Karnataka Today

Karnataka: Can An Eventful 2022 Promise A Historic 2023?

Karnataka: Can An Eventful 2022 Promise A Historic 2023?

The countdown to 2023 has already begun. While the previous two years rolled by in the grip of the Covid pandemic, the year 2022 started with hope and ends with hope, thanks to the vaccination drive to arrest its spread. However, it wasn’t without its share of highs and lows which is only to be expected, given the uncertainties of life itself. From the hijab row to the State Capital facing severe floods to scams, the year was quite an eventful one for the polity and politics.

Let’s take a glance at the year that was as we welcome 2023!

Hijab Vs Education

A non-descript Government College in Udupi became the epicentre of the Hijab row, which then rocked the whole nation. Eight students at a Government Pre-University College for Girls raised a flag of protest when they were told not to attend classes wearing the hijab.

The protest snowballed into a major ‘Rights’ issue of education and individual freedom and that caused ripples throughout the nation. Social media was awash with opinions, and comments. These students held several press conferences – who were first and second PU – to ‘defend’ their stance. They were missing out on classes, but they were adamant about their ‘rights’ which stoked controversy after controversy.

Udupi MLA Raghupathi Bhat who headed the College’s Development Committee held a meeting with parents and others concerned. The Committee asked the students to follow the dress code, but these eight students chose to skip the classes. Several organisations including the Campus Front of India and the Students Islamic Organisation supported the protesting girls, reiterating that they must be allowed to practice their faith of choice, and this should not come in the way of the right to education.

The students later knocked on the doors of the High Court of Karnataka and the National Human Rights Commission. The court upheld the college’s decision to ban hijab in the classroom. The aggrieved girls approached the Supreme Court which pronounced a split verdict on the hijab row.

The row had a ripple effect in many parts of the State. There were incidents of many students opposing their respective college’s decision not to allow hijab in the classroom and they were suspended. In some colleges, a group of Hindu students came wearing an orange scarf to the college. While they too were not allowed inside the classroom, the row certainly brought politics into the classroom.

Now that the matter will be heard again in the Supreme Court, it needs to be seen how this will have its bearing on the State as the State goes to the polls in 2023.

The PSI Recruitment Scam

This has to be the classic example of a fence eating the crop! The police sub-inspector recruitment examination turned out to be one of the most massive scams to hit the State in recent times.

The State Government had conducted an exam to fill up 541 posts and as many as 54,041 candidates appeared for the exam. However, a scam broke out when some of the candidates raised objections to the results announced. Social media turned out to be the perfect platform to expose the alleged rigging in the exam. From rigged OMR sheets to the usage of Bluetooth speakers to the ‘interference’ of a few invigilators in rigging the mark sheets were all done for a few candidates who had paid bribes for the posting.

A few candidates who had appointment letters in hand were even given a rousing reception in their hometowns! However, after the scam broke out, the fate of many genuine candidates lies in the lurch. The Government has ordered a CID probe into the scam and the arrests in the scam have so far crossed 100. Among the arrested are ADGP Amrit Paul, Kalaburagi BJP Women’s Wing Former President Divya Hagaragi and several invigilators and candidates. The scam has come as a rude shock to the ruling BJP Government as it has become a weapon for the Congress party to attack the Government.

Bengaluru In Deep Waters

This year the monsoon, brought not just hope and rain, but misery to Bengalureans which is most unfortunate. Every time it rained in Bengaluru, the roads, flyovers, homes and every nook and corner of the low-lying areas of the City were marooned, tarnishing the ‘Brand Bengaluru’ image.

Glimpses of people wading through knee-deep waters with their vehicles and buses, and cars marooned on flooded roads were a common sight this year. Even the rich and the mighty were not spared. Many of the more upmarket localities saw their beautiful villas stand like islands in a pool of water, forcing the inhabitants to take shelter elsewhere. They were rescued in boats and tractors. While the political parties splashed the water of the mismanagement of Bengaluru at each other, it was the common man who was left to fend for himself.

A BJP Activist’s Murder That Shocked The State

The ruling BJP had a shocker when one of its members was hacked to death in Bellare, in Dakshina Kannada District. Praveen Nettaru, a BJP Yuva Morcha Worker was brutally hacked to death in broad daylight in Bellare by bike-borne assailants in July.

Just a few months ago, in February, a Bajrang Dal activist Harsha Nagaraj alias Harsha Hindu (27) was killed Shivamogga. The police have arrested 10 in Harsha’s case and National Investigation Agency has taken over the investigation.

Both murders came as a rude shock to the ruling Government. The supporters of the BJP showed their anger at the party when the BJP State President Nalin Kumar Kateel and others came to visit the Nettaru family in Bellare. Their anger was evident when the car in which these leaders were was blocked and almost overturned. The party workers vented their frustration as they felt as if their safety was being compromised even when their party ruled the roost in the State.

The police though, have made headway in both cases. The accused alleged links to SDPI and PFI organisations are being questioned too.

A Stain On the Revered Chitradurga Matha

The Chitradurga Matha, one of the revered Mathas in the State, was in the news for all the wrong reasons, at least if one goes by the allegations. The Head Pontiff of the Matha, Sri Shivamurthy Murugha Sharana Seer has been accused of sexually assaulting minor girls studying in the Matha hostels. The Seer though has denied all the charges but has been slapped with POCSO charges.

