Category Archives: Paravar Personalities

Our Heroes – III

We have two articles on the freedom fighters from our community already.
One was on 15 th August 2012 by me , narrating the part played by our revered J.P. Rodriguez who formed a native army to fight against the British, A.S.Benjamin of Amalinagar, who participated in the salt inspecto attack, and the Jathi Talaivar in the days of Kattabomman who supplied Gun powder and remained close to the rebels against the British.

The other article titled OUR HEROES –11 was based on the article penned by Vinoth Netaji Fernando in the souvenir brought out on the occasion of Golden Chariot of Our Lady on 5th August 2000.This was uploaded in our website on 2nd September 2012.

In his article he mentioned, besides the three, mentioned in the article dated 15th August 2012, seven freedom fighters.They are
1.Jermiah Fernandez
2.Chelliah Fernandez,
3. Valerian Fernando,
4. Eromier Fernando,
5.T.A. Fernando,
6. Peter Morais,
7. Masilamani Fernandez.

We have come across two more names belonging to our community in the Tuticorin Gazeteer in the List of Freedom Fighters of Tuticorin District, which we thought, we should bring to the knowledge of our readers. They are
1.Viagulam Fernando L.F. of Tuticorin who participated in Salt Satyagraha 1930 and
2. Vincent Fernandez of Tuticorin who took part in Civil Disobedience Movement 1930.
Let us remember and salute these heroes, today,- OUR Republic Day.



Neidal U. Anto , Tuticorin, has brought out a festschrift on J.L.P.ROCHE VICTORIA on the occasion of his 50th memorial day that fell on October 15th 2012.
The introduction to this book has been given by two eminent persons— Vareethiah Konstantine of Nagercoil, and Prof. Fatima Babu of Tuticorin.

113The observations of Vareethiah Konstantine deserve to be noted and seriously considered by our readers. In a rough translation , it runs like this;– ‘’The fall of a society is the direct result of forgetting its past or its history. To lift up a fallen society , the only and the most appropriate way is to remind that society its history.

How are we to remind a society its past, its history ?
It is by collecting epigraphic evidences,
It is by collecting documents,
It is by collecting palm leaf references,
and in the absence of all these,
It is by collecting oral and folk traditions and placing these for their knowledge, before the society.

Not only by these alone one can remind a society of its past. The past can be made known to a particular society
by celebrating its leaders;
by trumpeting their identities; and
by extolling local leaders and their achievements as symbols of resurgence of their society.

He further adds that the seashore villages need to dust off their History; and should read them. They should celebrate their leaders who gave themselves up in the cause of lifting them up.

If these – viz. reading their own history and celebrating their leaders were to happen – then there would be resurgence of the presently, fallen sea -shore communities and societies; which would further provoke them to bid for their political rights.

Prof. Fatima Babu ,who in her remarks has bemoaned the slip the community – which once could boast of wealth, culture etc– had suffered in the recent past , prescribes the study of biographies of stalwarts of our community as the remedy for the ills ,our society suffers from.

So, study of history of our community and biographies of our stalwarts at macro and micro level are important for the community to get out of the slough in which it finds itself today.

It is to fulfill this , Neidal U. Anto, a well known teacher, writer, and speaker from Tuticorin has penned this book on Chevalier JLP Roche Victoria.To his credit, it should be said that he has written already a biography on Rao Bahadur Cruz Fernando.

The author has coverd JLP’s ancestory, his early education, his role in the freedom struggle, his concern for the fishermen his social activism, his political role in pre as well as post independence era, his business acumen and success, and his contribution to Tuticorin port in the most presentable form.

While giving a summary of his writing , we underscore the observations of Vareethiah Konstantine and Prof. Fatima Babu and request serious reflection.


The elementary school education of JLP was at St. Xaviers, Tuticorin between 1906 and 1908;his High school education was at St. Joseph’s,Trichy; and College education was at St. Aloysius , Bangalore, between 1914 and 1917; and professional education in Commerce was at Davar’s college, Mumbai. While at college ,he was very good at Tennis and was felicitous in the use of English language in conversation –skills that helped him later in public life.


In business he excelled his contemporaries. . Starting as a partner in F.X. Pereira and Sons, in 1922, he became an agent of Scindia Steam Navigation company for Tuticorin in 1922, itself, and rose up to be the most important Agent handling Export and Import in Tuticorin port within two years of his induction at the port.

