The victory of farmers in Halligudi village of Mundargi taluk, Gadag district, against land acquisition by the Bharatiya Janata Party Government for steel giant POSCO, brings to mind another powerful farmers' struggle.
The Nargund rebellion, which took place on this day 30 years ago, united unorganised farmers under the banner of the Raitha Sangha. The movement claimed five lives and brought down the Congress government headed by R. Gundu Rao.
On July 21, 1980, the Nargund taluk of present Gadag district, witnessed the upsurge of farmers against the government in the State. In fact, the ‘Nargund Bandaya' opened a chapter in the history of farmers' movement in the country.
After the construction of the Naviluteertha Reservoir, the government decided to take a betterment levy of Rs. 1,500 an acre from farmers of Malaprabha Command Area. This resulted in a farmers protest as they said the water did not flow into their fields.
According to Vijaya Kulkarni (56), who was part of the rebellion, farmers under the leadership of C.M. Balekai and Nandi Chikkabasappa held a dharna for nearly one month. One farmer from each house of the villages that came under Nargund and Navalgund participated in the protest. When the government refused to respond, they assembled in Nargund town on July 21 and locked the tahsildar's office. The agitation turned violent, and the police opened fire killing Veerappa Basappa Kadkikoppa on the spot. Basappa Lakkundi died in police firing in Navalgund.
Recalling his experience, Konareddy (50) of Navalgund said the police action infuriated farmers and the entire area turned into a battlefield. Three policemen were killed by the farmers. Finally, the government was forced to abolish the betterment fee. The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha was formed. The Janata Party succeeded in dethroning the Congress in the elections held in 1983.