Pro-Kannada activist, literateur and poet Champa dies at 82

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BENGALURU: Noted poet, activist and one of Karnataka’s loudest pro-Kannada voices, Chandrashekar Patil, better known by his pen-name Champa, 82, died this morning in Bengaluru.

Born in Hattimattur village of Haveri district, he attained fame as a revolutionary writer and was fondly called as Champa.

The literateur was also a key activist who was among the many who led the Gokak agitation for the cause of Kannada and has been a strong voice against any imposition of Hindi in the southern state.

“His contribution to Kannada language and Karnataka is immense. He was at the forefront of Gokak and many other movements for the cause of Kannada and Karnataka. He strongly advocated Kannada to be the medium of instruction in education,” Basavaraj Bommai, the chief minister of Karnataka said on Monday.

Champa was a professor of English at Karnatak University, Dharwad and editor of ‘Sankramana’, a Kannada literary publication. He has also served as the head of Kannada Development Authority and Kannada Sahitya Parishat.

“I am deeply saddened by the news of the death of Kannada poet, artist, playwright, revolutionary Chandrashekar Patil who became famous as Champa. The land has lost the voice of a senior pro-Kannada person. I pray that God will grant peace to him and strength to his family to bear the loss,” BS Yediyurappa, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former chief minister, said.

In 2017, he was part of a forum that brought together warring groups from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to fight the imposition of Hindi by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led union government.

“Language struggle cannot be done in isolation,” Champa said at the time.

“I am saddened by the death of Prof Chandrashekar Patil who was a born fighter against injustice, inequality and dictatorship. I am part of his family and fans in this time of grief,” Siddaramaiah, former chief minister and leader of the opposition said in a post on Twitter.

Bommai has said that the last rites will be conducted with full state honours.

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