CO-ORDINATING COMMITTEE CONFERENCE KANNUR
Consequent to formation at Circle level, Co-ordinating Committee of P & T Unions was formed at Kannur with Com.T.M.Janardhanan (Janu Master) as Chairman and me as Convener. In fact, I, a junior worker, was compelled to take the responsibility. It was decided to organise its anniversary on 5th April 1964 in a big way with participation of important personalities including ‘Mathrubhoomi’ Chief Editor and freedom fighter Shri.K.P.Kesava Menon. I was entrusted to go to Kozhikode and invite him personally.
Met Shri Kesava Menon at Mathrubhoomi office and requested him to inaugurate our conference. He agreed with two conditions. One, to arrange a car for journey from Kozhikode to Kannur and return; two, rest and food to be arranged at Rest House, Kannur. Agreed both. Travel by car was rare. Even celebrated advocates in Kozhikode used to go to Court either in judka (carriage pulled by horse)) or in hand pulled riksha. Then he told that since car is being arranged, better invite well known lawyer and good speaker Advocate S.K.Kader (later Kerala High Court Judge) also to Conference so that both can come together. Met Advocate Kader and invited. Invited Com. Manjunath Rao, First Mayor of Kozhikode Municipal Corporation. Com.P.R.Kurup of Panoor, leader of Socialist Party (later Kerala Minister) was also invited.
Kesava Menon has suggested that a prayer will be suitable before start of conference. Accordingly, Janu Master arranged two girls from nearby Girls High School through Head Mistress and brought them to the conference.
Hundreds of people were present at Town Hall, even before conference started. Popular leaders were addressing. The celebrities were invited to the stage. Janu Master gave the signal to start the function. As Convenor, I started my written welcome speech, including main issues of the P & T Workers, which was prepared earlier in consultation with him. I mentioned abut the lack of space in the various P & T offices, staff shortage and other relevant issues. Requested Ad. S.K.Kader to preside over the function.
Janu Master was signalling to me frantically. I could not understand. The moment I came near him after welcome speech, he pulled me to back stage. ”How could you start the meeting without Prayer? What we should do now?” He was very angry. The two young girls, who were sisters, were almost on the verge of crying. I suggested that we will light the lamp with the girls nearby and take photo in a pose as if they are singing prayer. This was done. They were given tea and sweets and taken back to their home. Still, I had to face the anger of Janu Master for a few days more.
All leaders gave excellent speeches. Kesava Menon spoke about the need to increase efficiency. Relations between the workers and the public have to be improved, stated Ad. Kader. Manjunath Rao said that the government should be a model employer and the justified demands of the workers have to be settled. P.R.Kurup asked the workers to organise better. Com.N.P.Padmanabhan, Convener, Circle Co-ordinating Committee, explained the demands of the workers and how services can be improved. Com.K.C.Bhaskaran, Divisional Secretary, Postal Class III Union proposed vote of thanks to all. All speeches were very educative. People appreciated. Leaders were also happy seeing the overflowing audience, who were hearing with rapt attention.
A well-attended procession was organised from Head Post Office to Town Hall. A drama was staged after the session. The programme was a complete success.
Though that was the first time I met Kesava Menon, later while working at Kozhikode, had the opportunity to meet him several times, for one reason or other. Once it was for requesting him to allow the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Smaraka Auditorium at Tirur, to be allotted on rent for marriage of Com.Ravindranath, Tirur exchange. He told that he is no more President of the committee; Shri S.K.Pottekkat was the new President. I met the great novelist and story writer and former M.P. at his residence and requested. He was happy that such a request was received and allowed the same. The marriage was solemnized on21st August 1971. That was the first time that the Auditorium was allowed for marriage purpose. Another time when I went, Kesava Menon was taking lunch. He invited me to lunch. Sufficient food and curries were there, but told that I will go home and take lunch. He was a person who enjoyed food and also wanted others to have good food. Shri Gangadhran, his driver for a long time, told me once that after reaching destination, Kesava Menon always used to remind the host to ensure food and rest to the driver.
Fire in Congress Office
As stated earlier, I used to visit Shree Sundareswara Temple, Talap, in the evening to hear the Gita discourses of Swami Chinmayanada. Sometimes, I will sleep in temple compound where one can enjoy cool breeze coming from the paddy field expanse. Will take bath in temple tank in morning and return to lodge. Shanthi of the temple was a friend and there was no problem.
One night while sleeping there, heard some noise and woke up. Past midnight. Congress party office in front of temple in middle of paddy field was in flames. It was a small thatched room. Immediately ran to nearest phone, which was at the residence of Mr. Samuel Aaron, well known industrialist. Hearing barking of the many dogs kept in his house, he came out and allowed me to contact Fire Service. After sometime, Fire Service team reached the spot. By the time, except the low stone walls, everything was swallowed by fire. When enquired, told them that I was the person who informed. I felt as a celebrity among people there.
At about noon next day, while on duty, supervisor told me that there was a call asking me to report to local Police Station. Went there. Sub Inspector asked me whether, it was me who phoned Fire service. When I confirmed, he questioned me why I have put fire to the Congress office? I was bewildered. I had tried to help and I was being charged with an unsuspected offence.
Seeing my confusion, S.I. said with a mischievous smile that they usually charge the person who was first to the crime scene. However, he added that ‘since you are a central government employee, I am not charging case against you’. He also advised that in future avoid such troubles. Not good for government employees. I was relieved and returned to office. (To be continued). Photos (1) K.P.Kesava Menon (2) S.K.Pottekkat (3) Thunjan Smarakam