Jaya Gopal, the founder of the Atheist Society of India and the Scientific Student Federation, passed away on Wednesday, February 7 at the age of 80. His body was donated to the Andhra Medical College on February 8 and eyes were donated to an eye institute.
Jaya Gopal founded the Atheist Society of India on February 13, 1972, and championed the ideals of rationality and secularism following in the footsteps of Periyar. He was known as ‘Andhra’s Periyar’, as a mark of respect to his commitment to spreading Periyar’s ideology across several states, including Andhra Pradesh.
K Veeramani, the editor of Dravidar Kazhagam mouthpiece Viduthalai, mourned Gopal's demise, acknowledging his pivotal role in proliferating Periyar's ideology. “Jayagopal is credited with creating a large number of black-clad Periyarists in Andhra Pradesh,” he said. He also said that Jaya Gopal was the reason behind setting up a full-sized Periyar statue on the shores of Visakhapatnam.
“At a time when our efforts to globalize Periyar are intensifying, his demise is a loss for us. On behalf of the world's rationalists, philosophers and Dravidar Kazhagam, we offer our condolences on his demise,” he added.