Comrade J Shankaran
Comrade J Shankaran, former Party secretary of Karnataka, breathed his last on 5 May. He was suffering from lung cancer. Comrade J Shankaran leaves behind four decades of dedicated association with the Party. He was the secretary of the Party for two decades, spanning the tumultuous days of Emergency and underground days of the Party. He hailed from the modest background of a migrant Tamil worker in Indian Telephone Industries (ITI). His unwavering commitment to the left movement and working class served as the foundation for the Party which in later years spread its roots in the local culture and politics. Even though Party had only a small group of activists then in Bangalore, he held the party banner high during anti-Emergency actions. During the Public Sector working class struggles in the 1980s, Com. Shankaran played an active role.
He felt very happy and inspired when contacts were established in the late 1970s with the Party centre under the leadership of Comrade Vinod Mishra and distributed more than 100 copies of booklets on Bhojpur struggle and a collection of articles of Charu Mazumdar among the workers and progressive activists in Bangalore in 1977. In 1978, under extraordinary organizational circumstances, Shankaran and a few workers stood with the Party firmly, upholding Comrade CM’s exhortation to build the Party among workers and landless peasants and to keep it alive amidst enemy repression and organizational disturbances. In spite of his ailing physical conditions, he displayed an exemplary communist spirit till the end. He was very happy to see the Party’s recent growth in Karnataka, especially the first major political march organized under Party banner on March 14 this year demanding resignation of the corrupt BJP government in the state.
Comrade Shankaran played an important role as a popular workers’ organizer during the public sector workers’ struggle in Bangalore during the early 1980s, especially against the goondaism sponsored by the then Congress CM Gundu Rao. After the July 1983 massacre of Tamils in Sri Lanka, Shankaran emerged as a key organiser for the Tamil cause in Bangalore. He used to organize Tamil literary meetings almost every month. Invoking the rich cultural and literary heritage of Tamils, he gave migrant Tamil workers in the burgeoning metropolis of Bangalore an identity based on progressive left ideals and values. He also spent a good part of his earnings to help the education of many poor slum children, especially from Kannadiga background, striving constantly for the class unity of all sections of the poor and working class.
Before joining Indian Telephone Industries, even while working as a day-labourer and earning meagre wages to support his family as the main breadwinner, he used to spend whatever little money he could save to buy books on classic Sangham literature and Marxist classics. His collection of books eventually grew into the People’s Library which in turn became a major centre for Marxist-Leninist activists and sympathizers in Bangalore.
His warm ties with the people extended beyond Party circles. He was always known for his affection, kindness and cordial nature. He gave everything to the Party and the needy people and has set an example for working class comrades to follow. Com. Shankaran will always be remembered as a leading architect and torch-bearer of the Party and working class movement in Karnataka.
Workers, party and Tamil activists participated spontaneously in the funeral of Comrade Shankaran. Those who paid tribute and shared memories include Com. Ismail, Bellary District Secretary of AITUC, Comrade Rajan of Karnataka Tamil People’s Movement, poets Com. Marudhu and Iraiyadiyaan, V. Shankar, CPI(ML)’s Central Committee member, Comrade Selvaraj from ITI Employees’ Union, Celene of Vimochana, Prabhakar, a civil rights activist, close friends Manivannan, Karthiyayini and Alphonse along with AICCTU Bangalore district leaders Somu, Manju, Gaddappa, Ashok and comrades Arumugam and Baskar. The condolence meeting was conducted by Com. VK Sekar, former State Secretary of the Party.