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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Gorta Martyrs’ Memorial – a tribute to Bidar Hindus who resisted the marauding Razakars of Hyderabad Nizam

On March 26 a memorial was dedicated to the martyrs of the Gorta massacre by Union Home Minister (HM) Amit Shah. A statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was also dedicated to the people on this occasion. Gorta is a village in modern Karnataka where Islamist Razakars of the Hyderabad Nizam went on a rampage killing innocent Hindus in 1948.

The village is situated in Bidar District’s Basavakalyan taluk in the Kalyana Karnataka region. The party’s youth wing BJP Yuva Morcha constructed the martyrs’ column in memory of people who were massacred by Razakars. A two and a half feet national flag on a 103-foot-high flag post was unfurled by HM Amit Shah.

Background of the Gorta massacre

While the entire Bharat celebrated independence on 15 August 1947 by unfurling the tricolour, hoisting the national flag was illegal in the then princely state of Hyderabad which included some parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Telangana. This was because Mir Osman Ali Khan, who was Hyderabad Nizam at that time, refused to integrate the princely state with Bharat. However, the common citizens in these areas continued their struggle for freedom.

Defying the Nizam, Arya Samaji Baurao Patil led a few of his fellow Arya Samajis and unfurled the national flag at his native village Honnalli and neighbouring Halagorta in Bidar district. The local Razakar leader Isamuddin was sent to punish those involved in the act. When Isamuddin couldn’t find Patil and his followers at Honalli, the Razakars ransacked his house.

The group led by Patil retaliated quickly and targeted Isamuddin in eight nearby villages. He was finally ambushed and killed near the Dhannur-Muchalamba area when was returning to Gorta from Basavakalyan.

The Gorta massacre

Razakars attacked Gorta village as they believed that it was the villagers who had informed Baurao Patil about Isamuddin’s travel. Some villagers fled while others armed themselves for self-defence anticipating a Razakar attack. Sahukar Mahadevappa Dumani’s house was the centre of anti-Razakar activities. Mahadevappa had already left for Solapur leaving behind his armed servants to guard his house.

On 9 May 1948, armed Razakars, gathered from surrounding villages, attacked Gorta from all sides forcing the residents to seek shelter at Mahadevappa’s residence. Hundreds of people barricaded themselves inside Sahukar’s house after hearing gunshots. The house, constructed with heavy stone blocks, resembled a fortress. However, the Razakars massacred those who were left outside the stronghold. Many lives were lost in the battle that lasted from 9 in the morning to sunset.

Razakars retreated in the evening as they failed to overpower those who had sought safety at Mahadevappa’s house. When they returned with reinforcements the next morning they found that the entire village had been abandoned with most of the survivors seeking refuge in the neighbouring states.

The survivors returned to their village after Hyderabad was merged with Bharat following the efforts of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The extent of casualties is unclear though KM Munshi puts the death toll at around 200 in his book The End of an Era – Hyderabad Memoirs. A semi-folk rendition by women folk called Bhulai pada keeps the memories of the Gorta massacre alive.

The construction of a memorial for those martyrs who fell to the tyranny of Nizam’s Razakars was a long-standing demand of the locals. Locals and a few political parties had collected 27 lakhs for the construction of a 35 feet tall memorial at Gorta. Although the foundation stone for the memorial was laid in 2014, its construction remained incomplete till BJYM stepped in and got the task completed. The memorial is an apt tribute to those patriots who became victims of Nizam’s tyranny only because they dared to hoist the tricolour.

(Featured Image Source: The Hindu)

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