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Struggle unfinished

Struggle unfinished

Author: Express Features Service
Publication: Expressindia.com
Date: February 5, 2007

The Goa Liberation Movement was Mohan Ranade's cause for astute struggle. Today, he runs an organisation for underprivileged children

His humble and practical bearings put you at instant ease. For, years of patriotic struggle and a charitable disposition have made Mohan Ranade a name to reckon. One of the leaders of the Goa Liberation Movement, 77-year-old Ranade, goes down memory line to relive the struggle.

Born in Sangli, he was fueled with patriotic fervour right since his childhood. "I was 13 years old when I witnessed the Quit India Movement. That's when I really felt I should do something for India," says Ranade who was guided by political leader like Babarao Savarkar and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar himself. he says. Inspired by Ram Manohar Lohiya's stance to liberate Goa-which was still under the dictatorship of the Portuguese-Ranade went to Goa in January 1948 and started working with Azad Gomantak Dal (AGD), the armed organisation fighting for Goa's independence. "My goal while working with AGD was clear-to kick the Portuguese out of Goa, no matter what!" he says.

After planning and organising people for more than six years, Ranade and his colleagues started the armed struggle by attacking a police station on January 1, 1955. But he was injured and arrested by the police in 1955 and later, on December 29, 1956 the Portuguese Military Territorial Tribunal sentenced him to 26 years of imprisonment. Four years later, he was incarcerated at the historical Fort of Caxias, near Lisbon in Portugal.

"I was kept in solitary confinement for six years," says Ranade, who distinctly remembers talking to himself in the cell's darkness to keep his sanity intact. "I had nobody to speak with. I was on the brink of lunacy. If some one will ask me what are the basic needs of the man, you may say roti, kapda aur makaan. But I would say that the basic need for any human being is society," he says contemplatively. Fortunately, due to political pressure by the Indian government, Ranade was finally released in January 1969 after 14 years of imprisonment.

He went back to Goa in 1970 to start the Gomantak Marathi Shikshan Parishad that sponsored education for poor children. But, he had to shift base to Pune in 1998, to nurse his ailing wife who hails from the city. Today, Ranade looks at his golden era with pride and has a piece of advice for the youth. "Values and principles have changed, but patriotism hasn't. The best way to serve your country now is to give your best shot in whatever you do," smiles Ranade, who established the Swami Vivekanand Jeevan Jyot Sanstha in Pune in 2001. the charitable organisation This organisation sponsors education of students from economically backward backgrounds. "These children are deprived of good education. I just want to help them," says Ranade, who gave financial assistance of almost Rs 2.5 lakhs for these students, last year.

A qualified lawyer, Ranande has even penned two books-Struggle Unfinished and Satiche Vaan-on the Goa Liberation Movement. Most importantly, he was honoured with the Padmashri in 2001 and later with the Sangli Bhushan in 2006. Also, the chairman of the Goa Red Cross for over five years, Ranade was awarded the Goa Puraskar in 1986 for his social work. But, while talking about these honours he firmly says, "I feel proud to call myself Freedom Fighter Mohan Ranade!"

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