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Immanuvel Devendrar

(1924 – 1957) – (Tamilnadu)

Immanuvel Devendrar (Aged 33) who was born on 9 October 1924 in Sellur, Mudukulathur, Tamil Nadu, later took the name Immanuel Sekaran. He was a freedom fighter, civil rights activist, and worker for the Indian National Congress in Tamil Nadu, India. Devendrar participated in the Quit India movement from the age of 18 and was imprisoned for three months as a result. In 1945, he joined the British Indian Army, and upon his discharge, he returned to his native Ramanathapuram district to work for the Indian National Congress party (INC).

Devendrar’s time in the army led him to question the historical oppression of the Pallar caste in his district, which was particularly severe. As a Pallar himself, he worked to improve their education, rights, and representation, and tried to mobilize them to demand equality. The INC saw him as a useful opposition to Pasumpon Mutharamalingam Thevar, who had defected from the party to join the Forward Bloc.

The Pallars often had disputes with the higher-status Thevar caste, and the relationship between the communities became fraught following a by-election in 1957. A peace meeting was called, at which Devendrar refused to stand up when Thevar arrived. On 11 September 1957, Devendrar was ambushed and murdered by a group of Thevars for his activism. Dravidian parties accused Thevar himself of some responsibility for the death, and he was arrested but later released without charge.

The 1957 Ramnad riots, in which 42 Dalits were killed, occurred as a consequence of Devendrar’s murder. Approximately 20 supporters of U. Muthuramalingam Thevar and 30 Pallar Schedule Caste people died, according to the 1957 Ramnad riots data, not counting the injured personnel. The anniversary of Devendrar’s death is celebrated annually as Devendrar Jayanti by the Devendra Kula community people in Tamil Nadu.