By : Mohan Verma
Former PWD Minister, freedom fighter and social reformer nonagenarian, Pt. Gauri Prasad breathed his last peacefully at 7:30 A.M. on Sunday in his ancestral house, Mandi.
Born on October 18, 1918 , he was the last remnant of the era when honest, selfless and dedicated persons adorned the Indian National Congress unlike the scammers of today. The 96 year old Gauri Prasad was not keeping well for the last 23 months with multiple old age problems. He was upset with eye ailments.
He attained education of Ayurveda at Lahore and completed his studies in 1933. Surcharged with a zeal and zest for social service and patriotism he plunged into the freedom struggle at the tender age of mere 15 years in 1933.
He joined Praja Mandal movement in 1940 which was spearheading freedom struggle against the princely rulers who had been perpetrating atrocities against their subjects through infamous Begar System i.e. forcing people to work without wages. He remained President of Mandi State Praja Mandal from 1940 to 1947. He was arrested and sent to jail for 6 months.
As a PWD minister he constructed direct Mandi – Shimla road whereby three-day long journey from Mandi to Shimla was curtailed to 12 hours in the beginning and later to mere 5-6 hours. Earlier people from Mandi had to negotiate a long detour via Ambala for reaching Shimla from Mandi.
Pt. Gauri Prasad is still remembered with love and affection by the people of Mandi in particular and Himachal Pradesh in general for generating employment for thousands of youths during his tenure as Minister.
Health Minister, Thakur Kaul Singh and Rural Development and Panchyat Raj Minister, Anil Sharma expressed their deep condolence over the sad demise of Pt. Gauri Prasad. They also accompanied the funeral procession.
Pt. Gauri Prasad was cremated at Hanuman Ghat on the bank of Beas Sunday evening.