PK Murthy, 80 years, a former General Secretary of IFTU, died yesterday in Puducheri in a private hospital. He had high grade malignant tumor in the urinary bladder and was being treated since the last one and a half years. He struggled hard against cancer that finally got him. He will be cremated in Puducheri this evening.The only surviving member of his family is a sister, Terese who stays in Paris.
Born in Saigon in Vietnam to Leon Ratiney and Valentine, Edmond Ratiney a.k.a PK Murthy had his primary education there and after the family shifted to Puducheri in 1954 he finished his schooling and later graduation in the French Lycee in Puducheri. It was during this period that he was influenced by the anti-caste Dravidian movement under Periyar and took part in it. In 1962 he went to Paris and was doing his engineering when he was conscripted into the French Army. Murthy was a rebel all through his life. He refused to fight against the Algerian people who were waging struggle against the French colonial powers. He refused to be a part in the Algerian war and was jailed for six months as a result. During this period he was grappling with issues of colonialism and racism. He was influenced by the writings of Mao and Frantz Fanon. After his release from jail, he got enrolled as a researcher in Chinese language in Sorbonne university in Paris. When the beginnings of the May French student movement were taking shape he actively partook in it.
He returned to India in 1968 and became an activist in the ML movement and in 1972 went to the coal belt area of Chindwara district and began to organize the coal mine workers. In order to organize the mine workers, he worked as a contract worker in the mines and founded the Lal Jhanda Mazdoor Union. Since then till his death the base of his activism was rooted among the coal mine workers in Chindwara. He lead many struggles of the mine workers in that area against privatization, closure of underground mines. He was the vice-president of IFTU in the eighties and became the general secretary in 1991. He was elected as the President of AIFTU in its first conference in 1994. He took an active part in the organisation of the International Mine workers conference in 2017 in Godavarikhani, Telangana.
Murthy was a strong person,both mentally and physically. He was not afraid of the bullying tactics of the establishment and faced repression. He was a militant agitator leading from the front. He was an emotive person sometimes angry but affable, sometimes cool and concerned about the exploited,oppressed sections of society. The death of Murthy is a huge loss to the trade union movement in the country, a loss to the Marxist –Leninist movement. The national committee of IFTU condoles his death and pledges to carry forward the ideals that he fought to realise. His entire life was devoted to the cause of revolution. IFTU salutes him.
Lal Salaam to Com. Murthy!
Dr. Aparna B. Pradeep
President General Secretary