Karnataka: Memorial For Martyrs Of Gorta Massacre A Tribute To Heroic Resistance Of Bidar Hindus Against Marauding Razakars Of Hyderabad Nizam
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday (26 March) dedicated a memorial for martyrs of the Gorta massacre and a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at Gorta village in Karnataka, where hundreds of villagers were killed by the Razakars, the marauding army of the Nizam of Hyderabad, in 1948.
Gorta, also known as Gorta (B), is a village located in Basavakalyan taluk of Bidar district in the Kalyana Karnataka region of the state.
"I am happy that the inauguration of the memorial column is also done by my hands. Once you elect the BJP government in the state with a full majority, we will develop the memorial place at a cost of Rs 50 crore so that people from not just Karnataka but also tourists can learn the heroic struggle of Gorta martyrs," Shah said.
The martyrs' column has been built by the BJP Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the party, in memory of the people killed by Razakars.
After hoisting the national flag, Shah said, "It is an important day in my life. Hundreds of people were killed by the cruel army of Nizam just for unfurling a 2.5-foot national flag in Gorta village. Today, I am proud that we have done the job of unfurling the tricolour on a 103-foot-high flag post in the same place in a way that it can't be hidden".
"Our first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel played a crucial role in dislodging Hyderabad Nizam and integrating this area into the Indian Union. It is because of him that Bidar is now part of India," Shah said.
He also announced that if BJP returns to power in Karnataka, it will develop a full-fledged memorial place at the cost of Rs 50 crore.
The struggle for hoisting the national flag
After the independence on 15 August 1947, the tricolour was hoisted across the nation to celebrate the historic occasion.
But in some areas of Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Telangana, under the rule of the then princely state of Hyderabad, hoisting the flag was still illegal. This was due to the refusal of then-Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan to integrate his state with independent India.
Despite this, thousands of people in these areas continued to wage their struggle for independence while the rest of the country celebrated.
Hoisting of Tricolour and Nizam's wrath
As part of the struggle for independence, a few people led by Baurao Patil, associated with Dayananda Saraswati's Arya Samaj, hoisted the tricolour at his village Honnalli and neighbouring Halagorta in Bidar district. To punish those involved, Nizam's police, along with Isamuddin, the local leader of Razakars, a private armed militia formed and led by Kasim Razvi, came to Honnalli to arrest Patil and others but could not find them. The Razakars then ransacked Patil's house.
Hoisting of Tricolour by Baurao Patil-led group at Honnalli and Halagorta
Amidst a battle for independence, a group spearheaded by Baurao Patil and affiliated with Dayananda Saraswati's Arya Samaj movement raised the Indian flag in their villages of Honnalli and Halagorta in Bidar district.
Following this, Nizam's police and local Razakar leader, Isamuddin, attempted to capture Patil and his allies to punish them for their actions. However, when their search proved futile, the angered Razakars proceeded to vandalise Patil's residence as a form of punishment instead.
Patil and his group responded quickly, targeting Isamuddin, the local commander of Razakars in eight nearby villages. Isamuddin was ambushed and killed on his way back to Gorta from Basavakalyan, near the Dhannur-Muchalamba area, within a matter of days.
The massacre at Gorta
The Razakars believed that Patil received information about Isamuddin's travel from the Gorta locals, leading them to attack the village in retaliation.
Fearful of the impending danger, some villagers fled while others armed themselves in preparation for self-defence.
In Gorta, Sahukar Mahadevappa Dumani's house was the hub of counter-Razakar activities. Although Mahadevappa had already departed for Solapur after Isamuddin's murder, his armed servants remained behind to protect his residence.
During the events of 9 May 1948, Gorta was met with an attack from the armed forces of Razakars, who were mobilised from surrounding villages. The attack ensued from all directions, provoking hundreds of individuals to rush to Mahadevappa's house and barricade themselves inside once gunshots was heard.
Constructed with heavy stone blocks, the large house was fortified, resembling a fortress. However, those outside the stronghold fell prey to the Razakar's tyranny. The battle erupted at 9 am lasted until sundown, taking the lives of multiple villagers and village leaders.
The Aftermath of the Conflict: Refugees and Fatalities
During the gunfight, the Razakars failed to overcome the fighters' resistance at Mahadevappa's house and retreated from the village in the evening.
The Razakars returned with reinforcement the following day, but the entire village was abandoned, even those in Mahadevappa's house. The people had fled, and most had crossed into neighbouring states to seek refuge. They returned to their village only after Hyderabad was merged with India, following Sardar Vallabbhai Patel's efforts.
The extent of the fatalities during the Hyderabad police action in 1948 remains unclear, with differing estimates from various sources. K.M. Munshi, the Agent-General of the Government of India in Hyderabad, estimated the death toll at around 200 in his book The End of an Era – Hyderabad Memoirs.
Memorial for those who fell prey to Razakars' tyranny
The women folk remembers the bitter memories of the village massacre by way of Bhulai pada, a semi-folk song.
Further, the locals had a long-standing demand for the construction of a memorial at Gorta for martyrs who lost their lives during the 1948 massacre by the marauding army of Nizam.
Reportedly, local people and certain political parties had collected Rs 27 lakhs with the intention to construct a 35-foot tall memorial in the village. The foundation stone was laid in 2014 for the same, but the construction still needed to be completed.
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