It was 25th of January, 1965 in Madurai, India. It wasn’t a good time in Tamilnadu as the majority of the people were protesting against the Central Government in making Hindi the sole Official Language of India. I was going to college in Thiruparankundram as usual to study Engineering. Everything was going normally until lunch time. During lunchtime, a lot of students barged into the cafeteria and forced us to get up. They told us to line up outside the college to lead a procession.
We lined up outside the college holding banners which were written in Tamil “Don’t Impose, Don’t Impose, Don’t Impose Hindi”. We were leading the procession by walking from the college to the Meenakshi Amman Temple, the Centre of Madurai and other people joined us on the way.
Just as we approached the streets surrounding the Meenakshi Amman Temple, we then saw a group of policemen lined up with their lathis to block our way. The police warned us to stop the protest or else we would meet severe consequences. Then one of the protesters, Sundararajan, standing next to me spoke up, “Would you accept if your identity gets vanished just because of Hindi?” That gave me a thought of my identity, Tamil, which is my life. Then, I understood and I also spoke up for the first time and said, “Well Tamil is our identity and giving up for the sake of Hindi is useless and will affect our legacy.” Then suddenly I got hit by a lathi by a constable and my forehead began to bleed and I fell down.
The other protesters became angry and started to pelt stones over the policemen and the Inspector gave the order to lathicharge and the constables began to run forward to hit us with lathis. Every protester was getting hit by the constables’ lathis. I was lying on the road bleeding, hoping that someone will save me from this ruckus, but everyone was running hither and thither screaming and was bleeding from the lathi-charging constables. Even Sundararajan was lying on the road heavily bleeding. I was afraid that I was going to die. I was then pulled into an ambulance and was took to the Government Rajaji Hospital in Goripalayam, Madurai.
I then opened my eyes after a long time and saw myself in a hospital bed with a gauze bandage around my head and my right leg and a cast around my arm. The Commissioner of Madurai and his constable was asking the injured ones who hit them. The other protesters were speechless as they were scared on telling that it was an Inspector and the Commissioner might favour him in the case. I asked the protester lying next to me where Sundararajan was. He then said that he is lying in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and his condition was critical. I was then shocked that someone who had the guts to speak up was lying in critical condition. I was then shocked that someone who had the guts to speak up was lying in critical condition.
The Commissioner then came to us and asked us who hit us and I bravely answered that it was the Inspector who ordered me to lathicharge against the protesters. The Commissioner then thanked me and made the constable to file the complaint. Then the doctor came out of the ICU room and said Sundararajan is safe right now and can talk, eat, but can take a month to walk. We were amazed and happy that our dear friend was alive. We then put our efforts to get up and rushed to the ICU in our crutches and wheelchairs to see Sundararajan. Sundararajan spoke that he is fine and thanking us for supporting him. We were crying in tears of happiness.
We came back to our beds and my mother came to see me with dinner for me. She was very shocked to see us in such a pathetic condition. She asked the doctor when I will be discharged and he said that I will be discharged the next day. My mother said what I did was good and no one can take our identity just for the sake of another language which is deemed as a “national” language. She fed me some idlis with sambar and I was feeling the warmth from my mother’s affection. She then said that she will see me tomorrow morning to pick me up and said to have a sound sleep. Then she left and I fell asleep.
The next morning, my mother came and signed the papers and assisted me in getting out of the bed. We then took a bus to Annanagar where my house was. We then came home and my father saw me in this condition and started to cry. He said I he will support me no matter what happens and what I did was right. I was surprised that he shared some sympathy with me. I then felt good as I did something to save my identity.
During an evening, I was roaming alone in the streets of Annanagar Residential Area. I then saw Sundararajan coming in the way in his wheelchair with his brother pushing. He then saw me and asked me how I was. I then said I was feeling good and then he asked why not I join his Youth Anti-Hindi Imposition Organisation. I then immediately said yes and promised him that I will fight for our cause. He then said me to come to the organisation meeting in Vandiyur which was on the next day. I then attended the meeting next day in Vandiyur. The meeting was so great that everyone shared their speeches. Sundararajan, who was the founder and the leader of the organisation, called me to the stage to speak about my thoughts about Hindi as the National Language of India. I then came to the stage and spoke that Tamil is our identity, Tamil is our language, It is our unalienable right and no one can take it out by another language. I was then applauded by the audience and I created a lot of new friends. We then started to share such an inseparable bond in the organisation where we got together and spearheaded the Anti-Hindi Imposition Agitation frequently so that Hindi won’t be the sole National Language of India and also save our Tamil Identity.
On 11th of February, 1965, our Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri addressed the nation in All India Radio in Delhi and the rest became history.