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Manalur Maniammai

(★ – 1953) – (Tamilnadu)

Manalur Maniammai, born into a Brahmin family, was initially named Valampal by her parents. She faced the loss of her father at a young age and, due to family circumstances, was married to a Nagapattinam lawyer who was 20 years her senior. After a decade of marriage, she became a widow and returned to her mother’s home.

Maniyammai, actively involved in the Indian freedom struggle, crossed paths with Gandhi when he visited Thanjavur and subsequently joined the Congress. As she rose to the position of a provincial committee member, she launched campaigns against farm slavery within her region. Her family distanced themselves from her because of her outspoken stance against caste-based servitude on her own farm. During this period, she recognized the significance of farmers within the Congress.

Eventually, Maniyammai left the Congress to become a dedicated communist. She expanded her political knowledge through the guidance of pioneering communists like Srinivasa Rao and Manali Kandasamy, ultimately becoming an influential leader. Her steadfast opposition to farm slavery and her mobilization of the working class stirred up anger among local farmers, resulting in a violent attack against her. She managed to escape but sustained injuries.

As a sign of her commitment to her cause, she shed traditional symbols of femininity, including her attire and hair, adopting a more masculine appearance. She embarked on extensive travels across Thanjavur, nurturing agricultural movements and participating in numerous struggles within the agricultural community.  She passed away in 1953.