A series of high profile hunger strikes have kept India riveted for the past few months. Even as the curtains came down on Baba Ramdev’s fast unto death, news came in of unfortunate demise of one Swami Nigamananda, who was on fast since February this year but no one seems to have taken note of it till his death. Of course the most famous person to use this unique weapon of protest was Mahatma Gandhi but there were others, who are almost forgotten today.
Before Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev, the hunger strike, which literally shook the political establishment of this country and changed the map of India for ever, took place in 1952. On 19th October that year freedom fighter Potti Sreeramalu sat on a fast unto death at the heart of Madras, demanding a separate Andhra state. Born in Madras in 1901, Sreeramalu joined railways after his education. But after losing his young wife at childbirth along with the child, he gave up his career and joined freedom struggle. He even spent some time in Gandhi ashram at Sabarmati. Even before independence, he sat on a fast demanding temple entry for lower castes in 1946 –he was then persuaded by Gandhiji himself to withdraw his fast.