BENGALURU: The 102-year-old freedom fighter HS Doreswamy has been protesting in Bengaluru for years and this time against the Citizen (Amendment) Act. He has been part of a four-day dharna against the denial of permission for a protest at Town Hall. He revealed his plans and views on the current state of the country.
It has been almost two months since CAA. What do you intend to do next?
I am launching a movement to tell Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that they are diverting the attention of the people and fooling them instead of focussing on burning issues of the country. There is malnourishment of children and poverty of farmers. I will ask them to attend to these issues or else quit.
Shah has stated that the CAA has been passed and nothing can be done?
This is a democratic country and the government should listen to the people carefully. There are thousands of people taking to the streets against the CAA and NRC. But Shah is saying nothing can be done while Modi is giving a different version. They both are complementary to each other, while students are at the forefront of this movement.
What will your movement focus on?
I am 102-years-old. I know my limitations, but if I’m alive, I will work till 2024 elections to mobilise people and educate them. Modi is concentrating on capturing power by taking up issues that will help him reach his goal. My first move is to educate people and create awareness. We have invited NGOs and other organisations to come together and intend to educate 6,000 people in the first year. The following year, there will be a non-cooperation movement against the government, if it does not mend its ways. Thousands may have to go to jail, but we will sacrifice ourselves to educate the people... Currently, all parties are silent and dead. Parties should strengthen themselves to solve our problems.
What are the issues with the current government?
None of the governments have kept their promises. This government promised about 5 lakh jobs per year, but what has been done? On the Kashmir issue, at least Kashmiris should have been consulted, if not the rest of India. The economy is bad. Food prices have increased in such a way that the common man cannot afford it. They have increased salaries for government officials, but what about the common man?
What would have Gandhiji said if he were alive?
Mahatma Gandhi wanted independence to eradicate poverty. When Jawaharlal Nehru implemented the five-year plan, the rich became richer and the poor poorer. If he were alive, he would have revolted against the system and conducted a movement for poverty alleviation.
What do you hope to achieve through this movement?
This is a fight for a new kind of independence and a revolution. People have to understand the problem first and then organise themselves to move forward. The people sometimes protest only for a day and are done with the movement. That doesn’t yield results. A sustained effort should be made.