When organised struggle
for Indian Independence was launched by the Indian National Congress, under
the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi, several patriotic young men all over the
country were attracted to it. In Kerala too, many educated young men came
to the scene forsaking their comforts and jobs for fighting the cause of
K. Madhavan Nair
K. Madhavan Nair was the most prominent of such early freedom fighters of Kerala. Born in an ordinary family of Manjeri in South Malabar in 1882 he took his degree from Madras University and taught for some time in M.G.M. High School, Thiruvalla in the erstwhile Travancore State.
In 1909, Madhavan Nair took his law degree from Trivandrum Law College and started practice in Manjeri. He shifted his residence and practice to Calicut in 1915. Closely associated with the Home Rule league, Madhavan Nair became an active Congress worker. He was one of the four persons in Malabar to court imprisonment during Non-Cooperation Movement and organised relief work in Calicut for the refugees after the Moplah rebellion in 1921.
After Nagpur Congress session, when Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee was formed, he was elected as its first secretary and later its first president in 1925. He participated in all agitations including the Civil Disobedience Movement, boycott of foreign cloth, prohibition and Simon Commission Boycott.
He took active interest in Vaikom and Guruvayur Satyagraha
and served as Director of Guruvayur Temple Entry Referendum besides serving
for a term as a member of Madras Assembly. Along with his close associates,
Madhavan Nair founded the 'Mathrubhumi' newspaper and was its first managing
director. Gandhiji had often praised his earnestness, frankness, simplicity,
public spirit and integrity. Madhavan Nair expired on September 28, 1933.
K.P. Kesava Menon
Grandson of Raja of Palghat, K.P. Kesava Menon was born in Tharoor village of Palghat in 1886. He took B.A. degree from Madras University and Bar-at-law from Middle Temple. After setting up practice in Calicut, he joined the Indian National Congress in 1915 and served as the Secretary of the Malabar branch of the Home Rule League. He was a member of the Home Rule League Deputation under the leadership of Annie Besant which proceeded to London to present a memorandum to the Secretary of State in 1917.
He gave up practice to join the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1921. He became the Secretary of K.P.C.C. and did active relief work during Moplah rebellion. In 1923, he became the Founder-Editor of the 'Mathrubhumi'. He led the famous Vaikom Satyagraha in 1924 and was imprisoned for six months in Trivandrum Central Jail. Due to financial difficulties as a result of full-time political activities, he went to Malaya in 1927 to set up practice there. While in Malaya, he worked for the amelioration of the conditions of estate labourers of Indian origin.
When Ras Behari Bose organised the Indian Independence League in 1942, Kesava Menon became a member of its action committee. After Subhas Chandra Bose assumed the leadership of the Indian Independence League and INA and formed 'Azad Hind Government', Kesava Menon parted ways from INA due to difference of opinion with Subhas. Kesava Menon resisted the Japanese attempt to exploit the Indian freedom fighters in Malaya for their own benefit. Hewas arrested by the Japanese at Singapore, confined to solitary imprisonment and released after the Second World War . In October 1946, he returned to India and resumed the editorship of the 'Mathrubhumi'. Soon afterwards, he was appointed Indian High Commissioner in Ceylon,but he resigned the post due to difference of opinion
He worked for the formation of unified Kerala State
in his capacity as president of the Aykya Kerala Committee. Author of several
books in Malayalam, Kesava Menon returned the Sahitya Academy Award. He
was the first Executive president of Kerala Sahitya Academy and was honoured
by the President of India with the 'Padma Vibhushan'. He was considered
and respected by all as the 'Grand Old Man ' of Kerala. Till his death
on November 9, 1978 Kesava Menon served as the Chief Editor of the 'Mathrubhumi'.
George Joseph was one of the earliest Congressmen from the Christian Community in India.
Born in a Syrian Christian family of Chengannur in erstwhile Travancore in 1887, George Joseph graduated from Madras University and then took his M.A. and Bar-at-law from England. He set up practice as a lawyer in Madras and later in Madurai. Joining the Home Rule League, he soon became one of its leaders. He was a member of the Home Rule League Deputation to England which was turned back from Gibraltar by the British Government. and later also participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement.
He took over the editorship of the 'Independent' daily of Allahabad from by Motilal Nehru. For his sharp criticism of the British Government, in the columns of the ;Independent', George Joseph was arrested and imprisoned for sometime. After the release, he served as the Editor of 'Young India', as Gandhiji was then in jail.
He also took part in Vaikom Satyagraha and was imprisoned.
