Harohalli Srinivasaiah Doreswamy will turn 100 in a few months, but his memory remains razor-sharp, especially as he rewinds to August 15, 1947.
In his modest home at Jayanagar in south Bengaluru, he recalls the joy that erupted after the midnight hour. “It feels like it all happened only yesterday ... the 48-minute speech of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru we heard on radio and the exhilaration I felt.”
He joined the freedom struggle inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s book My Early Life .
He was involved in underground activities and was arrested and held without trial for months by the British government. He later went on to write articles for newspapers and edited a newspaper, Poura Vani . In early 1947, the British government seized the publication in Bengaluru, but he escaped to Hindupur and published it from there.
“On the night of August 14, I was looking through the articles for the magazine in our office at Balepete. The entire area in and around Dharmambudhi Kere (where the Majestic bus stand is situated now) was decked with flowers and the tricolour. People were celebrating their first Independence Day by distributing sweets,” he says. At midnight, K.C. Reddy, member of the Constituent Assembly, hoisted the flag with thousands chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai .
On August 15, though Arcot Ramaswamy Mudaliar, the Diwan of Mysore, hoisted the tricolour in the city municipality, it was still the Gandabherunda flag (of the Maharaja of Mysore) that was fluttering on Athara Kacheri, the old public office where the Karnataka High Court is now housed.
“It was Narayanaswamy and Muniswamy, two Binny Mill workers, who brought down the Gandabherunda flag and hoisted the tricolour. I got the photograph of the tricolour fluttering on Athara Kacheri and published it,” Mr. Doreswamy says.
He does not forget to talk about the darker side of the times either — Partition and its impact felt throughout the country. “Some Muslim families left Bengaluru and later returned, as they were not treated well in Pakistan,” he says.
Mr. Doreswamy has never rested on his laurels or led a retired life. He was part of the anti-Emergency protests and has been involved in several civic and rights movements.