His success goaded him to start Pereira and Roche in 1944 which became an important entity later in various Ports in India. It started handling ,–Shipping Corporation of India. B.S.N. line Bombay, and Kothari Chemicals. The success in these ventures brought for him the Directorship of East India Steam Navigation Company. In 1947, he became the Director of the Enterprises (INDIA) Ltd and became a Member of the Governing body of Indian Mercantile Marine Training ship(Dufferin) Bombay. Besides these avocations connected with ships and ports, he became a Director of the Enterprises India Ltd, Tinneveli Tanneries Ltd, Tuticorin Salt Refineries Ltd. He planned a chemical factory in Meelavittan and did preparatory works but had to abandon it due to certain unhealthy competition by a rival company.


He effectively participated in the Indian freedom movement by financing , and by physically participating in the various agitations and by confabulating with various leaders.Though he was an important business man, he did not hesitate when many notable businessmen hesitated to align themselves with the freedom movement. He was considered by the freedom fighters so important that even Gandhiji used to come and halt in his house when ever he sojourned at Tuticorin.


He believed in Gandhi’s dictum that the progress of India lies in its villages and took Gandhi’s advise on rural development so seriously that in 1944 in one of his villages, MANGALAGIRI he established rural industries like Piggery, Poultry, Cattle farming, Tannery, Papermaking, Handlooming,etc and trained rural folks much before independent India thought of Block Development Schemes. Not only did he contend himself with starting such industries, but he took pains to provide market for them by organizing exhibitions for sale of goods produced. He also ran a MONTHLY called GRAMA INDIA in Tamil and English , and published many essays of Gandhiji—especially of economic nature.


He , in the company of Joseph Sebastian Miranda and a few others founded the BHARATHA MAHA JANA SANGAM in 1920 and established branches whereever the Bharathas lived. He was very active in the organization and also organized the youth wing of the Sangam in 1922 to provide training to youth to lead. In 1932 ,he presided over the Bharatha Mahajana Sanga Manaadu in Rajakkamangalam, and organized the Bharatha Lady’s Conference also at Rajakkamangalam and got it presided over by his wife Mary Pereira. The most important job of the Sangam was to encourage education among the Parava children by offering scholarship, and by conducting Summer Classes. Realising the damaging role played by in the lives of Paravas, he organized an Anti Liquor Group . He was keenly interested in adult education, and in supporting marriages of hapless.

He established the Fisheries Technological Institute at Tuticorin in 1942 and desired inculcation of new methods of Fishing . Anticipating the troubles that might engulf traditional fishing methods and industry, he introduced training in various facets of shipping industry. He also believed that the youth should not rely only in fishing and sea trades and gave training in various rural industries in his Mangalagiri project.

On 5-8-1960, in a consultative meeting of the community he delivered a speech, which reveals clearly his deep love for the community. He regrets the indifference of the community to avail themselves of the opportunities offered by the Government. He feels sad that the community had not whole heartedly grabbed the aadvantages that flowed from the Government Special Schemes for the fishermen as in laying of roads to our villages , of construction of our houses,of building of vallams, of accepting subsidized fishing equipments nets etc. He also passionately pleads for Government grants for scholarship to our children.

Much before Gandhi thought of Prohibition in 1930, Chevalier JLP in 1922 started an organization called THE BAND OF HOPE into which he encouraged people to join after taking an oath that they would not touch liquor. For implementing this scheme, he consulted the American prohibitionist DR. PUSSEY FOOT JOHNSON .He also took the wise counsel of Poet . M.P. Mascarenhas and conducted serious propaganda against drinking.

He was interested in getting our people to be literate. Towards this , he took a lot of pains. He consulted many stalwarts and finally pitched upon Dr. FRANK .CLAWBACK of Phillipines and got his advice and started ADULT EDUCATION programme in Tuticorin—mind you much before the Government thought of such a project! ONLY, IN 1970 THE GOVERNMENT ADULT EDUCATION PROJECT CAME TO BE IMPLEMENTED but JLP brought this system in 1935 itself. Dr. FRANK .C. CLAWBACK of Phillipines visited Tuticorin thrice– in 1935, 1938, and in 1939 — and reviewed the implementation and progress. In recognition of the services he renderedin this field , he was appointed the President of Tamilnadu Adult education Board and Vice President of All India Adult Education Board.


He was the pioneer of Scout Movement in Tuticorin. He believed , a disciplined set of students is a dire necessity for the progress of the Nation, hence he started the Scout Movement in 1937 and fostered it firmly. His service was so good that the All INDIA SCOUT MOVEMENT awarded him the “THANKS BADGE”.


