Travelling again in time to the eras when India was dominated by the British, we recount numerous situations the place courageous men and women stepped as much as free the nation from centuries of subjugation.
It will be remiss, nonetheless, to recall these struggles with out understanding the way it all started.
The flourishing coastal city of Anchuthengu, or Anjego, was dwelling to what’s thought of the primary open and organised revolt in opposition to the unjust practices of the East India Firm — the Attingal Revolt within the yr 1721, which came about alongside the shores of Kerala.
Immediately, we hint the trajectory of this rebellion and what its impression was on India’s freedom wrestle.
Why did the Attingal Revolt happen?
Our story is centred across the 4 medieval kingdoms in Kerala — Kozhikode, Kolathunadu, Cochin and the Venad Royal Home. The pinnacle of the Venad Royal Home was the Rani of Attingal, Aswathi Tirunal Umayamma Rani.
Often called one of many most influential individuals of these occasions, it’s mentioned that she exuded energy in the way in which she dominated and even had an impartial military that she led by herself. She was additionally identified to be diplomatic and was thus capable of maintain the pursuits of the British at bay, whereas she dominated pretty over her folks.
It was throughout her reign that the British got here to Attingal in 1680, hoping to benefit from an abundance of spices, particularly pepper, within the area.
They wished to assemble inroads within the state and take management over the commerce of spices right here. This, they thought, would give them an edge over Dutch and Portuguese merchants, who had been additionally comparable goals and had already set their sights and commerce routes within the space.
So as to set up their dominance over commerce within the Attingal area, the British started convincing the Rani to provide them permission to construct a fort in Anchuthengu so they may perform the commerce from right here.
The Rani was of the opinion that this was a good suggestion as it could put an finish to the commerce by the Dutch. In 1694, she granted permission for the fort to be constructed.
Nonetheless, this had fairly the opposite impact as historian Sasibhooshan factors out.
“The corporate sought to nearly annihilate agriculture within the area, resulting in a drastic lack of livelihood for the widespread man. This, coupled with quite a few disdainful acts by the British who by no means misplaced a possibility to mock the non secular and cultural beliefs and practices prevalent among the many locals, angered the natives to such an extent that each Hindus and Muslims got here collectively underneath Kudaman Pillai to participate in an rebellion that later got here to be generally known as the Attingal Revolt.”
When the East India Firm entered the area and began commerce, they purchased pepper from the natives for a a lot lesser value than the Dutch, usually going to as little as Rs 5 for a quintal. They’d then promote the identical in Europe for Rs 500.
When the farmers realised this, they had been livid.
The primary open revolt in opposition to the British
The Nairs, Ezhavas and Muslims within the area got here collectively as one to revolt in opposition to the British.
When the Rani realised that the scenario was taking a flip for the more serious, she started to ship troops to the location to cease the British from establishing the fort.
Nonetheless, the locals had been defeated and the British made their footing firmer within the fort in addition to Attingal.
After this rebellion, the British started making life depressing for Indians within the area by insulting their faith, shopping for property across the Sarkaradevi Temple, humiliating the clergymen, and basically doing every thing of their energy to oppress the revolt. So as to add to this, Umayamma Rani handed away in 1698 and one other queen took cost of the area.
This was when the protestors determined that in the event that they couldn’t handle to battle the British with their abilities, they’d discover one other means.
And they also approached Kudaman Pillai — one of many feudal lords who belonged to the Pillai dynasty, which had their very own armies — who agreed to help them on this revolt.
This time, as a substitute of counting on their very own grit and ability, they had been educated by kalari (a type of martial arts) consultants known as in from the north and south. The locals had been able to battle again.
Sensing that they wanted to vary their technique, the British determined to ship an officer named William Gyfford to the Rani who had taken over after Umayamma’s dying, in a bid to win her over with costly items.
A feast turns right into a nightmare
Gyfford, with 132 males and an equal variety of slaves, set sail to Attingal to satisfy the brand new Rani. Nonetheless, whereas they had been approaching the banks of the Vamanapuram River, they noticed crowds gathering.
Gyfford mistook these protestors for individuals who had been ready to greet him. On reaching the palace, the British officer and his males had been served a feast they usually offered the Rani with perfumes and gold that they’d introduced her. Nonetheless, that very night time, the locals entered the palace and slayed the British till nobody was left alive.
Historians have expressed their ideas on each the significance of the revolt in addition to its brutality.
It’s mentioned that such was the character of the assault that Gyfford’s tongue was chopped into items and thrown into the river, whereas the water turned blood purple with our bodies. The British ordered the household of Kudaman Pillai to be decimated.
However one factor that historians are united on of their opinion is that the Attingal Revolt has not gotten as a lot consideration in historical past books because it ought to.
The explanation, says Sasibhooshan, is that “The British tried to underplay the incident as it could have an effect on their worldwide standing. The East India Firm would additionally discover it tough to get recruits from Britain if the magnitude of the bloodshed will get reported accurately. Then again, palace historians tried to downplay it as they had been nervous it could have an effect on the overseas commerce from Attingal.”
Despite this, right this moment a mural stands alongside Nationwide Freeway 66 in Thiruvananthapuram, that depicts the assault.
The murals is by college students of the Authorities High-quality Arts Faculty Thiruvananthapuram.
One of many artists, Ok S Ratheeshkumar, tells The Hindu, “There are hardly any writings concerning the Attingal Revolt, nor are there any pictures for use for reference. We did an intensive research of all of the obtainable materials from varied archives. We visualised it on this area with a large central arch, which is 25 toes at its central level, to depict the foremost occasions.”
This mural is an try to remind folks of the ferocity of the primary revolt in opposition to the British and to not have its legacy erased in time.
A large memorial for the Attingal Revolt of 1721, on its three hundredth anniversary by S.R. Praveen, Printed on 18 September 2021.
Attingal revolt was amongst earliest acts of resistance in opposition to British imperialism by Cithara Paul, Printed on 22 August 2021.
Edited by Divya Sethu