Comrade Shanmugaraj, popularly known throughout the party as, Comrade NK Natarajan, was born on 29 Dec 1954 to his parents, Valliammal and Pidariyappan, in a village called Arasa pillai patti near Ottanchatram in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu. He completed his schooling in Ottanchatram. He studied, until his post-graduation, at Palani Andavar College of Arts and Culture. He used to engage himself in serious philosophical and political pursuits during his college days. He also studied Gandhian philosophy, teachings of Vivekananda and the views of JC Kumarappa.
He was introduced to revolutionary politics, Charu Majumdar and the Marxist-Leninist Party by Comrade Muthuraj of Karatupatti. He became a whole time party activist in the early 1980s. He was also a newspaper reporter for a while before. He began his life as a whole timer of the party by organizing labourers of the plantations of Valparai in Coimbatore district. He worked among mill workers of Coimbatore during the period of severe repression. He worked for a long time in Namakkal, Erode, Salem and Dharmapuri districts of Tamil Nadu, as district secretary and in various capacities. He has spent considerable time in Kumarapalayam and Pallipalayam areas of Namakkal and Erode districts organizing militant struggles of the most downtrodden powerloom workes. He was also successful in building the party among them. He served as the state General Secretary and also one of the all India leaders of AICCU, that is committed to the cause of revolutionary trade unionism. He lived a simple life among unorganized workers, led their struggles for life and livelihood and also recruited them to the revolutionary communist Party.
In the district of Coimbatore, he organized workers from various factories, formed several unions and played an important role in the militant movement of Pricol workers under the banner of AICCTU. He also faced several cases and imprisonment for struggles of workers and the common people. As a communist activist, his love for people and the commitment towards class struggle was immeasurable. He enjoyed utmost love and affection of the people, workers, and the party cadres.
Comrade Natarajan, fondly called as NK by everyone, was a member of the party's state committee for a long time. He was elected as the party's state secretary in 2019 when the party was experiencing some issues. He was elected to the Central Committee of the party in 2020. He was unanimously re-elected as the state secretary in the state conference of the party held at Trichy on 26-27 November 2022. He led the party in its expansion to 28 districts in the state. He upheld left unity and strived to bring the left, democratic and progressive forces on agenda of anti-fascist struggles. He was touring the state to make successful the party congress to be held at Patna in February 2023.
On December 10 (Human Rights Day), while addressing the party's Dindigul District Committee meeting, he suffered breathlessness around 4 PM and was taken to the Dindigul Government Medical College Hospital, after first aid in some private hospital. Despite all our best efforts, we lost our comrade NK around 6 PM on the same day. The entire party is still struggling to believe that comrade NK is no more.
Comrade NK Natarajan’s body was cremated on 11 Dec 2022 at his native village, Arasa pillai patti. The party’s state leaders, activists and leaders of the Left and progressive movement paid rich tributes. The condolence meeting was presided by Comrade Balasundaram, CCM.
Comrade K Balakrishnan, the state secretary of the CPI(M) visited the village and paid rich tributes to NK. He admired Com NK’s commitment towards Left unity and appreciated his efforts to build anti-BJP struggle in solidarity with the Left, democratic and progressive forces of the state.
Comrade Balamurugan, one of the all India secretaries of PUCL, fondly remembered his long association with com NK Natarajan and also hailed his sincerity and commitment towards the cause.
Pricol workers leader Comrade Natarajan, Jayaprakash of LTUC and former Councilor of Coimbatore Corporation Vel Murugan also paid their last respects.
CPI state executive committee member Santhanam, SUCI-C state committee member Sathyamurthy, Tamilnadu Womens Movement convener Arokya Mary, LTUC/ Communist party president Govindaraj, RSP state president Thangaperumal, Pricol workers leader Comrade Natarajan, Jayaprakash of LTUC and former Councilor of Coimbatore Corporation Vel Murugan paid their tributes along with the party cadres of CPIML.
The condolence meeting held at Coimbatore held on 22nd Dec was addressed by Comrade Dipankar, the General Secretary of the party.
Comrade Shankar V introduced the newly elected state secretary comrade Asaithambi and paid his tributes to NK.
Comrade Thenmozhi, the life partner of NK, and his younger brothers Vijayakumar and Kanakaraj also joined the condolence meeting.
The CPI was represented by its assistant state secretary and EX MLA Comrade N Periyasamy, CPI(M) was represented by Comrade Padmanabhan, the district secretary, the VCK by its secretary of the Disciplinary Committee, comrade Devarajan, Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam by its General Secretary Ku. Ramakrishnan and PUCL by its all India secretary Balamurugan.
CPIML leaders, comrade Clifton, the state secretary of Karnataka, Johnson Ambatt, NCM of AICCTU and SLTM of the party from Kerala, CCMs comrades Balasundaram, Chandramohan and Balasubramanian.
Well known Marxist – Periyarist writer in Tamil SV Rajadurai, SKM state coordinator Balakrishnan sent their messages to the meeting.