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On 26th Jan 2017, Pitaji Sopena said, Bharat Mata Ki Jay!

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Consideration for Centenarian Award

Fr. Federico Sopena Gussi

Fr. Federico Sopena Gussi, who widely known as Pitaji Sopena, 91 years old and was born as a Spanish Citizen. He came to India at the age of 22 years with the intention of serving the poor and to learned Indian culture and philosophy. He spent his 69 years in India in which he contributed immensely among the rural poor and especially Katkari Tribe of Raigad district of Maharashtra. The Katkari is one of the diminishing tribe declared by the anthropologist. Pitaji Sopena took this as the challenge. He started and supported various organizations which took up the work of nonformal education and creating awareness of land rights of Katkari. He had met with the road accident and had lost his one foot but still, he remained unstoppable and climbed mountains with artificial Jaipur foot. Pitaji loved India and all the more people of India. His last wish to die as an Indian citizen had a history of 34 years struggle. Just to get an Indian Citizenship at the age of 71 years he appeared for "Hindi Bhasha Praveshika Exam" along with 5th std. students. He knew Hindi and Marathi well. His knowledge about Geeta, Kuran and Bible has contributed to religious harmony and the humanity. Finally, with a lot of follow up and lobbying work he was granted an Indian Citizenship by Gov. of India. After taking oath in front of the collector, happily, he shouted "Bharat Mera Desh Hai", " Bharat Mata Ki Jay."

Pitaji Sopena's last will was accomplished and he died recently a few days back. Even his funeral was on republic day i.e. 26th Jan 2017. Now there is growing feeling from the people of various religion and organizations that he should have been awarded but legally until last year, he was not the citizen of India. Although, he is no more but still he has remained as an inspiration to various social movements.

Through this petition, behalf of all those who knew him and loved him as a great social activist we are demanding national level award for his work in the area of religious harmony and service to the humanity

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