DMK

15. Dalmiyapuram - Kallakudi Agitation (1953)

Chapter 15
of
"Political History of the Rise and Fall of Dravidian Parties in Tamil Nadu (South India)"

Thanjai Nalankilli, Ph.D.

TAMIL TRIBUNE, June 2014 (ID. 2014-06-01)
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Table of Contents of the book "Political History of the Rise and Fall of Dravidian Parties in Tamil Nadu (South India)"and links to other chapters

OUTLINE

1. Background

2. The Agitation

3. A Partial Victory

4. A Few Final Words

1. Background

Dalmiapuram was a small town near Lalgudi in Tiruchi District. The original name Kallakudi was changed to Dalmiapuram to honor the north Indian industrialist Dalmiya who set up a cement factory there. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) orators thundered from platform to platform that naming a town in Tamilnadu after a north Indian industrialist was an insult to Dravidians. DMK decided to launch an agitation to change it to the original name Kallakudi. 

2. The Agitation

On July 15, 1953 protesters pasted papers with the name "Kallakudi" on name boards painted with the name Dalmiapuram at the railway station. As the protest was going on, a train arrived at the station around 10 AM. Karunanidhi and four others laid on the railway track in front of the train. At no time was there any danger to them from the train. There was a large crowd participating or watching the demonstration and everyone knew that the train driver would not run over them. It was a symbolic gesture. Police arrested the five. A second batch of protesters laid on the rail track in front of the train at 11:30 AM. 26 were arrested. A third group of about 40 led by Kannadasan laid on the track around 2:00 PM. This time police lathi charged the demonstrators (beat with police batons). People watching the protests shouted against the lathi charge. Since the lathi charge did not disperse the crowd, police opened fire and ten people were injured. Two train passengers, who had nothing to do with the protests, were also hit and died. Karunanidhi and the four others arrested with him were later sentenced to five months in prison and a fine of 35 Rupees each. Many of the others arrested were sentenced to two months in prison and 55 Rupees of fine each. Most of them, including Karunanidhi, chose not to pay the fines and spent one more month in jail. Karunadhi became a hero at this agitation and his popularity within the party rose. He was called "Kallakudi Veerar" (warrior of Kallakudi or hero of Kallakudi) because of his leadership of the agitation.

Dalimiyapuram agitation did not end with July 15. The agitation continued on a smaller scale for one hundred days more under the leadership of C. P. Sittarasu. None were arrested during this time.

3. A Partial Victory

Indian and Madras State (former name of Tamil Nadu State) governments refused to change the name. Years later after DMK won the 1967 election and came to power in the state, the name Dalmiapuram was changed to Kallakudi with the consent of the Indian government. Only the railway station and the nearby areas are called Kallakudi. The location of the cement factory (Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd.) and surrounding areas are still called Dalmiapuram Town and recognized as such by both the state and central governments.

4. A Few Final Words

Unlike the agitation against caste-based education (see Chapter14) or the anti-Hindi imposition agitations, the Dalmiapuram - Kallakudi agitation did not have a burning root cause or a lasting impact on Tamil Nadu. Yet this rather "unimportant" agitation became front-page news and a prominent event in the history of Dravidian parties because of the dramatic lying down before the train and the subsequent high-handed police actions.


EDITORIAL NOTE: Some Tamil names are spelled differently by different people. Here are some variations of names used in this chapter:

Dalmiapuram - Dalmiyapuram, Dalmiya Puram, Dalmia Puram
Karunanidhi - Karunanithi
Lalgudi - Lalkudi
Tiruchi - Thiruchi, Tiruchirapalli, Thiruchirapalli, Trichi

FIS140528

 

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