Veteran freedom fighter, ex-MP Shanti Patel dead

Veteran freedom fighter, ex-MP Shanti Patel dead

Eminent freedom-fighter, veteran trade unionist and former parliamentarian Shanti Patel died here early Friday following age related problems, family sources said. He was 93. He is survived by his son Yatin and daughters Mrinal and Minal.

Patel was associated with the shipping industry for over six decades and was a trustee of the Mumbai Port Trust for 62 years till he resigned two months ago, his son Yatin told IANS.

He also served as the president of National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) for over 40 years till his death Friday, NUSI general secretary A.Y. Serang said.

"During his stewardship of NUSI, Patel championed the cause of workers' and sailors' movement nationally and internationally, especially the seafarers," Serang said.

"He took NUSI to great heights in terms of safeguarding the seafarers interest and played a positive role in the development of the Indian shipping fraternity," Serang said in his tribute.

He served as Mumbai mayor 1970-71. In 1980, he was a Rajya Sabha member for one term from the Janata Dal.

A staunch Congressman in the early days, he was jailed during the latter part of the Emergency and later joined the Janata Party and then Janata Dal till he quit active politics in 1989.

Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan Friday described Patel as "one of the greatest protagonists of the rights of the working classes" and one of the last surviving links to the Indian freedom movement.

"He was rightly regarded as 'Bhishmacharya' of the working class by the port and dock workers. An avowed Gandhian, Patel dedicated his entire life for the cause of empowerment and welfare of the poor and voiceless," Sankaranarayanan said in a condolence message.

Lauding Patel's services to the nation, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that Patel unified all the docks and ports workers of the country into a federation and got for them the best of facilities, including housing.

"He served the Mumbai Port Trust for 62 years and through his efforts, the workers got a 100 days' bonus on the occasion of MbPT's centenary, as well as a special educational fund for the employees. He worked for their welfare till his last breath," Chavan said in a message.

A large number of people, including port and docks workers, political leaders and commoners attended Patel's funeral at Shivaji Park Friday evening.