99 years of Wagon Tragedy – the Jalian Wallabagh of the South

99 years of Wagon Tragedy

Remembered as the Jalian Wallabagh of the South, the Wagon Tragedy incident took place on November 20, 1921, exactly 99 years ago. A goods wagon that steamed into Podanur Junction from Tirur in Kerala spilled out as many as 70-bodies of ryots. Colonial rulers arrested the farmers when they revolted against them and clashed with the Malabar police. They were herded into a windowless wagon without food and water to be transported to the Coimbatore prison. The Malabar region comprised of Palakkad, Malappuram, Wayanad, Kasargone, Kozhikkode and Kannur which was part of the then Madras Presidency. By the time the train chugged a distance of 140 km into Podanur, 70 farmers had suffocated to death without ventilation, food and water. Some of them survived by drinking urine. The British Raj tried to cover up this heinous event but finally relented to the pressure and gave a solatium of Rs 300 to the families of those who were killed. In 1972, the Kerala Government called the incident as ‘the Wagon Tragedy’.  The Sergeant of the Malabar Police who ordered the farmers to be transported in this inhuman way to the prisons in Coimbatore and Bellary was called Richard Harvard Hitchcock.