KERALA

P.K. Raghavan dead

LAST RESPECTS: Leaders paying homage to P.K. Raghavan, former Minister and CPI leader, at the State headquarters of the party in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. Photo: S.Gopakumar

LAST RESPECTS: Leaders paying homage to P.K. Raghavan, former Minister and CPI leader, at the State headquarters of the party in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. Photo: S.Gopakumar  

Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The former Minister and Communist leader P.K. Raghavan died here on Friday. He was 71.

Raghavan, a prominent Dalit leader, was SC/ST Development and Housing Minister during 1970-'71 and SC/ST Development and Registration Minister during 1987-'91.

At the time of his death owing to renal failure at a private hospital here this afternoon, Raghavan was serving as member of the CPI State council.

Raghavan's body was kept at the M.N. Smarakam, the State headquarters of the CPI, for a brief while before being taken to his village Bharanikkavu for cremation.

Finance Minister Vakkom Purushothaman, SC/ST Development Minister A.P. Anil Kumar, LDF convener Paloli Mohammed Kutty, CPI(M) district secretary M. Vijayakumar, RSP State secretary T.J. Chandrachoodan, former Ministers K.P. Prabhakaran, J. Chitharanjan and E. Chandrasekharan Nair, besides scores of party workers, paid their last respects to the departed leader at the M.N. Smarakam.

CPI State secretary Veliyam Bhargavan and other party leaders draped the body with a red flag. Mr. Bhargavan, later, accompanied the body to Bharanikkavu.

Raghavan began his political career as a student activist and later became a prominent organisation of farm workers in the area. A member of the Communist Party since 1953, he rose to become a member of the CPI State secretariat.

He had undergone imprisonment for his role in the transport strike in 1955 and the food stir in 1960.

As a leader of farm workers, he had functioned as State general secretary of the Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Federation and the national secretary of the Bhartiya Khet Mazdoor Union (BKMU).

At the time of his death, he was State president of the Karshaka Thozhilali Federation. He had earlier served as president and general secretary of the Kerala Pulayar Mahasabha as well.

He was first elected to the Assembly in 1967 from Pathanapuram and was returned to the House in 1970 from the same constituency and from Vaikom in 1987.

He had stepped down as a Minister in the 1971 Achutha Menon Cabinet along with N.E. Balaram and P.S. Sreenivasan to enable M.N. Govindan Nair and T.V. Thomas to become Ministers.

As SC/ST Development Minister, he had played a leading role in the establishment of Ambedkar Villages and residential schools for Dalits in the State. A poet, he had also published collection of poems.

Condoling Raghavan's death, Speaker Therambil Ramakrishnan said that in his death, the State had lost a prominent leader of the downtrodden people.

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said Raghavan's death was a major loss for the Left movement.

In his condolence message, CPI State secretary Veliyam Bhargavan described Raghavan a leader who commanded respect from all sections of people. RSP State secretary T. J. Chandrachoodan recalled that Raghavan was a leader who dedicated his life to the liberation of the subaltern classes.

LDF convener Paloli Mohammed Kutty described him a symbol of sacrifice for the cause of the working class.

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