Story of execution of state's martyrs to be made a book

Little-known episode in state's history to figure in archive's digitisation plan

Termed the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of Karnataka, the execution of 9 of the 19 freedom fighters by the British government, which was never part of the state’s history, will now be available in book format.

The book titled ‘The Unsung Freedom’ will be published shorty by the Karnataka State Archives Department as part of digitisation of historical documents, K A Dayananda, director, Archives Department, told reporters on Tuesday.

The department has taken up digitisation of old documents pertaining to the state on a massive scale. The Archives Department has launched a web portal (http://archives.kannadasiri.co.in) for easy access to historical records of the state at the click of a mouse. Karnataka is the only state in the country to digitise historical documents to help research scholars, students and the public.

Nonagenarian Konana Channabasappa recently shared the 50-page judgement copy of the Madras Court during the colonial period about the capital punishment given to 19 freedom fighters. The Britishers executed 9 of the 19 freedom fighters. They were working abroad drawing handsome salaries then. They returned to India responding to Subhas Chandra Bose’s call to fight for freedom and joined the East India Company on meagre wages. They worked secretely collecting information about the British government’s activities and fought against them. However, they were arrested once their secret mission was exposed and were awarded capital punishment.

“The sacrifice of these freedom fighters was never a part of history. We know about Sangolli Rayanna’s execution as history refers to his heroic deeds. The sacrifice of nine freedom fighters is no less than that of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre victims. Hence, the department has decided to bring out the judgement copy which deals with activities of the 19 freedom fighters in a book form,” Dayananda said.

The department has digitised around five lakh pages and hopes to complete the digitisation of over 1.5 crore pages in two years. The department is in touch with government agencies in Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram to procure documents pertaining to Karnataka. The process of getting content running into 20,000 pages pertaining to Karnataka from England is also on, he said.

Around 129 people used the Archives department’s documents in 2016, around 86 in 2015 and 85 in 2014.

The department awarded Rs 10,000 scholarships to research students to make use of documents. The amount has been increased to Rs 20,000. Only 1% of the population knows about the department’s documents. Hence, the department conducted an exhibition  in various parts of the state last year to create awareness about the importance of historical documents available for reference, he added.

Content comprising around 55,000 pages is in running Kannada handwriting which only experts can read. The department has hired 15 scholars to read and translate them to modern Kannada, he said.

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