Monday , June 21 2021

Karnataka’s centurion freedom fighter Doreswamy is no more

BENGALURU: After winning over the battle against dreaded Coronavirus a fortnight ago, eminent Gandhian and freedom fighter H.S. Doreswamy, passed away at the ripe age of 103 due to cardiac arrest on Wednesday.

Doreswamy had contracted Covid on May 8 and was admitted to Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research (SJICSR) in Bengaluru and was discharged on May 13 but on May 14, was re-admitted due to post-Covid complications after he complained of severe weakness and fatigue. “Here he breathed his last,” his close confidante, Ravi Krishna Reddy told reporters.

Harohalli Srinivasaiah Doreswamy was born on April 10, 1918. An activist and a journalist, he was a freedom fighter during the Indian independence movement.

While his initial involvement with the freedom movement was radical in nature, he came under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi later. He organised protests and strikes in the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore against the British rule and participated in the Quit India movement. He was jailed for 14 months in 1943-1944.

He ran the publication house of Sahitya Mandira and the Indian nationalist newspaper Pauravani during the British Raj and the period afterwards.

Even in his ripe age, he was a regular face of several pro-people agitations.

Doreswamy was 96 years old when he led a month long sit-in agitation by floating the Anti-Land Grabbing Struggle Committee in 2014, which achieved a considerable success, when the state government in 2014 headed by then Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, was forced to agree to their demands in-principle.

Despite his advancing years, Doreswamy never shied away from fighting the battles he deemed worthy. He had joined a protest against the government’s controversial plan to build a steel flyover in Bengaluru. He was 98 years old when this agitation was launched.

This frail old man, even at the age of 102 years, was leading agitations in Bengaluru against the union government’s controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register CAA-NRC-NPR in the past few months till March last year, since the Covid first wave swept the state. Then he announced that he will continue to protest for a few days every month until 2024.

For his untiring spirit of activism noted writer Ramachandra Guha had described him as the ‘conscience keeper of Karnataka’.

Through his activism Doreswamy had earned a lot of praise, but had drawn ire from BJP leaders and they mostly described him as ‘fake Gandhian’ and ‘fake freedom fighter’ for his unsparing comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP’s ideologues.

In February 2021, following the detention and arrest of the climate activist Disha Ravi from Bengaluru, Doreswamy shared a message of support for the young activist and asked her “to stay strong”.

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