Self-immolation in Tamil Nadu against Hindi imposition

Self Immolation Against Hindi Imposition in Tamil Nadu (1965)

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 2004 (ID. 2004-01-01)

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1. Introduction

2. Honour Role

2.1 Kizappazuvur Chinnasamy (January 27, 1964)

2.2 Kodambakkam Sivalingam (January 26, 1965)

2.3 Virugambakkam Aranganathan (January 27, 1965)

2.4 Ayyampalayam Veerappan (February 11, 1965)

2.5 Satyamangalam Muthu (February ?, 1965)

2.6 Mayavaram Sarangapani (March ?, 1965)

2.7 Keeranoor Muthu (Date ?)

3. Unparalleled Valour, Ultimate Sacrifice

4. Please, No More Self-Immolations


DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

1. Introduction

January 25-26, 1965 marks the beginning of some historical events in Tamilnadu. A mass protest against Indian Government's Hindi imposition started in these days and continued for over two weeks. 

Every one who was killed, maimed or injured in these days of uprising against Hindi imposition is a Tamil martyr.. We bow our heads in memory of them, in respect of them. Life history of every one of them should be written and preserved. This article limits itself to the few who dramatically, and most gruesomely, demonstrated their opposition to Hindi imposition by self-immolation [that is, pouring kerosene or petrol (gasoline) over their bodies and burning themselves to death].

While we praise and stand in awe of the great sacrifices of these Tamil martyrs, we urge Tamil patriots not to commit suicide by self-immolation or by other means as a way to show our opposition to Hindi imposition.

2. Honour Role

We present here available information about these Tamil martyrs in the order of the date of their supreme self-sacrifice.

2.1 Kizappazuvur Chinnasamy   

Date of self immolation: January 27, 1964

Age at time of self-immolation: 27

Place of Birth: Kizappazuvur Village in Trichi District (Kizappazuvur is sometimes spelled as Keelappaluvoor)

Family: Only son of Arumugam (father) and Thangammal (mother). Married to Kamala.  Their only daughter is  "Dravida Selvi".

Other: Before committing self immolation, he wrote a letter to his brother-in-law, saying, "I plan to die in order to protect Tamil. Once day my goal will be met." As he was committing the act, he shouted "Tamil Vazhga! Hindi Ozhiga!" (Loosely translated: "Long Live Tamil! Down with Hindi!")

2.2 Kodambakkam Sivalingam

Date of self immolation: January 26, 1965

Place of self immolation: Railway Station near Kodambakkam, Chennai

Age at time of self-immolation: 21

Other: Lived in Viswanathapuram near Kodambakkam, Chennai. Worked for the Madras Corporation (Chennai City was called Madras City at that time). He wrote a letter before his death stating, "Udal mannukku, uyir Thamizhukku!" (My body to the soil, my life to Tamil!).

2.3 Virugambakkam Aranganathan

Date of self immolation: January 27, 1965

Age at time of self-immolation: 33 (date of birth: December 27, 1931)

Family: Third son of Oyalli (father) and Muniamma (mother). Was married and had three children.

Other: Lived in Virugambakkam, Chennai. Worked for the Telephone Department. He visited the site of Kodambakkam Sivalingam's self immolation the day before his own self immolation. Then he sent letters to the Indian Government and the Madras State Government condemning Hindi imposition. (Tamil Nadu State was called Madras State at that time.)

2.4 Ayyampalayam Veerappan

Date of self immolation: February 11, 1965

Age at time of self-immolation: 26 (born in 1938)

Place of birth: Udayampalayam, near Kuliththalai in Trichy District

Other: Worked as head master of Ayyampalayam school. The day before his self-sacrifice he wrote letters to Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Madras State Chief Minister Bakthavatchalam expressing his opposition to Hindi imposition. (Tamil Nadu State was called Madras State at that time.) 

2.5 Satyamangalam Muthu

Date of self immolation: February 1965 (specific date not available to author)

Age at time of self-immolation: 21 (born in 1943)

Other: He was a farmer from Satyamangalam in Coimbatore District. People of Satyamangalam honored him by taking his body in a massive procession for burial.

2.6 Mayavaram Sarangapani

Date of self immolation: March 1965 (specific date not available to author)

Place of self immolation: AVC Annathanapuram Group College grounds in Mailaduthurai

Age at time of self-immolation: 20

Other: At the time of self sacrifice he was second-year B.Com student in AVC Annathanapuram Group College in Mailaduthurai. He lit himself on fire shouting "Tamil Vazhga! Hindi Ozhiga!" (Loosely translated: "Long live Tamil! Down with Hindi!"). His last words as he died were "I have given my life to Tamil Mother".

2.7 Keeranoor Muthu

Date of self immolation: Not available to author

Age at time of self-immolation: 21 (born in 1943)

Place of birth: Suniakkadu Village in Pudukkottai District

Other: Lived in Keeranoor. Worked at a hotel.

NOTE: We have done extensive search for information in the print media and this is all the information we could compile. As usual all information presented here has been double-checked from at least two reliable sources.

3. Unparalleled Valour, Ultimate Sacrifice

These self immolations required great courage and love for Tamil beyond measure. To our knowledge this is the second time any people have committed self-immolation to right a political injustice. The first series of self immolations happened in South Vietnam just a few years before in 1963.  On June 16, 1963, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc immolated himself in Saigon, protesting religious persecution under the Diem regime of South Vietnam. A number of other monks immolated themselves in the months to come. Self immolations in Tamilnadu against Hindi imposition in 1965 are the second series of such acts.

While those committing self immolation in Vietnam were older, well-disciplined Buddhist monks with years of training in self-denial and self-sacrifice, those committing this supreme act against Hindi imposition in Tamil Nadu in 1965 were young men, ranging in age from 20 to 33, either workers or students, some single, some married, and some with young children. There is one thing in common: their love for Tamil and fear that Hindi becoming the official language of India would harm Tamil language and the future of the Tamil people.

4. Please, No More Self-Immolations

We stand in awe of the ultimate courage shown by these brave Tamil martyrs, and bow our heads in respect. But we urge that Tamil people should not commit any more self immolations against Hindi imposition. The supreme sacrifices of these martyrs have shown the whole world of our opposition to Hindi imposition and imperialism. Newspapers around the world, including influential ones like the New York Times of USA and the Times of UK, just to name two, reported the massive protest marches and demonstrations. We got world's attention but Hindi imposition still continues. The Diem government of South Vietnam fell within months of the self-immolations of Buddhist monks but, alas, the Indian government continues with Hindi imposition even after the extreme self sacrifice of the martyrs.

Threat to Tamil language and Tamil people because of Hindi being the official language of India is real.  Former Tamil Nadu State Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) General Secretary, late Mr. C. N. Annadurai put succinctly the impact of Hindi becoming the official language of India thus: 

"If Hindi were to become the official language of India, Hindi-speaking people will govern us. We will be treated like third rate citizens". (Anti-Hindi Imposition Rally, Chennai Marina (Madras Marina), April 29, 1963)

"Making a language (Hindi) that is the mother tongue of a region of India the official language for all the people of India is tyranny. We believe that it will give benefits and superiority to one region (the Hindi-speaking region).... This and future generations in non-Hindi areas will suffer immeasurable hardships... Making Hindi the official language of India would destroy the age old language and culture of Tamil Nadu". (Court Trial for burning the Constitution of India to show opposition to Hindi imposition, December 3, 1963)

So we have to put an end to Hindi imposition. But more self immolations are not necessary.

FIS060121X    2004-a1d

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