ON this January 30, Mahatma Gandhi’s Martyrdom day, Karnataka witnessed a historic event. Over two lakh people in over 160 district and taluk centres all over Karnataka formed human chain between 4.00 to 4.10 PM to defend “Karnataka for Harmony”. People from all walks of life - writers, artists, intellectuals, religious leaders, secular political leaders, lawyers, workers, peasants, students, youth, women participated in the human chain enthusiastically. People belonging to minority communities participated in big numbers. CPI(M), Left parties/mass organisations, secular groups/organisations, supported and participated in the human chain in a big way. At Bangalore, human chain was held at several working class clusters along Bangalore-Mysore and Bangalore-Poona Highway, apart from schools, colleges and areas where minorities predominantly live. Human Chains ranging from 2 to 20 kilometres were held at all districts and most taluk centres.
Several prominent personalities participated in the human chain that include writer Devanoor Mahadeva and renowned actor Prakash Raj at Mysore; Dinesh Aminmattu, media advisor to CM at Mangalore; veteran Gandhian H S Doreswamy at Tumkur; writer Prof Chandrashekar Patil, former Supreme Court judge Gopal Gowda, Kuvempu Bhasha Bharathi president Dr K Marulasiddappa, Sahitya Academy president Aravinda Malagatti, former High Court judge Nagamohan Das, writer Baraguru Ramachandrappa, actor Chethan at Bangalore; Prof Rajendra Chenni at Shimoga; and Ramanath Rai, a Karnataka state minister and Congress MLAs Abhayachandra Jain and Vasantha Bangera at Dakshina Kannada. CPI(M) state leaders participated in various human chains across the state – G V Sriramareddy at Chikkaballapura; VJK Nair, G N Nagaraj at Bangalore, K R Sriyan at Mangalore. After the human chain, well attended meetings were held with songs, cultural performances and an oath was taken. At Bangalore, Nidumamidi Swamiji led the oath taking. Participants in the human chain took oath to defend centuries-old tradition of communal harmony, pluralism in Karnataka from threats of communal and fascistic forces. They also vowed to defend the constitution representing peoples aspirations for democracy, secularism, equality, and social justice.
Human Chain on January 30 was a culmination of a vibrant campaign against communal and fascistic forces in Karnataka, triggered by dastardly killing of Dr M M Kalburgi. Several protest meetings, cultural jathas, seminars were held culminating in a platform called “Karnataka for Harmony”. It held its founding convention at Bangalore, inaugurated by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on September 5, 2017. It gave the call for state-wide human chain on January 30. Co-incidentally or not, same evening Gauri Lankesh was murdered, which galvanised the movement further. Since then conventions, jathas, preparatory meetings, mass campaigns were held at all (more than 160) locations where the human chain were held. A vigorous campaign in the social media with many posters, videos depicting the tradition of communal harmony in Karnataka, quotes depicting harmony from writers poets thousand years ago to present, quotes from prominent personalities supporting the chain – were widely circulated. Many participants in the human chain also carried prints of these posters and banners. Communal polarisation and ‘dead body politics’ practiced by BJP-Sangh Parivar leading to violence in the state added an urgency to the campaign. The platform “Karnataka for Harmony” has emerged as a united platform of all anti-communal forces, and will continue to carry this campaign further. It is also a significant milestone in the political history of Karnataka.