CHENNAI: Veteran Communist leader R Nallakannu (96) has been chosen for the Thagaisal Thamizhar Award of the Tamil Nadu government for 2022. Centenarian CPM leader N Sankaraiah was the first recipient of this award, which was introduced by the DMK government last year. Chief Minister MK Stalin will present this award to Nallakannu during the Independence Day celebrations on August 15. The award carries a purse of Rs 10 lakh and a citation explaining his role in the freedom struggle.
Nallakannu was born on December 25, 1925, in Srivaikuntam to Ramasamy and Karuppayi, who were farmers. He completed his SSLC from Coronation School in Srivaikuntam and continued his intermediate course at Thiravium Thayumanavar Hindu College in Madurai. However, due to his political urge, he could not complete his course.
Nallakannu began his fight against British rule at the age of 11 (1936). He was 12 when he canvassed votes for the Congress in the 1937 elections. He joined the Communist party in 1944 and started working for the Jana Sakthi in Chennai. During that period, he exposed the hoarding of 2,000 bags of rice in Srivaikuntam and the then Collector seized them.
Nallakannu was instrumental in farmers of Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts rising against the Adheenams and Mutts in Ambasamudram, Sivagiri, Puliyankudi, Tenkasi and Nanguneri. At one point, Nallakannu was assaulted for his involvement in farmers' issues. After the Communist party was banned in India in 1948, Nallakannu was arrested in December 1949 and was tortured in jail. He was 29 when was awarded life imprisonment but was released in 1956 after undergoing seven years of imprisonment.
He married Ranjitham on June 5, 1958, in Tirunelveli. He continued to take part in farmers' agitations. In 1985, after stiff opposition from his side, the then government gave up the efforts to establish a racecourse ground near Courtallam falls. He also authored books on the historical incidents in the life of poet Subramania Bharathi, a biography of B Srinivasa Rao, books on land reformation, and temple lands, and about his visit to East Germany. He served as secretary of the State Council of the party for 13 years.