Remembering Prof. Hasan Mansur, veteran Activist

FEBRUARY 13, 2014

Bangalore: Prof Hasan Mansur, a noted human rights activist, passed away in Bangalore on 12th February morning. Prof Mansur, 85, who retired as Head of the Department of English in Bangalore University, was closely associated with People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL). Prof Mansur leaves behind his wife and a son. Following is a condolence message issued by PUCL-Karnataka State Unit.
Hasan Mansur_PUCL
Professor Hassan Mansur (1930 – 2014) was the doyen of the human rights movement in Karnataka. A former Professor of English in Bangalore University and a lover of the works of James Joyce, he found his calling in the human rights movement.
Prof Mansur was an early forerunner of the human rights movement in Karnataka, and founded the Karnataka Civil Liberties Committee ( KCLC) in 1984 ; he went on to work for the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties ( PUCL) with which he would be associated for the rest of his exemplary life.

Prof. Mansur’s career in the human rights movement however began early as young communist activist, who at the age of 19 was arrested by the Broadway Police way back in the early years of independence. Formed by this early experience with the police, Prof Mansur went on to become a tireless advocate against police violence as the face, and indeed the heart, of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties in Karnataka.

Prof. Mansur was also instrumental in broadbasing the concerns of the PUCL and taking it beyond the traditional human rights issues such as civil liberties to focussing attention on the violations of socio-economic rights, including the right to housing and the right to water. Under his able leadership, PUCL also began to advocate the rights of other marginalized sections and deprived communities such as women, Dalits, adivasis, slum dwellers, sex workers and sexual minorities.

Prof. Mansur exemplified a style of leadership which nurtured others to grow into their own. To his colleagues, he embodied a form of modesty, intellectual curiosity and gentleness which gestured towards another way of being a leader. A man of tremendous achievements forged in over 40 years of public service to the field of human rights, he always understated the depth of his contribution by preferring to avoid the limelight.

In many meetings in Bangalore on human rights issues as diverse as encounter deaths, the rights of slum dwellers or the right against torture, Prof. Mansur would always be accompanied by Mrs Hasnath Mansur. The life that Mrs and Mr Mansur led in close companionship for over 40 years of togetherness consisted of laughter, poetry and politics. It was in every way an ideal relationship founded upon the deepest love. Our deepest condolences go out to Mrs Mansur in her hour of bereavement.

As comrades of Prof. Mansur, we know that he would only want one thing of us. He would want us to continue the work of the PUCL and constantly fight against forms of violence and oppression, a task to which he was committed. We will always remember Prof Mansur’s fierce commitment to the human cause, to the rights of the most marginalized, and that memory will serve as a constant inspiration to the People’s Union for Civil Liberties in the journey ahead. Prof Mansur as a lifelong student of literature would have appreciated us invoking Pablo Neruda (a revolutionary as well as a romantic poet) to remember him:

Should I die, survive me with a force so pure
that you awaken fury from the pale chill eyes,
day in day out,
sound your mouth’s guitar.

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