MANGALURU: IT took not less than three decades of persistent efforts by the people of Ullal to get their icon Rani Abbakka her place among the national gallery of freedom fighters. Her glory was celebrated in Ullal and the coast, but not nationally.
On Sunday, the ‘Balidan Smaran’ (remembrance of sacrifice) drive of the BJP enlivened her legacy on a national level.
For the first time, her supreme sacrifice and valour was highlighted on the national scale. When Shah was told that she was the first woman freedom fighter, he evinced keen interest to know about her history.
Kuldeep, the 29th descendent of the family of Rani Abbakka, was called to receive the felicitations of Balidan Smaran given to Rani Abbakka. Kuldeep told Express that he had unearthed a genealogy document drafted in 1888 which was produced before the court when his great grandfather had fought a 12-year bitter legal fight, when the British legal system had restored the honour of ‘Patta’ on him, which had earlier been wrongly conferred on a family that was not connected to Rani Abbakka.
After this correction, it has been recorded that Rani Abbakka had fought against the Portugese between 1539 and 1599.
History has it that there were three Abbakkas between 1530 and 1599, but the one who defeated the Portuguese at Ullal was the one who lived around 1556, who is now acknowledged as the first woman freedom fighter of India.
Though there are sketchy historical facts about her life, the oral histories have most realistic accounts of her valour. The queen followed Jainism but had an integrated army and administrative set-up comprising of people from all religions, says history professor Thukaram Poojary.
He has set up an exhibition in her honour in Bantwal taluk, that depicts Rani Abbakka as the first woman general of the Indian independence struggle against imperialist forces. Her history was nothing less than that of Chand Bibi of the Adil Shah lineage of Bijapur Sultans and Razia Sultana of Delhi’s lineage of Slave rulers, he says.
“In the modern context, her legacy has helped Ullal shed its communal tensions. Police records show that except for small personal level skirmishes, there has not been even one communal flare-up in Ullal for the last 20 years,” said senior BJP leader Jayaram Shetty. The people of Ullal want a bronze statue of their queen seated on a prancing horse with her sword unsheathed, as the present statue is in a bad state.