GORTA—KARNATAKA’S JALLIANWALA BAGH To get statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
It was on May 9, 1948, Razakars invaded Gorta village on horseback with long swords in their hands, massacred men and children, raped women and then killed them
Freedom struggle had different strands; Congress was the deepest swamp. But history has been unkind to those freedom fighters who did not belong to Congress clan and Nehru-Gandhi mindset. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, whom the Congress had conveniently forgotten, is one among those millions of heroes to whom history and historians were neither fair nor kind.
Gorta, a nondescript village, 70-km from the district headquarters of Bidar in Karnataka’s Hyderabad-Karnataka region, is not fortunate enough to be recorded in history for its valiant struggle, first against the British and next against the Nizam of Hyderabad. The village borders Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and was under the Nizam of Hyderabad, who refused to accede to Indian Union when rest of India became part of the history in the making.
While rest of India got Independence on August 15, 1947, Hyderabad and other regions under its domain got freedom on September 17, 1948.
It is only when Nizam refused to sign the Instrument of Accession to India, villagers of Gorta were up in arms and rose in revolt against Nizam’s decision. Hundreds of youths made valiant attempts to hoist the tri-colour first on August 15, 1947, later in Septmember but Razakars, the private army men of the Nizams, quelled the revolt with a heavy hand. “Blood flew like a river in the village of Gorta,” writes KM Munshi in one of his write-ups on Sardar Patel, in his book titled The End of an Era.
Munshi further writes, “I am surprised how Gorta has not become known countrywide. The sacrifice made by the villagers of Gorta is second to none; in fact Gorta can be rightly called the Jallianwala Bagh of Karnataka as more than 200 people, mostly farmers, were massacred by the Razakars on May 9, 1948.”
It was on 9th May 1948, Razakars invaded Gorta village on horseback with long swords in their hands, massacred men and children, raped women and then killed them. The loot and killing went on for the entire day, during which about 250 people, mostly farmers, who were working in their farms, were massacred in broad daylight. The marauding Razakars set the village on fire. “The sword-happy Razakars were given a rousing welcome by none other than the Nizam,” Narayana Rao Manhalli, former BJP MLA of Bidar, says quoting a local folk song composed by a musician on the saga of Gorta.
It was only after this Gorta massacre the Union government headed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru made attempts to “look into the issue” that too when Sardar Patel, who was Nehru’s deputy incharge of Home Ministry, said that there was no time to deal with Hyderabad’s Nizam with kid-glove methods. “If anything has to be done to retain Hyderabad in Indian Union and save the lives of thousands of innocent people, then it is now and here. I am ordering police action,” Patel told Nehru, who had to accept it with great reluctancy.
BJP Yuva Morcha President of Karnataka Unit Tulasi Muniraju Gowda and Bengaluru city Unit President Sapthagiri Gowda told Uday India that it has been decided to install a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at Gorta to give the proud son of India his rightful place.
“We will utilise this occasion to mobilise youth and make them feel proud of our freedom fighters and their sacrifice. We have decided to collect Rs 10 from one youth across the state. We intend to personally meet about five lakh youth to collect Rs 50 lakh. The idea is also to make the youth feel involved in this national historic mission,” Sapthagiri Gowda explained. He has taken upon himself the task of approaching about one lakh youth in Bengaluru to collect Rs 10 lakh. According to Sapthagiri Gowda, the statue of Sardar Patel and the memorial would be the befitting tribute to the sacrifice of hundreds of villagers to the cause of freedom struggle.
“The project of mobilising the youth and collect funds spans for about one year. The foundation stone laying ceremony will be held on September 17 this year. We would like to invite Amit Shah, President of BJP for this historic mission and also kick-off the campaign. In 2015 on September 17 when the statue would be unveiled, we would like the presence of our beloved Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Sapthagiri Gowda added.
The BJP Yuva Morcha has also decided to come out with a theme song and an inspiring slogan to attract the youth towards this nationalist cause. “Our tactics for campaign includes padayatras, cycle rallies, two-wheeler rallies, street-corner public meetings involving local folk singers. It would be typical of what our freedom fighters did during the Independence movement,” Sapthagiri Gowda explained. The bronze statue of Sardar Patel will be of about nine feet in height to be placed on a concrete pedestal of about seven feet height.
With Modi’s decision to install the world’s biggest statue of Sardar Patel—taller than the statue of liberty—on the banks of the Narmada, it looks like that there will be more such gestures throughout the country, thus enabling this iron man of India his rightful place in the heart of millions of Indians. Gorta, a sleepy village, which has played a vital role to the cause of freedom struggle, perhaps, would pave the way and become perennial source of inspiration for thousands of youth to take up such cause in a much bigger way in the next coming months. Sapthagiri Gowda sounded diplomatic when he said, “We would not like to undermine or minimise the contribution of Gandhi or Nehru to the cause of freedom struggle. Our aim is to bring Patel also on an equal pedestal.”
By SA Hemantha Kumar from Bengaluru