BV Kakkilaya Oration 2023

BV Kakkilaya Inspired Oration – 2023, titled Joint Martyrdoms, Joint Heritage of 1857 War of Independence, was delivered by Dr. Shamsul Islam, former Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Delhi, also a well-known researcher, author and People’s Theatre Activist, on Saturday, September 9, 2023 at 10am at Ravindra Kalabhavana, University College, Mangalore. It was very well attended and very much appreciated by all. This year, the oration was organised under the aegis of Hosatu Monthly, Bangalore, MS Krishnan Trust, Bangalore, and Samadarshi Vedike, Mangalore, in association with the Dept. of History, University College, Mangalore.

The annual BV Kakkilaya Inspired Orations are being organised since 2013 as a tribute to the life and work of Sri BV Kakkilaya (1919-2012), and to promote alternative thought and approach to the problems of the suffering masses of our country.

The proceedings of BV Kakkilaya Oration 2023 started with the unveiling of a huge poster bearing the names of 136 martyrs of Kannada speaking areas who were killed during the anti-British uprisings or captured and later killed by the British by hanging or blowing away with cannons or shot down by bullets. This list has been compiled by Dr Shamsul Islam from the Dictionary of Martyrs and unveiled for the first time. Dr Shamsul Islam spoke about the sacrifices made by these martyrs, who belonged to all castes, religions, socio-economic strata and even women, to free Bharat Mata, and he paid rich tributes to them by bowing down the head and singing a revolutionary song, with others joining in chorus.

After the welcome address by Dr Srinivas Kakkilaya, Kannada translation of Dr. Shamsul Islam’s book The Untold Amazing Stories of 1857, titled ‘Bharatada Modala Swatantrya Sangrama 1857- Helade Ulida Adbhuta Kathegalu’ by Dr. B.R. Manjunath, and published by Navakarnataka Publications, was released on the occasion by Dr. Jayaraj Amin, Vice Chancellor, Mangalore University. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Jayaraj Amin lauded the efforts of Dr Shamsul Islam in bringing out the hidden facts of the War of Independence 1857 and presenting them in a succint way in the book. He pointed out the valiant participation of women, royals and the ordnary, in the first war of independence and even thereafter. He also highlighted the unified participation of people of all sections of our scoieity, of all religions, castes and social status., and many women, in the freedom struggle and called for safeguarding and strengthening these ideals.

Dr. Shamsul Islam very vividly explained the events around the forst war of independence between 1857 and 1859. Although the main events centered around the Sepoy Mutiny that was triggered by the row over the bullets being covered with pig or cow fat, there were many smaller mutines against the British all over the country that involved thousands of people. During the first war of independence in 1857, about 70-80% of the mutineering sepoys were Hindus and 20-30% were Muslims. All of them, with their weapons, went to Bahadur Shah in the Red Fort and requested him to lead them. The mutiny had provided the best opportunity to create a Hindu Rashtra – 70-80% strong  Hindu mutineers, well armed, could well have asked any Hindu royal – Rani Lakshmi Bai, Nana Saheb or any other, to lead them. But instead they chose Bahadur Shah, who was much weakened and confined. Across the country, similar unity was displayed in anti-British struggles. The British having found this strong unity of Hindus and Muslims , devised several tactics to break the bond so as to rule the divided country easily. The seeds sowed by the British were nurtured by the right wing Hindu nationalists who propounded the two nation theory first in 1936, which was later echoed by the Muslim side in 1940, eventually leading to the division of teh country in 1947. The forces that were cosy with the British and did not contribute to the freedom struggle, instead acted treacherously, continue to foment communal divisions and worsen communal and setarian divisions in teh ocuntry. Dr Shamsul Islam called on everyone to foil these evil forces and to strengthen the unity and integrity of our great nation.