At the strike of midnight of the August 15, 1947, India shook off the shackles of British Rule and became free. The rigorous and laborious freedom struggle by the freedom fighters had paid off during that time. While Britishers annoyed many Indians before 1947, their graves are annoying the common Indians, now.
If many Indians had lost their lives during the freedom struggle, a few of the Britishers had also died during the era. Although, the locations of all the graves are not known, the few of them that are identified are being safeguarded by the central government with utmost care, irrespective of the grievances faced by the residents because of these graves. The grieving people ask -Why should these graves be safeguarded, when the people buried here had enslaved us in their lifetime?-
Three such graves are located in Dongarpalli area of Bhatkal and the Central Government is spending huge amount of money, just to maintain these three graves. Apart from spending money, the Government has passed an order according to which permission will not be granted to any applicant who wishes to build or renovate their houses within a radius of 300 metres. Indians served the britishers when the latter ruled and now Indian serve their graves even when they have left the country.
Every part of India has their stories of freedom struggle and Bhatkal also is not lagging behind in this case. Bhatkal was ruled by many kings from Portuguese to even the British since the 17th Century. Kings who ruled Bhatkal gained financial strength in this town and the Jain community, who lived here sowed the seeds of piece in this town. Bhatkal had also attracted many Arabs, who landed here to trade horses and pepper along with other spices. The port in Bhatkal was considered the favourite of many traders as it was extremely feasible for them. Many ships landed here, to transport goods to other countries across the globe.
Kingdoms usually changed in Bhatkal as it proved to be invaluable and indispensable for the prosperity of the economy of any kingdom. In 1606 Keladi Nayakas ruled Bhatkal and Captain Wedell established a factory here on behalf of the English trading company. But an incident that took place here in 1670 triggered off a chain of events that finally led to the closure of this factory. People in Bhatkal began hating the British rule and they showed their ire on the company.
One day a British official's dog bit a bull that belognged to a temple in the town and as a result the bull died. This infuriated the local inhabitants so much that they attacked the factory and killed 18 inmates of the factory. It is believed that Vernworthy George, Wye Merchant and William Bartin, who were the victims of the massacre were buried in an 11-metre rectangular open ground overlooking the Sharabi river in Dongarpalli (on the way to bunder). Finally, the Portuguese succeeded in opening a factory of their own at Bhatkal in 1678. From the Keladi rulers, Bhatkal passed on to Hyder Ali and the Brave Tipu Sultan, from whom it came under the British in 1799.
Antequetil du parron who visited this place in 1758 speaks of a fort built on a rock. If Buchanon's reports are to be believed, he said that Bhatkal consisted of only 50 houses in 1801. However, time has gradually transformed the situation now. Thousands of houses have been built in Bhatkal, yet the small town is big enough to fit in many more people.
However, the three British graves has become a major problem for the people of the town. These three graves were included in the list of national monuments of India in 1958 and 1992. And now, this has been repeated again, with the graves being included in the list even in 2011. According to the law, the construction or renovation of any house within the radius of 300 metres of these 'so called' national monuments is banned. This rule has also become a trouble to the school in the neighbourhood, as the authorities are not even permitted to dig a well to quench the thirst of the students. The houses in the vicinity are very old and there is an urgent requirement of repair works, which, if delayed, can lead to the houses collapsing, which can further injure or kill its inmates.
To avoid any mishap, the law should either be removed or amended at the earliest for the development of the town, as the lives of living Indians is more precious than these dead British graves. And as people had come forward for the freedom struggle before 1947 to combat the British rule, even now all the citizens should unite and protest to get rid of these British graves.