75 years of Onchiyam firing: Communist parties of Kerala commemorate martyred comrades

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Onchiyam martyr's memorial | Photo Mathrubhumi/VK Aji

Kozhikode: April 30 marks the 75th anniversary of the historic Onchiyam firing. Eight Communist Party of India workers from the village in Kozhikode district were killed in police firing and two others were killed in the lock up due to torture in 1948. The party was banned in India following the Culcutta Thesis. In Kerala, the party initiated several agrarian protests during that period as the state witnessed grave food crisis.

According to an article written by late CPM leader and former minister TK Ramakrishnan in a pamphlet published by All India Kisan Sabha, the "peasants were strong and vigilant against hoarding and black marketing. The Government resorted to various repressive measures. The peasants were shot and killed in April-May, 1948, at Korome, Thillankeri, Onchiyam, and Munayankunnu in North Malabar.”

On Onchiyam firing, he wrote, “The Congress Government insisted that two ounces of corn must be purchased in order to get six ounces of rice as ration. A strong protest was registered against this order in the Kurumbanadu taluka. The authorities knew that Onchiyam was the centre of the agitation. The MSP [Malabar Special Police] was sent on April 30, 1948 to teach the Onchiyam people a Iesson. One peasant and his son were arrested and beaten by the police. People who gathered there demanded their release. The police fired against them. Eight peasants were shot dead. Many of them were implicated in the cases. Two of them died in the lock-up beating. One died in the Salem firing [at the Salem jail in 1950].”

However, according to CPM’s Facebook post on Sunday, the police arrived as they learned that a party meeting was being held at Onchiyam to report the decisions of the second party congress held in Calcutta.

Alavakkan Krishnan, Menon Kanaran, Puravil Kanaran, Parollathil Kanaran, KM Sankaran, CK Chathu, VP Gopalan, Vattakandi Raghutty were the CPI activists killed in the police firing. Mandodi Kannan and Kollacheri Kumaran were killed in the lock up torture. As the story goes, Kannan drew the hammer and sickle symbol of Communist Party with his blood on the wall of the lock up before his death.

CPI and CPM hold separate commemoration programmes on April 30. This year also marks the 15th anniversary of the formation of RMP in Onchiyam. Slain politician TP Chandrasekharan formed RMP, after quitting CPM on April 30, 2008. RMP also holds events on this day.

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