Sunday, 27 May 2007

Thomas Baber's account of the death of the Pazhassi Rajah, Part 2

Nair warriors from a grave monument.

As these people were exclusively under the influence of Palora Jamen , it is not difficult to explain whence this unfortunate notion originated: it is only those who have had a personal opportunity of knowing the extensive abilities and artifices of this man who can justly calculate upon the mischief and dire consequence that must ensue where such qualifications are employed against us. This was unfortunately instanced in the Kooramars, who, from the time of Palora Jamen’s defection, had become in a manner desperate; they had been foremost amongst the rebel ranks, and there is no crime, no species of cruelty and outrage, which they have not committed.

After this unfavourable description of the southern inhabitants of Wynad, you will judge what were the difficulties to be overcome. I saw that the utmost firmness and vigilance was requisite, at the same time that I deemed the most open and public disclosure of my purposes was more likely to keep in awe those who wearing the appearance of fidelity as well as to counteract the designs of our open enemies. To the Chetties in particular I explained that there were no means I would leave untried to discover their real sentiments, and warned them against giving me the smallest shadow to suspect they were continuing in the rebel interest. For this purpose I employed emissaries in a variety of characters. I made frequent marches by day and night to the most unfrequented parts of the country, and by degrees obtained such a knowledge of the inhabitants that, fearful lest their shallow artifices would sooner or later be known, they began evidently to alter their conduct and on some instances they came forward with information. The rebels saw this change that was being effected, and suspecting a continuance in Parakameetil would expose them to danger, they by degrees emigrated towards the eastern extremities of Wynad, and one march I made after the Rajah while residing at Coorcheat and which would have succeeded but for the treachery of my guide, a Chetty, drove them entirely out of the southern division.

As the great engine of success against an enemy is depriving him of his means of subsistence, my thoughts were naturally directed to this point. As I before said, the Chetties were the media through whom these were principally drawn; these people, to further these their views, had removed their families into Mysore in the villages of Poonat, Pootoor, Kakanabetta, etc, whither they had free egress and regress; and from whence it was no difficult matter to draw such supplies as Wynad could not provide. They had established an intercourse by these means with the Mysorean’s, whom they supplied with ghee and grains of different sorts, and in return received coconuts, oil, salt and other articles necessary for subsistence; in removing their families from Waynad they had a variety of objects, one of which was to secure them against any of those consequences which they naturally apprehended from their own dishonest and perfidious pursuits; another was a safe asylum in the event of discovery. The rebels had now confined themselves to the Wynad Hobali and had entire possession of the eastern frontier, by which they were enabled to profit by this understanding between the Mysoreans and Wynad Chetties free of any molestation whatever. After this statement, it will not be extraordinary that I should have pursued the most effectual means to cut off the destructive commerce. I wrote, therefore to the Resident at Mysore fully on the subject, and requested his co-operation to that extent as should to him appear judicious and expedient; the result of this application was a perfect compliance with my wishes: all the inhabitants of Wynad then in Mysore were ordered to be seized and proclamation made prohibiting, under severe penalties, the passage of any articles whatever without a passport from the officers of the Honourable Company or of Mysore. Major Wilkes went further, so earnest was he in forwarding the public service that he offered to meet me on the frontier should I deem a personal conference as promising still further advantages.

Continues in Part 3 here..

Copyright Nick Balmer May 2007

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