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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Dalawa's sword comes home

Staff Reporter

To be placed in a special bulletproof enclosure at Napier Museum

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The personal sword of Velu Thampi Dalawa, the ruler of erstwhile Travancore who fought against the British, will henceforth adorn the Napier Museum in the capital city.

The sword is placed inside a bulletproof enclosure which will be monitored constantly using nine security cameras. The enclosure will be monitored from a control room situated inside the Museum police station. Ten policemen will form the outer ring of security for the priceless sword.

It was playback singer K.J. Yesudas who placed the sword inside the special enclosure on Sunday evening. As part of a government initiative to spread awareness about the role of the Dalawa in the fight against British imperialism, school students will be admitted free to the Napier Museum and to the adjacent zoo on all Sundays.

Earlier, Culture Secretary V. Venu and Chief Secretary P. Prabhakaran received the sword from the representatives of the Centre led by Union Culture Secretary Jawahar Sarkar. The sword was then handed over to Minister for Culture M.A. Baby and to Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullappally Ramachandran.

A representative of the Kilimanoor royal family, which had cared for the sword for close to 150 years after the Dalawa's martyrdom, handed over to Mr. Baby a photograph of India's then president Rajendra Prasad receiving the sword from a representative of the royal family in 1957.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's message was read out on the occasion by his Principal Secretary T.K.A. Nair. Dr. Singh said the sword would inspire the youth along a path of duty and commitment.

In his address Mr. Ramachandran said immediate steps should be taken to set up a centre of history which would study the contributions of people including Velu Thampi Dalawa, Pazhassi Raja and Kunhali Marickar in the fight against British imperialism. Justice had not been done to such freedom fighters by historians, he said.

Last year, when the Department of History, University of Kerala, approached the National Museum in New Delhi wanting to find out about the Dalawa's sword, the reply was that ‘there was no such sword at the museum.' It was only after the personal intervention of the Prime Minister and his Principal Secretary that the Museum admitted that it did indeed have the sword, he said.

Mr. Ramachandran placed on record his thanks to the Prime Minister and Mr. Nair for their role in ensuring that the sword found its way to the State.

In his address, Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy said the sword reminded Keralites and Indians of the price they had to pay for freedom from colonial rule. Thousands of people sacrificed their lives for the freedom that present-day Indians often took for granted, he pointed out.

Wrong notion

Speaking on the occasion poet O. N.V. Kurup said many historians behaved as though there was no such thing as a freedom struggle in South India. This, despite the fact that the Dalawa and Pazhassi Raja had battled the British years before the first war of independence in 1857. Poet Sugathakumari recited a poem in memory of Velu Thampi Dalawa.

In his speech Mr. Sarkar said this engagement with the Government of Kerala will be the first in a series of such initiatives designed to revitalise cultural institutions in the State.

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