`Jubba' Ramakrishna Pillai passes away

Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: : The noted Gandhian and freedom fighter `Jubba' Ramakrishna Pillai passed away here on Thursday. He was 97.

Pillai had been ailing for some time and his condition took a turn for the worse four days ago. The end came at 3.30 a.m. at his house in Uppalam Road here.

Ramakrishna Pillai's name acquired the prefix after he set about popularising the `jubba' as a nationalist outfit when the Quit India movement broke out. The story goes that after an unsuccessful attempt to ban the outfit, then Dewan of Travancore C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer started wearing it himself.

Pillai worked tirelessly for the uplift of the scavengers, who did not have any of the privileges of ordinary citizens.

He set up a trade union for scavengers in 1946 and got them ration cards through an agitation. Such was his identification with their cause that A. P. Udayabhanu, who wrote the preface to the fellow Gandhian's memoirs, fondly refers to him as "Bhangi" Ramakrishna Pillai.

Pillai first met Gandhiji when he halted at his native place, Chavara, while on his way to attend the Vaikom Satyagraha.

He joined the Salt Satyagraha and was part of a 22-member volunteer group led by Ponnara Sreedhar which set off on a padayatra to Kannur on April 13, 1930, to make salt on the beaches there.