Keezhvenmani massacre, flash point of Red flag in delta

Recalling the tragic Keezhvenmani massacre that saw the gruesome murder of about 44 Dalit agriculture labours including women and children burnt alive for protesting against their landlord seeking higher wages, floral tributes and raised fists by communist cadres marked the 47 th anniversary of Venmani Martyrs day at Keezhvenmani village in Nagapattinam district on Friday (December 25). Unlike the previous years where thousands of communist cadres across the State would throng the memorial located here at about 25 km from the district headquarters as procession and rally in vehicles, this year, cadres numbering only in hundreds gathered on Friday. Recent heavy rainfall across the State and subsequent damages were cited by the senior communist leaders as major reason for transforming the commemoration a low-key event.

Annually as December 25 has been observed by communist cadres as Venmani martyrs day for remembering the sacrifice of 44 dalit labours including 20 women and 19 children who laid down their lives protesting for fair wages against their landlord on the same day in 1968 at 
Keezhvenmani village here, hundreds of cadres including senior leaders from both the Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) participated in the homage on Friday.

A Soundararajan, CPM MLA from Perambur constituency said, “Even now agriculture labours and working class are struggling to get their fair share in wages proportional to their hard work. As Cauvery delta districts are renowned for paddy cultivation, it is a bitter truth that agriculture labours here citing various reasons have been migrating to other districts and States seeking greener pastures

”Earlier as the Chidambaram MLA K Balakrishnan hoisted the red flag in the memorial, the other senior Marxist leaders including Kizhvelur MLA Nagai Mali, and CPM district secretary AV Murugaiyan paid floral tributes at the monolithic granite memorial carved with the names of all 44 
Keezhvenmani victims.

Recalling the Keezhvenmani massacre, a senior communist cadre P Chellamuthu from Kizhvelur said, “It was a flash point for the rejuvenation of communism across the State particularly in the erstwhile Thanjavur district. After the murder of 44 villagers, the cause of admonishing casteism was taken up by many youths of our times.” Meanwhile, speaking with one voice about the recent floods that battered the State, the communist cadres sought the State government to revise the announced crop compensation `13,500 per hectare for paddy fields and also urged the agriculture department to do fresh survey for ascertaining the exact crop damages. The aftermath of Chennai and Cuddalore floods were evidently seen among the weak crowd on Venmani Martyrs day as the majority of visitors annually arriving here from Chennai and Cuddalore districts were found absent.  

It may be recalled that Keezhvenmani massacre was an incident that took place by the night of December 25, 1968 at the remotely placedKeezhvenmani village in the erstwhile Thanjavur district where as many as 44 Dalit agriculture labors batted for higher wages were forcibly locked into a hut and torched to death by the dons sent by landlord of Dalit workers. Earlier, at an estimated cost of `3 crores collected from the public including working class people across the State, new 'Venmani Martyrs' built by CPM cadres for the 44 Dalit workers was inaugurated by Prakash Karat on March 9, 2014. However, about 20 percent of the construction works is in pending reportedly due to fund crunch.


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