Veerapandiya Kattabomman – Hindu hero of South Tamil Nadu

When the Madurai Nayak dynasty was annexed by the Nawab of Arcot through intrigue, the poligars (chieftains) of South Tamil Nadu refused to accept the Islamic rule of the Nawab leading to various uprisings. Unable to control these rebellions, the Nawab of Arcot put the East India company in charge of the region. The British tried to weaken the poligars by imposing high taxes, giving way to discontent and anti-British rebellions. Veerapandiya Kattabomman from Panchalankurichi is a famous poligar hero of this era.

Immediately after ascending the throne of Panchalankurichi in Feb 1790, he refused to pay taxes to the British and declared himself as a sovereign ruler. He rose as a fierce adversary of the Britishers in South Tamil Nadu. The East India Company sent its troops to invade Panchalankurichi in 1797. But they faced a shocking defeat at the hands of Kattabomman.

The English then called for a fake truce and arrested Kattabomman by deceit at Ramanathapuram in 1798. However, he escaped captivity and valiantly fought for the freedom of his province from the colonialists. When he was defeated in a siege, he escaped to gather more support but another Poligar betrayed him, leading to his capture. He was hanged to death in 1799, after which, the British forces destroyed his fort and the temple of his Kuladevi, Jakkamma.

Today, his descendants work as labourers and live a life of penury. So much for ‘Dravidian’ welfare!

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