Chapter 10: ‘Nehruji ab kya kareh, police lekar Goa chaleh, police lekar Goa chaleh’
It was the time when nation wide agitation was going on for Liberation of Goa from the Portuguese.
A young man in 30’s had taken charge and roared like a lion. This is the story of ‘Karnataka Kesari’ Jagannatha Rao and sacrifice of RSS Swayamsevaks for Liberation of Goa.
Jagannatha Rao Joshi was a senior RSS pracharak, who went on become a front-ranking leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and later the BJP. He was a versatile personality, great in all respects – absolute dedication to the nation, unwavering commitment to the ideology, courage of conviction, a fine orator who made thousands of people spell-bound, abundant presence of mind and a great sense of humour.
He was born at Nargund, present Gadag District (erstwhile undivided Dharwad district).
Around 1943, Jagannatha Rao Joshi was transferred from Pune to Belgaum where he came in contact with Mananeeya Yadava Rao Joshi, a magnetic personality, personally chosen by RSS founder-chief Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, to spread RSS in Dakshin Bharat. At that time Yadava Rao Joshi was the Pranth Pracharak of the RSS.
Jagannatha Rao Joshi resigned from Military Accounts in 1945 and became RSS pracharak, a full-time assignment in the cause of motherland. That was a modest beginning of what was to become a mammoth affair of sacrificing everything at the altar of Motherland for the next four-and-a-half decades. When the RSS was banned in 1948, he protested against the unlawful ban; he was arrested and detained at Hindalga jail at Belgaum for four-and-a-half years.
His nation-wide tour as Pracharak had made him a polyglot – proficient in as many as six languages such as English, Kannada, Marathi, Hindi, Bhojpuri and Marwadi. He was as comfortable in Hindi as he was in Kannada or Marathi, both while addressing a mammoth public meeting or workers training camp.
The struggle for Independence was not over with the quitting of the British. The Portuguese held sway over Goa.
The 1st to unfurl the tricolour over the Panaji secretariat in 1955 was a swayamsevak working as a teacher in Goa. He remained in Lisbon jail for 17 years – well after Goa was liberated in 1961.
In 1955, swayamsevaks took a leading part in the All-Party national struggle for its liberation. Prominent workers of Sangh & Jana Sangh lead several batches of Satyagrahis and a number of them suffered bullet wounds and inhuman torture in Portuguese jails.
Rajabhau Mahankal of Ujjain was among the prominent swayamsevaks who lead a batch from Madhya Bharat. Before Rajabhau proceeded into Goa border, the first three columns of Satyagrahis were fired upon. They fell down wounded. When the daring Sahodara Devi of Saugar in the 3rd row fell wounded, Rajabhau took the tricolour from her hands and stepped forward with the roar of “Bhaarat Maata ki Jai”.
Rajabhau fell with one of eyes pierced right through with a bullet. In those few seconds, before he became unconscious, he commanded others to take care of the flag and of the other wounded soldiers and within a few minutes he joined the rank of balidaanis who had covered themselves with immortal glory in the cause of the freedom of motherland.
Jagannath Rao Joshi, had to go through bones-breaking trauma.
June 23, 1955 was a red-letter day in Jagannath Rao Joshi’s life. For, it was on this day – his 35th birthday – he led thousands of RSS and Jana Sangh workers to Goa in order liberate that coastal city from the clutches of the Portugese. Though India had become free from the British in 1947, Goa was still ruled by the Portugese.
It became necessary on the part of the RSS and Jana Sangh to launch nation-wide Liberate Goa movement as the Congress government headed by Prime Minister Nehru did not thought of any action. It was Jagannatha Rao Joshi who coined the slogan, “Nehruji ab kya kareh, police lekar Goa chaleh, police lekar Goa chaleh.“ (Nehruji what shall we do now? Let’s take police and go to Goa) But Nehruji remained silent. It was then Jagannatha Rao Joshi commanded the Army of RSS and Jana Sangh activists and marched into Goa.
Jagannatha Rao Joshi was arrested by the Portugese Army when he entered Goa through Savantvadi forests and was taken to Fort Aguada prison because he had entered Goa without a permit – as then required. It was almost akin to Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee entering Kashmir without a permit and was imprisoned in Srinagar Central Prison.
Joshi was asked by the judge why he had come to Goa without a permit. Jagannatha Rao Joshi roared like a lion and said, “I have come to Goa to ask why you (Portugese) have come to Goa. Goa is a part of my motherland and I have right to go any part of my motherland.” This statement was similar to what Dr Mukherjee told Sheikh Abdullah – that Kashmir was an integral part of Mother Bharat and he had every right to go to any part of Bharat.
This statement of Joshi made a splash in the media and rightly got the epithet Karnataka Kesari (Karnataka’s Lion). Though he was imprisoned along with hundreds of RSS and BJS activists, Joshi, however, was condemned to solitary confinement in Fort Aguada Central Prison. As the British, did the Portugese too saw in Jagannath Rao Joshi shades of Veer Savarkar? I was fortunate to have a look at the cell number 13 in which Jagannatha Rao Joshi was imprisoned. The Goa liberation movement led by Jagannatha Rao Joshi was a major water-shed in the political history of Independent India.
Jagannatha Joshi ji in a span of 45 long years of service had walked length and breadth of the country and had taken part in every significant movement.
By 1989, his health had started to deteriorate,
Yet he undertook extensive travelling to UP, Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.
Where ever he went, he always had hundreds of workers around him, he was a source of inspiration for normal persons and a source of sustenance & rejuvenation to those who were emotionally depressed.
When due to high diabetic condition, signs of gangarene started to set in, Jagannatha Rao Joshi was brought to Puttur in Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka at the guidance of Dr V.S.Acharya, senior party leader from Udupi, for ayurvedic treatment for his gangarene.
He was taken from Puttur to Pune via Mangalore and Mumbai by flight. When the flight landed, Jagannatha Rao Joshi held had said, “I have completed my last flight journey. The only aircraft that I am going to board now is the Pushpaka Vimana for my eternal journey”
On the day Jagannatha Rao Joshi died (15th July 1991), a Marathi eveninger had carried a detailed story on this great leader with a headlines, ”Jagannatha cha Rath Thamba” meaning “Jagannath’s Rath has stopped”.
It is true that physically Jagannatha Rao Joshi is not amidst us but the Rath of Nationalism and Patriotism which Jagannatha Rao rode will not stop; it will take Bharat Mata to its pre-destined destination of “Vishwa Guru” Jagannatha ji in his speech had once said,
“……..marne keh baad, agar hamare haddiyaa Ganga ji mey visarjan kardi gayee, aur kisine kaan lagaakar dhyaan sey suna, ek hi awaaz sunayee degi, Bharat Mata Ki Jai……….”
Source : A tribute penned by S.A. Hemantha Kumar, a senior journalist based in Bangalore. He had served Jagannath Rao Joshi for about an year during his last days.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth