It was an important event that brought Lohia in close contact with
Karnataka. Shimoga is a district of Karnataka Sagar is a taluk in the district well known
for its exquisite sandal woodcarving. There is a small village in this taluk called
There was only one landlord in the entire village. The rest of the villagers were all
tenants or hired peasants of the landlord. Their economic and social conditions were
deplorable. The peasants were afraid even to stand before the landlord. They had to wear
the dhoti above the ankle. Women were forbidden to wear sarees that cover:nd the leg below
the knee. They all had to toil in the landlord's house but without payment. They could not
ever dream of education. The dumb toilers accepted their lot as the will of fate.
A new wind blew across the region after the attainment of freedom. The peasantry awoke.
They realized that the too were human beings. They formed unions. But the landlords did
not like all this. Suppose these people who had been trampled upon for ages turned against
the landlords? Fear gripped the landlords' minds. The peasants were evicted from the lands
they had been cultivating. In 1951, the peasants organized themselves. They decided to
fight injustice. The Farmers' Union and the Socialist Party of Karnataka launched a
satyagraha against the landlords' injustice. Many farmers got into their fields in-groups
to fight for their rights. The Government took the side of the landlords. Led by the
socialist party, farmers poured in hundreds into the jails in Sagar and Shimoga.
The news reached Lohia in the month of July 1951. He rushed to Karnataka. Accompanied
by the local leaders, he went straight from Bangalore to Sagar. From Sagar off to the
village of Kagodu. Since it was the monsoon season, there was incessant rainfall. On the
12th of July the weather was slightly better in the afternoon. With the flag of the
Socialist Party in one hand, Lohia led the peasants and got into the fields. He launched
the Satyagraha. The atmosphere was quiet but tense when the procession went through the
streets of the village. Soon after the procession, Lohia arrived at the resthouse of the
Sagar Railway Station. It was around midnight. Senior police officials of the district
came there and arrested Lohia.
Lohia sat through the whole night along with his jailmates in the police lockup in
Sagar. The next morning he was brought to the Shimoga jail along with other leaders! There
were already quite a few satyagrahis in the jail. That evening Lohia was taken to
Bangalore and kept in confinement in the Government House. When an appeal was made to the
High Court, Lohia was released.