Amit Shah will make his first public appearance in Karnataka after taking over as president of the BJP Wednesday. Shah will lay the foundation stone for the construction of a martyrs’ memorial for some 200 people allegedly killed by the army of former Nizam of Hyderabad on May 9, 1948 for wanting unification with India in Gorta village of Bidar district. The village lies close to the borders of Telangana and Maharashtra.
Despite there being little historical evidence of the killings at Gorta except for a passing mention in a book from the period titled The End of an Era (Hyderabad Memoirs) by K M Munshi, the BJP has gone all out to make the event a spectacle for its cadre, giving rise to suspicion in many quarters of a strategy to polarise voters on communal lines in the state.
The BJP has mobilised some 20,000 youth cadre to attend the foundation laying ceremony by Shah for the memorial that will be inaugurated on September 17, 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Yuva Morcha of the BJP claims to have, since Kargil Vijay Divas on July 26, collected Rs 27 lakh from 2.7 lakh youths spread across 54,000 polling booths in Karnataka for the memorial.
According to the BJP, around 200 people from Gorta village raised ‘Vande Mataram’ slogan after India attained Independence in 1947 but the Nizam, who was the ruler of the princely state of Hyderabad, took objection and branded the sloganeers as traitors.
“When all efforts to prevent the locals from hoisting the Indian flag failed, the Nizam dispatched about 3,000 of his Razakar army who surrounded the village on May 9, 1948 and killed about 200 villagers,” said Karnataka BJP Yuva Morcha president P Muniraju Gowda, one of the prime movers in mobilising BJP cadre for the creation of the memorial.
“Gorta is called the Jallianwala Bagh of south India because the Nizam’s militia massacred people for hoisting the Indian flag on May 19, 1948, before Operation Polo overthrew the Nizam and Hyderabad became a part of India on September 17, 1948,’’ BJP’s Karnataka president Prahlad Joshi said recently while announcing Shah’s visit to Karnataka.
After the laying of the foundation stone for the memorial, the BJP youth wing has proposed a ‘Gorta Jagruti Rath Yatra’ across six districts of what is known as the Hyderabad Karnataka region — a largely impoverished part of the state with a sizable Muslim population where the BJP has traditionally struggled in elections.