Saturday, 27 April 2019

Good to remember pre-1857 freedom fighter Veerapandiya Kattabomman, Tamil Nadu

KATTABOMMAN The Better India
Chira Chaitanya
Earlier I posted brief articles on  some of the freedom fighters popular during the great Indian rebellion of 1857 that had set the first major stage for the exit of the English rulers who exploited the Indian lands and the native Indians among which there was  no semblance of unity, drifted apart by  the scourge of caste, creed, religion, etc.  Far beyond 1857, there were many unsung freedom fighters in the southern India  who refused to be ruled and cowed down by the foreigners and their supremacy and arrogance. Only in the past few decades, wide publicity was given to their exploits.   Though, the natives  lacked sophisticated war machines and huge army, they had high motivation and fighting quality to stand against the mighty British army  to save their land and the honor and dignity of the people. Among them,  Veerapandiya Kattabomman, a local chieftain who fought against the East India's military till he was put to death by them, first comes to our mind.  Queen velu Nachiyar and Marudu  brothers made valid contribution to free the natives from the foreign rule.  During this election period, it is good to remember Kattabomman,  great patriot/ warrior whose family members got killed during the struggle against the English company.  
Chieftain Kattabomman 1760-1790 www.kattabomman.org

Originally from the present day Andhra Pradesh ("Salikulam") ,  Veerapandiya Kattabomman's parents were  Jagaveera Kattabomman and Arumugathammal. Born on 3rd January 1760. he had two younger brothers Duraisingam and Dalavai Kumarasami and both were early freedom fighters.  Hailing from the  village of Panchalankurichi in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu, Kattabomman  was one of the heads of Palayakarar
(Polygar) community. At the age of 30, on 2 February 1790, he became a local ruler - 5th in the 
Kattabomman clan.

The East India company, began  their  successful land grabbing spree starting from Bengal (then the most productive region) in the 18th century under the direction of Robert Clive who said: “We have at last arrived at that critical period, which I have long foreseen; I mean the period which renders it necessary for us to determine whether we can, or shall, take the whole to ourselves.”—Robert Clive, 1765 (Peers 101).
Panchalamkuruchim etc. TN railmapindia.blogspot.com

Inspired by Robert Clive and encouraged by the greedy British Crown,  his well-motivated later administrators  had carried on the British policy of ''divide and rule'' and annexed the Indian lands one by one. Now, they moved into the south, a huge ''open range''  that was up for the grabs.  The Nawab of Arcot  became a  poor prey to their  dishonest dealings and intrigues The Tango did not last long and having failed to repay the huge sum borrowed from the English company, the ruler of Arcot  gave them the right to collect taxes and levies from the southern region  to clear his debts. This was done to save his  honor and retain the title. The British, in return, bestowed the Arcot ruling clan with regular dole and grant of lands to keep the royal family going. The famous Arcot Diamonds were gifted away by the  Nawab's family to retain the British Crown's patronage.    

Though  other  chieftains in the south went along with the plan of British take over, Kattabomman, being highly individualistic did not like to pay taxes (Kisti) to the foreigners. He vehemently  opposed this proposal and refused to be subservient to the English company.  As a matter of fact, in the past, some Palayakarars refused to pay taxes to the Nawab as they had been the owners of the land for a pretty long time prior to the Nawabs' rule. The English company in the name of collecting taxes plundered the regions by their repressive methods and treated the natives and the chieftains with contempt.

Infuriated Kattabomman refused  to budge and finally war broke out between the English army led by  Major Banerman  and Kattabomman's army.  The British had better artillery power and war machines and, at last,  caused severe damage to the small fort of the local chief.  Kattabomman's General Vellaiyathevan got killed and Injured Kattabomman and his  associates  fled away from Panchalamkurichi to avoid arrest and punishment by the company's army. They after considerable wandering took refuge in the Thirukalambur forests near Pudukottai of Padukotta kingdom. They were at large for a long time and the the English company was on the look out for the chief and his aids in that part of Tamil region.  Unfortunately the ruler of the Pudukottai region Vijayaragunatha Thondaman could not do anything when the British army captured 
Kattabomman and his men. At stake were  his life and his kingdom and the title, so he remained mute in the capture of Kattabomman that took place  on 1 October 1799. 
1799 Kattabomman standing with the noose. thequoteunquote.com

Kattabomman was interrogated, for just name-sake, till 16 October 1799 by  the British. The  Kangaroo  court handed down the verdict after going through the so called war crimes committed by the chieftain.  The great warrior and early freedom fighter from ''Then Seemai'' was sentenced to public hanging till death. On 16 October 1799, he was hanged  under a huge tree at Kayathar near Tirunelveli town  Tamil Nadu. When the noose was down on the neck. Kattabomman, stood courageously and never lost his cool temperament.  Later, his fort was pulled down and his wealth was looted by the east India Company soldiers.

The EIC in the years 1798 and 1799 had a double header; they successfully eliminated two great opponents -Tipu Sultan of Srirangapatna, now in Karnataka  and Kattabommen of Panchalamkuruchi, Tamil Nadu. Thus the whole of Indian subcontinent became  crown's  proud possession of the British empire.  Thus India was  tricked to become a yoked cash cow to improve the  British economy manifold

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veerapandiya_Kattabomman
https://www.thequoteunquote.com/culture/436/Kattabomman-The-Ultimate-Warrior