Sri. Muthu Ramalinga Thevar, a great visionary and nationalist, Tamil Nadu

The southern belt of Tamil Nadu has produced a galaxy of freedom fighters. These highly spirited people scarified their entire lives to free India from the British yoke. Their approach was different, but their aim was the same - freedom. Sri Muthu Ramalinga Thevar of Pasumpon was s shining star among them. Being extremely rich, he devoted  much of his his life to India's freedom, later to the welfare of the people in his area. In spite of his stature and respect he enjoyed in the society, he led a simple life and followed the path of dharma and righteousness till the end.

"Those who have conquered themselves…live in peace, alike in cold and heat, pleasure and pain, praise and blame…To such people a clod of dirt, a stone, and gold are the same…Because they are impartial, they rise to great heights"
                                                          ........   Bhagavad Gita.

   "Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber".
                                                             ........   Plato

Muthuramalingam Thevar (30 October 1908 - 30 October 1963), also known as Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar, was an Indian political leader of great repute and is still being revered  in Tamil Nadu, in particular, in the south. He was a true nationalist and till his death patriotism was his hallmark.  Every year "Thevar Jyanthi", a 3-day ceebration (October28 to 30) is celebrated in his native place with dedication and devotion. Once a close associate of Subash Chandra Bose (January 1897 – 18 August 19450), a great  Indian nationalist, freedom fighter and founder of Indian National Army (INA),  Mr. Thevar was no nonsense leader, a  man of word, guts and wisdom. He was humble to his mistakes and at the same time never lost sight of  others' mistakes  and  tried to get them corrected. 

A highly respected leader among other  party leaders, he joined the All India  Forward Bloc Party (AIFB) started by Bose and became its leader in Tamil Nadu. He was also  the national deputy chairman of the party from 1952 on wards, a coveted position in his party.  He was elected thrice to the  parliament in Delhi in the general elections, representing his constituency.

Born in the village of Pasumpon, Ramnad district, Thevar was  the only son of Ukkirapandi Thevar, a wealthy landlord and his wife  Indirani Ammal. Because of unexpected family situation, motherless Thevar was under the custody of his maternal grandmother Parvathi Ammal  in the neighboring village of Kallupatti. He studied at the the Pasumalai High School (near Thirupparankundaram) and then at the Union Christian High School in Madurai. He could not pursue his high school studies after 1924 because of Plague outbreak.
The Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) of 1871 was introduced by the British Raj in the aftermath of elimination of notorious bands of thuggee (roadway robbers) by 1870, operating in the northern states. Over centuries, these  murderous bands of thuggee were responsible for killing more than 2 million innocent travelers with out blood shed. Unscrupulous  and  no remorse, these vicious bands maintained utmost secrecy just like the American mafia groups or the Mafiosi of Palermo, Sicily and the only method  they used   to kill people was by  strangulation. Their aim was money. The group members acted in unison and many of them came from tribal communities. 

Location map. Pasumpon village, TN

The colonists were at a loss to find out  their  places and mode of operation.   It took a while for them  to suppress the mobs. It was  Sir William Sleeman (8 August 1788 - 10 February 1856) who finally put an end to this unsolved menace when William Bentinick was the Gov. General of India.  The CTA  was enforced by British India to cut down criminal activities of some tribes across India. The identity of the tribes was a critical problem  and, unfortunately,  many innocent  tribal groups who had nothing to with these mass murders, were affected by this  act. 

In the Madras Presidency, 19 Maravar villages were forced to register under the CTA and Mr. Thevar vehemently opposed  this draconian act. The Justice party was in power in the Presidency then, their refusal to revoke the CTA caused resentment among leaders like Thevar. In the wake of this refusal, in 1936 he decided to strengthen Indian National Congress (INC) in this region so that he could fight the CTA with support from the Congress.

In the 1937 election Congress came to power and Thevar won the election from Ramanathapuram constituency and his opponent was the Raja of Ramnad. Again. it was a disappointment for Thever, because the ministry headed  by C.Rajagopala Chari  failed to revoke the CTA.