To make Tuticorians understand SIR C.V. RAMAN , the NOBEL LAUREATE, he conducted an exhibition on RAMAN EFFECT.


A. He was one of those who organized
1.The Gymkhana Club of Tuticorin.
2.The Indian Officers Club of Tuticorin.
B. He was the founder, Secretary and Treasurer of Rotary Club of Tuticorin. He was the Rotary Governor of South India and Ceylon.
C. He was a Member of the Senate of Madras University.
D. He was a Member of the Central Government Fishery committee.
E. He was President or Chairman of the following organizations.
1. Tinnevely District Co-Operative Central Stores.
2. Tuticorin Milk Co-Operative Society.
3. Tuticorin Co- Operative Bank.
4. Mangalagiri Egg Marketing Society
F. He was vice chairman of Tuticorin Port Trust..
G. He was a member of the Central Government Fishery Committee.
H. He was also an active member of reconstruction committee, 2nd world war.


He was the chairman of Tuticorin Municipality from 1926.He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1937 , 1946, 1952. He was Minister for Food and Fisheries between 1949 and 1952.


Recognising the yeoman services, JLP rendered to communities, His Holiness puis XII raised him to be a knight of St.Gregory in 1952. Hence he is a Chevalir.

What brims uppermost in my mind when I finished reading ANTO’S book on JLP, is that JLP was an unique personality who aspired for the good of every one; and God abundantly blessed him in his life time to shine bright in the firmament. May we have many more of his ilk!.

It used to be said that Bernard Shaw’s Prefaces are more important than the plays he wrote. May I say that the introductions given by VAREETHIAH KONSTANTINE and PROF . FATIMA BABU to the book are as important as the book by NEIDAL . U. ANTO.

by A.X Alexander

“சென்னை-புன்னை” – Dr.P.M. ரெக்ஸ் M.D.

வரலாற்றுப் பெருமைமிக்க புன்னைக்காயலில் செவாலியர் T.R.பிஞ்ஞேயிர, திருமதி.ரொசாரியம்மாள் பர்னாந்து தம்பதியின் தலைமகனாகப் பிறந்தவர் Dr.P.M.ரெக்ஸ் பிஞ்ஞேயிர M.D.T.D.D., F.F.I.M., F.C.C.P., (USA) F.I.C.A (USA) பால பருவத்தில் இலங்கையில் வாழ்ந்தார். பின்னர் தூத்துக்குடி புனித சவேரியார் உயர்நிலைப் பள்ளியில் S.S.L.C வரை படித்து பின்னர் சென்னை லொயோலாக் கல்லூரியில் படிப்பைத் தொடர்ந்தார். அதன்பின் சென்னை ஸ்டான்லி மருத்துவக் கல்லூரியில் பயின்று M.B.B.S பட்டம் பெற்றார். சிறப்பு மருத்துவப் பயிற்சிக்குப் பின்னர் T.D.D (Diploma in Tuberculosis) பட்டம் பெற்றார். மருத்துவப் படிப்பைத் தொடர்ந்து M.D. பட்டமும் பெற்றார்.

112சென்னை, ஸ்டான்லி மருத்துவ மனையிலே கெளரவ (Honorary) மருத்துவராக பணியாற்றினார். நெஞ்சுநோய்ப் பிரிவில் முதன்மை மருத்துவராக (Chief in Chest Department) ஆக 20 வருடமாக சிறப்புடன் பணியாற்றி, நெஞ்சுநோய், ஆஸ்த்துமா ஆகிய நோய்களுக்குச் சிகிச்சை அளிப்பதில் தனிமுத்திரை பதித்து, மக்களின் பாராட்டையும் நன்மதிப்பையும் பெற்றார்.

சிறப்பு : சென்னை ஸ்டான்லி மருத்துவ மனையிலே பணியாற்றிய போது “Allergy” – என்ற ஆங்கிலப் பதத்திற்கு, “ஒவ்வாமை” எனும் தமிழ்ச் சொல்லைத் தந்த பெருமை – Dr. P.M. ரெக்ஸ் அவர்களைச் சாரும்.

