His struggle to win the freedom fighter’s tag may be more arduous than winning freedom for the country, but Gour Hari Das is not in the habit of giving up.
After knocking 321 doors, scaling 60,000 steps, writing 1,043 letters and pleading 2,300 times all in 32 years Das got the Tamrapatra, the credential to show that he was officially a freedom fighter.
“I met good and not-so-good people during the hunt,” Das, 85, told Deccan Herald at the Press Club where a film on his struggle called ‘Gour Hari Dastaan: The Freedom File’ was released. Directed by Anant Mahadevan, the film is released across the country on Friday on the eve of the country’s 69th Independence Day.
Das was part of the Vanar Sena and was inspired to join the freedom movement by his father and brother, who were Gandhians. He couriered messages for top leaders and went around waking up people who took part in the movement.
He was arrested in 1945 but was released shortly. “I was also blessed by Mahatma Gandhi,” he said, adding he was also associated with former Prime Minister Morarji Desai. Das worked with the Khadi Board and now lives as a retired man at Mumbai’s western suburb of Dahisar.
He did not feel the need for recognition in the years after the Independence. “My son was seeking admission at Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute in 1976, when I was told that the freedom fighter’s certificate would help his entry to the college,” he said.
“Then the run started...from office to office, desk to desk, people to people,” Das said referring to his quest to get the recognition that went for 32 years from 1976 to 2008 when he eventually got the certificate. “In between, people told me to stop, but I was determined; I wanted to get it through proper means,” he said.
Eighty per cent of his pension as freedom fighter goes for charity. “I never wanted it for pension, but for honour and recognition,” he said.
Das kept each of his correspondence throughout the long search for recognition, depositing them in a folder he called ‘Fredom File’.
While Mahadevan wrote the script for the movie, Oscar winner Resul Pookutty did sound design. Actor Vijay Pathak plays Das in the movie, which also features Kankona Sen Sharma, Tannistha Chatterjee, Ranveer Shorey, Rajit Kapoor, Vikram Gokhale and Siddharth Jadhav.