By Nitin Khot
For a hundred years, from the Kittur uprising of 1824 to the 39th Session of the Indian National Congress of 1924, Belgaum (Now Belagavi) featured in the national news for its role as a catalyst to the freedom struggle.
We now propose to harness some of the positive energy of this earlier epoch to bring to the people of Belgaum a type of development that they rightfully deserve.
To understand this ‘birthright’ of the Belgaum people it may be necessary to cast a brief backward glance at history.
The Age of Imperialism was brought to its close not by a single blow delivered by a towering figure, but by a series of small blows delivered to the body of the far flung Empire. It was akin to the numerous small tears that the hull of the ‘Titanic’ suffered in its collision with the iceberg – the tears that collectively sunk the ‘unsinkable’ ship.
One of the first blows delivered to the ‘invincible’ British Empire was in Kittur, in 1824.
Raising the banner of self-rule, Rani Chanamma resorted to direct action and eventually killed several English Officers including the then Collector, Mr. Thackeray and the Assistant Collector, Mr. Munro. The reverberation of this rebellion were felt throughout Belgaum (Now Belagavi) District which began to propel the people here powerfully to seek freedom.
In 1857, one person by the name of Munshi serving in the British Army, began to galvanize Sepoys stationed in Belgaum Fort, but the rebellion was stubbed out and five of the rebels were hung and five others sentenced to life imprisonment. Subsequently one Manipal Singh was arrested on 23rd August 1857 for stirring up a rebellion against the British and hanged.
Bhaskar Rao ‘Babasaheb’ Nargundkar, the famous revolutionary, was taken from Belgaum Fort to Haystacks Hill outside the city and hanged in public on 16th June 1858.
Before founding the Indian National Congress in 1885, Allen Hume visited Belgaum in 1883 and met the intelligentsia here, prominent amongst whom were the lawyers Vishnupant Natu and Bhate.
About the Author: Dr. Nitin G. Khot, an economist (from the London School of Economics) and Delhi School of Economics, an environmentalist and a social activist.