George Joseph was elected to the Central Assembly on Congress ticket from
Madras presidency and earned recognition as an able parliamentarian. He
lead the Abstention Movement of Travancore, and also helped the agitation
for responsible Government in the State. George Joseph expired on March
K. Kelappan popularly known as 'Kerala Gandhi' was born in an ordinary Nair family in Muchukunnu Village of South Malabar in 1889. He graduated from Madras University and became a teacher in the S.B. High School, Changanacherry. While in Changanacherry, he took up social work and was one of the founders of the Nair Service Society and became its first president. Resigning from S.B. High School, he became the Headmaster of the first school started by Nair Service Society. Later, he went to Bombay for legal studies, but left the law-college during the Non-Cooperation Movement. Returning to Malabar he started active congress work. During the Moplah Rebellion, he played a very heroic role disregarding his personal safety and tried to bring about peace and communal harmony.
He participated in Vaikom Satyagraha and was imprisoned. He took special interest in Gandhian programmes like uplift of the untouchables, propagation of Khadi and Hindi. For sometime he was editor of the 'Mathrubhumi'. It was he who led the famous Guruvayur Satyagraha.
On his release from prison after Quit India Movement, he became President of KPCC and ceaselessly worked for organising Congress activities in the whole of Kerala.Due to disagreement with the Congress leadership he, along with some colleagues, joined the Kisan Masdoor Praja Party(KMPP) led by Acharya Kripalani. In the general elections of 1952 Kelappan contested on KMPP ticket and was elected from Ponnani LokSabha seat.
After the five-year term in the Lok Sabha, he left
active politics and became a Sarvodaya worker and was actively associated
with Bhoodan Movement in Kerala. He established the 'Rural Institute' at
Thavanoor in Ponnani Taluq and was president of Harijan Seva Sangh and
Sarvodaya Sangh in Kerala. He expired in 1970.
Smt.A.V. Kuttimalu Amma
Smt.A.V. Kuttimalu Amma was a top ranking Congress leader of Kerala and a fearless freedom fighter. Born in Anakkara Vadakkath family of Ponnani taluq,S. Malabar, in 1905, Amma was drawn into the freedom movement in her youth. She and her husband K. Madhava Menon (former KPCC President and Minister in Madras State) actively participated in all movements of the Congress .
Kuttimalu Amma began her public life as an active Khadi and Swadeshi worker in 1930. She led batches of women volunteers and successfully conducted picketing of foreign cloth-shops in Calicut in 1931. During the Civil Disobedience Movement, holding her two month old baby in her arms, she led a procession of women, breaking the ban order in Calicut and was arrested and convicted for two years imprisonment.
When she reached the jail with her baby, authorities did not allow her to take the baby with her. Kuttimalu Amma insisted that she had every right to take her baby with her into the jail, quoting relevant rules. Finally, the authorities had to accede to her demand. In 1936, she was elected to the Madras Assembly. During individual Satyagraha in 1940, Kuttimalu Amma was arrested and imprisoned for a year. During Quit India Movement, she was detained for two years in the Presidency jail for women.
After her release in 1944, she took up the task of
organising Congress in Malabar and became KPCC President for a term. Kuttimalu
Amma had also served as a member of AICC and the Congress Working Committee.In
1946, she was again elected as a member of Madras Legislative Assembly.
She was Director of the 'Mathrubhumi' Calicut for some time. She expired
Muhammad Abdur Rahiman
Muhammad Abdur Rahiman was born at, Azhikode, Kodungallur in 1898, in the erstwhile Cochin State. He was educated at Veniyambadi, Calicut, Madras and Aligarh. He discontinued his studies at Aligarh University to participate in Non-Cooperation and Khilafat movements in Malabar. After the Moplah rebellion of 1921, he tried to establish peace in affected areas. Despite his efforts to pacify Moplah rebels, he was arrested by British authorities in October 1921 and sentenced to two years imprisonment.
For breaking Salt law on Calicut beach during Salt Satyagraha in 1930, he was brutally lathicharged by police, sentenced to nine months rigorous imprisonment and lodged in Cannanore Central Jail. Abdur Rahiman edited a nationalist daily ‘Al-Ameen’ from 1929 to 1939 from Calicut. The paper had to close down in 1939 due to repressive measures of the Government. Abdur Rahiman was a member of Calicut Municipal Council from 1931 to 1934 and the Malabar District Board from 1932. He was elected to Madras Legislative Assembly in 1937.
He became President of KPCC and a member of AICC
in 1939. Being an admirer of Subhas Chandra Bose, Abdur Rahiman associated
himself with the Forward Block formed by Subhas. When Second World War
broke out, he was arrested and kept in jail as a detenue from 1940 to 1945.
After the release from jail, he returned to Calicut and started active
participation in Congress activities. But he, untimely, expired on November
22, 1945 just after addressing a public meeting. Muhammad Abdur Rahiman
always opposed the two nation theory of the Muslim League. An able orator
and writer, he was a tower of strength to freedom fighters.