பல மருத்துவ நூல்களை தமிழில் இவர் படைத்துள்ளார்.
அவையாவன :-
1) ”மாரடைப்பு நோய் வராமல் தடுப்பது எப்படி?”
2) “உயிருக்கே உலைவைக்கும் போதைப் பழக்கம்” இந்த இரண்டு நூல்களும் தமிழ் வளர்ச்சிக் கழகத்தின் முதல் பரிசைப் பெற்றன.
3) “டாக்டர் பேசுகிறார்” – தஞ்சைத் தமிழ் பல்கலைக்கழகத்தின் முதல் பரிசைப் பெற்றது.
4) “மன உளைச்சலை விரட்டுவது எப்படி?” தமிழக அரசின் பரிசையும் பாராட்டுதலையும் பெற்றது.

இவர் 1) அமெரிக்க நெஞ்சு நோய்க்கல்லூரி 2) அனைத்துலகக் குருதி நுட்பக் கல்லூரி, 3) அனைத்திந்திய ஒவ்வாமை நோய்க்கல்லூரி ஆகியவற்றில் சிறப்பு உறுப்பினராக இருந்தார்.

இது தவிர
1. தமிழக அரசு சிறுபான்மை ஆணையத்தின் துணைத்தலைவராகவும்
2. தமிழ்நாடு மாசுகட்டுப்பாடு வாரிய உறுப்பினராகவும் இருந்ததோடு மட்டுமின்றி சமூக சேவையிலும் சமூகத் தொண்டிலும் ஈடுபாடு கொண்ட சமூக ஆர்வலராகவும் திகழ்ந்தார். சென்னை மாநகரின் Sheriff என்ற கெளரவ பதவியையும் இவர் வகித்தார். மருத்துவத்தில் மட்டுமன்றி தமிழ்க் கவிஞராகவும் மேடைப் பேச்சாளராகவும் இவர் விளங்கினார்.


செவாலியர் தியாகராஜா பிஞ்ஞேயிரா

செவாலியர் திரு.தியாகராஜ் பிஞ்ஞேயிரா 12-5-1906 ஆம் ஆண்டு திருநெல்வேலி மாவட்டத்தில் புன்னைக்காயலில் பிறந்தார். இவர், புன்னைக்காயலில் ஆரம்பக்கல்வி பயின்று, சென்னையில் உயர்கல்வி முடித்து, பொருள் ஈட்டும் வண்ணம் இலங்கை சென்றார். தன் சிறிய தந்தையிடம் உதவியாளராகச் சேர்ந்தார். அவரிடம் வணிக நுட்பங்களைத் தன் கூர்ந்த மதியில் கண்டுணர்ந்து, கொழும்பில் “ரெக்ஸ் ஏஜென்ஸிஸ்” என்ற நிறுவனத்தை ஏற்படுத்தினார்.

இரண்டாம் உலகப்போரின் போது அவர் தமிழகம் வந்து “ரெக்ஸ் ஸ்டோர்ஸ்” என்ற நிறுவனத்தையும் அதன் பின்னர் சென்னைக்கு குடிபெயர்ந்து “ரெக்ஸ் டிரேடிங் கம்பெனி” எனும் ஏற்றுமதி வணிக அமைப்பினையும் உருவாக்கினார். குடியரசுத் தலைவர், சீரிய வணிக நிறுவனங்களுக்கு வழங்கும் மிக உயர்ந்த “தேசிய விருந்தினை” ரெக்ஸ் டிரேடிங் கம்பெனி இவர் தம் தலைமையில் பெற்றது.

“செவாலிய “ பட்டம் போப்பாண்டவரால் சிறந்த இல்லறத் தலைவர்களுக்கு வழங்கப்படும் பெரும்பட்டமாகும். சாதி சமய வேறுபாடுகளைக் கடந்து அறப்பணி புரிபவர்களுக்கு மட்டுமே இப்பட்டம் வழங்கப்படும். இவ்விருதினை தமிழகத்தின் அனைத்து பேராயர்கள் இவருக்கு வழங்க ஒரு மனதாக, போப்பாண்டவர்க்கு பரிந்துரை செய்தனர். இப்பட்டம் 1985 ஆம் ஆண்டு இவருக்கு வழங்கப்பட்டது. “T.R. Pinheiro Rosariammal Trust” என்ற ஒன்றை அவர் ஆரம்பித்து, ஆண்டுதோறும் 150-க்கு மேற்பட்ட முதுகலை மாணவ மாணவியர் படிப்பிற்காக ஊக்கத்தொகை வழங்கினார்.

