Remembering the fallen heroes of 'Chingam 17 Revolution'
The ‘Chingam 17 Revolution’ of 1938 is perhaps a forgotten episode of the freedom struggle. The martyrs of the revolution, who demanded ‘Responsible Governance’ in Travancore, remain almost unknown to the present generation and unrecognised by the political administration.
In an attempt to bestow due-recognition upon the revolutionary episode, the cultural organisation Sarga Sahiti and Lakshmana Nagar Residents Association, at Asramam here, will commemorate the martyrdom of the six persons killed in police firing here in 1938. The Martyrdom Day will be commemorated on September 2 (Chingam 17 this year). The massive protest meet held by the Travancore State Congress, seeking ‘Responsible Government’, at the Cantonment Maidan here on Chingam 17, 1114 (September 1938), is termed as a reverberation of the Civil Disobedience Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi.
Hundreds of people lined up on the day from Polayathode to Chinnakkada, led by State Congress leaders, including Kumbalathu Sangupillai and C Kesavan, amidst a huge posse of police force.
They assembled at the maidan to hear those designated by the State Congress to give the Civil Disobedience speech, including M G Koshy, P G Varghese and K Sukumaran (founder editor of Kerala Kaumudi). The police arrested the speakers and opened fire on those assembled. According to ‘History of Modern Kollam (1995)’, by late journalist V Lakshmanan, even though six persons were killed in the firing, only four could be identified. The deceased were identified as Asramam Lakshmanan, Ayathil Balakrishna Pillai, Kolloorvila Moideenkunju and Kureepuzha Kochukunju.
“The police cremated the bodies without showing them to family members. The circumstances were so terrible that the family members were scared even to seek the mortal remains of the deceased,” V Lakshmanan notes.
The book also quotes the brother of deceased Lakshmanan as saying that his family was given land at Chathannoor after a ‘Responsible Government’ came to power, but mediators cheated them off the land. The Lakshmana Nagar Residents Association was formed in 2001 in memory of the martyr, at his birthplace in Asramam.
Sarga Sahiti state general secretary Attoor Sarachandran said that they were trying to contact the participants or relatives of participants of the Chingam 17 Revolution, as part of the commemoration.
“We are planning to turn the Martyr’s Day commemoration into an annual event,” he said.