Veerapandiya Kattabomman-Bravery part-2

For better understanding I recommend you to read the part-1

The Commission of Enquiry that went into the incident fixed the blame on Jackson and relieved him of his post, thinking the Company’s plan to take over the entire country gradually could be marred by Jackson’s fight with Veerapandiya Kattabomman.

The new Collector of Tirunelveli wrote to Kattabomman calling him for a meeting on 16 March, 1799. Kattabomman wrote back citing the extreme drought conditions for the delay in the payment of dues and also demanded that all that was robbed off him at Ramanathapuram be restored to him. The Collector wanted the ruling house of Sethupathis to prevent Kattabomman from aligning himself with the enemies of the Company and decided to attack Kattabomman.

The British also instigated his long time feuding neighbor Ettayapuram Poligar to make provocative wars over Kattabomman on their long pending territorial disputes.

Kattabomman refused to meet the Collector and a fight broke out. Under Major Bannerman, the army stood at all the four entrances of Panchalankurichi’s fort. At the southern end, Lieutenant Collins was on the attack. When the fort’s southern doors opened, Kattabomman and his forces audaciously attacked the corps stationed at the back of his fort, and slew their commander Lt. Collins.

The British after suffering heavy losses, decided to wait for reinforcements and heavy artillery from Palayamkottai. Sensing that his fort could not survive a barrage from heavy cannons, Kattabomman left the fort that night.

A price was set on Kattabomman’s head. Thanapathi Pillai and 16 others were taken prisoners. Thanapathi Pillai was executed and his head perched on a bamboo pole was displayed at Panchalankurichi to demoralise the resisters. Soundra Pandian Nayak, another rebel leader, was brutally done to death by having his brains dashed against a village wall.

Veerapandiya Kattabomman hid in so many places including thirumayam, virachilai and finally stayed at Kolarpatti at Rajagopala Naicker’s house where the forces surrounded the house. Kattabomman and his aides fled from there and took refuge in the Thirukalambur forests close to Pudu-k-kottai. Bannerman ordered the Raja of Pudukkottai to arrest Kattabomman. Accordingly, Kattabomman was captured and on October 16, 1799 the case was taken up (nearly three weeks after his arrest near Pudukkottai).

After a summary trial, Kattabomman was hanged unceremoniously on a Tamarind tree in Kayathar (near Thirunelveli).

Some of the other noteworthy persons who were hanged along with Kattabomman were Veeraghechayan Naicker, Dali Ethalappa Naicker and Palayakarrars of Kaadalkudi, Nagalapuram Puthur, Vripachy, Sivagangai, to death by hanging on charges of treason.

The Fort of Panchalankurichi was razed to the ground and all of Kattabomman’s wealth was looted by the English soldiers. Few years later, after the second Polygar war, the site of the captured fort was ploughed up and sowed with castor oil and salt so that it should never again be inhabited by the orders of the colonial government.

In subsequent years, a good deal of legend and folklore developed around Kattabomman and the Marudu Brothers. Kayatharu, where Kattabomman was executed has remained a place of political pilgrimage.

In his Tinnevelly Gazetteer of 1917, H. R. Pate notes the presence, in Kayatharu, of “a great pile of stones of all sizes, which represents the accumulated offerings by wayfarers of the past hundred years. Folk songs recalling the heroism of the Poligar leaders remain alive in Tamil Nadu to this day…”

The popular Tamil slang for a traitor or committing treason is Ettapa or Ettapan, courtesy the Ettayapuram Polygar whom the British later conferred the title of Raja. But it is disputed that Ettapan committed treason Kattabomman was arrested by King of Pudukottai. The Campa Cola ground in Chennai belongs/belonged to Ettappan family. Lately there is cry that unfair portrayal of Ettappan in the film Kattabomman in which actor Sivaji Ganesan gave a great performance, is the main cause for this. It seems that Ma.Po.Si(Ma.Po.Sivanyanam) who wrote the dialogues for the film had some misunderstanding with the Ettappan family.