It was Ponnara G. Sreedhar’s contributions that helped place the region of Travancore prominently in the annals of the Indian national movement, said Speaker G. Karthikeyan after inaugurating a meeting commemorating the 115th birth anniversary of the freedom fighter.

Organised by the Janatha Forum at the Press Club here on Sunday evening, the gathering looked back at the achievements of the leader who far transcended the role of merely delivering speeches in a bid to win votes. “He was physically present wherever a major agitation was called for in the country, which shows his commitment to the nation and to the liberation movement,” said Mr. Karthikeyan.

Many roles

He also listed the several positions that the leader held in his lifetime, such as Nedumangad panchayat president, Thiruvananthapuram Corporation Mayor, and a member of the Legislative Assembly. This pointed to the fact that he was a well-loved figure.

All the key events that figure in the timeline of the freedom movement have seen Ponnara Sreedhar’s participation, including the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1922, the Flag Satyagraha of Nagpur, and the Salt Satyagraha. He also took a crusading stance on the rights of the tribal and the dalit population, said Janatha Forum president P. Vishwambharan.

“He never discriminated along the lines of religion and caste and embraced anyone who genuinely wished to offer public service. Ponnara Sreedhar was tortured by the police and imprisoned several times, but despite all that he had done for the nation, he spent his final years without even earning a decent pension,” said Mr. Vishwambharan.

He also spoke about the voracious reader that the freedom fighter was, describing him as always having a cloth bag filled with heavy volumes on political philosophy. “Check the public library records before 1965 and you will find that the most frequent visitor was Ponnara Sreedhar. Even though he never joined the Communist parties when they were formed, he was a left ideologue who followed the writings of Leon Trotsky,” he said.