HUBBALLI: Mere mention of the name kindles a sense of patriotism, determination and passion. Issur village in Shivamogga district, also known as Eesuru, has a rich legacy of being in the forefront of the fight from freedom. Hundreds of men and women from this village were jailed and five of the freedom fighters were hanged at the Bengaluru central prison in 1942.
The reason: The village had declared itself independent from British rule. The villagers also stopped the government officials from entering the village and during a scuffle, a police official and a revenue official were killed.
The heroics of the Issur martyrs inspired many freedom fighters. There was a famous Kannada saying at that time which went, “Eshthooru kottaroo Eesuru kodalla” (Even if we give many places, we will not give Issur). But the rebellion had its repercussions for the village. The houses were looted, women and children harassed, after the British Army was sent in. Several men took shelter in the forests while many were arrested.
Despite the sacrifices, Issur is yet to get its due. For several decades, family members of martyrs and the freedom fighters who survived, have been raising their voice to tell the story of Issur’s glorious freedom struggle. They hoped that there would be a monument on the lines of the Satyagraha Soudha of Shivapura in Mandya. The government had released Rs 12 crore a few years ago for the betterment of the village, but the long-pending demand for a martyrs’ memorial remained unheeded.
“A memorial for the Issur martyrs was planned when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister. Even today, the small building has not been inaugurated. Is this the respect we are giving to our freedom fighters who laid down their lives for this country? Years after year and government after government kept making promises, but nothing happened.
There is hardly anything that we can show visitors about the glorious rebellion that this village raised against the British,” rues M S Satish Chandra, grandson of Durgoji Rao, a freedom fighter from Issur. “We want to make the village a place to visit for tourists, develop it on the lines of the Shivapura memorial or Rajghat in Delhi. Recently, the local administration and the leaders have assured that Rs 5 crore will be released for construction of the memorial. But the amount is too less,” he noted.
“One must not forget the sacrifice made by this village. The government must respect local sentiments and fulfill the demands. For many years, we have been waiting to see the construction of the memorial. At present, there is nothing but an old building and a stone memorial,” said another resident.