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P. Thanikachalam Pillai

Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu

November 24, 2022 to November 24, 2023

P. Thanikachalam Pillai was born on 27 April 1906, Pudupalayam Village at Cuddalore. At the age of 18, he joined the Indian National Congress and became a staunch supporter of Gandhiji and the swadeshi movement. He took an active part in organizing rallies and public meetings with Rajagopalachari and Kamaraj. At the age of 20, he started Harijan Seva Sangh Ashram through which basic education with free food was distributed to young children Netaji, Vinoba Bhave, Sardar Valabai Patel, Babu Rajendra Prasad, and Sarojini Naidu visited the Harijan Seva Sangh Ashram. He started a printing press under the name of “Gandhii” to write articles about the atrocities of colonial rulers. The British Government charged him with high treason against the Government and kept him in prison. He spent more than six years in various prisons such as Andaman, Bellary, and Tihar jails along with popular leaders like R. Venkatraman and Bhrammannada Reddy. In the 1942 Quit India movement, he went into the river Gadilam at Cuddalore chanting Quit India slogans against the British. Irked by his vehemence, the police started lathi's charge until he fell down unconscious. People gathered on the river bank and admitted him to the hospital. Of this tragic incident, he was popularly called “Thadi Adi patta Thanikachalam” (Lathi charged Thanikachalam). To honor his sacrifice, the Government of India, in 1972, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Indian Independence awarded him a “Tamra Patra”. He passed away on 21 January 1988.

Source: Interview with his daughter T. Sithalakxhmi, from Chennai.