When Trivandrum Airport witnessed a political protest 84 years ago


The city’s decades-old airport may have recently witnessed dramatic scenes of in-flight protests by Youth Congress workers against Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, but it was not without precedent because a similar event took place 80 years ago, although with different actors.

Just two months ago, the international airport here saw a protest by three YC activists against Vijayan boarding a plane after it landed.

While the fury over the in-flight protest, the anxious moments at the airport and the subsequent police removal of protesters were not yet extinguished, a decades-old record indicates that it was not not for the first time that Thiruvananthapuram airport played venue for such political drama, but did so in the pre-independence era as well.

It was no less than 84 years ago that a group of protesters swarmed the airport premises with black flags and banners and shouted ‘return’ slogans when a lawyer flew in from Bombay (now Mumbai).

He was none other than KF Nariman, the famous lawyer and a known leader of the Indian National Congress (INC) and he had arrived here to plead the case of A Narayana Pillai, a reputed leader of the State Congress of Travancore, before a court in the princely state of Travancore.

The protest, organized by the local fishing community here, was apparently orchestrated by the then Diwan of Travancore, Sir CP Ramaswamy Iyer, who was a vocal opponent of the Travancore Congress and its leadership.

The incident was mentioned in detail in a memento issued in the 1980s by the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) to mark the centenary of the INC.

According to an article, written by the famous freedom fighter, the late KM Chummar, in remembrance, Iyer, who had ruled with an iron fist, was waiting for a suitable opportunity to destroy the Travancore State Congress, a political party that was formed in 1938 to demand responsible governance in the princely state.

Targeting the party and its leaders, several repressive measures and malicious campaigns were reportedly unleashed by the Travancore administration under the Diwan against them.

During this tense political atmosphere, some articles, authored by Narayana Pillai, had appeared in the newspapers – ‘Malayalee’ and ‘Malayala Rajyam’, he added.

Underlining the strong objections to its content, Sir CP, as Iyer was known, had taken legal action against Pillai.

The Travancore State Congress had decided to uphold Pillai’s cause and formed a “Defence Committee” to support him.

Although the committee brought in several prominent local lawyers to defend Pillai in court, there was little they could do and it became almost certain that he would lose the case.

So they finally decided to bring in a well-known lawyer from out of state and chose Nariman and Sir CP decided to block him at all costs.

Congress leaders and workers had gathered in large numbers at the airport when Nariman arrived there on April 2, 1938. However, Sir CP’s people had brought a group of coastal belt fishermen there to pose as Some protestors.

“The fishermen were brought there in a police truck after being given black flags and placards with inscriptions like Nariman Go Back,” he said. As soon as Nariman got off the plane, they showed him a black flag and shouted the comeback slogan, according to the report.

Enraged by this, Congress workers led by top leader PT Punnoose had clashed with the protesters, following which a chaotic situation prevailed at the airport and its premises for some time.

During the clash, a policeman collapsed after being beaten.

The fishermen, who came to protest against the lawyer with the support of the police, fled the scene after some time and Nariman was brought safely out of the airport by the leaders, the newspaper added.

”This is perhaps a small episode in the turbulent history of Travancore. But, in the current context, it will amuse us that eight decades ago, the airport witnessed a political protest. “, historian Malayinkeezhu Gopalakrishnan told PTI.

However, records show that Nariman was unable to appear in court and plead for Pillai as the lawyer was denied permission by the judge saying he, originally from Bombay, had already been sentenced to a sentence. prison term, he said.

Following the Youth Congress protest against the Chief Minister, CPI(M) Secretary of State Kodiyeri Balakrishnan referred to the eight-decade-old political protest at the airport in his recent article in party spokesman Deshabhimani. Thiruvananthapuram Airport, the first of four airports in the state, was established in 1932. Under the patronage of King Travancore Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, Tata Airlines conducted the maiden flight to the airport using of a DH 83 Fox Moth aircraft in 1935.

The airport here is perhaps the only one of its kind in the world to close its runway and reschedule flight operations for a centuries-old procession from the famous Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple to pass here.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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