Freedom fighter of Dapoli – Purushottam Marathe

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Great freedom fighter Purushottam Ganesh alias Bapu Marathe was born on August 28, 1917 in the Brahmin family. He had three siblings, one elder sister and two younger brothers. Bapu’s mother passed away when he was 5 years old followed by his father’s death when he was 10 years old. After his big sister got married, all the responsibility was on Bapu’s shoulders. Because of this, he had to leave his education after 3rd grade. There is no information available today about the period when he came from Ratnagiri to Dapoli. His house in Dapoli was near a farm and he earned his living with the help of his farming business.

There is no proper information available about his active participation in the independence movement. But it is known that from 1940 to 1944 he was imprisoned in Nasik jail because of his anti-British activities. Later, when he was again arrested, he was put in a jail at Belgaum. Bapu got married to his wife from Malvan Vaingani in 1948. She was educated till seventh grade. Bapu and his wife had four children. He did farming along with some carpet making on the side to be able to feed his family. His weaving apparatus had a wooden triangle like any other weaving apparatus. But this triangle was a bit different; it was hollow from inside. Bapu used to carry letters in this hollow triangle for the freedom fighters that had gone underground. He also had a red colored cow. He had broken the horns of the cow and had fitted 2-3 fake horns to replace them. He would hide secret messages in the cow and dress as a shepherd hiding his cow in a group of other cows. Once the hiding freedom fighters got their messages, they would put black and white marks as a sign on the Bapu’s cow. Sometimes, Bapu had to stay in forests to find and deliver messages to the hiding freedom fighters. Sometimes he would run out of food while staying in the forest and end up surviving on the leaves of trees. He was extremely close to the great revolutionist, Balasaheb Phatak. Like him, Bapu used to extract skins of dead animals.

Around 1970, the government decided to start pensions for freedom fighters. Baba Phatak and Laxmanshastri Joshi insisted Bapu to fill in the form for pension too. Bapu received many honors and felicitations from the government. Out of the INR 1800 first pension that he received, only INR 10 was left with him as the rest was used to pay off debts. His situation improved financially after that and he even bought his own house in the year 1977 – 1978 at Jalgaon.

Bapu’s old house was frequently visited by Baba Fatak and his wife Shantabai Fatak. It was a hot spot for gathering of revolutionists. Great freedom fighters like Appasaheb Patvardhan, Samant Guruji and many more visited Bapu’s old house.

Bapu was very fond of farming. He was of the thought that every scale of the land should be under cultivation. He was an expert when it came to fruit plantations. Being a vivid reader, he had read many books in the Gokhale Library at Dapoli.

During his last days, Bapu stayed with his daughter, Mrs. Vijaya Aaher in Buldhana. He passed away during his visit to his extremely close friend, Mr. Vate. He left this world on Wednesday, 18th December 1996, i.e., on Margashirsha Shudha Navmi (Hindu Calender).

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