50th Anniversary of Language Warriors: A Look Back

Published: 19th January 2015 12:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th April 2015 12:47 PM   |  A+A-


MozhiPOR.jpgIn the run up to the golden jubilee of what is popularly known as ‘Mozhi Por’ (language war) in Tamil Nadu, we look back, rekindling memories of the series of events that changed the course of the State’s socio-political history. On January 25, 1965,  Tamil Nadu saw its entire student community coming out to the streets, bringing normal life to a standstill, to protest against Hindi being made the ‘official language’. Of course, that was not the first anti-Hindi protest. Such agitations had been happening on and off with people even killing themselves, at least since 1938 when the uprising effectively prevented Hindi from being made the ‘language of education’. That protest in 1938, spearheaded by Periyar E V Ramasamy, is also referred to as the ‘First Mozhi Por’ by many. But the 1965 agitation assumes significance because it was primarily a students’ movement, which also dealt a mortal blow to the then ruling party, the Congress, which is yet to recover from it. It also enabled the DMK, which pushed for the Tamil cause, to capture power in 1967 and led to the ushering in of the two-language system in schools. There are two theories as to why the showdown was planned for January 25, 1965. The first was that January 26 that year marked the completion of the 15-year time frame given at the time of India becoming a Republic for switching over to Hindi as the official language and since that day was a government holiday, the students decided to mobilise the crowd the previous day. The second was that it marked the first anniversary of the martyrdom of Keezhapazhur Chinnasamy, who set himself on fire at Tiruchy for the cause of Tamil in 1964. Express reporters and correspondents seek to make sense of the movement by reconstructing the various events relating to the agitation by talking to surviving leaders and relatives of martyrs.

Language_T.jpgTotal Recall

Looking back at the ‘Mozi Por’ (Language War), carrying the memories of series of events that changed Tamil Nadu’s social and political history. The language war went all around the state that had students, politicians, social activists as warriors. The ‘Mozi Por’ has started ever since 1938 by Periyar E V Ramasami which is also referred to as the ‘First Mozhi Por’ by many.


L-Ganesan.jpgBeach, Hostel Hot spots

It was an unprecedented surge of student power on Chennai’s beach road. With the slogan Hindi Oliga, Tamil Vaazhga (Down with Hindi, long live Tamil) rending the air, the atmosphere was charged with linguistic ferver on 25 January, 1965, recalls L Ganesan, the prime force behind the mobilisation of the student protest.


Chinnasamy.jpgTiruchy Martyr Whose Death Gave Birth to Student Protests

Hailing from Keezhapazhur, now in Ariyalur district, Chinnasamy set himself on fire in the early hours of January 25, 1964 (exactly a year before the Mozhi Por was launched) in front of the Tiruchy junction railway station, shouting the slogan, “Down with Hindi, long live Tamil” all along the way.


Jayaprakasam.jpgNot a Single Congress Flag flew after Hacking


Jayaprakasam, a poet and writer, says Tamil scholars, teachers and students actively participated in the agitations throughout the State.


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50th Anniversary of Language Warriors: A Look Back

Beach, Hostel Hot spots

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