an embarrassing situation for the public servants who had begun to stink like skunk. The government offices and British masters' residencies had heaps of uncleared stinking garbage.
Rajaji declared that the salt laws would be broken on 30 April, 1930 and called for more participants. Rajaji and other patriots reached a salt swamp called Edanthevar about two miles from Vedaranyam. Rajaji was arrested and sentenced to six-months' imprisonment, so were other marchers. One woman participant Rukmini Lakshmipathy was arrested and jailed for one year; she was the first woman to serve a jail term for participating in the Salt Satyagraha movement.
Imagine what kind of ordeal the sathayagrahis would have gone through, marching long distance under scorching April Sun under various restrictions and finally breaking salt laws at Vedaranyam, unmindful of tough punishment. Hats off to their bravery and indomitable spirit.
The Vedaranyam salt march in Tamil Nadu was an important milestone in India's spirited freedom struggle to put an end to British imperialism. Yet another death knell was tolled on the coastal area of Vedaranyam, Tamil Nadu to pack the British rulers off back to England.
"An epic march". The Hindu. 22 April 2001. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
Gandhi, Rajmohan (1997). Rajaji: A Life. Penguin Books India.