CIRCLE, ALL INDIA CONFERENCES
The first Divisional Secretary of newly formed Calicut Telegraph Division was Com.N.Madhavan Kutty (founder General secretary of CGPA, Trichur, Kerala), followed by Com.K.Bhaskaran Nair. In the Divisional Conference held in 1965, I was elected as DS.Fourth Conference of Circle Co-ordinating Committee of P and T Unions (NFPTE) Kerala was decided to be held at Calicut. A Reception Committee with Corporation Mayor Shri Bavootty Haji as Chairman, S/Shri S.K.Pottekkat, M.P., C.H.Mohammed Koya M.P., N.V.Krishna Varier (Mathrubhoomi), Adv. P.K.Kunhirama Poduval, P.Kuttikrishnan Nair (later Mayor of Calicut), Theruvath Raman (Pradeepam) and other important personalities as Vice-Chairmen, Com.K.Bhaskaran Nair as General Convener and me as Financial Convener was formed in a largely attended meeting.
Since contributions from low paid employees will not be sufficient, public collections were also made through advertisements and donations. Since businessmen, merchants fully depended upon P and T for their communication services, willingly donated and gave advertisements to Souvenir being published.
Circle Conference was held on 21-23 May 1965. The delegates’ session in Dalvi Nagar (Town Hall), in memory of the first President of NFPTE, who passed away recently and Open Session in ‘Com. Madhavan Nair Nagar’ (B.T.College), in memory of the Divisional secretary RMS Ernakulam, who committed suicide unable to tolerate continued harassment and victimisation by higher officers.
Circle Conference was inaugurated by Central Dy. Minister Shri Bhagavathi. All India leaders of NFPTE, D.Gnaniah, O.P.Gupta, K.G.Bose and others were present; 343 delegates and 56 visitors from 126 Branches participated. Difference in approach between revisionist leadership led by O.P.Gupta and progressive leadership led by K.G.Bose was very clear from their speeches. Kerala in large majority supported progressive line.In this conference, I was elected as Circle Organising Secretary of E.III Union. Earlier Asst. Circle Secretary. Change was required as I have become Divisional Secretary.
All India Conferences of E-III Union
Participated in All India conference of Telegraph Engineering Union Class III at Indore, capital of M.P., held on 10-16 January 1965.Next AIC was held at Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh, from 16thto 21st March 1966. Com.K.Bhaskaran Nair and I attended as delegates from Calicut. Others from Kerala Circle included Coms. M.C.Ayyappakutty, Circle Secretary, K.Ayyappan, P.A.Anirudhan and M.R.Chandran. In both these conferences, there was serious discussion about the policy to be adopted, struggles to be organised etc. Com.K.G.Bose, Ananta Bhattacharjee and others forcefully argued for struggles for achievement of demands. I spoke on certain problems faced by employees.
Kerala delegates decided to return via Agra so that world famous Taj Mahal can be visited. Tickets were not reserved and hence could travel by any train in ordinary compartment. Lucknow to Agra is an overnight journey. We reached Lucknow station waiting to board first train to Agra or going via Agra.No reservation in train. Heavy rush. Winter not being over, all were having hold-all packs, as was the system at that time with the dresses, books etc.bundled in them. To get in train with all these hold-alls was difficult as there was heavy rush. Windows had no bars or glasses, so that one can even jump through it. Others rushed through the door; I was asked, as the youngest, to put luggages inside through window and then get in through door. By the time I put the entire luggage, train started. I could not get in to the compartment. However, I got in the next and last compartment where there was no rush. Train gained speed.
When looked for a seat, I was dumb-founded. It was Ladies Compartment. A good number of young nurses were sitting. An elder sister came to me and asked in Malayalam whether I am from Kerala; I nodded. She told me not to worry and that she is returning from Lucknow after taking the students to appear in the Nurse’s examination. She is the Supt of Nursing School at Agra and by morning train will reach there. I was allowed to sit.After a few hours, train slowed, then stopped. No station to be seen. Pitch dark. It seemed that there was some work going on in the railway tracks. I was standing at the door and looking out. The Nursing Superintendent came and stood near me. All of a sudden, the train jerked and purse in her hand fell down. I got down carefully, but since purse was inside tracks it was dangerous to bend down and pick it up. I told her that I will take it after last compartment passes and get up with same, before train gains speed. She also got down, probably afraid that I may slip away after purse is taken from tracks. Train started moving, I picked up purse, gave it to her. But unfortunately, she was unable to climb up steps in the moving train. Both of us were stranded there in the dark night.
We were completely shocked and frightened. We saw a dim light and went towards it. Fortunately there was a very small Railway Station with an Asst. Station Master with a small kerosene lantern sitting in his room. We requested him to allow us to sit there. He said that last train has departed, he is closing and going home and advised us to go outside, where there are jutkas and they will take us to Agra, by road which is only 5-6 miles from there. In the cold dark night with warm clothes and big turbans, the jutka wallahs seemed like dacoits of Hindi films. My companion was brave, she knew Hindi well, spoke with them and we got in the jutka.The horse trotted with speed and we reached outside of Agra Railway station by about 6.00 am. Could see our comrades sitting there, probably discussing about what happened to me since they did not see me getting in to compartment. They were happy, I was happy. I said thanks to the Nursing Superintendent and joined with my comrades. Of course, we visited Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. It was a pleasant experience to visit one of the seven wonders of the world. Returned to Kerala by next train (To be continued).Photoes (1) N.V.Krishna Warrier (2) S.K.Pottekkat (3) K.G.Bose