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Ramamurthy laid to rest at Vazhapadi

By Our Special Correspondent

SALEM Oct. 29. The former TNCC president, Vazhapadi K. Ramamurthy, who died in Chennai on Sunday, was today laid to rest at Vazhapadi, his native place, near here. The last rites were performed by his younger son, Rama Karnan, as per the family custom.

In 1988, before undergoing angioplasty, Ramamurthy left a `will' stating that in case of his death, his body must be cremated and the ashes strewn over the fields in the Paiyur Research Station (near Krishnagiri) of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. However, it was today buried at his own place, located opposite the Vazhapadi bus stand, with a view to erect a memorial.

His elder son, Rama Suganthan, told The Hindu that the family was fully aware of his earlier wish. As Ramamurthy had ``demolished such a will later,'' a customary burial was done today.

Earlier, the body was taken in a flower-bedecked cartage from the Alagapuram residence of Ramamurthy to Vazhapadi. All along the route, a large number of people gathered to have a last glimpse of the leader. At Vazhapadi, the body was kept opposite the bus stand for the public to pay homage.

At a condolence meeting at Vazhapadi, Sulochana Sampath, AIADMK women's wing leader, recalled Ramamurthy's four-decade long association with her family.

The Sri Lankan MP, Douglas Devananda of the Eelam People's Democratic Party, said Ramamurthy supported the cause of the Eelam Tamils, even after the death of Rajiv Gandhi. However, Ramamurthy clearly distinguished between the LTTE's armed struggle and the Eelam people's aspirations.

The former Speaker and the deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Shivraj Patil, read out a message from the AICC president, Sonia Gandhi, which said Ramamurthy was a respected leader and his demise was a great loss to the party and the people of Tamil Nadu.

The TNCC working president, E.V. K.S. Elangovan, said Ramamurthy took up the Cauvery cause without any let-up. ``It is sorrowful that on the day Karnataka has agreed to release Cauvery water, Ramamurthy's funeral is taking place.''

Others who participated in the meeting included the TNCC president, S. Balakrishnan, the AICC secretaries, Ramesh Chennithala and G.K. Vasan, the BJP MP, C.P. Radhakrishnan, the BJP State treasurer, V. Ramesh, the former Minister for Agriculture, Veerapandi S. Arumugham, the former Bihar MP, Sriram Avadesh Yadav, the former MP, C. Kuppusamy, and representatives from the IUML and the PMK.

All shops and establishments at Vazhapadi remained closed for the day. The JACTTEO-GEO put off its agitation to observe mourning.

Earlier, Mr. Patil paid floral tributes to Ramamurthy at his Alagapuram residence.

Mr. Chennithala said Ramamurthy's death was a big loss to the Congress and the trade union movement. His contribution to the party and the labour community could not be forgotten.

The former TNCC president and former Union Minister, K.V. Thangabalu, was among the mourners.

Earlier, a silent procession was taken out from the Tirupur Kumaran statue at Five-Roads to Alagapuram.

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