News: PM pays homage to Puli Thevar on his birth anniversary i.e. on 1st September.
GS Paper 1: Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
About Puli Thevar:
- He was born in 1715.
- He was one of the first Indians to resist British Imperialism.
- He was one of 77 Polygars or Local Chieftains in the Tamil region.
- Puli Thevar first met British forces in 1755 when British Colonel Alexander Heron marched on western Tamil region.
- British artillery proved ineffective against the thick stone walls of Puli’s fort.
Revolt of Puli Thevar (1755–1767):
- Madurai easily fell into the hands of Mahfuzkhan(brother of the Nawab of Arcot) and Colonel Heron when they marched to Tirunelveli in March 1755 with a contingent of the Company army.
- As Pili Thevar wielded much influence over the western palyakkarars , so he continued to defy the authority of the Company.
- Colonel Heron was recalled and dismissed from service: As he abandoned the plan and retired to Madurai for want of cannon and of supplies and pay to soldiers.
Confederacy and Alliance with Enemies of the British:
- During Nawab Chanda Sahib’s rein three Pathan officers, namely Mianah, Mudimiah and Nabikhan Kattak commanded the Madurai and Tirunelveli regions. These Pathan Officers Mianah, Mudimiah and Nabikhan Kattak had supported the Tamil playakkarars against Arcot Nawab Mohamed Ali.
- Puli Thevar had established close relationships with these three Pathan officers and he established confederacy of the Palayakkars to fight the British.
- Every Maravar Palayams supported Puli Thevar except Palayakkarars of Sivagiri and Ettayapuram and Panchalamkurichi also did not join Puli Thevar’s confederacy.
- Further erosion in the confederacy happens when the English succeeded in getting the support of the rajas of Ramanathapuram and Pudukottai.
- Effort to get the support of Hyder Ali of Mysore and the French by Puli Thevar did not succeed as Hyder Ali failed to help Puli Thevar as he was already locked in a serious conflict with the Marathas.
Battle of Kalakadu:
- Additional contingent of sepoys to Mahfuzkhan sent by Nawab Chanda Sahib reinforced the army proceeded to Tirunelveli. Mahfuzkhan received 600 more sent by the Nawab in addition to 1000 sepoys of the Company.
- Mahfuzkhan also received the support of cavalry and foot soldiers from the Carnatic.
- But, in the battle at Kalakadu, Mahfuzkhan’s troops were routed. As before Mahfuzkhan could station his troops near Kalakadu, 2000 soldiers from Travancore joined the forces of Puli Thevar.
Yusuf Khan and Puli Thevar:
- English started to interfere directly in the affairs of Tirunelveli due to the organized resistance of the palayakkarars under Puli Thevar.
- Palyakkarars of Tirunelveli led by Puli Thevar with the aide from the Raja of Travancore, from 1756 to 1763, were in a constant state of rebellion against the Nawab’s authority.
- Initially, Yusuf Khan (also known as Khan Sahib or, before his conversion to Islam, Marudhanayagam) who had been sent by the Company was not prepared to attack Puli Thevar unless the big guns and ammunition from Tiruchirappalli arrived but with the late arrival of artillery (At that time English were at war with the French, as well as with Hyder Ali and Marathas) in September 1760 Yusuf Khan began to batter the Nerkattumseval fort and this attack continued for about two months. Finally, On 16 May 1761 Puli Thevar’s three major forts (Nerkattumseval, Vasudevanallur and Panayur) came under the control of Yusuf Khan.
- Unity of palyakkarars began to break up as French support was not forthcoming as after taking Pondicherry the English had eliminated the French from the picture. In the meantime, Travancore, Seithur, Uthumalai and Surandai switched their loyalty to the opposite camp.
- But, Yusuf Khan was charged with treachery and hanged in 1764 as he was negotiating with the palayakkarars, without informing the Company administration.
Fall of Puli Thevar:
- Puli Thevar returned from exile after the death of Khan Sahib and recaptured Nerkattumseval in 1764. However, he was defeated by Captain Campbell in 1767. Puli Thevar escaped and died in exile.