Mythili Sivaraman, veteran CPM leader, women’s rights activist and Dalits, dies due to Covid

IPC (M) veteran leader Mythili Sivaraman, known for co-founding the Democratic Women’s Association of India, died in Chennai while undergoing treatment for Covid-19.

Sivaraman, 81, was a research assistant at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations from 1966 to 1968. She then returned to India and actively participated in events coordinated by the Center for Indian Trade Union and is also became a prominent women’s rights activist.

She played a key role in bringing to light the horrors of the Keezhvenmani massacre in 1968, in which 44 members of the Dalit community, including children, were killed for leading a strike demanding higher wages.

Sivaraman was instrumental in publicizing the Vachathi case, which involved the destruction of property owned by a tribal community and massive rapes.

Sivaraman was a research assistant at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations from 1966 to 1968 (Photo: India Today / Pramod Madhav)

On June 20, 1992, 155 forestry staff, six revenue officers and 108 police entered a tribal village of Vachathi to request information about Veerappan, the notorious sandalwood smuggler. The team ransacked the village, killed cattle, attacked several villagers and 18 women were raped.

Several activists, including Sivaraman, worked hard to uncover the truth behind the incident. On September 29, 2011, a special court sentenced the 269 defendants. 54 died during the probationary period and the other 215 were sent to prison.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin expressed condolences and said Sivaraman’s death was a huge loss to women’s rights activism, continuing to praise her for her efforts to speak out the Keezhvenmani massacre.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also expressed her condolences on her death, saying Sivaraman had fought hard for the liberation of women and the rights of Dalits and the marginalized. The left-wing leader also recalled her significant contributions as an AIDWA leader, CITU activist and CPI (M) member and said her death was a great loss to progressive movements in the country.

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