C. Kesavan (1891-1969) was one of the Triumvirate of Travancore State Congress leadership, the other two being Pattom Thanu Pillai and T.M. Varghese. Born in an ordinary Ezhava family of Mayyanad near Quilon on May 23, 1891,he studied in Quilon, Ernakulam and Trivandrum. For some time he worked as a teacher and then took a law degree from Trivandrum and started practice in Quilon.
He was influenced by the teachings of Sri Narayana Guru, Gandhiji and Karl Marx. He worked for temperance and eradication of untouchability and served as General Secretary of SNDP Yogam. From 1933 he was one of the prominent leaders of the Abstention movement of Travancore. Because of a speech he made at a public meeting in Kozencherry he was arrested on June 7, 1935, tried for sedition, and sentenced to two years imprisonment.
Kesavan took an active part in organising Travancore State Congress and became a member of its Working Committee. During the agitation for responsible government in Travancore, he was arrested several times. During Quit India Movement in 1942 Kesavan was sentenced to one year simple imprisonment and was released on July 19, 1943.
After Independence Kesavan was elected to Travancore
Assembly and became a member of the first cabinet headed by Pattom Thanu
Pillai, but resigned after few months. Kesavan became Chief Minister of
Travancore-Cochin in 1951 and was elected to State Assembly in 1952. He
expired on July 7, 1969 at Mayyanad.
T.M. Varghese was born at Pallikkal, Mavelikkara
in erstwhile Travancore State in 1886. He was an eminent lawyer who was
drawn into the agitation for responsible government. A prominent leader
of the Abstention movement of Travancore, he was elected from Pathanamthitta
Constituency to the Travancore. Legislative Assembly and becameits Deputy
Speaker. He pressed for the demand of responsible government in Travancore
Assembly in 1938. As a founder and Working committee member of the State
Congress, Vargese guided its activities for a decade. During 1938-1943
he was arrested several times. After Independence, Varghese became a member
of the Cabinet headed by Pattom Thanu Pillai. With integration of Travancore
and Cochin he became speaker of Travancore-Cochin Assembly in July 1949.
He later became a Minister in the Cabinet headed by A.J. John .Varghese
breathed his last on December 31, 1961.
E.Ikkanda Varrier was born in 1890 in a feudal family of Edakkanni Variyam ,Ollur, near Trichur. He was the grand-nephew of Dewan Sankara Varrier , the 'Builder of Modern Cochin'. While studying in Madras Law College, Ikkanda Varrier met Gandhiji and the meeting proved to be a turning point in Varrier's life. After taking Law degree Varrier started practice in Trichur.
As Chairman of Trichur Municipal Council, Varrier did a lot to improve the civic life of Trichur. He was elected to the Cochin state Legislative Council for four terms. As the second president of the Cochin State Prajamandal, he worked strenuously for establishing responsible government in Cochin State. An active Khadi worker he led the campaign for foreign cloth boycott and participated in all the movements under the auspices of the Congress. He was imprisoned for an year during the Quit India Movement.
In 1948 elections, he again became the leader of
Prajamandal Legislature Party and was appointed Prime Minister of Cochin.
An able administrator, Varrier worked for the improvement of agriculture
in Cochin state and was responsible for starting many irrigation and power
projects in the state. After Travancore-Cochin-integration, Varrier continued
as Food and Agriculture Minister of State. Later he resigned his post and
left active politics. He became a Sarvodaya worker and was active
in Bhoodan Movement. He expired on June 7, 1977.
S. Neelakanta Iyer
Born in a poor Tamil Brahmin family of Chittoor in old Cochin State in 1889, Neelakanta Iyer graduated from Madras University and was later employed in the Revenue Department at Madras. His meeting with Gandhiji in 1915 was a turning point in his life and he resigned from his government job and according to Gandhiji's advice took B.T. degree and started teaching. While serving in various schools in Cochin and Malabar he was associated with the freedom movement. Whenever Gandhiji toured Kerala, Neelakanta Iyer accompanied him.
In 1930, he participated in Salt Satyagraha and was
arrested at Calicut during Civil Disobedience Movement and imprisoned for
six months. When the Cochin State Prajamandal was formed, he was elected
as its first president and worked in that capacity for many years. He was
arrested by Cochin Government and imprisoned in 1941. During Quit India
Movement, Iyer was arrested while addressing a public meeting in Trichur
for breaking the ban order and was imprisoned in Viyyur Central Jail for
several months. He became president of the Prajamandal for the second time
when Prajamandal merged into the Indian National Congress. Neelakanta Iyer
worked as the organising Secretary of Harijan Seva Sangh and participated
in the agitation for temple entry.He established the Vyasa College of Wadakkancherry
. Neelakanta Iyer expired on June 1, 1971.