Sri. Muturamalinga Thevar had  an abiding faith in the welfare of the working class in companies, factories, etc. In those days the workers did nor receive adequate salary to make a  decent living and their condition was pathetic. There was no such a thing called "health care" for the factory workers. For certain types of hazardous works, the factory management did not give them protection. Nor did they compensate the worker in case of occupational death. In the 1930s Thevar became  an effective  labor leader, fighting for their just demands with the company managements. His deft handling of the labor problems won him laurels. In 1945, he became the founding president of the TVS Thozhaili Sangam. Earlier in 1938, he solved the labor dispute in the Mahalakshmi Mills amicably.

At the national level, there were intra-Congress squabbles and in March 1939 in the 52 annual session of the Indian National Congress held in Tripuri (Madhya Pradesh), when Bose  re-elected the President of the INC, later  he was forced to resign the presidency of Congress despite support from leaders like Thevar. Nehru and other leaders formed a separate faction.   Subbash Chandra Bose at last resigned the post and started the Forward Bloc on June 22, 1939. Sri Muthramalinga Thevar followed suit and joined the Forward Block Party.  He was quite apprehensive, that the Congress party had failed to revoke the Criminal Tribes Act (ACT). under which  lots of  innocent tribal communities were classified under this act and subject to scrutiny without any legal implication. This time he he did not like the way Bose was forced to leave the elected post. When Nethaji visited Madurai, Sri Thever gave him a rousing reception to a man who dedicated his entire life  to  free India from the British yoke.

Sri Thevar with Subbash Chandra Bose,

Sri Thevar whole heartedly supported the Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act  passed by the government of  C. Rajagopalachari in 1939.  Late Sri A. Vaidyanatha Iyer, a leading legal luminary in Madurai, Gandhian and close friend of Rajaji,  on 8 July 1939  successfully entered the famous Madurai Meenkshi temple with a group of  Dalits and Shanars. As  Sri. Thevar gave a severe warning to those who opposed the temple entry by low caste people, the first event of this kind in Tamil Nadu went off without any protests from caste Hindus. The patriots from Madurai  created history in their struggle against the untouchability in this nation. This shows how Mr. Thevar was solidly against the caste discrimination  then prevalent  in certain parts of Madras Presidency.

Mr. Thevar, then had begun to focus his attention on workers' union activities in the 1930s.  His active participation in labor problems  irked some of the factory owners and this led the government authorities to put a hold on his mobility and further involvement.  Consequently he was jailed for 18 months at Tiruchirapalli. Till 1945 he had been frequently jailed under various pretexts and this invited widespread condemnation across his region. Sri Thevar was instrumental in reelecting K. Kamaraj as the President of TNCC. 

In the  March 1946 Madras Presidency election Thevar won the election from his Muthukalathur constituency. In the same year  Criminal tribes  Act of 1871(CTA) was finally withdrawn. In 1948, the Forward Block became an opposition party and Sri Thevar became its undisputed leader.  He held this covetous position for the rest of his life. When Nethaji Bose was found missing toward the late 1940s (while flying over South China Sea?), it was a severe blow for Thevar. Bose's body had never been found since then. His death (in an air crash in Taihoku near Taiwan?) in August still a puzzle and not yet solved. Some theories were afloat that his plane was sabotaged over the South China Sea. 

In 1952  and  1957  elections Mr. Thevar won  both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections; indeed a great feat.  Again in 1962, he was nominated for the Lok Sabah  election.  Subsequently, because of his poor health, he could not function fully as a parliamentarian  and on 30 October 1963, on this 55th birthday he expired.

The sterling quality  of Sri Thevar was, being a had-core freedom fighter, he was a  true nationalist and was against imperialism and communism. He never supported the idea of linguistic chauvinism, parochialism and separatism.  He strongly believed in united India. Being a  staunch Hindu (lord Muruga, his favorite deity), following the path of dharma as enunciated in the Bagavat Geeta, he hated the atheist elements in this state that were ant-national, openly anti-Hindu, ever hurting the sentiments of Hindus and Tamil culture.
On October 22, 2002, a life-size statue of Sri. Thevar was unveiled in the Parliament House  by the then President of  India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.