108செவாலியர் அவர்கள் தான் பிறந்த புன்னைக்காயலில் தன் செலவில் தண்ணீர் தேக்கம் ஒன்றைக் கட்டினார். அதனை மறைந்த மாண்புமிகு முதலமைச்சர் M.G.R. அவர்கள் திறந்து வைத்தார்கள். வாழ்க்கையில் பொருளாதார அற்ற குடும்பங்களில் ஒளி விளக்கேற்ற ஒரே சமயத்தில் 100-க்கு மேற்பட்ட “கூட்டுத் திருமணங்களை” நடத்தியுள்ளார்.

அரசாங்கத்தினால் கிறிஸ்துவ தாழ்த்தப்பட்ட மக்களுக்கு வழங்கும் உதவிகளின் நிரல்களைத் தொகுத்து ஒரு இலவசக் கையேடாக வெளியிட்டார். ஏழை எளிய தாழ்த்தப்பட்ட மக்களின் கண்ணீரைத் துடைக்க பல்வேறு அரசியல் தலைவர்களை அவர் நேரடியாக சந்தித்து அவர்களின் உண்மை நிலையை அவர்களுக்கு விளக்கி அவர்களுக்கு வேண்டிய சலுகையைப் பெற்றுத் தந்திருக்கிறார் இந்த ”நல்ல சமாரித்தன்”. மக்கள் பணியே மகேசன் பணி என்று வாழ்ந்தவர் இறுதியில் 20-7-1996 ஆம் ஆண்டு இயற்கை எய்தினார்.

by Prof. Genesis


Having no subject readily in my mind and none having sent any piece to be uploaded, I was at a loss for a long time wondering what I should write this Saturday. Also the Technical Editor, BRITTO complained to me that the number of articles we upload are on the downslide though our readership is on the increase.

The youngster Britto insisted that we must have more articles in the website. I replied to him that we should have more writers.

The battle within my head for a subject to write upon was finally resolved when I decided that I would write two topics one on *The Battle of Vedhalai*, and the other on *The Pearl Fishing in the Gulf of Mannar*.

Both subjects I thought needed a deep study, and I listed out the books and articles to be gone through before penning the pieces. And the first book that I read was *The History of Tinnevelly, by Bishop R. Caldwell*.

Though the book details facts from the earliest times to 1801, I paid undivided attention to facts pertaining to us, our places, like Kail, Korkai, Tuticorin, our conversion, our tussle with moors and the badagas etc.

93When I was going through the pages I was fascinated by one letter *St.Francis Xavier* wrote to his assistant Fr. Mancias at Punnaicail from AALENDALE ( ALANDALAI) on 5th September 1544. directing him to be of assistance when the Governor of Tuticorin was attacked by the dreaded badagas.

This letter so fascinated me that I thought I should share it with our readers. What attracted me in the letter is
1. The clarity of thought;
2. And the military precision with which Fr. Xavier issues commands to Fr. Mancias.

*He writes*
“I have just received the most terrible news respecting the Portuguese Governor (of Tuticorin)
1. That his ship had been burnt
2. That his house on shore also destroyed by fire;
3. That he has himself been robbed of everything
4. And has retired to the island in broken spirits and utter destitution.”

*He adds*
1. “*Fly* to his relief, I conjure you in the name of charity;

2. Carry with you as many as you can get together of your people at Punicale, and ALL the boats which are there, filled with provisions and especially with supply of fresh water.

3. Use the *utmost* dispatch, for the extremity of the man’s distress *brooks no delay*.”

*He further adds*
“I am writing to the headman of COMBUTURE and BEMBARE (Combuturai and Vembar) in the most *urgent* terms render you every possible assistance in discharge of their bounden duty to their Governor.

2. to load as many boats as are fit for the service with provisions and fresh water for it is well known that they are deficient in that necessity.

3.I wish many boats to be sent, that these may be the means of carrying over to the mainland the crowd of all ages, who were driven to take refuge in these inhospitable rocks by the same incursions as drove the Governor thither,.”

*In November he again writes to Fr. Mancias*
“”Tell BARBOS (the Governor) from me NOT to employ any person in the pearl fisheries at Tuticorin, who have taken possession of the house of the Christian exiles; as the king and the viceroy have given me the authority in this matter . I positively FORBID it.”

Commenting on this letter Bishop Caldwell says
“To understand the style of language employed by Xavier, it is necessary to remember that he had been made A ROYAL COMMISSIONER with EXTRAORDINARY POWERS.

About the same time he obtained an order from the King of Portugal that the Pearl Fishery should be in the hands of Christians.’

Kindly note: how he describes the situation. His report is graphic.

