|Robert William Escourt Ashe. en.wikipedia.org|
In the southern part of India the indomitable spirit and commitment to free India from the British yoke were very much on the mind of a group of Indian patriots who were ready to go to any length to achieve Swarajya. They were as much patriotic as their counterparts elsewhere in India. One Vanchinathan (alias R. Vanchi Iyer) of South Tamil Nadu, driven by spirit of patriotism and love for the country, did something unexpected which other persons would hesitate to do it. Vanchi became a martyr and made a mark as one of a few daring freedom fighters of India who scarified their precious lives at a very young age of early 20s.
On June 17, 1911, Vanchi assassinated the district collector of Tirunelveli, Robert William d'Escourt Ashe, an Irish man. This incident took place at the Maniyachi Railway junction where the train had stopped, en route to Madras. Later he committed suicide on the station premises. The railway station has since been renamed Vanchi Maniyachi Railway Junction.
Vanchinathan (actual name Shankaran/Vanchi Iyer)), born in 1886 in Shenkottai, Tirunelveli district to Raghupathy Iyer and Rukmani Ammal. He did his schooling in his birth place and got an M.A. from Moolam Thirunal Maharaja College in Thiruvananthapuram, now the capital of Kerala state. His wife was Ponnammal and Vanchi got a comfortable job with the Government and could have led a comfortable life, drawing decent pension after retirement; lt was not to be that way.
During the British rule, with many exceptions, most of the officials were merciless and practiced subtle discrimination against the natives. Across India, the people despised the British who were totally focused on their interests and sale of their products in India, openly discouraging the indigenous products. Consequently Indian cottage industries and
|. Railway jn,. where Collector Ashe was shot dead by Vanchien.wikipedia.org/|
On the day of his assassination, Collector Ashe was traveling with his wife Mary Lillian Patterson whom he married on April 6, 1898 in Berhampore. His wife had arrived a few days earlier from Ireland and the couple were going to Kodikanal, a well-known summer resort, to spend their holidays with their four children Molly, Arthur, Sheila, and Herbert. So, they traveled first class by Maniachi Mail (arrival time was 10.38 am) and at this station they had to catch the Madras bound Ceylon Boat Mail (arrival time 10.58 am) and got off at Kodai road to go to the hill station. At Maniachi Jn Ashe and his wife were waiting in the first class carriage for the arrival of Ceylon Boat Mail.
An unassuming, well-dressed man, Vanchi along with a dhoti-clad man with a tuft, walked towards the first class compartment; Vanchi got into it while the later was standing on the platform. The well-dressed man pulled out a Belgian made automatic pistol and shot at Ashe point blank. The bullet hit Ashe in the chest and he collapsed. A sensational assassination was committed on the soils of Tamil Nadu (then Madras Presidency) on a prominent British Officer. He was the first and last British official to be killed in South India during the course of freedom struggle. This assassination was carried out not only to tell the world to what degree Indian people were frustrated against the British misrule and to arouse the conscience of the world. Seconds later, to avoid being caught, Vanchinathan went inside a toilet and shot himself to death.
01. In January, 2015, the 104th death anniversary of veteran freedom fighter R Vanchinathan was observed at his birthplace Sengottai in Tirunelveli district and at Vanchi Maniyachchi Junction railway station in Tuticorin district, where he shot a British official dead before killing himself.
02. Vanchi was trained to handle hand guns by V.V.S Iyer, who believed in violence to deal with the British and and he was in exile in Pondicherry, a French territory.
03. Through inquiry by the British government concluded the murder was politically motivated and the assassin did it to revenge the collector for his oppressive handling of Coral Mills' workers, when they were on strike, purposely pushing the Indian shipping Company founded by VOC to bankruptcy and practicing racial discrimination.
04. There are no memorials to Vanch other than the one in Senkottai, either in other parts of Tamil Nadu or other states. Maniachi railway junction, where the assassination took place, was renamed Vanch Maniachi Junction long ago by the Central government.
05. This assassination was yet another pointer to the Indian people's fury over the Coronation Darbar of King George V at Delhi planned during the same period.