I first came to know about Kizhavenmani incident through the novel Kurudhippunal written by Indira Parthasarathy. I read the novel when I was 20 and was shocked. In the introduction there was this information that the novel was based on the Kizhavenmani incident. If you are a Tamil who reads only Vikatan/Kumudam/Kalki you would have hardly heard about this.
In 1967, the agricultural labourers of Tanjore (Thanjavur) District formed a union in order to get better working conditions. Communist leaders Maniammai and Srinivasa Rao were instrumental in this. They raised the red flags in the villages. The landlords formed their separate union with yellow flags.. The negotiations broke because the landlords refused to accept the labour's requirement of additonal half a portion of rice. In the meanwhile two labourers from Kizhavenmani were whipped by the landlords and that led to the final incident.
On Dec 25, 1967 the landlords army entered the village and started firing. The labourers retaliated. A riot was on. Women and children ran helter skelter and took shelter in Ramiah's hut at the end of the village. 48 people in a hut of 8ft x 5 ft. The door was locked from outside and the hut set on fire. 6 people rushed out, of which two were thrown back into the fire. A mother threw her child out, but the killers threw the child back in. By the time Police came and opened the hut 44 people were burnt. 14 women and 22 children included. The doctor from Nagapattinam said he couldn't identify who was who.
(Facts from Sep 2004 issue of Pudhiya Parvai, link via Boston Bala, Tamil Blog).
Newspapers wrote it is a Shame to the Nation. The same headlines that were written for 1984 massacres and Godhra massacres. We are probably a nation of shameless people. 106 people were arrested and after 7 years the Supreme Court released them, I think due to lack of evidence.
When I first learnt about this I was shocked to say the least. I enquired my dad and he said he had some vague recollections, my mother didn't remember it at all. Out of the bloggers I have asked about this, only Lazy Geek had heard about this. This is one of those incidents that has been forgotten collectively by majority of Tamilnadu.
But there are people who haven't forgotten. Last week a documentary of this incident named "Ramaiaah's hut" was released by an organisation called The Roots. I read about it today from Madhumithaa's Tamil blog. The DVD/VCD versions are available with them.
DVD Rs. 350.00
CD Rs. 250.00
Rs. 30.00 for postage within India.
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