Kindly also note:
1. That St. Xavier is conscious of urgency of relief. Note his words “FLY TO HIS RELIEF. UTMOST DESPATCH. BROOKS NO DELAY. MOST URGENT TERMS. “

2. That St. Xavier wants a heavy strength of people and stock of materials to be despatched. Mark his instructions- “CARRY WITH YOU AS MANY AS YOU CAN. ALL THE BOATS. AS MANY BOATS AS ARE FIT FOR SERVICE. MANY BOATS TO BE SENT. “

3. The clarity of the saint’s military mind :

4. That he also felt the need for a support force to render relief, seeking support from Combuturai and Vembar.

5. That his orders are peremptory.
Kindly note his instructions “not to employ” “I forbid it”

Such detailed operational and peremptory instructions can be given only by a well trained General. Francis Xavier is not only a SAINT IN A HURRY as he is popularly known but also a ROYAL COMMISSIONER.

On PEARL FISHING in Gulf of Mannar and THE BATTLE OF VEDHALAI, I will soon come back.

by A. X. Alexander

Our Heroes – II

After uploading the article on *Our Heros* on August 15th 2012, a reader has sent to the Editor a souvenir published in Tuticorin on 5-8-2000 on the occasion of golden Ther and drew our attention to an article in it , in which besides the Three Heros we mentioned already there is reference to Seven more Heros.
The article in the souvenir was by VINODH NETAJI FERNANDO.
Besides *J.P Rodriguez , A.S Benjamin and the Jathi thalivar* who were mentioned in the August 15th article , Vinodh Netaji Fernando refers to seven more freedom fighters.:-
1. Jermaih Fernandes of Punnakayal,
2. Eromier of Punnakayal,
3. Chellaih Fernandes of Punnakayal,
4. Valerian Fernando of punnakayal ,
5. T.A Fernando of Periyathazai ,
6. Peter Morais and
7. Masilamani Fernandes

Vinodh Netaji Fernando also identifies the Jathi Thalivar refered to in the August 15th article as Dom Gabriel Gomez de Cruz and points out to Lushington’s letter to Major Macaulay , Commanding officer , Palayamkottai dated 6 july 1801 and to board of revenue papers no 21 dated 1799 as authorities for the identification.
According to Vinodh Netaji,

*Jermiah Fernandes* son of Pitchiya Fernandes was born in 1895 in Punnakayal and took part in salt satyagraha in 1930 and was imprisoned for 6 months in Aligarh;

*Eromier Fernando* son of Pitchya Fernando was born in 1896 in north street Punnakayal and took part in salt satyagraha in 1930 and was imprisoned for 6 months in Cuddalore , Trichy and Bellary prisons;

*Masilamani Fernandes* was born in 1903 took part in salt satyagraha and was imprisoned for 6 months in Cuddalore and Alipuram prisons;

*Chelliya Fernandes* was born in Punnakayal in 1904, took part in salt satyagraha in 1930 and was imprisoned for 6 months in Aligarh;

*Valerian Fernandes* was born in Veerapandiyanpattanam in 1909 and was imprisoned in Trichy and Alipuram for participating in Non co-operation movement and Anti-war agitations;

*T.A Fernando* alias Thommai Antony Fernando was nick named Gandiyar in Periyathazai and participated in many of the independence campaigns; and

*Peter Morais* born in Tuticorin in 1918 participated in Toddy shop picketing and Anti foreign goods picketings. He proceeded on a *Long March* from Kurangani on 10-6-1941 through 154 villages covering 520 Kms – in Trichendur, Sri Vaigundam, Kovilpatti Taluks and in Ramanathapuram, and Madurai Districts and met villagers and infused in them the spirit of independence. He was arrested in Thiruprankundram and Dindugal and was imprisoned in Prisons at Madurai and Alipuram. Readers may kindly recollect an article on him in GLOBAL PARAVAR website

We are thankful to Vinodh Netaji Fernando for furnishing the additional information and enlightening us.

by A.X.Alexander


Today is INDEPENDENCE DAY of our Great Nation.
Almost all News papers —in English as well as in Tamil– have come out with supplements with Tricolor, depicting great heroes, heroines, and great incidents that studded the history of our war of independence. But hardly is there any reference to the freedom fighters from the Parava community ——,not only this year. But down the years. Why?

76We are not prone to praise others and perpetuate any ones name who has done better than us in any field. We do not make positive noise about any one. Nor do we have people in the right places to make our story heard. Nor do we have the talent to place ourselves in the right place. This piece however is not to diagnose what is wrong or good with us , but to record the three important personalities who have fought for freedom of this nation , in the company of others.

