Social Scientist. v 12, no. 136 (Sept 1984) p. 33.

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The Struggle for Proletarian Hegemony9. A Short Note on Freedom Struggle in Kerala

"WE THOUGHT that the (English East India) Company is composed of people of integrity and loyalty to allies and that they would not cheat us. We therefore permitted them to erect a fort at Anjengo and settle themselves there. Believing in their loyalty and friendship we fought Tippu Sultan and made alliance with them. Subsequently however, it was proved that friendship with them was a source of danger to us."

These are the words in which Velu Thampi, the former Dalava (Diwan) of Travancore, prefaced his famous Kundara declaration of 1809 explaining his revolt. The anti-British rebel and former Dewan of Travancore, however, was defending not only the rights of his former

• lord and master, the feudal chief of Travancore. He was rousing the mass of the people—the very downtrodden masses mainly belonging to oppressed castes—against the foreigner. His proclamation contiuned:

"If resistance is not offered at this stage to what they are attempting today, our people will be put to such sufferings as cannot be borne by human beings. If they are allowed to use traditional methods of trickery to bring our country into their han^s, they will put sentries over and control every place including the palace; stop all the traditionol honour to our rulers as well as the traditional usages of temples and Brahamin houses; bring every article including salt into their monopoly; measure every plot of land and every house-site and levy excessive land tax, coconut tax etc; inflict barbarous punishments for slight offences; put the Christian Cross and their flag on temples;

violate the chastity of Brahmin ladies and introduce all other customs that are contrary to our religion. In order that such misfortunes not occur in our country, that the royal Dharma may be preserved, that our country's traditional way of life is saved from destruction, we should do all that is humanly possible and leave the rest to the will of God. Thus have we started our resistance to the company."1

The revolt of Velu Thampi in Travancore thus had all the ingredients of the first stage of India's freedom movement whi^h assumed

*General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist).

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