Kerala has always been an asset to India, and people from our tiny state have gone on to make a huge impact on the fate of the country. This Independence Day, let’s look at a few Malayalis who took part in the Indian Independence Movement.
Here are some of the most prominent freedom fighters from Kerala.
K. Kumar (1894 – 1973)
K. Kumar was an orator, reformer, and writer. He was one of the first socio-political leaders to bring Gandhi’s message and the spirit of nationalism to Travancore. He was the President of the Travancore Congress Committee and played a leadership role in various agitations for freedom like the Salt Satyagraha at Kozhikode, foreign cloth boycott and picketing at Alleppey, Vaikom Satyagraha, and so on.
K. Kelappan (1889 – 1971)
Popularly knows as the “Kerala Gandhi”, K. Kelappan was a founding member and president of the Nair Service Society. He is popularly remembered as a social reformer, freedom fighter, journalist, and educationalist. He and K. Kumar were one of the first people in Kerala to remove the suffix in their names that implied their caste-status.
A.V. Kuttimalu Amma (1905-1985)
Anakkara Vadakkathu Kuttimalu Amma was a freedom fighter, social worker, and politician. She was part of major freedom agitations like the Swadeshi Movement, the Civil Disobedience Movement, and the Quit India Movement. She was arrested multiple times and imprisoned for years at stretch. But she never stopped working for the freedom movement and remained politically active; going on to serve on the All India Congress Committee and the Congress Working Committee, and get elected to the Madras Legislative Assembly twice (1936 and 1946).
Accamma Cherian (1909-1982)
Accamma Cherian left her teaching job in February 1938 to join the newly formed Travancore State Congress. She played a major role in the Civil Disobedience Movement and even led a rally from Thampanoor to the Kowdiar Palace of the Maharaja Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma to revoke a ban on State Congress. When the British chief of police ordered to shoot at the rally, she is said to have asked them to shoot her first as she was their leader. On hearing this, Mahatma Gandhi conferred the title of “The Jhansi Rani of Travancore”.
Mohammed Abdur Rahiman (1898 – 1945)
Mohammad Abdur Rahman was a freedom fighter and a leader of the Indian National Congress. He participated in the Salt Satyagraha of 1930 and was lathi-charged, and sentenced to nine months of rigorous imprisonment in Kannur Central Jail.
Vakkom Moulavi (1873 – 1932)
Vakkom Mohammed Abdul Khader Moulavi, popularly known as Vakkom Moulavi, was a social reformer, teacher, scholar, journalist, freedom fighter and newspaper proprietor in Travancore. He was the founder and publisher of Swadeshabhimani, which was banned and shut down by the Government of Travancore in 1910 due to its criticism against the Government and the Diwan of Travancore, P. Rajagopalachari.
Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai (1878 – 1916)
K. Ramakrishna Pillai was a journalist, editor, and political activist. He was an editor at Swadeshabhimani, and it was his criticisms of the Diwan that led to the newspaper getting confiscated by the state. He was arrested and exiled from Travancore in 1910.
Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (1908 – 1994)
Vaikom Muhammad Basheer admired Gandhi, who he saw at Vaikom Satyagraha. He went on to join the Congress and later went to Kozhikode to participate in the Salt Satyagraha. He was arrested there and served a period in prison. On being released, he organised an extremist movement and edited the revolutionary journal Ujjivanam (Uprising). When a warrant was issued to imprison him, he left Kerala. He returned 7 years later but was arrested and imprisoned.
V. K. Krishna Menon (1896-1974)
V. K. Krishna Menon established the India League in 1928. The India League was a Britain-based organisation that campaigned for the full independence and self-governance of India, and was the most influential and successful organisation in Britain during the 1930s and 1940s to fight against British imperialism. Post Independence, he served as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, India’s representative to the United Nations, and Minister of Defence. He wrote the first draft of Preamble to the Constitution of India, initiated the idea of Constituent Assembly of India, and is considered the architect and coined the term Non-Aligned Movement.
Krishna Menon was once asked whether India would prefer to be ruled by the British or the Nazis, he famously replied, “(one) might as well ask a fish if it prefers to be fried in butter or margarine.”
We know that there are many more who have contributed to our country’s struggle for freedom. If you know of other Malayali freedom fighters, please tell us in the comments below.