The Government’s ‘Women Visitors’ and Jailed Nationalist Women: Accamma Cherian

Translated by J Devika

[Accamma Cherian (1909-1982), one of the foremost nationalist leaders in South Kerala, is best known for her daring leadership of the march on the royal palace in Thiruvananthapuram on 23 October 1938, but the manner in which she, one of the tallest nationalist activists in Travancore, was forced out of the Indian National Congress and politics itself by self-seeking, narrow-minded men in the 1950s is rarely discussed in Kerala. Once referred to as the Jhansi Rani of Kerala, Accamma left active politics in the 1950s devoting herself to constructive work. In the Congress she was known for her active advocacy of women in politics, and indeed, to their share of power in politics — which finally seems to have provoked patriarchal forces. She was born in Kanjirappally and was educated by her father who actively encouraged her and her sister, the noted politician Rosamma Punnoose. In 1926 she entered the St Theresa’s College, Ernakulam, and earned her degree in 1931 and became a school teacher for some time. Later, she moved to Thiruvananthapuram to study at the Teacher Training College in 1934, and it was then her interest in politics turned serious. She led the nationalist struggle in Travancore as the twelfth Dictator of the Travancore State Congress, leading a massive jatha towards the royal palace. Continue reading “The Government’s ‘Women Visitors’ and Jailed Nationalist Women: Accamma Cherian”