Twin Districts in 2012: A Year of Fame and Shame
Mangalore, Dec 31: Yet another year of fleeting 365 days of schooling on planet earth is coming to an end. 2012 is ending and we are all set to embrace 2013 with usual grandiloquence. Once again it is time to celebrate, it is once again time to reminiscence, retrospect, reflect and evaluate both about the good and bad events of the entire year and anticipate a better year ahead. In the year we are now ready to bid adieu, there have been a multitude of events and happenings that touched and awakened collective public consciousness or events that made a difference to the society as a whole both at the national and international arena. Considering that public memory is short this retrospection is an attempt to appraise ourselves as citizens and individuals.
While evaluating the events in a much larger canvas there is a possibility that we might tend to ignore the regional events, events that might have a direct impact on all of us. Here is an attempt to mirror the events that occurred in the coastal districts of Mangalore and Udupi, so that we are able to know our failures and shortcomings and take corrective measure wherever possible in the coming year.
A Good Beginning
The years began on a grand note as Mangalore geared up for holding the 17th National Youth Festival which was held for 5 days beginning January 12, 2012. Mangalore was hosting this event or an event of this magnitude for the first time and every effort was made to conduct the event successfully and on a grand scale. The event helped the twin coastal districts to showcase their unique culture in particular and the rich heritage of the state. Mangalore reverberated with the dances, sounds and tunes of youth power and for five days it wore the look of a ‘Mini India” celebrating ‘diversity in unity’ in true style.
Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda, who hails from this area, left no stone unturned to make it a spectacular event. So it was a pat on the back and proud moment for the people of these districts when Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Ajay Maken termed “the 17th national youth festival hosted by Mangalore as the best ever organized in the country”.
There was no time even to bask in the glory of the success of National Youth Festival as Pilikula Nisargadhama was getting ready for holding another national level event ‘Bal Bharat Srajanotsav’, a festival of children. The 4 day event held from Janauary 22 to 25 saw the confluence of children from different parts of the country, making Mangalore once again resemble like a mini India where its multi-cultural unity and diversity was displayed abundantly.
For BJP which was smarting under the successful conducting of two back to back international events in Mangalore “Spring Zouk 2012” or Malpe Rave Party, an island festival aimed at focusing on western and Indian music, culture and art organized by the district administration and department of Tourism at St Mary’s Island proved too embarrassing for the organizers and the ruling BJP. The event organized to promote tourism turned out to be an ugly affair as video footage showed rampant use of drugs and alcohol and open sex. The event was a big blotch on the image of BJP which often talks about protecting Indian culture and heritage and it create public and political ire.
Soon after this shameful incident a greater shock awaited the people of Karnataka when three of its ministers including Mangalore District –in-charge Minister Krishna Palemar had to resign for allegedly watching obscene video clips in their mobile phones even when the assembly proceedings were going on. MCC Patil and Lakshman Savadi were caught watching an obscene video on their mobile phones on allegedly provided by Krishna Palemar. The entire three ministers had to resign ‘voluntarily’ following their disgraceful act inside the portals of the legislature assembly bringing shame and disgrace to the state. Known as the porngate scandal of Karnataka, this incident once again proved to be a big embarrassment for the BJP and a severe slap on its much talked about role as the protector of our morality and culture and exposed its double standards.
Soon after these twin incidents that maligned BJP’s image the State BJP received a big blow when Senior BJP leader and Higher Education Minister Dr V S Acharya who was also the district-in-charge minister of Udupi died after he collapsed while attending a function in Bangalore. His untimely death at the age of 71, was a big shock for the people of the twin districts as Dr Acharya was a highly revered as gentleman politician with a clean image. Dr Acharya is credited as the man who sowed the seeds for BJP’s growth in coastal Karnataka and is credited for the spectacular growth of BJP in Karnataka starting from a two-member party in 1985 to be the ruling party in 2008. His death has created a political void in these districts and also in the BJP.
