Panaji: Veteran freedom fighter, Mohan Ranade, who was one of the main pillars of the final phase of Goan freedom struggle ignited by Ram Manohar Lohia in 1946, passed away in Pune, Tuesday morning. He was 90.
Ranade was ailing for quite some time and was hospitalised in a Pune hospital. He was presently undergoing treatment.
Ranade was cremated at Vaikunth crematorium in Pune Tuesday evening with full state honours accorded by the governments of Goa and Maharashtra. Minister for Urban Development Milind Naik represented the government of Goa at the funeral. Former parliamentarian Narendra Sawaikar also paid tributes to Ranade in Pune.
Born Manohar Apte, in 1929 and a native of Sangli-Maharashtra, the revered freedom fighter assumed the name Mohan Ranade, during the armed struggle of Azad Gomantak Dal against the Portuguese colonial rule. The name stuck to him till the end.
Ranade had arrived in Goa during the early 1950s, disguised as a Marathi teacher and was involved in the armed activities of the Azad Gomantak Dal. He carried out armed attacks against the Portuguese police posts, the last of which at Betim, in October 1955 resulted in injury to him and was captured by the Portuguese police. Sentenced to 26 years imprisonment, Ranade was deported to Portugal and was in the Lisbon jail till 1969, long after Goa was liberated on December 19, 1961.
There were nationwide protests and movements demanding release of Ranade from the Portuguese jail, with even the then prime minister, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, seeking his release. Finally, the efforts of the Mohan Ranade Vimochan Samiti led by noted music composer/ singer Sudhir Phadke and the intervention of the Pope at the prodding of former Tamil Nadu chief minister C N Annadurai succeeded in his release from the Portuguese jail.
Ranade was felicitated on his return to Goa from Portugal by the then chief minister, Dayanand Bandodkar. Later, Ranade settled in Pune; however, frequently returned to Goa to attend the Goa Revolution Day observed on June 18 and Goa Liberation Day celebrated on December 19.
The government of India honoured Ranade with the Padma Shri title. He also wrote an autobiography in Marathi titled ‘Satiche Vaan’.
Ranade’s wife had died some years back and the couple did not have children.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, in his condolence message, stated, “Deeply saddened by the passing away of Mohan Ranade, a fearless freedom fighter, who fought for the liberation of Goa. His sacrifices and struggles for Goa will never be forgotten. Padma Shri Mohan Ranade served 14 years in prison in Goa and Portugal, with six years in solitary confinement. He devoted his entire life to the service of the society. His life is an inspiration for all of us. My deepest condolences to the family.”
Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai said that Ranade spent 14 years in prison of which six were in solitary confinement. “I don’t think anyone has had to go through this sort of situation. He had to face this even after we were liberated. It was only after former Tamil Nadu chief minister Annadurai, who requested to see him, that he was released from jail. Today, we have lost an important Goan personality. His contribution post-Liberation is also crucial, because of which he was awarded a Padma Shri. I pray that his soul rests in peace and may God give his family and supporters strength to bear this loss,” he said.
Union Minister of State for AYUSH and Defence, Shripad Naik, in his condolence message, said, “Ranade was among the top line of freedom fighters, who strived hard to liberate Goa from the clutches of the Portuguese rulers. His work will always stay with us, encourage generations of youth, and inspire us to protect and defend our motherland. ”
Prabhakar Sinari, the iconic freedom fighter linked to the Azad Gomantak Dal, told ‘The Navhind Times’ that Mohan Ranade was a daring youth when he came in contact with the group. “We trained him in guerrilla warfare, including how to handle the guns and then he shined as a freedom fighter,” Sinari recalled, pointing out, “I even took him along with me during the liberation of Nagar Haveli.”
“In fact, there was some warrant of the government of India on Manohar Apte, which was the real name of Ranade, and he had come to the Portuguese territory to evade the same,” Sinari informed, stating that he and Ranade were together during the liberation of Nagar Haveli, as also in various attacks on the Portuguese installations including attacks on Shirgao mine and Golavali police station, besides attack on the police group at Chandel.
Sinari also maintained that Ranade had contributed immensely to the Goan freedom struggle.
Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar, in his condolence message, described Ranade as a bright star in the Goan freedom struggle. “Ranade was one of the major freedom fighters, who participated in the armed movement aimed at uprooting the 450-year-old Portuguese rule in Goa,” he added.
Margao MLA and former chief minister Digambar Kamat said, “I am deeply pained by the sad demise of veteran freedom fighter Padma Shri Mohan Ranade. His contribution to Goa’s freedom struggle will always be remembered and inspire generations to come. My condolences to his family and may his soul rest in peace.”