One of the veterans of the freedom movement Paripoornananda Painuli passed away in Dehradun on April 13, 2019. He was a Member of the 5th Lok Sabha from 1971 to 1977 from Tehri Garhwal, then a part of Uttar Pradesh.
He was the doyen of journalists of Uttarakhand and used to bring out a journal from Dehradun for a long time. He was born in Chhaul village near Tehri town on November 19, 1924, the same date of birth as Indira Gandhi's, though she was seven years elder to him.
I had the privilege of meeting Painuli ji in 1955-56 when I was undertaking some anthropological fieldwork, studying culture change among the polyandrous people of Jaunsar-Bawar and was based in a historic village Lakhamandal.
Nearby was the hamlet of Dhaura. As a social worker associated with the Kalsi Ashram of Bharatiya Adim Jati Sevak Sangha run by Sri Dharmadeva Shastri he took special interest in the emancipation of Kolta women, who belonged to the most downtrodden untouchable caste, and of some other surrounding villages who were lured by flesh traders from Delhi, Kanpur, Ahmedabad and Bombay. Painuli ji was a crusader to the hilt and believed in nonviolence.
The Praja Parishad of Tehri Garhwal led a historic movement under the leadership of Sri Dev Suman against the Shah rulers of Tehri State. In the hills of those areas Dev Suman's was a household name because of the 84-day long hunger strike he undertook in Tehri jail against the tyrannical rule of the Maharaja of Tehri.
It is a pity that after independence it is only the Maharaja or Maharani of Tehri who were given tickets by the Congress Party in the first four Lok Sabhas before Painuli ji was elected to Lok Sabha.
In later years the same members of the royal family, barring three exceptions of Trepan Singh Negi, Brahm Dutt and Vijay Bahuguna, were elected to Lok Sabha on the BJP ticket. Both the parties proved untrue to the people of Tehri and their aspirations.
After a long gap I had an occasion to meet Painuli when he came to see Ram Dhan, Chairman, National Commission for SC & ST, with whom I worked as his OSD in 1990-95. As late as the end of December 2018 during my visit to Dehradun I enquired about him but he was not available. He was indeed a very popular figure among the people of Uttarakhand.