Communist veteran, freedom fighter Sankaraiah passes away at age 101

Communist veteran, freedom fighter Sankaraiah passes away at age 101

Chennai, Nov 15 (PTI) Freedom fighter, veteran of the Communist movement and senior CPI(M) leader N Sankaraiah died here on Wednesday at the age of 101.

He is survived by his two sons and a daughter.

A founding member of the CPI (M), 'comrade' Sankaraiah breathed his last at a private hospital.

Chief Minister M K Stalin showered praise on Sankaraiah recalling his yeoman service for the people.

A lifelong fighter against oppression, his life and sacrifices would forever remain in the pages of history. 'His is a life of sacrifices,' he said.

Stalin announced that the leader's funeral would be conducted with state honours marking his service as a freedom fighter, a legislator and leader of a political party.

The CM said though he had announced that Sankaraiah would be conferred an honorary doctorate by the state-run Madurai Kamarajar University, it could not be done due to the 'conspiracy' of some 'narrow-minded' people who were unaware of the history of Tamil Nadu in the freedom movement.

The veiled reference is to Governor R N Ravi who in his capacity as chancellor did not reportedly give his consent and hence, the doctorate could not be conferred.

Sankaraiah, a three-time MLA, had helmed the Marxist's party affiliate All India Kisan Sabha as its president and general secretary as well.

He was the Tamil Nadu State Secretary of the CPI(M) from 1995 to 2002 and he had also been the chief of the state committee of the farmers body.

One of the tallest leaders of the Left movement in the country, Sankaraiah, born on July 15, 1922 in Kovilpatti in Tamil Nadu, took a very active part in the freedom struggle.

He mobilised students when he was pursuing a BA degree at the American College in Madurai.

Barely 15 days before his final degree exam, he was placed under preventive detention for his participation in the freedom struggle and he could not complete his graduation.

Imprisoned multiple times, including in the Madurai conspiracy case, his incarceration lasted till 14 August 1947.

In total, he spent five years in jail during the freedom movement.

Also, he was in prison for four years after independence for taking forward the people's causes.

Sankaraiah also spent two years underground as a Communist leader. He had refused to accept pension or honours meant for freedom fighters.

Well-versed in Tamil and English, he dedicated his life for people's issues, championing the cause of the oppressed and the working classes.

He had participated in the temple entry movement in Madurai and in the anti-Hindi struggle as well.

Stalin and his cabinet colleagues, including Duraimurugan (Water Resources Minister) and MPs TR Baalu and A Raja, paid floral tributes to the departed leader.

The chief minister, in his tributes, said the Left leader in 2021 had donated Rs 10 lakh to the state for its Covid-19 relief fund, which was the prize money he had received from the Tamil Nadu government when he was conferred the 'Thagaisal Tamilar Award' (Tamilian of Eminence Award) that year.

Condolences poured in on the death of the eminent leader.

Leader of opposition and AIADMK General Secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami hailed Sankaraiah for dedicating his life to the service of the people and development of the working classes.

Former chief minister O Panneerselvam, CPI state secretary R Mutharasan, Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan, AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran and PMK founder S Ramadoss were among those who condoled Sankaraiah's demise.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan hailed Sankaraiah as a guiding force of the Communist movement in the country and a perennial source of inspiration for everyone.

The Marxist party has announced week-long mourning. Party flags would fly at half-mast and all programmes of the party shall be cancelled.

Sankaraiah's funeral will take place on November 16 in the presence of CPI(M)'s national leaders.

His body will be kept in the party's state committee office here to enable people to pay their last respects. PTI VGN SA VGN ANE

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