We were inspired by speeches of veteran freedom fighters like Doddered Andanappa, Sardar Veeranagouda, Nesvi and others. When I shifted to Navilugunda (today’s Navalgund) for the high school education, it was the time of Quit India movement. As  the great leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, Azad and others got arrested by British government, I could not stop myself to be in the school, my emotions made me to organize a rally against the British establishment. I purchased some copies of Samyukta Karnataka daily, in which speeches of national leaders use to publish to attract my schoolmates for the rally. Our teachers tried to stop me and said to think of my future! I didn’t bother.
The procession started with 70-80 students and reached Tehsil office. The Tehsildar tried to persuade us. He said-“you are violating the law and order, which is not good for students like you. I am giving a chance to withdraw your strike if you give a letter of apology”. But that was not our way! Tehsildar called the parents of our companions, they took their children back to home. Finally we were just three members! Our flags of tiranga, which was also a symbol of Indian National Congress having charaka, were grabbed. We sat for a strike from 7 o’clock in the evening to 12 in the mid-night to arguing that our flags should be returned. By the interference of some elders, our flags were returned. It was the first phase of my struggling life.
Then we started destroying activities. My self, Katta Govindareddy and another person involved in secrete movement for a month. I was the eldest in that group. We use to copy the bulletin and distributing to public. We use to act like beggars to fulfill our hungry! Finally we got arrested by British intelligence and produced before Navilugund court. Then we were kept in lock-up for 10-12 days. Again Tehsildar tried to persuade our mind. But he found useless and sent us to the resident magistrate in Hubble. Justice Saldana was the then magistrate. He also shown mercy on us and suggested  to continue with studies. He also said, “first of all you have to become graduate and responsible citizen of India. Afterwards you can fight for the freedom”. Then I asked a question- “sir, you are a graduate and responsible citizen of our country. Are you fighting with British rule?” He had no answer! Though that Anglo-Indian asked us about our courage and sacrifice. We replied-“sir, Gandhiji has said, do or die!” He felt very bad about our dealings. He sentenced us for fine and imprisonment. He also assured that if we pay money, he will reduce the imprisonment. As  all of us were from poor families, we opted for more imprisonment. We could find tears in his eyes while announcing the punishment for us!
We were sent to Hindalga jail in Belgaum. Jailor was very good Samaritan. He was an Indian. But superintendent was Europian. We use to prepare rope and work harder during his visiting hours. Often we were calling meetings about freedom movement, without knowledge of jailor. There were around 3,000 fighters.
I came back to Sudi after the completion of the punishment. Still I had to complete  my matriculation examination. I got admitted into VDSTC high school in Gadag. But there was no arrangement for the boarding and food. Then I approached Shivanand mutt and asked for the same. The chief interviewed me. I said proudly that I am freedom fighter and I had been to jail for once. On contrast, it was the negative point in their view!  Though they gave admission on a condition that chanting the mantra Om namah shivaya is compulsory. But I didn’t agree, as I had  no faith in such customs. Finally I joined the mutt. Gained matriculation from Bombay university. After returning to home place, I organized seva-dal  and tried to spread the thoughts of socialism. In this period I met veteran freedom fighters like R.R.Diwakar, Andanappa Doddameti, Venkatesh Magadi, Leelavathi, Shantinath Singade, Tippanna Shastry, Deshpande and others. Finally we got independence in 1947.
In those days, the nationality trend was common among the youngsters. Most of them were patriots. People were un aware about the values of freedom. But they were respecting the fighters. Every one was eager to sacrifice their lives. Today youngsters have become very selfish. There is no sincerity  towards country. Social and political systems have to be changed.
Corruption was very rare phenomenon. It was in the form of giving small things with love. One could see the servicing nature among the officers. But today it has become a part of our daily life! Instead of serving nature, administrators have developed the luxurious life!

On that day…..
It was already known that India will have freedom on August 14 at mid-night. We put a flag pillar at Mahadev Mailara bazaar, which was named by us. The 15 fighters-approved by Mahatma Gandhi-were fecilated  by the citizen. There was a festival like situation in the village. Women were singing some traditional songs, with our names. There were special food items in every house. There was a chance to talk about our struggle and values of freedom.

-Sangamesh Menasinakai

(note: unedited version, it was published in Sunday supplement of VIJAY TIMES dtd 13-08-2006)


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