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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 42, October 8, 2011

Symbol of Moral Courage

Saturday 8 October 2011

by K.R. SUNDAR RAJAN

I must confess I had serious differences with Chitta Ranjan on national and international issues but these did not in any way undermine my deep regard for him. Indeed, his intellectual and professional honesty was always a source of inspiration to me.

We worked together in the student movement during Gandhiji’s Quit India struggle. He was a quiet but very efficient campaigner, exhibiting great maturity of judgement even when he was so young. We were both arrested and convicted during the demonstrations that followed Kasturba Gandhi’s death in prison in Pune and sent to Alipuram Jail near Bellary. No reading matter was permitted under the jail rules, not to speak of newspapers. But we managed to collect information about what was going on in the country under the repressive British Raj and issue an underground daily “newspaper” written on slates. It was called the Alipuram Shimbun. Chitta Ranjan made a great contribution towards its success.

Chitta Ranjan was a very competent journalist. But then there is no dearth of competent people in our country. Where he stood head and shoulder above others in his profession was in respect of his moral courage and his integrity. He was totally uncompromising in his commitment to basic values and even prolonged adversity and suffering did not deter him from the path of probity. He was devoid of vanity and content to remain in the background. With his death, the rare species he represented has become rarer still. But Chitta Ranjan will always remain enshrined in my memory.

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