SHIMOGA: In these days when patriotism has been neatly packaged and made available at every department store, it is good to remember that the same sun shone on those brief, but titanic moments of history that made what we celebrated yesterday possible. On the mingled dust and blood in Jallianwala Bagh, on a sparrow like old man bending over the surf in Dandhi, on the horrors of the partition.
But history rarely tells us that the same sun shone on the Haladamma temple in Davengere, when Karnataka’s own Jallianwalla Bagh was enacted 88 years before Dyer’s guns blazed in Amritsar.
History tells us that Mangal Pandey fired the first shot for Indian Independence in 1857. This is hardly factual. The first half of the nineteenth century was a time when peasants took up arms against the British numerous times. Karnataka played a significant role in this early resistance to India’s colonisers. Right after Tipu’s death, Dondia Wagh who fought in Tipus’ army formed an army of his own and took on the British rule in Mysore.
The massacre of farmers in the Haladamma temple happened during the Nagara revolt, which started from Shimoga. Legend, for history is fuzzy here, says that the farmers were led in revolt against the British by a robber turned king. The farmers of the Bidanur-Nagara province, who were fed up with both the landlords and the British, recognised Budi Basappa Nayaka as king.
The revolt, which took place between 1830-34, soon spread to the Mysore-Hyderabad Karnataka provinces. Soldiers who fought with Dondia Wagh against the British supported the revolt of Basappa Nayaka. Basappa organised a meeting of thousands of farmers at Hosanthe near Anandapuram, in the Sagar taluk of Shimoga district on August 23, 1830 and provoked them to revolt against the British.
During the protests, the British soldiers gunned down 40 farmers inside the Haladamma temple at Marikoppa in Honnali taluk (Davengere).
More than 100 farmers were injured and 200 were arrested.
The British conducted an enquiry at their Army headquarters at Harihar on March 15, 1831.
Records show that around 100 farmers were released. Later, however, 150 farmers-soldiers were executed near the Haladamma Temple. In the spree of revenge that continued, several farmers were hanged on the trees on Honnali-Shikaripur main road at Marikoppa.