Chief Minister responds to request from Kadambur Raju, Kovilpatti MLA
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday told the Assembly that a memorial (manimandapam) would be erected at Kayathar, where Veerapandiya Kattabomman, a freedom-fighter who opposed British imperialism, was hanged to death.
“No one can forget Kattabomman’s patriotism and sacrifice. My government will construct a manimandapam in Kayathar,” the Chief Minister said while responding to a request by Kadambur Raju representing the Kovilpatti constituency.
Kattabomman, the Palayagar or Poligar of Panchalamkurichi, who resisted the British, was captured and hanged at Kayathar in September 1799.
British office Colonel James Welsh in his memoir Military Reminiscences had said the “southern Poligars, a race of rude warriors, habituated to arms and independence, had been but lately subdued, and those of Panjalumcoorchy, were the hardiest and bravest of the whole.”
“While their chiefs were condemned to a perpetual and ignominious imprisonment, the fort of Panjalumcoorchy was ordered to be razed to the ground, with some others of less note,” Welsh had said. Veerapandiya Kattabomman faced the gallows gracefully and his only regret was captured in the words of Major Bannerman, who led the East India Company’s Army against Panchalamkurichi and later oversaw his hanging.
“When he went out to be executed, he walked with a daring air, and cast looks of sullen contempt on the poligars to his right and left as he passed. On reaching the foot of the tree in which he was hanged, he regretted that he left his fort in the defence of which it would have been better for him to have died,” Bannerman said in his letter to the Tirunelveli Collector.
Colonel Welsh has special words for Umaidurai, Kattabomman’s brother, whom he called Dumby or Dumb Brother.
“He was a tall, slender lad, of a very sickly appearance, yet possessing that energy of mind, which, in troubled times, always gains pre-eminence. The Oomee was adored; his slightest sign was an oracle, and every man flew to execute whatever he commanded. No council assembled at which he did not preside; no daring adventure was undertaken, which he did not lead,” Col. Welsh said.
During one campaign against Umaidurai, the British suffered heavy casualties, and sent a flag of truce to the fort, to entreat permission to remove and inter their dead.
“This was kindly and unconditionally accorded; and we then collected the disfigured and gory bodies, and buried them in the evening, with military honours: the enemy, setting us a bright example of humanity, made not the smallest attempt to disturb us, and we enjoyed a good night's rest,” Welsh said.
His words also summed up the greatness of Panchalamkurichi warriors. “Indeed 20,000 Panjalumcoorcheers would have been invincible in his country,” he said after the defeat of the Marudu brothers.