Friday, November 9, 2012
That he was not. Never an onlooker and not often benign. For most of his life, Muthuramalinga Thevar was an active fighter, whether it was for having to write his school exams - the plague epidemic of 1924 putting a stop to that, or for claiming his inheritance of ancestral property. Getting into politics early, Muthuramalinga Thevar organized protests against the Criminal Tribes Act, a draconian piece of legislation that stigmatized entire communities.
In the process, Muthuramalinga Thevar joined forces with the Congress. But in the Bose vs Sitaramayya fracas, he threw his might behind Bose and subsequently followed him into the Forward Bloc. He was quite close to Netaji; close enough for his claim that he had met Netaji in 1950 to be taken seriously. Thevar - by now known as Pasumpon after the village where he was born - had disappeared for close to a year in 1949-50 and it was speculated that he had visited Netaji in China during this period.
Although most of his political activity was in and around Madurai, he was considered an important enough person for his statue to be erected on Mount Road, where Chamiers Road meets it. With that road being renamed after him, he does look on more kindly at the passers-by from his vantage point!