Freedom Struggle | Mahe (Mayyazhi)

When the independence of India became an accomplished fact on the 15th of August 1947 there were repercussions in French India, including Mahe. Till 1937 there were no political parties with an organizational set-up in French India. People were polarized between individual leaders. Mahajana Sabha was formed in Pondicherry in 1937. It was got extended to Mahe by the youth League, which started functioning from 1933. I.K. Kumaran and C.E. Bharathan were the leaders of Mahajana Sabha in Mahe.
In October 1948, the election to the Municipal council was to be held. This election was very significant in that the elected members were to decide whether Mahe should merge with India or not. The incidents at Mahe Municipal office on 21.10.1948 in connection with the issue of identification cards to voters, led to the political upheaval known as ‘Mahe Rebellion’ of October 1948. It was alleged that the distribution of identification cards was improper. Crowds rushed into the Municipal Office and clashed with the police. The mob pulled out Municipal Records including Birth, Marriage and Death records and burnt them. Mr. Perrier, Administrator, rushed to the Municipal office with a posse of gendarmes, who withdrew the order after an hour. It is important to note in this connection, during the French regime that the Mayor (Municipal Chairman) was alone empowered to give authorization to the police to fire. The mob, then, burned the records, books, etc., at the court, which was situated adjacent to the Municipal office. Subsequently a defense council was formed. All the Departments functioned without any radical change. This state of affairs continued till the 26th October when a French cruiser anchored off Mahe.

Some officials, leaders and French-knowing people were compulsorily transported to Mukkali, about three miles from Mahe. The leaders of the Mahajana party left Mahe. Under instructions from the collector of Kozhikode, after that all the detainees at Mukkali were released at midnight.

The French rule was re-established. The French government arrested and framed charges against many. Some of them were in Mahe while others were outside Mahe. Those who were in Mahe underwent imprisonment while those outside Mahe were sentenced in absentia to varying terms of imprisonment.

The fight for the freedom of Mahe got an impetus in April – May 1954 when the leaders of Pondicherry staged a volte-face and left Pondicherry. In Mahe there was firing at Cherukallayi on the 27th of April 1954, in which Achuthan and Anandan, two communist party workers, were killed. As a result of which the police force was withdrawn from Pallour and Pandakkal and subsequently a defense council was established with Mr. I.K. Kumaran as President and V.N. Purushothaman as Vice President.

In June there was a virtual blockade of Mahe. Pro-merger sympathizers were harassed in Mahe. Anti-merger sympathizers were harassed outside Mahe. Towards the end of June, N. Sahadevan, Mayor, the Municipal councilors and the M.L.A’s left Mahe. There was an exodus of officials and people from Mahe to the neighboring areas. Talks were held between the liberation leaders and Mr. Deschamps, Administrator. Mr. Revel, a French Businessman at Tellicherry acted as the intermediatory. It was revealed that Mr. Deschamps and party would leave Mahe on the 16th of July, which they did. Thus the curtain fell on the 233 years of French rule in Mahe. I.K. Kumaran, President of the Free Government council, was become the first Administrator of Free Mahe.

On the 1st of November 1954, Mahe, along with the other French possessions, was handed over to the Government of India. This was the de facto transfer of power. The de- jure transfer of power took place on the 16th April 1962. This day is a public holiday in the Union Territory of Pondicherry.

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