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A year of agony, agitations and unfulfilled dreams

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A file photo of farmers agitating in Kolar demanding fair price for tomato.
A file photo of farmers agitating in Kolar demanding fair price for tomato.

Vishwa Kundapura

KOLAR: Death of scores of people in hooch tragedies, attack on a prayer hall and miseries of farmers without any respite in Kolar district are some of the major features that marked the year 2008.

About two dozens of people, most of them Dalits and landless farm labour, were killed in hooch tragedies in Narasapur, Bellur and Tekal in the district on May 18. The alleged consumption of spurious liquor that was reportedly stored during the Assembly elections was said to be the cause of loss of lives.

The year too did not bring any good to the former employees of Bharat Gold Mines Limited at Kolar Gold Fields as the process of reopening of the mines is still embroiled in a legal wrangle.

The district also witnessed a tragic road accident in which 10 people were killed near Mulbagal in mid-October.

The peasantry of the district continued to reel under woes. There was no respite to farmers from worries as they suffered from one problem or the other, including climate change and price crash.

The crash in the prices of tomato, a major horticulture crop of the region, triggered an agitation across the district for several weeks. The aggrieved farmers dumped tomato on roads and in drains to express anguish against the Government for its alleged failure to protect their interests. Road blockade and cooking food on road formed part of the agitation.

Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha (KPRS) and Kolar Zilla Raitha Hitarakshana Samithi played a key role in the agitation. The police had a tough time in rescuing the district in-charge Minister S.N. Krishnaiah Setty when he was gheraoed by farmers.

Untimely rain, disease and hopper menace brought hardships to mango farmers of the district. Potato was hit by blight in the later part of the year coupled with excessive humidity owing to a depression in the Bay of Bengal. Tomato was also hit by blight disease.

The farmers and the general public launched several rounds of struggles against erratic power supply. People laying siege to Bangalore Electricity Supply Company offices and transmission plants was the order of the day. The problem created by the power shortage in the region was so severe that a farmer attempted suicide in Malur taluk as he suffered crop loss. The rumblings created by the shortage of fertilizer also had its echo in the district.

Besides stirs demanding compensation for losses they suffered, the farmers took to the streets urging authorities for revival of the District Central Cooperative (DCC) Bank. KPRS and other farmer groups took up the cause as farmers were not getting fresh loans due to the “sickness” of the DCC Bank and other cooperative societies owing to alleged corruption and misappropriation of funds.

Transfers

The tug of war between the top brass of the Revenue and the Police departments marked the State Assembly elections in the district. The Election Commission intervened and first transferred Superintendent of Police H.S. Revanna and later Deputy Commissioner G. Ramachandra. Police personnel resorted to a snap strike opposing the transfer of the Superintendent of Police.

The sudden transfer of the then zilla panchayat Chief Executive Officer F.R. Jamadar evoked a protest by Dalit organisations and other organisations urging the Government to retain him.

The strike called by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and other Left parties against the price rise on August 20 culminated in the handcuffing of a SFI leader and alleged police ill-treatment of women triggering condemnation. Several police officials were suspended following these incidents.

The vandalising of the St. Mary’s statue at St. Mary’s Church in Kolar in mid-September came as a blot on the communal harmony of the district.

There were positive developments too in the year. Particularly, the cultural front saw some healthy trends. A national seminar on Shishunal Sharif and other mystics in Kolar has been widely appreciated. The three-day zilla utsav organised by the district administration helped in showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the region.

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