Mangaluru: A nondescript village of Kolandu in Bantwal taluk has a deep connection with Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. This tiny village is the only Gram Panchayat in the state (and probably in the entire nation too) to be called 'Gandhi Grama'. The Panchayat office flaunts this unique status out on its welcome board proudly.
While not many exactly know the reason behind this village being called so, the locals say that scores of people from the village were gripped by the Gandhian ideologies and principles and plunged into the freedom movement. The people were very determined to bring into practice all the principles that Gandhi stood for and hence came the honour- 'Gandhi Grama'.
It is said that decades ago, this village had allotted lands for the Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Castes, in a bid to give them a dignified life. Sources say that before 1950s two colonies, spanning over acres of land were allocated for the SCs and the STs in the village. This was very much in sync with the efforts of Mahatma to uplift the Dalits. Secondly, as many as 15 freedom fighters from this village had fought against the British hegemony.
Annappa Bhandary, Vishwanath Rai, Padmanabha Rai, Ramaiah Rai, Padmanabha Shetty, Chikkaiah Naik, Maidappa Rai, M H Kolnad, Agari Lakkappa Rai and others had braved lathi charges. A landlord named Mahabala Shetty had not just handed over acres of his landholdings to the tenant classes and to the SC/STs in the sway of Gandhism but had even pleaded the tenants to claim ownership of land through declaration. Anekal here had its first Khadi production centre too. Annappa Bhandary was the first Gram Panchayat President of Kolnad.
It is probably in recognition of all this, that the then Mysore Government conferred the title ‘Gandhi Grama’ to this village.
Decades later, the Gram Panchayat set records in Neo-literacy campaign and also Swachata Andholan. Anti-corruption programmes, anti-plastic drives, anti-alcohol programmes are held here to stick to the title of being 'Gandhi Gram'. Though the village fails to identify all the 15 freedom fighters, even to this day, a portrait of Annappa Bhandary is kept next to Mahatma Gandhi as a tribute to all the 15 who fought for the honour of Motherland.
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