Veteran CPI (M) leader and an important woman revolutionary from Tamil Nadu, Mythili Sivaraman passed away in Chennai. The former All India Democratic Women’s Association’s (AIDWA) Vice President was undergoing treatment for COVID-19, and succumbed to the disease early on May 30, Sunday. She was 81 years old and is survived by her husband Karunakaran and daughter Kalpana Karunakaran.
Born in 1937, Mythili co-founded the AIDWA along with Pappa Umanath, and was also a prominent trade union activist with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). Her writings on the brutal Keezhvenmani massacre of 1968 are part of a book titled Haunted by Fire: Essays on Caste, Class, Exploitation and Emancipation, compiled by writer V Geetha, and her daughter and professor, Kalpana Karunakaran.
Fourty-four women and children from Dalit families died in their homes due to arson committed by upper caste groups leading to the Keezhvenmani massacre and Mythili was among the first to visit and document the brutality. Mythili also played a significant role in bringing the Vachathi mass rapes of 1992, to justice.
Her death was mourned by many on social media who recalled her significant contributions to the Communist movement in the country.
Kavita Krishnan, a CPI (M) leader and Secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Assoctaion (AIPWA), wrote, “Mythili remained a fiery trade union organiser in Tamil Nadu, an AIDWA office bearer, and also a Marxist writer of rare insight and rigour. A rare and most precious quality of hers was her total lack of any left sectarianism.”
Covid-19 took away Mythili Sivaraman today: a v remarkable figure in the Left, TU & women's movements of Tamil Nadu & India. She was among the first to visit Kilvenmani in wake of the massacre of Dalit workers. Red Salute comrade Mythili, from your daughters, comrades in spirit! pic.twitter.com/lFIzQ3EE2R— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) May 30, 2021
Poet and writer Meena Kandasamy too remembered Mythili’s fiery personality and wrote, “Red salutes comrade... Rest in power. Spunky, spirited, articulate, kind, humble... I can go on giving adjectives. She'll always be remembered for her work, and her approach of tackling caste, class and gender. Her writings on Keezhvenmani have a special place.”
Red salutes comrade... Rest in power. Spunky, spirited, articulate, kind, humble... I can go on giving adjectives. She'll always be remembered for her work, and her approach of tackling caste, class and gender. Her writings on Keezhvenmani have a special place. #MythiliSivaraman pic.twitter.com/7KDpOeFybQ— ʎɯɐsɐpuɐʞ ɐuǝǝɯ || stand with #palestine (@meenakandasamy) May 30, 2021
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin expressed his condolences and wrote that with Mythili’s death, Tamil Nadu and CPI (M) has lost a fierce woman’s rights revolutionary. Many other expressed their condolences on social media.
Comrade Mythili Sivaraman, CPIM leader & founding leader of AIDWA is no more.— Advaid അദ്വൈത് (@Advaidism) May 30, 2021
She left a promising career with the United Nations and returned to India to work among the rural poor. Her writings drew people’s attention to the massacre of Dalits in Keezhvenmani.
Rest in power. pic.twitter.com/xZxDUQENUv
தோழர் வி.பி. சித்தன் பற்றி ஆவணப் படம் எடுக்கும் போது, தோழர் மைதிலி சிவராமன் அவர்களின் தியாகம் செறிந்த போராட்டம் - கட்சி பணிக் குறித்து தெரிந்துக் கொண்டேன் ! தோழர் மைதிலி சிவராமன் அவர்களின் இழப்பு பெரும் வேதனை அளிக்கிறது.. வீரவணக்கம் தோழர்!! pic.twitter.com/uJHPmkR6Hc— Prem (@premjourn) May 30, 2021
'Fragments of a Past' is a documentary on the life and work of Comrade Mythili Sivaraman, who passed away earlier today.— Azhar (@lonelyredcurl) May 30, 2021
Her contribution to the women's movement and the fight against caste oppression is immense. Do watch the film if you haven't already.https://t.co/1922UiePKg
Comrade Mythili Sivaraman, CPI(M) leader & former vice president of AIDWA passed away due to covid.— Anu Pavi ☭ (@radchihiro) May 30, 2021
Leaving a promising career with the UN, she returned to India to work as a trade union organizer. She played a remarkable role in publicizing the atrocities of Kilvenmani + pic.twitter.com/uBEQc7EAyd
RIP Mythili Sivaraman. Her work on caste injustices, women issues, trade unions is an inspiration for many. Her work on Keelvenmani, Vachathi r well known.Her entire family has been doing great work for society in different areas. Our condolences to CEK, Kalpana, Balaji & others pic.twitter.com/K5znA9qxaT— Jayaram Venkatesan (@JayaramArappor) May 30, 2021
@pycpim expresses deep condolences on the sad demise of Comrade Mythili Sivaraman, former Vice President of the AIDWA, Women's rights activist, Trade union leader and prominent political and social activist in @tncpim. Red Salute Comrade #MythiliSivaraman pic.twitter.com/zYA5ZK5Oja— CPI(M) Puducherry ☭ (@pycpim) May 30, 2021
Comrade Mythily Sivaraman is no more. 'Haunted by fire' illuminates her life, ideas & activism. There are 2 documentaries to watch: One by #Gnani https://t.co/7HcQoFXPFX & by Prof. Uma Chakravarti https://t.co/aXHC4Ly1Do. Moving video taken on her bday: https://t.co/wVV9KZ2HL4— Poo.Ko.SARAVANAN பூ.கொ.சரவணன் (@PUKOSARAVANAN) May 30, 2021
Mythili Sivaraman is a women's rights activist from India. She is a Vice President of the All India Democratic Women's Association. She worked as a research assistant in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN. She was involved in research related to non-self-governing pic.twitter.com/IT7zXifGr1— Kishore Haridas Meleth (@HaridasKishore) May 30, 2021
Watch: Chief Minister MK Stalin delivers his condolence message: