Kottayam: Rosamma Punnoose, 100, one of the first women leaders of the communist party who left an indelible mark on the trade union movement in the state, died at her son’s house in Salalah in Oman on Saturday morning.
Younger sister of legendary freedom fighter Accamma Cherian, Rosamma Punnoose held the distinction as the first member to take oath in the Kerala Assembly in 1957 and the first protem Speaker.
She was also the first MLA to be unseated through a court verdict following her election from the Devikulam seat. She was, however, re-elected from there in a by-election later.
Born on May 13, 1913 to Thomman Cherian and Annamma of Karippaparampil house at Kanjirapally, Rosamma Punnoose was initiated into public life by Accamma Cherian in 1938 as a member of the Congress party.
She was later drawn towards the Communist movement and became a member of the CPI in 1948. She married P.T. Punnoose, CPI leader, disregarding many objections, as she belonged to a Catholic family. Punnoose was a Marthomite and a leading Communist.
She won the Devikulam seat in Idukki district in 1957 as a CPI candidate. She was the president of Kerala Mahila Sangham for ten years, president of plantation corporation (1964-69) and the state housing board (1975-78).
Rosamma Punnoose's body will be brought to Thiruvalla on Monday morning and her funeral will be held at Kunnanthanam. She is survived by her son Dr Thomas Punnoose (Salalah) and daughter Dr Geetha (Abu Dhabi).
A romance that defied society
Abhish K Bose | DC
Kottayam: Rosamma Punnoose was a rebel who defied her family and the community to marry a communist in 1946.
No one could imagine the progeny of the famous Karippaparampil house in Kanjirapally being a Communist and marrying a Communist leader, P.T. Punnose, who was in the underground fearing a crackdown by the police and authorities.
But Rosamma Punnoose, under the tutelage of her fiery nationalist sister Accamma Cherian, was bold enough to challenge the conventions and orthodoxy.
She was inspired by the spirit of her elder sister, who even faced British police courageously.
P.T. Punnoose was also a Marthomite. Never before, a woman belonging to a Catholic family had married a Marthomite in that region.
“They came together due to their political activity which ended in their marriage,” said an old timer.
The marriage of the Communist couples took place in a church in Cochin with a special consent letter from the Pope.
Punnose was brought to the church evading the police since he was in hiding then.
Those present at their marriage included poets Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer and Kumaranasan.
Rosamma also was an eminent lawyer. She mostly took up the cases of workers and fought for their rights.
When P.T. Punnoose died following a heart attack, she was shattered.
Kumarakom Sankunni Menon says in his autobiography: “ Rosamma Punnoose wailed at the news of the death of her husband.”
# Belonged to the famed Karippaparambil family which has sent nine legislators to the assembly.
# Began her career with the Travancore State Congress in 1939.
# Joined the Communist Party of India in 1948.
# Husband P.T. Punnoose was also a prominent CPI leader
# Was the first protem speaker of Kerala assembly.
# First person to lose her assembly membership through a court verdict.
# First person to get elected through byelection.
# She, along with her husband holds record of the first couple to get elected simultaneously to the assembly and parliament.