Tamil Tribune

16. Marshal Nesamani and the Formation of Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu

Chapter 16
"Political History of the Rise and Fall of Dravidian Parties in Tamil Nadu (South India)"

Thanjai Nalankilli, Ph.D.

TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 2017 (ID. 2017-05-01)
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DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

TTNC -Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress

In the mid-1950s, Tamils living in the erstwhile Travancore-Cochin State in the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil area wanted to separate from Travancore-Cochin and join Madras State. We will refer to the mostly Tamil speaking parts of southern Travancore region as Kanyakumari-Nagercoil area in this article. 

The agitation for the "Tamil areas" to separate from Travancore-Cochin and join Madras State was spearheaded by Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress (TTNC) headed by A. Nesamani. This was the dominant political party in the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil area. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which had only limited presence in this area, also participated in the agitation under the leadership of Nanjil Manoharan. Travancore-Cochin State government, headed by Chief Minister Pattam Thanu Pillai, ordered police to suppress the demonstrations and protest marches. Large numbers of people, including some local DMK leaders and volunteers, were arrested. Police also lathi-charged demonstrators in several places (lathi is a type of police baton made of wood). Police opened fire on demonstrators on August 11, 1955 in Marthandom, Kuzhithurai (Kulithurai) and Thoduvatti; seven people died.

There were similar agitations in other parts of India too demanding the formation of linguistic states. A reluctant Indian government finally agreed and linguistic states were formed on November 1, 1956. Travancore-Cochin became Kerala for the Malayalam speaking people (Malayalis) and Madras State boundaries were redrawn for Tamil speaking people. Kanyakumari-Nagercoil area became Kanyakummari District (Kanya Kumari District) of Madras State. Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress (TTNC) merged with the Congress Party.

[Notes: (1) Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu after DMK came to power in the state. (2) A. Nesamani went on to become a member of parliament (MP) later. Nesamani is also spelled as Nesamany, Nesamony and Nesamoni.  Some called him Marshal Nesamani because of his leadership of the Tamil speaking people of Travancore-Cochin. (3) Nanjil Manoharan went on to become a Tamil Nadu State minister several years later.]


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