They are J.P. RODRIGUEZ , a Jathi talaiver in the days of Oomaithurai and A.S. BENJAMIN.

On J.P.Rodriguez there is already an article in this website, by Professor Savariammal of St. Mary’s Tuticorin. The article is fairly exhaustive and I commend our readers to glance through once again on this occasion of Independence Day. I would like to add what is written about him in the latest Tuticorin Gazetteer—2007.

On page 169 0f the Gazetteer it is said as follows;-
J.P. RODRIGUEZ born in 1891 was an important District level leader of the Freedom Movement. He joined the movement in 1921and took part in foreign cloth boycott, toddy shop picketing, and salt satyagraha.. He served as the District Congress President Member of the All India Congress Committee and President of Thoothukudi Taluk congress committee. In 1930 he was arrested and imprisoned .’
‘THE Congress Leader J.P.RODREIGUEZ went to Srilanka on 3rd may 1930 for collecting funds and recruiting volunteers from among the people of Thoothukudi who were living in that country. The volunteers thus recruited arrived at Thoothukudi port and marchd towards Vedaranyam in the second fortnight of June for salt picketing. (Page 154)

On July 4th when the Congress president of the district suddenly resigned it was J.P. Rodriguez who donned the mantle. The British administration raided his residence on 5th july 1930 and arrested him. This is to prevent a conference that he was scheduled to have at Thoothukudi on 5th. A crowd gathered protesting against the arrest of Rodreiguez and other congress men. The government promulgated 144 cr.p.c. and forcefully dispersed the crowd.(page 154)

Another reference in the Gazetteer — this time to the community, and to the Jathi talaivar is as follows;- (page 129.)

‘The Paravas of Thoothukudi led by their headman not only joined the rebellion but also supplied guns and other ammunitions for the promotion of violent struggle.’ (MADRAS COUNCIL MILITARY CONSULTATION. VOL. 279 P 728 , FEBRUARY 1801.)’

’This was followed by the conference of the leaders at Kadalgudi. Melappan of Ramanathapuram, Nagara monigar of Tirunelveli and the Parava chief (Jathi talaaivar ) of Thoothukudi held a meeting but as their deliberations were secret the details could not be ascertained.’ — this was at the time when Oomathurai and Sevathaiah were fighting against the British.

When India staged QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT Amalinagar BENJAMIN played a leading part in it. Let us see what the gazetteer says..(pages-158 -162)
Kulasekaran pattinam is a coastal villagein Tiruchendur taluk. It was a salt manufacturing village and the British government stationed an Inspector of salt there. The extremists including Benjamin decided to take away the arms of the inspector and his staff.

On 20th September 1942, at 30’ clock about 100 volunteers armed with sticks and swords entered the salt factory .They set the weighing shed on fire by overpowering the staff on duty and they took away their arms.

W.LOANE was the assistant Inspector of Salt, stationed in Kulasekarapattinam. His residence was very close to the salt office. On hearing the commotion , he came out of the house with a gun. While he was rushing towards the volunteers, the ammunition in the weapon dropped down and he attacked them with the bayonet. The enraged volunteers attacked LOANE and murdered him. The volunteers escaped from the scene with the arms seized.

The police accused twenty-six in this case and charged them .The British Government, established a special court at Tirunelvely. Among the twenty six who were charged A.S. BENJAMIN is accused number three. The court awarded the punishment of transportation for life to him in this case.

In Meignanapuram case A.S. BENJAMIN along with others ransacked the post office on 7th september 1942, and decamped with arms of the sepoys,; and in Kurumbur case on August 19th 1942 he along with others attacked police constables at the Railway station, seized their arms and ammunition and set fire to the Railway station and its records. He was awarded Life imprisonment and seventeen years imprisonment respectively in these cases.

Let us remember these veterans and let us perpetuate their memory.
Any one has photographs of these veterans. ? if so please send them for inclusion in this essay to the editor.

by A.X. Alexander


Rarely do we come across COMMISSIONED OFFICERS in the Indian Armed Forces from amongst US, though we have scarcely countable Junior commissioned officers, and non commissioned officers,   and a few Navy men, Airmen   army men.

Getting into the Indian Armed Forces as a Commissioned officer is a tough task indeed, with grueling and exacting Physical examinations, Psychological tests, Written examinations and Group discussions to be undergone and cleared.