February also witnessed the grand finale of the two-day post centenary silver jubilee celebrations of the Mangalore diocese. A Eucharistic celebration to mark the event was held in the open grounds of the Rosario Cathedral. The celebration was presided over by Dr Savio Hon Tai-Fai, SDB, Secretary, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples Vatican, Rome, Cardinal Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, about 22 bishops and a galaxy of 424 priests representing the clergy and the religious category.
The ruling party BJP received another jolt in March 2012, when the Congress candidate Jayaprakash Hegde trounced the ruling party candidate Sunil Kumar by about 45, 000 votes in the Udupi-Chikmagalur by-poll. The by-poll was necessitated after Sadananda Gowda had vacated his seat following his elevation to Chief Minister’s gaddi in August 2011. The by-poll was a prestigious battle for the ruling BJP and for Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda as a win would have silenced his detractors who were crying for his stepping down as Chief Minister.
In a rather shocking incident Vittal Malakudiya a first year PG student of Mass Communication and Journalism from Mangalore University and his father Linganna were arrested by the anti Naxal police in the first week of March. They were arrested for having links with the naxals and for aiding them by providing food and shelter. He was released subsequently as the police failed to file the chargesheet within the stipulated time of 90 days. His arrest had triggered massive protests by political and social and he had become a national level figure before his release in July after spending 125 days in their custody.
As if a sequel to his arrest a few days after Anti-Naxal Force unit found a major breakthrough when it stumbled “10 separate camps” set up by Maoists in Malavantige village in Belthangady taluk indicating that Naxals were active in this part of Karkala Taluk. The police recovered ammunitions, weapons and material left behind by the naxals including 140 rouns of SLR ammunition, 30 grenades, US made auto pistol and double-barrel rifle. It is said that it was the first time the police recovered so many grenades in Karnataka.
In the month of April Mangalore achieved another first, this time in the sports field as the first-ever international T20 cricket match was held at the NMPT ground between Karnataka Indians and visiting Zimbabve team. The match proved to be a total entertainer and the people had to much to cheer about. Karnataka Indians putting up a remarkable performance securered a surprise win over the visiting Zimbabwe team by defeating the visitors by 38 runs to win the 'Heath Streak-Corporation Bank-Mohtisham T20 International Cricket Cup 2012'.
In May Mangalore celebrated the birth centenary of its illustrious son freedom fighter Barrister Attavar Ellappa in a befitting manner. The tree-day celebrations were aimed at highlighting his contributions so that the sacrifices and contributions made by him to the society serve as an inspiration to the younger generation. The valedictory function of the three-day celebrations was presided over by the Karnataka Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda.
In an act that can be termed as heroic Mangalore City Corporation showed its real powers by continuing its raid on hotels and hostels and illegal buildings, shops and unauthorized pavement vendors in the city. MCC officials also conducted surpirise raids on street vendors on shopsfor selling plastics with less than 40 micros thickness. Just before these raids MCC officials in a daredevilry act carried out raids in different parts of the city against as many as 18 ‘pani puri’ stalls in different parts of Mangalore and Surathkal. In a surprising move following the riad, ownder of Kailas Bhel Centre, who owns more than 70 pani puri stalls in the city accused that he had paid money for MCC officials for running these stalls. This bold move of MCC action, has won plaudits from the public.
In June coastal Kabaddi queen Mamata Poojary-led Indian Kabaddi team wins gold at the Asian Beach Games held at Japan. The team beat Thailand by a huge margin of 54-25 to win yet another gold. Mamta Poojary was felicitate for her achievement and accorded a warm welcome back home after her victory. Earlier in March 2012, Mamata Poojary –led Indian Kabaddi team brought laurels to the state by winning the inaugural World cup match by defeating Iran in the final played at Patalipura in Patna.
In June 2012 veteran freedom fighter and leader of the Communist Party of India B V Kakkilaya died at the age of 93. Kakkillaya was the Rajyasabha member between 1952-54 and served as the state MLA between 1972 and 1983. He had written several books and was the recipient of the Kannada Sahithya Academy award.
