Photo exhibition spotlights local heroes of freedom struggle

P. Arumugham at ASI’s photo exhibition in Tiruchi on Monday..

P. Arumugham at ASI’s photo exhibition in Tiruchi on Monday.. | Photo Credit: NAHLA NAINAR

P. Arumugham, 98, makes a finger gun sign as he says, slowly, “I was trained to use a pistol.” The veteran, who returned to India in the 1970s after spending decades as an expatriate worker in Myanmar (then Rangoon/Burma), was among a small group of invitees to a photography exhibition featuring lesser known figures of India’s freedom struggle conducted by the Tiruchi Circle of Archaeological Society of India (ASI) at its Main Guard Gate office premises on Monday.

Held as part of Independence Day celebrations, the exhibition displayed photographs of 60 men and women from Tiruchi district who had done their bit for the country’s emancipation from British rule. The pictures were captioned with details of their achievements, culled from official and family sources.

Mr. Arumugham is the Tiruchi district president of the Freedom Fighters Association. The biographical note accompanying his picture reveals that the nonagenarian joined Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army when he was a young lad of 18 in Burma. “I have kept the speeches given by Netaji safely; he would speak in ‘Roman Hindi’ [Hindustani], which had Hindi and Urdu vocabulary. I can still converse in it,” Mr. Arumugham told The Hindu.

Incarcerated for six months by the British authorities in Burma for participating in the INA’s campaigns, Mr. Arumugham worked in Burmese railways before resettling in Tiruchi’s Malaikottai area in 1977.

Among the other noteworthy personalities featured are Syed Murtaza Sahib, who helped to organise the visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Tiruchi; and Musiri resident K. Venkatarama Iyer, an electrical engineer at the Mettur Dam who took part in the Salt Satyagraha.

“Finding out the details about these remarkable men and women has been an uphill task because much of the information has been reduced to bare data in prison or pension records. Most of the family members have not preserved anything from this period,” said ‘Kungumam’ Sundararajan, the Chennai-based documentary filmmaker who put the photo exhibition together.

Mr. Sundarajan said that he had met at over 7,000 families across Tamil Nadu for his project, and was releasing sections of it according to the region. Similar events have already been held in Sivaganga and Pudukottai districts. “So far I have collected around 6,000 photographs. In Tiruchi district, there are 270 persons who took part in the freedom struggle, but their particulars are arriving in fits and spurts,” he said.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Rajya Sabha member Tiruchi N. Siva, in the presence of T. Arun Raj, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Tiruchi Circle.

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Printable version | Sep 5, 2022 9:11:33 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/photo-exhibition-spotlights-local-heroes-of-freedom-struggle/article65771912.ece