There have been several great souls in the Syrian Christian Community who rose to partake in the freedom struggle for India’s Independence. As India enters the 75th year of Independence, Nalloor Library would like our readers to remember a few freedom fighters who represented the Syrian Christian community and share their stories in their Sunday Schools and meetings across the world. This list is no means a complete list and only four have been chosen as representatives. We salute each and every freedom fighter across this great nation who participated in the freedom struggle and those who gave their lives for India’s freedom. Jai Hind!
Shri Thevarthundiyil Titus also known as ‘Titusji’ – Dandi March
The historic Dandi Salt march by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 triggered the wider Civil Disobedience Movement leading to India’s freedom from the British. Among the marchers that would change India’s destiny was just one Christian and a Mar Thomite, Shri Thevarthundiyil Titus also known as ‘Titusji’. A devout Gandhian – he was known by the name Titus in his earlier days. “Titusji” was the name given to him by Mahatma Gandhi as a token of love and honour.
Mr. O. C. Chacko of the Indian National Army (INA)
Mr. O. C. Chacko was part of the Indian National Army (INA) of Subash Chandhra Bose and member of the Kuriannoor Mar Thoma Church, Pathanamthitta, Kerala. We post a link to a write up that was published on his 100th (centenary) birth anniversary.
Rev. C.V.George B.A., B.L
General Secretary of the Mar Thoma Sunday School Samajam. He was the only Mar Thoma Priest who is recognized and awarded as a freedom fighter by the Government. Before his ordination, he was in jail for almost a year for his participation in the Freedom movement of India.
George Joseph, a barrister, fiery nationalist, avant-garde journalist, pioneer trade unionist, and ardent champion of important public causes, has etched an indelible place in the history of India’s war for Independence. He hailed from Kerala and was not just a pioneer in several fields, he was also a staunch supporter of Annie Besant’s Home Rule movement and Gandhiji’s Non-Cooperation movement during India’s freedom struggle.
He was born in Chenganoor (Kerala) in 1887, which at that time was part of the Travancore Kingdom. He completed his Law at the University of Edinburgh and it was during his stay in London that he became acquainted with notable freedom fighters like Madam Cama, S K Verma, S R Rana, and Veer Savarkar. He returned to India after finishing his education and though he established his legal practice initially in Chennai, he eventually shifted it to Madurai. George Joseph went on to become a famous criminal lawyer in Madurai. From the time he started practising there, he championed the cause of Madurai’s tribes, such as the Piramalai Kallars and Maravars. In 1920, following the Perungamanallur firing (also referred to as the Jallianwalla Bagh of the South), the British implemented the Criminal Tribes Act, labelling these groups as criminals. He vehemently opposed the Act by voicing his opinions in newspapers and he also represented these communities in court proceedings. The residents of these settlements gave him the name ‘Rosapoo Durai’ (a Rose amongst Leaders), as a symbol of their gratitude. ~indianculture.gov.in
On 1st September 2020 – we remember Indian freedom fighter Mr. O. C. Chacko on his 100th (centenary) birth anniversary. Mr. O. C. Chacko was part of the Indian National Army (INA) of Subash Chandhra Bose and member of the Kuriannoor Mar Thoma Church, Pathanamthitta, Kerala. He was born on 1st September 1920 and passed away on 14th April 2014. He is buried at Neelethu Mar Thoma Church, Kuriannoor.
He was 95 years old and resided at Odikandathil-Vadakkemannil, Kuriannoor.
“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”
We carry below an English translation of an article Published in Malayala Manorama newspaper on
14th August 2013, a day before Independence Day.
Even after half a century of independence, Mr. O.C. Chacko observes, it has not lost its sheen. Before the day when the tricolor of India rose up bringing down the British flag on August 15, 1947, the eyes that dreamt such a morning still sparkle. The ears that heard the trumpet call of freedom fighters and their war cry are still kept open to hear it again. Only that the feet that had walked in steady gait braving the enslaving British yoke have become slightly unsteady. But he still jumps up from his wheel chair with the same enthusiasm on hearing the names of Netaji and INA – that is O.C.Chacko of Odikandathil Vadakkemannil, Kuriannoor.
He is one of the few surviving soldiers of INA. Every Independence Day is the birth of a new era for Mr. O.C. Chacko. Coincidentally, his birthday falls on a day following the Independence Day. He enters his 94th birthday on 1st September, 2013. In the ecstasy of witnessing one more Independence Day for Mr. Chacko, even in this freedom celebrations the young generation is eagerly awaiting to hear and record his memories. Son of Mr. Chacko of Odikandathil Vadakkemannil, born in September 1920, Mr. Chacko boarded a ship to Singapore in 1941 in search of a job. After a few years he became a soldier of the Indian National Army organized by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. He continued to serve as a soldier in the INA till 1945.
He had his first job in Singapore in the war department of the British Government. Thereafter he worked in several organizations in various capacities. Even then, an independent India was his dream. Later, he recorded all the important events in his life. There in his records is the history of organizing the Indian Independence League under the auspices of civilian leaders and Military captain Mohan Singh soon after the surrender of the British Army in Singapore.
Coming from Germany in 1943 in a submarine, Netaji took charge of the independence struggle in Singapore. Soon after, he constituted Azad Hind Government there. He opened camps for training people to be sent to the Burmese war front. He sent a few volunteers including the local people to the Burma border. It was at this time Mr. O.C. Chacko was recruited to the INA. He cherishes the memory of the occasion when he met Netaji and spoke to him. Out of the 60,000 Indians there, majority had joined the INA. Mr. Chacko remembers about Netaji’s presence in Singapore when Britain surrendered to Japan on August 15, 1945. Chacko believes that he (Netaji) was killed in a plane crash on his way to Japan via Taiwan.
His fighting days were much before his marriage when he was a bachelor. After marriage, he led a peaceful life in SIngapore with his wife and children. Retiring from his job in 1970 he came back to settle down in Kerala. He is still keeps as treasures the INA uniforms and the badges bearing Netaji’s picture and other symbols. He had other connections related to the INA as well. In Kozhencherry and Thottapuzhassery there were a few retired INA soldiers. All of them except Mr. Chacko are no more.
Mr. Chacko is a hero to the new generation of the locality as an enthusiastic old veteran who had participated and witnessed the freedom struggle. He is a regular invitee to the independence Day/Republic Day celebrations held by schools and local organizations. He participates in such functions wholeheartedly and shares the memories of old times. ‘Even when I decline such invitations’, he says, ‘the youngsters would not let go’. They want to hear the history of the struggle. Behind the gentle demeanour, the man of 94 still exudes an aura of heroism.