|Akkamma Cherian a freedom fighter, Kerala .en.wikipedia.org|
|Map showing Travancore state in 1859, en.wikipedia.org|
During the fight for India's freedom, women's participation was, unfortunately, negligible. Not because of their being a soft gender, but because of social restrictions prevailing then.. The Indian women were equally daring, intelligent ans smart. At a time when men were not in charge of running the kingdoms or leading the struggles and protests during the freedom struggle, the onus fell on the women and they took charge of the leadership more efficiently and more valiantly than men. Some women never missed the opportunity thrown at them and proved their amazing leadeship and grit.
Ms. Accamma Cherian, the second daughter of a Christian couple - Thomman Cherian and Annamma and a native of Kerala, S.India ,Kanjirapalli, was a well-known freedom fighter in a Gandhian way. She was a graduate in History, served as a teacher at St. Mary's English Medium School, Kanjirapally in 1931 and became its Head Mistress after six years of service there. She also received B.T degree from the Trivandrum Training College. During her younger age, freedom struggle was going on and Gandhiji became one of the well-known leaders and along with other leaders he led several peaceful marches against the British and their undemocratic way of ruling India and its people.
Congress party was formed with a view to fighting the British and the party leaders across India were campaigning for India's freedom from the British yoke. The Travancore State Congress party was formed in February, 1938 to encourage freedom fighters from that part of the state to take an active role fot this noble cause. Gandhiji wanted people from different walks of life to stay united and join the freedom struggle. Particularly, he asked the women not to stay at home and keep themselves confined in the Kitchen and urged them to actively participate in the freedom movement and raise their voice along with other men folks. Accamma Cherian, unlike other women, was a self motivated woman and her upbringing was such that she was courageous and committed to whatever she did and could think independently. She was closely observing the freedom struggle and at one point Gandhiji's appeal to women gave her inspiration to join the Congress party of Travancore, Kerala.
A responsible government, caring for the aspirations of the people, was the need of that time, and in this regard, under the leadership of its President Pattom A. Thanu Pillai , the Congress party and the people of Travancore started the agitation. When the agitation became a serious matter, the then Dewan of Travancore Sir C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar, an eminent Administrator and lawyer, tried to suppress the agitation. Being a Dewan he owes his responsibility to the Royal family and also to the British rulers. As the agitation became uncontrollable, the Dewan arrested all prominent Congress leaders one by one, including Thanu Pillai and the last leader Kuttanad Ramakrishna Pillai. So, now the mantle of leading the agitation and the party fell in the hands of Ms. Accamma Cherian, the 12 th chosen leader. Under her leadership, a mass rally from Thampanoor to the Palace of the Maharajah Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma was conducted, urging the Maharajah to revoke the ban and release of the arrested leaders and dismiss the Dewan. Tranancore, being a princely state, the British rulers came to the Dewan's rescue. The agitation turned violent and no sooner had the British police chief ordered his police forces to fire on the rally of over 20,000 people, than Ms. Accamma Cherian moved quickly forward and courageously shouted at the British officer "I am the leader; shoot me first before you kill others," She stood there unmoved, as if she was not the one to be cowed down. The British officers, taken aback by her authoritarian, stentorian voice above the din and finally withdrew the shooting orders. The rally ended with the King ordering the release of all political prisoners. Miss. Accamma Cherian's bold stand at a crucial time, despite the shooting orders, became a sensational news across India. It led Ghandhiji to call her ''The Jhansi Rani of Travancore.'' However, she was arrested on December 24, 1939 by the authorities for violating prohibitory orders.' She was jailed for a one-year term on a silly ground for having attended the first annual conference of the Travancore State Congress. While in jail, unmindful of her gender, jailers and others treated her badly under the watchful eyes of British officers. As her main priority was freedom, with extreme enduring powers and guts she faced exploitation, tortures and hardship.
Until India gained her freedom in August, 1947, Accamma Cherian, a brave woman as she was, did not lose her spirit to fight back the British rulers, and during the long course, she was jailed a few more times. Thus she dedicated her youthful part of her life to the cause of Indian freedom struggle, for she believed in ''free India.'' and Indians breathing fresh air of freedom and not the stench of British exploitation and imperialism. The history of freedom struggle in Kerala will be incomplete without mentioning the true sacrifices of this bold woman and she made a name for self in the political history of this highly literate state.