People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXX

No. 24

June 11, 2006

Comrade K Ramani: Sacrifice Personified

COMRADE K Ramani, an outstanding leader of the working class in Tamilnadu who dedicated his entire life for the upliftment of the downtrodden and oppressed, died on May 30, 2006 at Coimbatore.  Thousands of people from all walks of life bid tearful farewell for this tireless worker who finally earned his rest on that dark day.

 

Born on July 16, 1916 at Idappal village in Palakkad district, Kerala, he had to undergo the pangs of hunger and poverty from his early life.  Deserted by his father, his family had to be under the protective wings of little Ramani who had to abandon his early schooling and go out to earn a living.  His family consisting of his grandmother, mother, cousin sister and a brother shifted to Coimbatore when Ramani was only 14.  He worked as a hotel worker for a monthly salary of Rs 3.  Tragedy struck his family in 1930 when his grandmother, mother and his brother died within a period of five days, one by one, due to cholera. Ramani and his cousin tried hard to raise money for their cremation but could not succeed; with tears flowing they had to witness the cremation carried out by the municipality as they did for all orphans.

 

But Comrade Ramani was a different person. Such sufferings and heartrending experiences steeled his heart. He decided that he would face life with courage and determination and go ahead.  He joined as a worker in a textile mill, read Tamil on his own, learnt English through reading newspapers with untiring personal efforts and kept abreast of the events happening around. Earning a monthly salary of Rs 7 in the textile mill for a 10-hour work, he could see the workers being systematically squeezed and exploited. This led him to take part in the trade union activities.  He was inspired by the self-respect movement, which organised May Day programme, Russian Revolution  Day etc, and also by the speeches of leaders like P Jeevanandam who stressed the need to usher in a Socialist society and to draw up revolutionary tasks for it. Comrade Ramaniís political consciousness was sharpened through this.  He was then hopping from one mill to another as he was victimized by successive managements for organising the workers in trade unions, formulating their demands and leading their struggles. 

 

One such struggle was on the eight-point charter of demands of the workers of Lakshmi Mills in Coimbatore which ended successfully with the active intervention of leaders like Comrades P Ramamurthi and P Jeevanandam, who were then the leaders of Congress Socialist Party (CSP) which Ramani had joined. In the year 1939, Comrade Ramani joined the Communist Party along with others in the CSP. And then began a saga of struggle, sacrifice and sufferings.  In a false case foisted against him, he was arrested after being underground, and sentenced to 15 months rigorous imprisonment. When he was released in 1941, he was rearrested at the prison gate under Defence of India Rules (DIR) and imprisoned for one and half years and released in 1942.  For having organised the struggle for the release of workmen who were arrested in Pankaja Mill firing case, he was imprisoned again for 10 months with rigorous imprisonment.

 

In the year 1948, the Communist Party of India was banned.  Comrade Ramani led an underground life for two and half years and then was arrested and sent to Vellore jail.  There he faced worst forms of physical torture by the police and jail authorities but he had an unbreakable spirit and nothing could deter him from the path chosen by him.  He was released in 1951 after the ban was lifted.  In 1959 he became a member of national council of the undivided CPI.  In the background of India-China conflict in the year 1962, the RSS engineered an attack on our Party office in Delhi and Comrade Ramani and Comrade M R Venkataraman stood there to defend and faced the brunt of attack.  He was one among those arrested then.

 

Ideological differences had been simmering on for a long time and in the year 1964, they came out into the open with 32 members of the national council of CPI walking out, leading to the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).  Comrade Ramani was one among those 32 members. In December 1964,  thousands of CPI(M) leaders and cadres were arrested through out the country under DIR and Ramani was arrested. He was released after 16 months of imprisonment. 

 

In the year 1967, Comrade Ramani was elected as a member of Lok Sabha from Coimbatore. He was also elected four times to Tamilnadu state assembly.  During 1975-76, in the emergency period of Indira Gandhi government, he was arrested again. The police wanted to shift him from the hospital (where he was undergoing treatment) to the prison.  He resisted this and with the intervention of Comrade AKG and PR, he was taken back to the hospital.

 

Comrade Ramani did pioneering work in organising the workers under trade unions in and around Coimnbatore and Nilgiris districts and was in the forefront leading their struggles.  He was the president of Tamilnadu unit of CITU for a long time, leader of Electricity Board workers and employees and known in the textile industry as one of the very knowledgeable leaders.  He was the president of the Tamilnadu Textile Workers Federation.

 

Comrade Ramani is survived by two daughters and a son.  His elder son-in-law P R Natarajan is the district secretary of CPI(M), Coimbatore (West).

 

Comrade Ramani is no more.  Born in a very poor family, having gone through all the rigours of life with indefatigable spirit and sacrifice, he rose to be an acclaimed leader of the working class.  Comrade Ramani continues to live in the hearts and minds of the toiling people as the recorded history of his life shall guide their struggles and living.