60To go up in the steep and pyramidal ladder of ranks after joining the commissioned ranks is still more difficult and an achievement by itself as it is acutely competed, with an imposition of a stiff demand of high physical fitness, and   absolute necessity to maintain an impressive personal dossier.

Getting into good slots of postings is indeed is a blessing as many stations of postings are in the borders, with extreme climates and removed far far away from facilities for interaction with , families and friends.

But GROUP CAPTAIN G.U. DHANARAJ forty years ago, with no military ancestory, but only with his experience of an Under officer-ship   in NATIONAL CADET CORPS in ST, XAVIERS COLLEGE PALAYANCOTTAI where he was a student in B.Sc, and later as an officer in the National cadet corps while he served in Loyola college as a demonstrator in Zoology, made it into the INDIAN AIRFORCE, as a pilot officer, and rose up to the rank of GROUP CAPTAIN.

He rose up by six positions. Pilot officer, Flying officer, Flight lieutenant, Squadron Leader, Wing Commander, Group Captain.

He was commissioned into the Administrative branch, in 1964, and was posted in some of the important air stations. His first posting was in LEH in the Air traffic control where as a solitary air controller he managed the air traffic at a very young age. Leh, incidentally is a high altitude spot—11000 feet above MSL– and is known for its cold.

He has served in the two wars with Pakistan, and had been in the thick of action both in Western as well as in the Eastern sectors.   Later in life he was posted in DELHI in the air head quarters from 1980 to 1987-and was popular with all the air chiefs. His final posting was at Bangalore and he retired from service in September, 1993.

Recognising his distinguished service of exceptional order, the President of India awarded the Vishist Seva Medal on 26<sup>th</sup> January 1985.

On his retirement, he ran one of the largest petrol stations of BPCL  very successfully in the outskirts of Chennai, and got busy in the fledgling Parish of Nesapakkam – ST.ANNE. He was the President of the Parish committee and participated in the Synod conducted by the Arch bishop of Chennai. He was responsible for many developmental activities in the church.

He was very much concerned about the youth in his home town–   PETTAI –PALAYANCOTTAI. He co founded SHINE –SHARING HEARTS TO IGNITE NATIVE EXCELLENCE on 13 th June 2004   –on the feast day of St. Antony , with the objective of providing tuition facilities, subsidised education ,etc.

He was an ardent devotee of Mother Mary and was mainly responsible for the Grotto at St. Anne at NESAPAKKAM. He passed into eternity on the day the grotto was blessed – 26th may 2012.

I got to know Group captain DHANARAJ in the year 1987, when I was posted in New Delhi, in the Cabinet Secretariat,. On the day of my arrival at Palam air port, though he had not known me before, he was kind enough to personally come to the airport and receive me, and put me at ease in Tamilnadu House.

The Delhi climate was harsh on me with its excessive heat and I suffered very bad bleeding nose in my early days and  I remember very well he took me to the Airforce doctor to look after me.

He and his wife   invariably picked me up for the Sunday mass and thereafter to his quarters for a relaxing gossip, a sumptuous    breakfast lunch and rest. Both Group Captain Dhanaraj and Mrs. Dhanaraj allayed my home sickness. Many evenings he had taken me  to the DSOI and his usual banter then,  seeing many youngsters from elsewhere in the country enjoying the facilities afforded by the club , would be  centered on “ why our youngsters are not moving out and see the world.’’ He used to express his anguish to me why our youngsters are not aspiring to get into higher services in the government and in the Army, Airforce, and Navy and develop themselves.

He made it a point to invite me to all the air force functions as long as I was in NewDelhi and was very proud of me. I distinctly remember the airforce show he took me, my wife and young son then when a mirage crashed as it was doing its maneuver.

GROUP CAPTAIN DHANARAJ was a gentleman to the core and had innumerable friends, and many of them among from clergy. His two sons and daughter are doing well.

GROUP CAPTAIN DHANARAJ’S memorial service at ST. ANNE, Nesapakkam Chennai was well attended—THE CHURCH WAS FULL, AND THE CHOIR WAS EXCELLENT AND THE SERVICE WAS BEAUTIFUL signifying the good and amiable manner he lived his life.

Starting at Pettai and reaching where he reached in service, the Air Headquarters, NEW DELHI, is a rare achievement and one wishes many of our youngsters take him as a model and join services.

Knowing him as I do, I am sure he will be very happy then.

(The biographic materials were given by his sons, Mr.Merwin and Mr.Christopher Vinodh)

by A.X.Alexander