ISSUR (SHIVAMOGGA): In August 1942, when the Quit India movement called by Mahatma Gandhi was taking shape as a mass non-violent struggle, a tiny village down south in Karnataka’s Shivamogga had already decided to break free. But it was a bloody struggle for the people of Issur, who had the temerity to take on the mighty British and declare themselves independent.
It became the first village in India to do so. Seventy-five years on, the legacy and the fighting spirit live on in Issur. Take a walk down the streets of the village, also known as Eesuru, in Shikaripur taluk and one will find almost every household having a connect with the 1942 bloody revolution. It is said Issur was so dreaded by the local British administration and was so dear to the ruling Mysore royals that the then king Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar said, “Esuru Kottaru, Issuru Kodevu”, which means “we shall give away many villages, but not Issur”.
The villagers in Issur, including its children, don’t tire of narrating the glorious stories of the courage displayed by their forefathers. For people of Issur, the freedom struggle came at a cost. Five men from the village were hanged by the British in Bengaluru Jail a few months after the rebellion. They were sent to the gallows for killing an Amaldar (revenue collector) and a Police Sub Inspector. The Military was sent from Haveri and freedom fighters escaped and took shelter in nearby jungles.