Friday, April 3, 2015

Regai Recounts Kallars’ Fight Against Draconian Act During the Colonial Era

The historical struggle of subaltern groups against the Colonial government in Southern Tamil Nadu has rarely been touched upon by local historians. Even those events that came to light in the recent years were distorted by fringe political groups, which gave a communal twist to them.
In an attempt to recall one such struggle, an independent documentary filmmaker, Dinakaran Jai of Sivaganga, has documented the struggle of the Piramalai Kallars against the Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) enacted in 1871, which resulted in 16 Kallars, including a woman, being shot dead at Perungamanallur near Usilampatti in Madurai by the British Police.
Speaking to Express about his documentary film Regai, (fingerprint) on the eve of 101th anniversary of the Perungamanallur incident which happened on April 3, Dinakaran Jai, a Tamil graduate, said he stumbled upon the Kallars’ struggle against the draconian CTA when he read a book on Maruthanayagam from Ramanathapuram. “When I searched for history books to learn more about the struggle, I couldn’t find any research work on it,” he said. He then spent nearly three years searching for colonial documents in Tamil Nadu archives to gather verbal information about how the Piramalai Kallar community members were subjected to various forms of punishment by the Colonial government for revolting against the CTA. “Originally, the Colonial Government introduced the CTA in 1871 classifying many subaltern communities, tribes and nomads as criminals, and forcefully restricted their movement within the villages. These restraints by the British police forced the Kallar community people to take out a march from Perungamanallur to Thirumunagalam on April 3, which ended in the police firing, said Dinakaran
The Colonial government amended the Act in 1911, 1924 and 1944. However, it was repealed after various leaders including George Joseph, U Muthuramalinga Thevar, Varadararajulu, the then Adi-Dravidar Minister Muniaswamy, fought against it, said Dinakaran.

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