Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
Sitting at his home in Bengaluru’s JP Nagar, HS Doreswamy sits and peruses multiple Kannada dailies, as part of his daily morning routine. Less than a month short of his 103rd birthday, the centenarian is still an active participant in citizen movements and has recently organised several protests opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act in Bengaluru, where he has lived most of his life.
The fact that Doreswamy’s name still ruffles feathers and causes a debate in the state legislative assembly is testimony of his relevance in Karnataka as a leader even today.
Recently, BJP MLA Basangouda Patil Yatnal stirred the pot by calling the freedom fighter a ‘Pakistan agent’ and a ‘fake freedom fighter’ causing Opposition leader and former CM Siddaramaiah to take up the issue in the Assembly and demanded his expulsion.
However, Doreswamy remains unperturbed. “I pity such people rather than get angry. I don’t know why this man has pounced on me,” he said. He said that he has been penning his ‘biodata’ from memory, in case anyone questions his credentials.
‘Will Always Tell Government When it Goes Wrong’
Stating that he has always been a vocal critic of the government, be it the BJP or the Congress in power. Doreswamy started out in the Congress party, after which he immersed himself in the freedom movement, like other youths at the time.
He recalls his scathing letter to former PM Indira Gandhi, during the Emergency.
“ I don’t belong to any political party and I do not favour any political party. I’ve not spared Indira Gandhi, I wrote a letter to Indira Gandhi when she clamped emergency,” the 102-year-old activist told The Quint.
“I told her you are ruling in the name of democracy, but you are acting like a dictator. If you persist like this, then I will go from village to village, and tell people that you are a dictator. This is the letter I wrote to her,” he said.
He says that PM Modi was trying to ‘deviate the minds of the people on other things while there are other burning problems in the country.’
‘Amazed by Spontaneous Awakening of Youth’
Doreswamy said that seeing the youth come out in protest without any prompting was the right thing.
“So, there is a spontaneous awakening in the minds of the youth and that is a very good sign and it may ease the situation and take the country to prosperity. They are seeing the things going on in the country, and they are agitated over it and they are naturally talking about it freely, they are rebelling against it and as a matter of fact, it is right,” he said.
Doreswamy recalled a small incident of disobedience of his own when he printed articles in his newspaper Pauravani without the approval of the British government. “I printed all the articles and as a protest, shut the newspaper the next day,” he said.
Ultimately, he hoped that the government would roll back CAA-NRC.
“I think in about 2-3 months, Modi and Shah will come down and they will withdraw the thing. If they don’t do it, they will be doing a lot of damage to the country because people will get frustrated, they become angry and they try to mobilize themselves against the government and that is not what is required,” he said.