By Nagaiah Lalanakere
An inspiring monument of India’s freedom struggle located adjacent to the Mysuru-Bengaluru highway at Shivapura of Maddur taluk in Mandya District, stands testimony to the don’t-care approach of the officialdom. Built to commemorate the Shivapura Flag Satyagraha of 1938, the Satyagraha Soudha was declared open on Sept. 26, 1979 and now it has become a hub of illegal activities.
The Flag Satyagraha was a glorious chapter in the struggle for freedom from the British and the Shivapura monument is an architecturally-unique edifice and a symbol of patriotic fervour.
A large number of people from the old Mysuru region, following a call by Mahatma Gandhi, participated in the Satyagraha at Shivapura in 1938 to assert the right to hoist the National Flag that was banned by the British rulers then.
A Satyagraha was also held at Shivapura to oppose the British rulers against renaming a road in Mysuru as ‘Hamilton Road’ and in naming after British officials/ rulers many monuments/ roads in different parts of the State.
To a traveller on the four-lane highway between Mysuru and Bengaluru, the Shivapura monument looks majestic. Only when he enters the building, he will discover the state of neglect the structure is in. The monument has no security set up even in the night and the place has become a haven for anti-social activities. Many people come here after dark to indulge in drinking, gambling and even prostitution. Playing cards, empty liquor bottles and condoms are found all over the place and the wine shops in the vicinity add to the air of disrepute.
A visitor entering the Satyagraha Soudha premises finds no evidence whatsoever of the historic protest, except for a mention on the foundation stone. Fungus has covered the central dome of the hall with water seepage from everywhere when it rains. Doors are missing, window panes broken and the place stinks of urine.
Inside the monument, or outside, there is no board to indicate the name of the place and its importance and no programme is held in the auditorium, except for the ceremonial flag-hoisting function on August 15 every year. A visitor can find open and smelly sewage lines around the monument where the dirty water flows from the surrounding houses in the absence of a proper drainage system.
The responsibility of maintaining the monument has been handed over to the PWD and the Horticulture Department and none of them have taken the task seriously. To top it all, District Administration is not serious about its maintenance.
History says that it was the first time in April 1938 that women of Mysuru region came out in full force at Shivapura to observe the Flag Satyagraha. More than 30,000 men and women had congregated at venue on April 10 that year and organised “The Mysore Youth League Movement” under the leadership of Tagadur Ramachandra.
While Siddlingaiah hoisted the Flag, various other leaders including H.C. Dasappa, Subbamma Jois, Yeshodara Dasappa, Ballari Siddamma, Venkamma, Kamalamma, Savithramma, T. Sunandamma, H.K. Veerannagowda, Sahukar Chennaiah, Gopalashetty, M.G. Bandigowda, S. Rangaiah, M.N. Jois, Jogigowda, Patel Mallayya and others inspired the gathering. On that day, a giant pendal was put up using 60 arecanut trees that accommodated over 30,000 people.
The architect of Vidhana Soudha Kengal Hanumanthaiah, who had participated in the Flag Satyagraha, decided to build a monument when he visited Mysuru on February 14, 1974. Accordingly, the monument was inaugurated on September 29, 1979 near the Railway Station.
The State Government, during S.M. Krishna’s regime, had decided to construct an annexe to the Satyagraha Soudha at a cost of Rs. 1 crore. But only Rs. 50 lakh was released and the construction works stopped. Thanks to the apathy of PWD, Horticulture Departments and the City Municipal Council, some items like doors and granite stones have been stolen from the annexe.
The master plan of a grand annexe that included repairs of the fountain, installing decorative lights, introducing audio-visual programme to recollect the freedom struggle, setting up of a photo gallery, and necessary facilities to visitors has remained on paper.
Though a Committee, comprising former City Council President B.R. Srinivas Murthy, K.T. Chandru and Dr. K. Ramesh, was formed to develop and beautify the monument, nothing materialised. Despite the Committee members willing to take up development activities, there is no financial support from the Government.
Unfortunately, tall leaders of the region, including former Chief Minister S.M. Krishna, MLAs D.C. Thammanna, M.H. Ambarish, MP C.S. Puttaraju, former MP D. Madegowda, K.S. Puttannaiah and others, are silent on the state of affairs at Satyagraha Soudha.