In the southern state of Karnataka July 21 is observed as peasant-martyrs’ day to remember the martyrs who lost their lives in the peasant agitation in 1980 in Nargund and Navalgund while revolting against the government’s decision to forcibly collect betterment levy at a time when they were reeling under severe drought. Every year, on this day the peasants organized under the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha carry out demonstrations and make efforts to amplify an ongoing struggle.
This year, KRRS members commemorated the 43rd Peasant Martyrs Day in Channarayapattana of Devanahalli, near Bangalore International Airport, where the farmers have been sitting on an indefinite protest strike for 473 days against the forceful acquisition of 1773 acres of fertile land.
Farmers of 13 villages in Channarayapatna Hobli near Bengaluru have been protesting for over 15 months against the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB)’s move to take over their lands for the Industrial Area development.
Channarayapatna Hobli is a green belt, rich with farmlands that supply fruits, vegetables, dairy and poultry to Bengaluru. For many of the protesting farmers, a big concern is that most of their skills are connected with farming. They fear that with their lands, they may lose their livelihood too.
While speaking to the News Minute last September, the affected farmers said that there has been no word from the government about providing alternative employment, or even financial compensation. They also said that they were not even approached by KIADB officials before a notice was served to them in January 2022, asking them to vacate the land. The land in question belongs to 1,876 titleholders, of which 387 families stand to lose their land if the KIADB acquires it.