Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Thomas Master and the Jewish monuments in Mala

Guest post by Prof. C. Karmachandran
Former Associate Professor (History)
C. Achuta Menon Government College, Kuttanellur

The one year long birth centenary celebrations of late K A Thomas master (b 1916- d 2011) who made a deep imprint in the history of Mala, more exactly of central Kerala as a freedom fighter, political leader and a social and cultural activist commenced on 2nd of October, 2015.

He was the President of Poyya, the neighbouring Panchayat for 15 years and the Chairman of Mala Development Block for ten years. He contested against the former Chief minister K Karunakaran and was defeated by a slender margin of mere 364 votes in 1967.

During 80's he gradually withdrew from political activities and started concentrating his attention on social and cultural activities when he came across the pathetic condition of the millennium old Jewish Monuments at the hands of Mala Panchayat. Despite the fact that it was bound by an agreement of 1955 to preserve the Jewish monuments in Mala the Panchayat chose to neglect the same.

Towards the end of 80's it was he who organised a popular movement in Mala for the first time demanding the protection of the Jewish monuments. He was the founder chairman of the Jewish Monuments Protection Committee that spearheaded the activities to save the Jewish monuments in Mala. Under his able leadership the committee organised public meetings and various other forms of agitations such as satyagraha, demonstrations, and legal activism.

He gave representations to the Archaeological authorities of the central and state governments for the purpose. He associated himself with the Jewish organisation of Cochin who in 1994 approached the High Court of Kerala for restraining Mala Panchayat from violating the agreement of 1955.

The Panchayat was constrained to give an affidavit in the court that it would honour the agreement and preserve the Jewish monuments. Unfortunately when he was forced to give up his activities due to failing health and old age the Panchayat resumed its anti heritage activities in the Jewish cemetery.

It is significant to note that despite being an atheist and a rationalist he championed the cause of preserving a synagogue and a cemetery, both related to Jewish religious belief. To him the Jewish monuments in Mala were the symbols of the proud and lofty tradition of the religious harmony and cultural inclusiveness that existed in ancient Mala and Kerala.

Let us pay a glowing a tribute to his unforgettable memories on this occasion.