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All those years ago

C.K. Subramania Mudaliar and his wife Meenakshi Sivakavimani played a significant role in the freedom movement

August 15, 2014 08:22 pm | Updated 08:22 pm IST - COIMBATORE

C.K. Subramania Mudaliar's home on Vysiyal Street. Photo: K. Ananthan

C.K. Subramania Mudaliar's home on Vysiyal Street. Photo: K. Ananthan

C.K.Subramania Mudaliar (1878 - 1961 ) is well known for his treatise on Periya Puranam . However, he was also a patriot who supported the freedom movement from his student days. Thanks to his Tamil teacher S.Thiruchitrambalam Pillai, CKS took to a number of patriotic activities. When Swadesamitran G.Subramania Iyer came to Coimbatore, CKS and his friends wanted to take him in a procession. They borrowed a cart and physically pulled it around town. They made him deliver his wonderful address in the drama shed belonging to Sheikh Hussain Sahib. They participated in several meetings addressed by Surendranath Banerjee and also Bipin Chandra Pal in Madras.

Later, the lawyer CKS joined the boycott of foreign goods by adhering to the clarion call of Aurobindo Ghosh and V.O.Chidambaram Pillai who was popularly known as the Kappal Ottiya Tamilan. He was involved in the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company and when Chidambaram Pillai was incarcerated and put in the Coimbatore prison, CKS fought with the authorities and brought to light the sufferings endured by him. A grateful V.O.C Pillai named his third son as Subramaniam and his daughter as Meenakshi after the patriotic CKS couple. T.S.Viswanatha Pillai and K.N.Rangaiya Gounder were CKS’ accomplices and the secret police followed them continuously for three years.

C.K.S used patriotic songs to carry out his propaganda during those days. He was always enamoured by the magnetic speeches of Bipin Chandra Pal. His wife Meenakshi was very supportive and stood shoulder to shoulder with him in the Independence struggle.

C.K.S was a Municipal Councillor and also the Vice Chairman of the Coimbatore Municipality for some time. He used to correspond with patriots such as Lala Lajpat Rai and Aurobindo Ghosh regularly. During those eventful years, one Ash Durai who happened to be the Sub-Collector of Tuticorin constantly troubled the nationalists. Vanji Iyer shot dead Ash Durai at the Maniyachi railway station and then killed himself with the same gun. The authorities suspected a plot behind this violent incident and interrogated the famous Neelakanta Bramhachari and a few others. In a statement, Neelakanta Bramhachari disclosed that he had made a visit to Coimbatore where he stayed in the house of C.K.S. He further added that he received money from C.K.S.

The secret police rushed to Coimbatore immediately and searched for material evidence relating to this allegation and also interrogated C.K.S. But, they were unable to make any headway. His wife Meenakshi, who was the daughter of a Zamindar from Gangavalli near Attur was present throughout the incident. Later, on the11th of August 1914, the secret police once again paid a surprise visit to the residence of CKS on Vysial Street while he was attending a case in the court and said they wanted to search his house thoroughly. While they waited for CKS to return from the court, his wife Meenakshi quickly took all the correspondence relating to the freedom movement which included letters from Lala Lajpat Rai and destroyed them. On his return from the court, the secret police searched the house well into the late hours of the night but were unable to unearth any evidence about the freedom struggle that would implicate C.K.S. Seeing the stern secret police on her doorstep on a cold and dimly lit August night must have been quite scary. But the petite Meenakshi saved the day with her courage and presence of mind. This incident took place exactly a hundred years ago. This precious story pertaining to our freedom struggle is but a remainder of the great sacrifices made by our patriots in order to redeem our country from bondage and usher in liberty.

Rajesh is passionate about his city and is always looking for ways of documenting its history

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