26 MAY CHEMPAKARAMAN PILLAI (1891 to 1934)
Born in 1891 in Thiruvananthapuram (present-day Kerala), Chempakaraman Pillai was a political activist and Indian revolutionary who though based outside India, organised a group of like-minded revolutionaries to fight for India’s freedom from the British Raj. Though Pillai completed his education on foreign soil, it did not deter him from his mission. On 31 July 1914, Raman Pillai formed the Indian National Voluntary Corps. He called on all Indians residing abroad to fight for India. He also sent emissaries to Japan and China to forge alliances. However, when Adolf Hitler started ridiculing the efforts of the revolutionaries on German soil, it was Raman Pillai who took on the mighty Hitler. His insistence on a written apology from Hitler enraged the Fuhrer. It is said that it was on Hitler’s orders that Pillai was killed by food poisoning on 26 May 1934. Chempakaraman Pillai is an unsung hero who finds little mention in the annals of India’s freedom struggle. A few years back, his statue was installed at the Gandhi Mandapam Campus in Chennai.
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