Akkamma Cheriyan

Akkamma Cheriyan (1909-1982) popularly known as Jhansi Rani of Travancore, led the Quit India Movement of 1942 while she was the Congress acting president and was imprisoned. She was born on February 14, 1909 as the second daughter of Karippaparambil Thomman Cherian and Annamma at Kanjirappally. She completed her B.A. in History from St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam.

The Travancore State Congress was formed in February 1938, when Akkamma was the Headmistress of the St. Mary’s English Medium School. In the same year she led a mass rally from Thampanoor to the Kowdiar palace to submit a petition seeking democratic freedom to the people before the King of Travancore. The British police chief ordered to fire upon the rally. Akkamma Cheriyan who stood in front of the rally shouted "I am the leader; shoot me first before you kill others?" These courageous words forced the police authorities to withdraw their orders. On hearing the news Mahatma Gandhi hailed her as ‘The Jhansi Rani of Travancore’. She was arrested and convicted for violating prohibitory orders in 1939. Akkamma, after her release from jail, became a full-time worker of the State Congress. In 1942, she became its Acting President.

In 1947, after independence, Akkamma was elected to the Travancore Legislative Assembly from Kanjirappally unopposed. In 1967, she contested the Assembly election as an independent candidate and was defeated. She, then, slowly withdrew from active politics. Later, she served as a member of the Freedom Fighters’ Pension Advisory Board. A statue was erected in her memory at Vellayambalam in Thiruvananthapuram.

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