M.V. Kamath recollects the Freedom Struggle and Gandhi’s visit in Udupi

“I still get goosebumps when I think about the Union Jack being lowered and the National Tricolour being unfurled on the midnight of August 14, 1947,” says the 92-year-old veteran journalist M.V. Kamath.

Mr. Kamath, now the Honorary Director of Manipal School of Communication, covered the event as a reporter for the Free Press Journal at the Old Secretariat Building in Bombay, now Mumbai. Mr. Kamath joined the newspaper in 1946.

He said there was a massive gathering of about two lakh outside the Old Secretariat Building around 9 p.m., while there were about 500 freedom fighters inside the Secretariat compound.

The Union Jack on the flagstaff of the Secretariat was lowered just before the midnight. Then at the midnight, the Tricolour was unfurled. “There was immense joy among people and many people wept. It was the most fantastic day in life, which will never come again,” Mr. Kamath said.

Madhav Vittal Kamath, born on September 7, 1921, in Udupi, recollects various instances related to Freedom Struggle for India’s Independence with lot of pride, including Mahatma Gandhi’s only visit to the temple-town.

During the Salt Satyagraha in 1931, the freedom fighters made salt on Malpe beach near Udupi. A 10-year-old Kamath used to sell two grams of salt for two annas.

When Mahatma Gandhi visited Udupi on February 25, 1934, people had left their homes in villages early in the morning and walked for 12 miles to see and hear him. The public meeting was held at Ajjarkad in Udupi.

People had brought vegetables, fruits, fish and other items to offer Gandhi. These items were auctioned at the meeting. A nine-year-old girl, Nirupama, who was wearing her gold bangles, gave it to Gandhi.

“But Gandhiji asked for her gold necklace and earrings also and asked her not to wear gold ornaments as India was a poor country. Later these ornaments, too, were auctioned at the meeting,” he said.

Another of Mr. Kamath’s recollections about the Freedom Movement is that of Congress volunteers gathering around a toddy shop near the Court Road in Udupi and shouting Paradey Kali Gangasara Kebita Bitt Detudu Koru (Don’t get drunk, you may have to sell your gold earrings) in Tulu language from 5.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.

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