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K. P. K. Menon

(1886 – 1978) – (Kerala)

K. P. Keshava Menon (Aged 92) was born on 1 September 1886 in Tharoor, Malabar District, Madras Presidency, Palakkad, India. He was an Indian lawyer and a leading Indian independence activist from Kerala who played a key role in the formation of the Indian Independence League (IIL) and served as a lawyer for the Indian National Army (INA).

Menon received his education in Madras and England, after which he started his own law practice in Kozhikode shortly after World War I. He later opened a branch of Annie Besant’s Home Rule movement and moved to Madras, where he started a branch of the New Fabian Society with the aim of studying public questions while simultaneously organizing a union for rickshaw pullers.

After returning to Kerala to meet with C. Rajagopalachari, Menon joined Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement. When he learned that local press would not publish Congress party news, he started his own Malayalam daily newspaper. In 1927, Menon moved to Malaysia with his remaining family after serving a prison sentence and losing his wife and daughter. There, he worked as a lawyer and initiated peace relations, and his son Unni joined the Royal Air Force.

K. P. K., as he came to be called, later became a fierce critic of Japanese imperialist designs with regards to India and the Indian Independence League. He was arrested by the Kempeitai and, while involved with Indian nationalists, visited Kozhikode in 1946. In 1947, he took a diplomatic post, which he held until 1948. His arrest ultimately led to the precipitation of Mohan Singh Deb’s confrontation with the Japanese high command in Singapore. Menon was working as a lawyer and a recognized leader of the Indian community in Singapore at the time, and his resignation from the INA in December 1942 led to the collapse of the first INA.

Menon was the editor of The Great Trial of Mahatma Gandhi and Mr. Banker (1922) and the author of Chattambi Swamigal: The Great Scholar – Saint of India (1967). He was also included in the book Indians In Singapore, 1819-1945: Diaspora In The Colonial Port-City, which was published by Oxford University Press. He passed away on 9 November 1978.