|Part of communist movements in Travancore against the Prime Minister|
Memorial of Punnapra-Vayalar uprising martyrs located near Kalarcode, Alappuzha
|Kingdom of Travanore||Laborers in Punnapra and Vayalar
Communist Party of India
|Commanders and leaders|
|Sir. C. P. Ramaswami Iyyer|
|Casualties and losses|
|Minor deaths||More than 1,000 people dead(Unconfirmed)|
The Punnapra-Vayalar uprising (October, 1946) was a communist uprising in the Princely State of Travancore, British India against the Prime Minister, Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer and the state. Common men with slogans such as "chuck the American model into the Arabian Sea" fought against the Prime Minister in Punnapra and Vayalar, killing 200 people at Punnapra on October 24 and killing more than 150 at Vayalar on October 27. The total loss of life is estimated to be more than a thousand.
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|History of Kerala|
The interpretation of this incident is still debated. The Communists in Kerala maintain this as a struggle for freedom against the oppression of the state by the Diwan. Some individuals argue this was neither an uprising or a liberation struggle. They suggest certain Communist leaders instigated the coir workers belonging to the Ezhava community to wage a war against the then administration led by C. P. Ramaswami Iyer. T K Varghese Vaidya, a leader of the struggle, had even gone on record saying it was a rehearsal for a larger revolution with the ultimate objective of establishing a "Communist India".
In 1946, Iyer, the Diwan of Travancore, proposed constitutional reforms which the Communists opposed saying its for the creation of an "American model" of Executive in Travancore. The Communists opposed this move with the slogan "American Modal Arabi Kadalil" (chuck the American model into the Arabian sea). The region around Alleppey was a Communist stronghold and the communist workers organised a mass upheaval in October 1946 against the authority of the Diwan, and practically established their own government in the region. This led to attacks and deaths of Travancore police officials and government officials in that region.
Dismayed by the turn of events, the Diwan declared martial law in Alleppy on October 25, 1946. The Travancore army moved from their camp and surrounded the communists at Vayalar by 27 October. The Travancore navy supported the army in isolating Vayalar, which is surrounded by water on three sides. Once the blockade was in place, the army moved in.
It is estimated that at least 150 people were killed on the spot during the army's pincer movement on October 27, and many more succumbed to injuries later. On the same same day, at least 130 people were killed in army firings, elsewhere in the district. The local people and press maintain that many more people were killed and the bodies disposed by the army. Historians like A. Sreedhara Menon estimates that over a thousand people were killed during the Punnapra-Vayalar outbreak.
Atrocities were not one sided, and there are reports of murders of Travancore policemen after they had surrendered to the communists, during the early stages of the disturbances. Police Inspector Velayudhan Nadar had moved forward to reason out with the communists, but he was brutally stabbed to death. This hardened the stance of the police and the armed forces. Following the suppression of the communist local governments, the Travancore police used heavy-handed methods to repress the political movement in the region and detained many activists without any trial.
The killings of communist comrades turned the Communists and even many non-communists totally against Iyer. When, on June 3, 1947, United Kingdom accepted demands for a partition and announced its intention to quit India within a short period, the Maharaja of Travancore desired to declare himself independent.
Supported by the Diwan, C. P., Chithira Thirunal issued a declaration of independence on June 18, 1947. As Travancore's declaration of independence was unacceptable to India, negotiations were started with the Diwan by the Government of India. Family sources indicate that C. P., himself, was not in favour of independence but only greater autonomy and that a favourable agreement had been reached between C. P. and the Indian representatives by July 23, 1947 and accession to the Indian Union could not be carried out only because it was pending approval by the Maharaja.
Nevertheless, an assassination attempt was made on C. P. by a Brahmin youth named K.C.S. Mani who was an activist of the Socialist group led by N. Sreekantan Nair on July 25, 1947 during a concert commemorating the anniversary of Swathi Thirunal. Ramaswami Aiyer survived with multiple slashes on his face and neck and the attack hastened the accession of Travancore state to the Union of India soon after his recovery.
- Manorama Yearbook 2011, ISSN 0970-9096
- Dominique Lapierre, Pg 260
- Dominique Lapierre, Pg 261
- A. G. Noorani (2003). "C.P. and independent Travancore". Frontline 20 (13).
- Sir C. P. Remembered, Pg 111
- Sir C. P. Remembered, Pg 112
- Sir C. P. Remembered, Pg 113
- K. N. Panikker (April 20, 2003). "In the Name of Biography". The Hindu.
- "Punnapra Vayalar uprising can't be part of freedom struggle".
- "Punnapra Vayalar uprising a historical blunder". The Hindu (Chennai, India). June 8, 2008.
- "Punnapra Vayalar revolt".
- Sreedhara Menon. Sir C.P. Thiruvithamcore Charithrathil (in Malayalam).
- Prof. A. Sreedhara Menon. A survey of Kerala History.
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