The allegations came to light when two minor survivors of the Matha recounted their horror to their parents and were later assisted by Odanadi Samsthe, an NGO in Mysuru to file a police complaint. What is more horrifying is the allegations that the hostel warden (where the survivors resided) was allegedly hand-in-glove with the Seer in allegedly committing the crime. While all the accused are behind the bars now, the investigation is on.

The Matha is one of the prominent Mathas of the Lingayat Community which constitutes 17 per cent of the total population in the State. Political stalwarts like B. S. Yediyurappa and others have regularly called on the Matha.

As the news broke, many politicians and seers came out in support of the Seer calling these allegations an effort to tarnish the image of the Seer who has been credited with initiating many ground-breaking social welfare works.

Privacy Compromised

While voting is sacred to every individual, an attempt by a private entity to collect voter data including their Aadhaar, Caste and other details, allegedly to rig the electoral voter list, touched a raw nerve in the government and it acted quickly to stem the damage.

The organisation in question, Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Institute voluntarily approached the BBMP to conduct a voters’ education and awareness programme. Although the BBMP agreed, to its shock, it found out that representatives of the organisation had impersonated an official using his voter’s ID and were collecting details of voters, which was a total breach of privacy. After a complaint was filed against it, the matter came to light shaking BBMP up. The Congress alleged that the organisation had links with Minister Dr C. N. Ashwathanarayana and demanded the Chief Minister’s resignation. The BBMP is now on war footing to correct its mistake.

The Row over School Textbooks: Old stories, new lessons!

A Textbook Revision Committee set up by the Government faced a severe backlash after it appeared that it had either dropped or distorted chapters on prominent leaders from all strata of life. The Committee headed by Writer Rohith Chakrathirtha was accused of ‘saffronising’ textbooks. This after it became public that the revised class X textbook had a chapter on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, while chapters on social reformers Basavanna, Narayana Guru and other leaders were dropped.

It kicked off a major political storm with the Congress accusing the BJP of using textbooks to spread its ideologies. The row further intensified when an old post by Chakrathirtha showed disrespect to ‘Nadakavi’ Kuvempu. Upset with the treatment meted out to their works, prominent writers including Devanur Mahadeva, and Dr G. Ramakrishna wrote to the Government to drop their works from being carried in textbooks. While the opposition parties were silenced by the resignation of Rohith Chakrathirtha, it exposed the Government’s seriousness in preparing the textbooks.

Mangaluru cooker blast

A mysterious fire in an autorickshaw in Mangaluru turned out to be an act of terror! Mohammed Sharique was carrying an explosive embedded in a pressure cooker in an autorickshaw when it exploded on the outskirts of the City in November. The explosion left Sharique the prime accused, and the auto driver Purushottam Poojary with severe burns. Sharique, a native of Theerthahalli in Shivamogga District allegedly wanted to join the dreaded Islamic outfit ISIS. While the NIA is probing the issue, a little-known outfit Islamic Resistance Council has claimed responsibility for the blast.

Although the Congress party is questioning the Government’s decision to call it an act of terror, it has now come to light that Sharique had been wanted by the police in several cases and was on the run. Several kilograms of explosives were found in his rented house in Mysuru from where he reached Mangaluru.

Early investigations revealed that Sharique was planning to carry out a terrorist act at one of the CM’s functions. However, since it failed, he allegedly targeted a children’s fest. Investigators revealed that the cooker bomb if detonated could destroy a bus. Fortunately, he could not do so.

The Border on the Boil!

With the winter Assembly session on in Belagavi, the Belagavi border dispute has intensified yet again. Just before the session began, members of Maharashtra Ekikarana Samiti tried to enter the District to stage a protest in Belagavi.

Before that several Karnataka buses in the border areas of Maharashtra were attacked. While the MES members were halted in their tracks, the heads of the Government from both states met the Home Minister to put their point forward. Despite the Union Government’s Home Minister, Amit Shah’s advice to wait until the Supreme Court order, the MES and NCP tried to go one up on each other to create tension. The State Government, at the Karnataka Assembly session, has decided to pass a resolution to reiterate its position on the Belagavi border issue.

The border dispute has been going on for the last six decades with Maharashtra demanding Belagavi and neighbouring villages be included in it based on the linguistic majority in the area. However, the Karnataka Government has repeatedly reiterated that it will not give an inch of its land.

Kannada Films Make A Difference!

This year, Kannada films were on a roll leaving their imprint not just in terms of content and quality, but also in terms of total earnings. This year, KGF 2 did not disappoint the fans and the magic of the prequel remained intact! The Pan-India movie went on to do extremely well even in the Hindi belt. For the record, the Hindi version of KGF 2 earned Rs 435 Cr beating Dangal (Rs 387 Cr) and others. Besides, it is one of the top 10 highest-grossing Indian films this year.

The fete continued with ‘Kantara.’ The movie rewrote the basics of filmmaking and made the whole country sit up and take note of the Kannada film industry. Helmed by Rishab Shetty, ‘Kantara’ is the highest-rated film on IMDb, the only Kannada movie to earn its place so far. In fact, ‘Kantara’ deserved its place, for the movie – though not a masala entertainer – earned over Rs. 400 Cr speaks for its worth.

Another film that will be remembered in 2022 is Rakshit Shetty’s 777 Charlie.

That’s how 2022 ends / will end. On a positive note. And there is much to look forward to in 2023, notwithstanding the threat of the pandemic returning.