Kottayam: Noted Gandhian and freedom fighter K.E Mammen passed away Wednesday. He was 96.
He breathed his last at a private hospital in Neyyattinkara, Thiruvananthapuram.
Mammen, who was also a social worker, was at the forefront of the anti-liquor campaign in Kerala. He had taken part in the Quit India movement and in the agitation against Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer.
He was born into the renowned Kandathil family as the sixth child of K.C. Eapen and Kunjandamma on July 31, 1921, in Thiruvananthapuram. From an early age, he had lent his support for the freedom struggle. His father was then the manager of National Quilon Bank in Thiruvananthapuram.
Their house was just opposite to the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram and he grew up listening to the fiery speeches of freedom fighters.
And during his college years, he became an active participant in the freedom movement. When he was an intermediate student in the Arts College, Thiruvananthapuram, he became the president of the Travancore Students' Federation. He was jailed for urging students to join the freedom movement in a public meeting held at Thirunakkara in Kottayam.
He also had a chance to listen to the famous 'Kozhencherry speech' by C. Kesavan, the fierce freedom fighter and former chief minister of Travancore-Cochin. This turned out to be a life-changing event for him. After that, Mammen dedicated himself to social causes.
During this time, the diwan sealed the National Quilon Bank and arrested all its owners. Mammen's father was also imprisoned after he invited the wrath of Sir CP. He breathed his last in the jail.
'Respect your courage, but...'
In a meeting held at Arts College, Mammen made a scathing attack on Sir CP. Subsequently, he was expelled from the college. He tried to continue his education in Maharaja's College, Ernakulam. But the college refused to admit him. Finally, he went to St. Thomas College, Thrissur, and completed his intermediate course. He then joined Madras Christian College in 1940 for his bachelor's degree. But, he was kicked out of the college after he participated in the Quit India movement.
While expelling him from the college, its Scottish principal Rev. Dr A.J. Boyd said to Mammen, "I respect your courage and patriotism. But I have no other option but to expel you."
It was the time when the youth across the country were joining the independence movement, responding to a call by Mahatma Gandhi. Young Mammen also decided to take the plunge.
At the age of 22, he shifted to Tiruvalla in Pathanamthitta and also worked in Kottayam. In 1996, he shifted back to Thiruvananthapuram.
He is a recipient of numerous accolades, including Ramashramam Award and Lohi Vicharavedi Award and TKV Foundation Award. He was honored with the Mother Teresa Award constituted by the YMCA Kottayam in 1995 for his relentless fight against the social evils.
A staunch believer of Gandhian principles, Mammen led an austere life. He did not own even a house or car. He remained unmarried.