We had touched upon the 1942 Keezhariyur Bomb Case in an earlier post (click here). Many readers responded that they were not aware of this incident in the history of Calicut's fight for Indian independence. But, far away from Calicut, a young writer from Bihar had written a Hindi play on the incident and a theatre group in California had staged it in 1998! Sujit Saraf, the young writer and author of bestsellers like The Peacock Throne and Confessions of Sultana Daku (www.sujitsaraf.com) had commemorated the Keezhariyur Bomb Case in his Hindi play entitled Vande Mataram.
Today we remember one of the unsung heroes of the case who was among the 'Bombay Five' - young men working in Bombay who had embarked on this suicidal venture convinced that non-violence would not get India freedom. The five - Dr.K.B.Menon, N.A.Krishnan Nair, V.A.Kesavan Nair, Mathai Manjooran and C.P.Sankaran Nair - left Bombay for Calicut and began their political activities here at a time when the Malabar Congress was in disarray after the mass detention of its top leadership during the Quit India movement.
|N.A. Krishnan Nair, 2nd Accused|
Nampannur Azhakil (N.A.) Krishnan Nair was born in 1902 into a family of substance in Calicut. As a student, he was actively involved in the Boy Scout movement. Later he participated in the Civil Disobedience movement and was the 19th 'Dictator' from Kerala. Jailed for 16 months, he came out and decided to be a full-time political worker.
He left for Bombay in 1934 and joined the Century Mills as a coolie in order to understand the plight of the workers. He organised workers under the Girni Kamgar Union (whose leader was S.A.Dange) and also participated actively in the Congress movement. He attended the Faizpur session of the Indian National Congress in 1937.
Nair was by now a known trade union leader in Worli and had worked for B.G.Kher during the 1937 elections. He resumed Boy Scout work briefly in 1938 but left it in 1941 to join TOMCO. While working as a labour leader in TOMCO, he was also Chairman of the Governing Body of the Bombay Keraleeya Samaj.
Back in Kerala he was part of the group which organised several acts of sabotage between August 1942 and May 1943, including causing explosions to blow up the Feroke bridge, railway lines, cutting telegraph lines, setting fire to government buildings etc. The conspiracy was hatched in Ramanattukara (in Pulapre gate house) and subsequently in a house in Chalapuram. The bombs were fabricated in Kandiyil Methal house in Keezhariyur in Quilandy. Later, as the Police seemed to have got wind of the manufacturing, it was shifted to Parappanangadi, a fatal error which led to the unravelling of the conspiracy and the capture of the conspirators. For, one of the Parappanangadi team decided to use some bombs for settling a private score!
The case was tried in the Court of the Sessions of South Malabar Division, with M.A.T. Coelho, Sessions Judge presiding. The Bombay Five (except for Mathai Manjooran who was absconding) was defended by the ace criminal lawyer from Madras, Sri K. Bhashyam Ayyangar, ably assisted by Sri K.G. Nayar. The Bombay Five were acquitted by the Sessions Court but were convicted on appeal by the Madras High Court and sentenced to 7-10 years of imprisonment.
Nair was released in 1946 when the interim Congress government came to power. He drifted back to mainstream Congress work, but found that during his long absence, new faces and new interests had taken over the Party. The party chose him to be a candidate for the Madras Legislative Council elections, but intra-party feuds led to his defeat. As a protest against the party, he later contested elections as an independent for Assembly and Parliament elections with predictable results.
He drifted away from Congress and eked out a living as an Insurance agent. He however continued his social service through Harijan Sevak Sangh, Sanskrit Prachar Sabha and Boy Scout movement.
Old timers in Calicut remember Nair (fondly called 'Kittar') on the Mananchira ground encouraging footballers ( he was himself a keen player in the company of football legends of Calicut like Andy Master of 'andy pass' fame, Kottayi Achu and Kesavan Nair). Meticulously dressed in Khadi, he was a presence in the halls where chess was being played, for chess was another of his passions. And young cubs in those days remember the elderly Scout Rover encouraging them from a distance! The indomitable Nair found time to pass the intermediate and BA examinations from Madras University when he was well past 60!
How did the Nation honour him for his sacrifice? His name ranked 658 in the first batch of 1000 Freedom Fighters who were honoured at the red Fort in 1972 with Tamrapatra and a pension of Rs. 300. The State government sanctioned a pension of Rs.150.
Mr. Nair spent a life of service and altruism till death invited him on 26th December, 1987 at the age of 85. Jai Hind!