This short story is based on true incidents which occurred in the past [Link to Wikipedia article]. But the same has been embellished with my own interpretation of events and subsequently I don’t claim for a 100% accuracy as far as retelling history is concerned. This short story is essentially a work of fiction and needs to be treated as such.
Since the time he was born in 1904 in Chennimalai, Kumaran had heard and seen only ‘bad’ Britishers. By around 1918, Mahatma Gandhi wrested the Indian independence struggle out of the hands of a elite few freedom fighters and handed the movement over to the Indian masses. Even a 14 yr old Kumaran then knew that the Mahatma was the one person who had it within him to take the fight to the Britishers albeit in a completely unheard of unconventional non-violent manner. Given the fact that Kumaran adored the Mahatma and what he stood for, he was extremely influenced by these methods by the time he was a teenager.
In 1920 Gandhi launched the first civil disobedience movement in support of the Khilafat as well as for Swaraj (self rule). Kumaran actively participated in the rallies, meetings and protests that were held in Tirupur. By this time, he was also in the process of forming the Desa Bandhu Youth Association in Tirupur with a few of his friends. This association would function with the single aim of actively participating in all protests, movements and rallies that Mahatma Gandhi would call for. Their aim would be to non-violently fight for Indian struggle from the British colonialists.
The next ten years were long and hard for Kumaran. All the years of organizing rallies, protests had taken its toll on his health and physical well being. That being said his brain was still active, energetic and constantly working away at trying to figure out what the most effective non-violent way of overthrowing the British Raj in India.
His ‘self anointed guru’, Mahatma Gandhi had in the last 10 yrs made decent progress in terms of negotiating with the British by sheer will of the public support he enjoyed in India. However, when the second Round Table conference with the British ended in failure in December 1931, Gandhiji came back to India and launched the second civil disobedience movement.
By now, the Indian National Congress had also adopted the tricolor as the flag of independent India and encouraged the rest of the country to recognize it in the same manner as well. During the protest rally being held in Tirupur as part of the civil disobedience movement, Kumaran was at the forefront of the crowd, proudly holding the flag in his hands.
The British Govt had officially proclaimed this flag as illegal and therefore the police in Tirupur asked Kumaran to hand over the flag and peacefully disperse. When Kumaran refused to do so, the policemen, seated on their horses assaulted the crowd.
Despite the numerous painful blows that Kumaran took to his head and various other parts of the body, he refused to let go of the Indian flag. While a majority of the crowd retreated unable to bear the severe beatings that they were getting at the hands of the British, Kumaran steadfastly stood his ground. Although he was brought down to his knees and then was made to lie down on the ground due to the force and frequency of the lathi blows, he refused to let go of the Indian flag.
He dared to “stand out from the crowd” in terms of the fact that he refused to be intimidated by physical violence and refused to cow down to the British violence.
He held on to the Indian flag until the last breath was drawn out from his lungs and he succumbed to his injuries.
Even today in Tirupur, Tamilnadu, his memorial is situated in a road named after him, Kumaran Salai. The Govt has also erected his statue in a park near Tirupur Railway Station. The Govt of India has also released a postage stamp in commemoration of his sacrifice to the nation. Such stories of the ordinary Indians who fought and sacrificed a lot for our freedom need to be told and retold so that future generations appreciate the benefits of such freedom.
Image courtesy: Google images search for ‘Tirupur Kumaran’
This post was inspired by today’s Daily Prompt – Standout.
This post has also been guest posted at 1 Hundred works.