The mortal remains of writer and critic and orator Sukumar Azhikode were consigned to flames with full state honours at Payyambalam here on Wednesday.
Professor Azhikode died in a hospital in Thrissur on January 24. He had been battling cancer for over a year. The body was brought in a special vehicle from Thrissur to his home town. He had been born in Azhikode village near here. The body reached the village in the early hours of Wednesday.
Prof. Azhikode’s nephews Rajesh and Manoj lit the funeral pyre arranged on the cremation ground, facing the Payyambalam beach, on a slot closed to memorial columns of eminent men including late E.K. Nayanar and Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai, among others. His driver Suresh was also present to witness the funeral rites. The pyre was lit around 12-15 p.m. Large number of people from all walks of life turned up at Payyambalam to bid farewell to Prof. Azhikode who had influenced a generation with his public speeches and writings. Among those who formed part of the funeral cortege from the Town Square to the cremation ground were Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, Assembly Speaker G. Karthikeyan, and an array of Ministers and political leaders of all hues.
The body that reached here in the wee hours of Wednesday was kept at his sister’s house at Mele Chovva for sometime before it was taken to the Mahatma Mandiram. At 7 a.m., the body was taken to a specially arranged venue at the Town Square for the public to pay their last respects to the Prof. Azhikode. At the Town Square, thousands of people lined up to pay their homage to the body. The Ministers and political leaders were among those who laid wreaths in homage for the deceased. The body was then taken for the cremation in a funeral procession attended by a large turn out of mourners.
Among those present at the funeral ceremony included Mr. Achuthanandan, Mr. Karthikeyan, Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran, Minister of State for Power K.C. Venugopal, Rural Development Minister K.C. Joseph, Tourism Minister A.P. Anilkumar, Social Welfare and Panchayat Minister M.K. Muneer, Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, Socialist Janata (Democratic) leader M.P. Veerendrakumar, MPs K. Sudhakaran and M.K. Raghavan, MLAs Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, A.P. Abdullakutty and K.M. Shaji, Bharatiya Janata Party leader P.K. Krishnadas and Communist Party of India leader Pannyan Raveendran, among others.
Paying glowing tributes to Sukumar Azhikode after the funeral of his body at the cremation ground at Payyambalam here on Wednesday, leaders of different political persuasions remembered the deceased scholar, writer, critic and orator as a man of convictions who had never compromised on his principles.
In his funeral address, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan termed him as a courageous personality who had disseminated the Gandhian ideas among the people and led them to progress. Prof. Azhikode’s works for the progress of the society should be continued in his absence, now that he had joined, in the soil of Payyambalam, freedom fighters who had fought against colonial rulers and exploitative feudal system. A disciple of the Atma Vidya Movement started by Vagbhatananda Guru and Sree Narayana Guru, Prof. Azhikode had been inspired by the Gandhian principles to fight for the country’s freedom and progress. A Congressman engaged in teaching Gandhian ideas in his early years, he had been disenchanted with the Congress following Emergency and then turned to the Left, serving as its strong spokesman fighting against vices, Mr. Achuthanandan said.
Speaker G. Karthikeyan said that the memory of the deceased scholar and teacher transcended words. Prof. Azhikode presented with his fingers and tongue the ideas and attitudes that he had formulated through reflection. A man of renaissance, the late orator and teacher had never reduced his criticism to personal levels as he had offered the people a new vista that highlighted the loss of cultural values in the State, Mr. Karthikeyan said. Prof. Azhikode had succeeded in resonating with rural folks, the Speaker said adding that he could also expose erosion of values and corruption in the society. The words of Prof. Azhikode would continue to live as he had been a person who had communicated with the masses, Mr. Karthikeyan added.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) Pinarayi Vijayan said that Prof. Azhikode was a rare personality who could pull huge crowds and continued to live by the principle of uncompromising fight against injustice till his last breath. He had never indulged in personal attacks even as he used his critical faculty to oppose what he could not accept. Even after he had started co-operating with the Left, he had criticised it whenever there were failure on its part, he said adding that the Left had always taken his criticism seriously.
Describing Prof. Azhikode as a voice of vigil in the society, Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran observed that the late scholar had always upheld the Gandhian principle of fearlessness. The demise of Prof. Azhikode marked the end of an era, he said adding that his criticism of the Congress had been healthy as they were meant for strengthening the democratic system introduced in the country by the Congress.
Minister of State for Power K.C. Venugopal termed Prof. Azhikode as a unique personality and the movements and their leaders who had not been at the receiving end of Prof. Azhikode’s criticism were rare. It was though his words that the society in the State identified and accepted virtues, the Minister said.
Socialist Janata (Democratic) leader M.P. Veerendrakumar said Prof. Azhikode had always stood with what he thought was right. The late scholar and orator had always reacted to issues in the State. His absence would be felt by the people of the State, he added.
K. Sudhakaran, MP, presided over the function. Among those who were present included Ministers K.C. Joseph and M.K. Muneer, MLAs Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, A.P. Abdullkutty, and K.M. Shaji.