Estimate the valiant struggle of Kattabomman against the British
Vira Pandya Kattabomman became the Palayakkarar of Panchalamkurchi at the age of thirty on the death of his father, Jagavira Pandya Kattabomman. Yet, several events led to the conflict between Kattabomman and East India Company. During this period the collection of tribute served as a cause of friction.
The Nawab of Arcot who had this right surrendered it to the English under the provisions of the Karnatic treaty of 1792. Therefore, the chief of Panchalamkuruchi, Kattabomman had to pay tribute to the English. In September 1798, the tribute from Kattabomman fell into arrears.
Colleitor Jackson in his characteristic arrogance and rashness wrote letters to Kattabomman in a threatening language’.- There is a tradition to indicate that Kattabomman declared. “If trains, the lang yields, why should we pay fan to the English?” By the 31 May 1789, the total arrears of tribute from Kattabomman amounted to 3310 pagodas.
Hence, on the 18 August 1798 Jacks on sent an order to Kattabomman to meet him at Ramanathapuram within two weeks. In the meantime, Kattabomman went with arrears of tribute to meet Jackson, Kattabomman was humiliated twice by Jackson when the former wanted to meet him at Tirukuttalam and Srivilliputttur. But he was told that he could meet the collector only at Ramanathapuram.
An interview was granted by Jackson and Kattabomman cleared most of arrears leaving only 1090 pagodas as balance. During this interview Kattabomman and his minister, Sivasubramania Pillai, had to stand before the arrogant collector for three hours together still he did not permit them to leave the place, but directed them to stay inside the fort. Kattabomman suspected the intensions of Jackson, Sivasubramania Pillai was taken prisoner. But Kattabomman escaped.
After his return to Panchalamkuruchi, Kattabomman appealed to the Madras Council submitting the facts. The Madras government directed Kattabomman to appear before a committee, Meanwhile, the government released Sivasubramania Pillai and suspended the collector, Jackson. He appeared before the committee, with William Brown, William oram and John Casmayor as members.
League of the Palayakkarars:
Thus the English removed the source of grievance to Kattabomman. Yet, the humiliation suffered by Kattabomman affected his self-respect. During this time, Marudu Pandyan of Sivangaga organized the South Indian Confederacy of rebels against the British. The Tiruchirappalli Proclamation was made. He sent missions Panchalamkuruchi. Thus a close association between Kattabomman and Marudu Pandyan established.
The events now moved to a crisis. In August 1798 the son of the Palayakkarar of Sivagiri and his advisor visited Panchalamkuruchi and held consultations. Kattabomman decided to establish his influence in Sivagiri was a tributary to the company. The Madras Council considered this move as a challenge to its, own authority and ordered war against Kattabomman.
Expedition of Panchalamkuruchi:
In May 1799, Lord Wellesley issued orders from Madras for the advance of forces from Tiruchirappalli, Thanjavur and Madurai to Tirunelveli. Major Bannerman, armed with extensive powers, assumed the command of the expedition. On the 1. September, 1799 the Major served an ultimatum directing Kattabomman to surrender and attend on him at Palayamkottai on the 4th Kattabomman replied that he would submit on a lucky day.
Bannerman considered this replay as evasive and decided on military action on 5 September Kattabomman’s for was attacked. On the 16th reinforcements reached from Palayamkottai. In a clash at Kolarpathi the Palayakarars troops suffered heavy casualty and Sivasubramania Pillai was taken prisoner.
Fall of Kattabomman:
Bannerman brought the prisoners to an assembly of the Palayakkarars and after a mockers of trial sentenced them to death. Siva Subramania Pillai was executed at Nagalapuram on the, 13th of September on the 16th of October Vira Pondyan was tried before an assembly of Palayakkarars, summoned at Kayattar.
Thereupon, Bannerman announced death penalty. On the 16th of October Kattabomman was hanged to death at a conspicuous spot near the old fort of Kayattar. Vira Pandian faced the last moments of his life with the pride of a hero.