A saga of 'Gandhi Grama' in Dakshina Kannada

15 freedom fighters hailed from village, stood against British

When Gandhiji lived miles away from the coastal region, here in a small hamlet named Kolnadu nestled between hilly terrain and forest in Bantwal taluk, Gandhiji’s principles had gripped large number of people who plunged into freedom movement, fuelling a sense of dedication to implement all those policies, which Gandhiji stood for.

It is probably in recognition of this, the then Mysore Government conferred the title ‘Gandhi Grama’ to this village, a status not enjoyed by any other village in the district. The welcome board of Kolnadu Gram Panchayat proudly bears ‘Gandhi Grama’ below the name of the Panchayat.

It is said that the village got this status because of two reasons, firstly because there were large population of Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Castes dwelling in the village and secondly because as many as 15 freedom fighters hailed from this very village and stood against the British hegemony.

“Since the Dalits and the suppressed were very close to Mahatma Gandhiji’s heart and since large number of selfless youth took the challenge of safeguarding the honour of the country, the village must have got this name,” says a social worker and GP member Vishwanath Shetty who adds the village had two colonies, one for the Scheduled Tribe and one for the Scheduled Caste several decades before 1950s itself.

These colonies were not congested piece of land but were sprawling acres left for the SCs and the STs.

The village has the fame of having given birth to as many as 15 renowned freedom fighters like Annappa Bhandary, Vishwanath Rai, Padmanabha Rai, Ramaiah Rai, Padmanabha Shetty, Chikkaiah Naik, Maidappa Rai, M H Kolnad, Agari Lakkappa Rai and others who had braved lathi charges. A landlord named Mahabala Shetty had not just handed over acres of his landholdings to the tenant classes and to the SC/STs in the sway of Gandhism but had even pleaded the tenants to claim ownership of land by giving declaration.

Khadi movement led to opening of Khadi production centre at Anekal in the region. Annappa Bhandary happens to be the first Gram Panchayat President too.

With this great background, Kolnadu GP has not let the status down as even today Kolnadu has to its credit of having set records in several ways. Neo-literacy campaign and Swachata Andholan have seen outstanding results in the Panchayat.

With regard to implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the GP has been ranking first over the last two years and the active GP members are now contemplating to create awareness on corruption among general public.

Gram Panchayat President Subhshchandra Shetty speaking to Deccan Herald said that though they have kept portrait of national-level freedom fighters in the meeting hall of the GP, there are plans to collect portraits of all the 15 freedom fighters who hailed from the Village.

 “If this is not possible, at least their names will be written on the wall,” he said.
However, the emotional GP members have juxtaposed the portrait of Annappa Bhandary to Father of the Nation as a mark of reverence.

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