He spent 29 days in jail during an agitation to include Mumbai in Maharashtra. But Chandu Bharadkar, is not officially a participant of the Samyukta Maharashtra movement. The government recognises only those who were in jail for 30 days or more.
Bharadkar was part of the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti, founded on February 6, 1956. The day after the organisation’s formation, the then 21-year-old Bharadkar and his associates went on a satyagraha at Flora Fountain to demand a separate state of Maharashtra. The police arrested them and Bharadkar was jailed for 29 days.
He missed out on the official tag and the benefits that come with because he got out of jail a day early. But he does not care. “I did not go to jail for recognition and take advantages of government facilities,” said Bharadkar. Bharadkar was also present when the police fired at 105 martyrs in January 1956 at Hutatma Chowk.
Bharadkar, who grew up in a Tardeo chawl, used to take part in singing powadas (a folk art). He joined the Rashtra Seva Dal took part in the Samyukta Maharashtra movement. The veteran shahir (folk singer) worked as a peon in Wilson High School, Girgaum.
The government gave Bharadkar a 300-sq-ft house in the 1990s. “The house is 2-3 km from Dombivli railway station. It was inconvenient to come to Mumbai every day to see my doctor,” the 75- year old asthma patient said. Bharadkar has been living in the servant quarters of the police hospital in Nagpada in his former troupe member, Parshuram Diwakar’s house.
Fifty years later, he says the city he fought for has changed so much he can barely recognise it. “Mumbai is in Maharashtra, but I don’t find Maharashtra in Mumbai,” Bharadkar said. “Before I speak to a taxi driver I have to think twice, whether to start with Marathi or Hindi.”