வெள்ளையர்களிடமிருந்து இந்தியா விடுதலை பெற தன் இன்னுயிரைத் தியாகம் செய்த மாவீரன் வாஞ்சிநாதன்.
Vanchinathan was born in 1886 in Shenkottai to Raghupathy Iyer and Rukmani Ammal. His actual name was Shankaran. He did his schooling in Shenkottai and graduated in M.A. from Moolam Thirunal Maharaja College in Thiruvananthapuram. Even while in college, he married Ponnammal and got into a lucrative Government job. In those days several Lakhs of our Indian freedom fighters were crushed by British Rulers.
The atrocities created by British lighted the fire in the heart of young patriots. On June 17, 1911, Vanchi assassinated the district collector of Tirunelveli, who was also known as Collector Dorai. He shot Ashe at point-blank range when Ashe's train had stopped at the Maniyachi station, en route to Madras. He committed suicide thereafter. The railway station has since been renamed Vanchi Maniyachi Railway Station. On that day, Ashe Tirunelveli Collector boarded the 9-30 a.m. Maniyachi Mail at Tirunelveli junction.
With him was his wife, Mary Lillian Patterson, who had arrived from Ireland only a few days earlier. They had married on April 6, 1898, in Berhampore; Mary was about a year older than Ashe. They were on their way to Kodaikanal where their four children, Molly, Arthur, Sheila, and Herbert, lived in a rented bungalow. At 10-38 the train pulled in at Maniyachi. The Ceylon Boat Mail was due to arrive at 10-48. As the Ashes sat facing each other in the first class carriage, waiting for the Boat Mail to arrive, a neatly dressed man with tufted hair and another young man wearing a dhoti approached the carriage.
The former boarded the carriage and pulled out a Belgian-made Browning automatic pistol. The bullet hit Ashe in the chest and he collapsed. After the shooting Vanchi ran along the platform and hide in the latrine and shot himself with pistol. Some time later he was found dead, having shot himself in the mouth. Vanchi was a close friend of V.V.S.Aiyar or Va.Ve.Su Iyer), another freedom fighter who sought arms to defeat the British. He trained Vanchinathan to execute the plan in all perfection.
Every one of us talks about Independence and self rule. But in their conduct and behaviour they are following foreigners and not stood to our culture and civilization. At least we must tell our children to read the life history of martyrs who fought for our Independence.
Vanchi came to be hailed as a martyr and found a place in the Roll Call of Honour of the Indian Freedom Movement. Many years after India became free an agitation was put up successfully by locals to name the MANIYACHI RAILWAY JUNCTION after Vanchi as homage and tribute to his revered memory. We must be sincere to our Country and culture.