For Chief Miniser Sadananda Gowda July began with a wrong note as he was compelled to resign ending his 11-month turbulent tenure. The resignation of Sadananda Gowda who was the erstwhile MP of Udupi-Chickmaglur is said to be a victory for B S Yeddyurappa camp which for long has been seeking his ouster. Sadananda Gowda’s resignation paved the way for the elevation of Jagadeesh Shettar as the Chief Minister of the state.
C T Ravi, Minister for Higher Education took over as the new district-in-charge minister of Mangalore, in the post vacated by Krishna Palemar. Krishna Palemar had to resign as minister following the porn gate scandal.
Same time, Kundapur's Halady Srinivas Shetty had a shocker when he was betrayed by the Shettar government after being called to Bangalore with a promise of being given a ministerial berth. Kota Srinivas Poojary became a minister while Halady had to return home with a heavy heart. It led to an uproar in the twin districts, especially in Kundapur, resulting in the resignation of Halady as BJP MLA. Finally, the year ended for Halady with the resignation from the primary membership of BJP too.
Shocking and Shameful
In July end in another shocking news that really made Mangaloreans bow our heads in shame and dishonor as hooligans in the garb of moral police barged into a home stay at Padil and brutally manhandled young men and molested and traumatized young women alleging that they were indulging in immoral activity. The incident which brought back memories of the infamous pub attack of 2009 was a blunt reminder of the way the hooligans were trying to assert in the pretext of moral police.
Twelve people at the party including 5 girls who were attending a birthday party were brutally beaten, stripped and molested and the faces of some of the girls were blackened by the perpetrators of the crime. The incident was so brutal and bizarre it really showed that Mangalore, known as the land of the intelligent and as an educational and health-care hub was unsafe to women. 28 people have been arrested for their involvement and they have been denied bail repeatedly for their dastardly act.
Shockingly, when this incident occurred, television crew of two channels was recording the entire incident and their footage was telecast by every other channel. However, soon there were dissenting voices which accused the journalists to be hand in glove with the perpetrators of crime. Accusing fingers were pointed at Naveen Soorinje, the journalist saying he failed to prevent the incident by informing the police, though the journalist claimed otherwise.
In November 2012 Naveen Soorinje was arrested by the police for his alleged role in the home stay attack. The home stay attack has done irreparable damage to the name “brand Mangalore”, the damage which might prove too costly for all of us.
In July Mangaloreans woke up to the sensational news of the arrest of burqua clad-boy in a lady’s hostel in the city, who was subsequently handed over to the police
In the same month the six Indian female runners including our own Ashwini Akkunji were banned for two years by Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) which upheld an appeal by the International Association of Athletics Federation.
July ended with a sad note when upcoming politician and young Congress leader Bondala Jagannath Shetty died after his SUV dashed into a gas tanker at Panemangalore. Shetty who had served the district Congress in various capacities was wellknown for his social welfare activities and had contested the 2008 assembly elections losing to Mallika Prasad by 1500 votes.
December once again brought bad news to the people of undivided Dakshina Kannada as Indian origin nurse in UK Jacintha Saldanha who hails from Shirva in Udupi reportedly committed suicide following a prank call by Australian radio DJ’s Mel Greig and Michael Christian. Greig and Christian impersonated the queen and Prince of Wales to extract information about the health of Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who is married to Prince William. Jacintha who was working as a nurse at King Edward VII Hospital in London, had mistakenly patched through the prank call. Her suicide is said to have triggered by the treatment she received following the call. Her death has sparked off angry debate on media ethics and responsibilities the world over.
People of Dakshina Kannada expressed their solidarity with the family of Jacintha in their hour of grief. The last rites of Jacintha whose body was flows to Shirva from London were held in Shirva church recently.
Something to Cheer About
After a long wait the long cherished dream of Mangaloreans of getting international status to Mangalore Airport became a reality when the Union Finance Minister made an announcement to this effect in October 2012. The International status will give a fillip to various developmental activities in the city including increase in airlines both in domestic and international routes. It would also pave the way for bigger airlines to operate to and from Mangalore.
Just as the people were gloating under the tag of getting International status to Mangalore Airport private airlines were given permission to fly international from Mangalore airport. Jet Airways will be the first private airlines to fly international from Mangalore. The first trip of Jet Airways will commence from January 3, 2013 with flight 92532 scheduled to depart from Mangalore at 20.00 hours to arrive in Dubai at 22.30 hours.
In October another long cherished dream of Catholics of Udupi became a reality when the Diocese of Udupi was formally inaugurated and Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo was installed as the first Bishop of the new diocese. A sea of people from Mangalore and Udupi had participated in this epoch making event.
It was a Rajyotsava gift for Mangaloreans when district-in-charge minister C T Ravi officially imposed ban on plastic bags, cups and plastic sheets effective from November 1, 2012, which is Karnataka Rajyothsava Day. The district administration has given grace time of 15 days for the gradual reduction in its usage. It has promised strict action against offenders from December 1, 2012.
In order to make the city plastic free the administration has also taken action completely restricting the use of buntings, flex and banners during political conventions.
Crimes that rattled us
Mangalore in 2012 witnessed some shocking crime incidents that that really gave us goosebumps.
In October the brutal rape and murder of young college student Sowjanya near Pangala created a sense of fear among students and shock among people. Her murder was another instance of atrocity on women. The police arrested one suspect, who was incidentally handed over by angered people themselves, and then stuck to the claim that only one person was involved in the rape. Neither the family of Sowjanya nor the public were convinced, and after intervention of religious leaders like Kemar Math Swamiji and Dr D Veerendra Heggade, the government was forced to order a CoD probe, which is still under way.
The Puttur mass murder case tops the list for the sheer cruelty in which Venkatramana Bhat had allegedly killed his wife and three children brutally sending shockwaves among the people. The shocking and gruesome murders had come to light on June 12, and Venkatramana, who was absconding, was believed to be the main suspect. Venkatramana’s wife Sandhya, and her three children Vidhya, Vinutha and Harigovinda were found murdered in a cruel manner.
The police had launched a massive manhunt for the suspect and for long the mass murder issue was shrouded in mystery. Finally the incident that was shrouded in mystery got a twist when the police announced in November 2012 that the skeletal remains of the prime suspect Venkatramana Bhat were found near Kakkur Forest under a tree.
In September ANF had killed a naxalite in an encounter in Cheru forest area under Kadaba Police station. The slain Naxalite was later identified as Yellappa alias Dinakar of Mandalagere villge in Raichur Taluk.
In october Baby Thomas and his wife Mary of Kadaba were found murdered sending shockwaves among people. Finally the police arrested the culprits who committed the crime for money and gold.
Puttur was once again in the crime news as the greed for property resulted in brother killing brother in Kailara in Belthangady Taluk. John Sequeira was the accused who reportedly killed his younger brother Joachim over a property dispute.
In another shocking incident of greed for money and wealth a poverty stricken siblings were found murdered at their house in Dharmasthala.
Rowdy sheeter Bejai Raja was hacked to death in Falnir in Mangalore in December 2012. He was believed to have been murdered by a gang of three near West Gate Building in Falnir. Bejai Rajas was accused in the murder of another criminal Panduranga Pai who was murdered in 2009. Police have arrested 4 persons in this connection. Internal gang rivalry is said to be the cause of the murder.
The end of the year saw another double murder, this time in Sullia, where a housewife identified as Padmavati and tractor driver Hitesh were found murdered under suspicious circumstances.
These were some of the incidents that occurred in 2012, incidents that made happy and proud for a moment and gave us some shocking and chilling experiences, the next.
Mangaloreans are known for their power of resilience, who have always shown their fortitude and fighting spirit during times of difficulties. Difficulties, adversities, sorrows and tough moments can be the stepping stone to moments of joy, happiness and goodness. They help us strengthen our will and give us the power of endurance so that our fighting spirits and hopes are always kept high.