“To survive in peace and harmony, united and strong, we must have one people, one nation, one flag”, very aptly said by Pauline Hanson.
India belongs to the Mother Earth, and the sky that flows limitless beyond the horizon. So does Odisha! Every bit of this land and every inch of her skin is Indian. Odisha has been immensely dedicated to the Nation ever since it was Kalinga till today when it is Odisha and not Orissa anymore.
On the occasion of 70th Independence Day, it is our responsibility to appreciate them who have loved the Nation, lived for the Nation and have given their lives to this Nation as well.
When it comes to responsibility, we ought not to forget how responsible our own state, Odisha has always been. We recognize a state by its people and its culture. Our abode has been proud and will continue to be proud of its people who have not just given themselves to the state but to the Nation as a whole.
As a symbol of tribute, let’s pay homage to the forgotten martyrs:
1. Surendra Sai –The Legend from Western Odisha
Born on 23rd January 1809, Surendra Sai is an Indian freedom fighter who didn’t think once before giving away his life in obscurity in his fight against the British. Surendra Sai along with many other associates have fought for Western Odisha region for a certain period of time against the British rule. Surendra Sai himself died in Asirgarh Jail on 28 February 1884 while many of his associates were left to die unnoticed. Sambalpur was one of the last lands to be acquired by the British on 30 April 1862. The credit completely goes to the efforts of Surendra Sai. The western region people called him as Bira (or “Veer” meaning courageous) Surendra Sai with lots of love and affection. Paying a tribute to him, the famous VSSUT(Veer Surendra Sai University Of Technology) and VSSMR(Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical and Research, Burla are named after him. They are one of the premier institutes of the nation in the fields of Engineering and Medical studies respectively.
2. Kuntala Kumari Sabat – The Champion
Kuntala Kumari Sabat was born on 8th February, 1909, at Jagdalpur in Bastar region. Having spent her childhood in Burma with her parents, she had developed fearlessness in herself. She did her early schooling from Revenshaw Girl’s School and studied medicine at a Medical College in Cuttuck. With her simplicity and passion for serving others, she came out successfully as a doctor.
Gopal Chandra Praharaj and Pallikabi Nanda Kishore Bala adored her so much that they adopted her as their daughter. In the long run, she got married but still continued to write in English, Oriya and Bengali. She went on deliver lectures at Banaras Hindu University and Allahabad University. She was the president of students’ federation at Aligarh. Not just that, she was made the chairperson of a reputed social organization founded by Harbilash Sarda for the introduction of widow remarriage and abolition of child marriage. Her love for Odisha and her glorious past can be seen in her poems. As a disciple of Gandhi, she claimed Independence to be her birth right and made sure that women take part in the Independence movement. Her passion for equality, fraternity, justice and liberty was astounding. Throughout her life, she fought against injustice and exploitation. She was a champion and will always continue to be so.
3. Birsa Munda – The Prophet Of Tribal Communities
Birsa Munda(1875-1900) who lived just for a span of 25 years and still created history by being a tribal freedom fighter, a religious leader and hero for his kinfolks. He belonged to the munda tribe and fought for the trivial community all his life through the Millenarian Movement.
His call against the British Raj, Abua raj ste jana, maharani raj tandu jana. (Let the kingdom of queen be ended and our kingdom be established.) is still remembered in the tribal areas of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar. He happens to be the only tribal leader whose portrait hangs in the central hall of Indian Parliament.
Though he originally belongs to Ranchi, his contribution to Odisha and fighting for the tribals here is inexplicable. His movement was solely targeted to assert the rights of the Mundas as the real proprietors of their soil followed by the expulsion of middlemen and the British. He was violently arrested on 3rd February 1900 and died in mysterious conditions on 9th June 1900 in the Ranchi Jail. Although he showed no symptoms of cholera, British government declared cholera to the cause of his death. Many institutions are named after him as a sign of respect!
4. Laxman Nayak – The Real Hero
Laxman Nayak who belonged to the Bhuyan tribe of Odisha was born on 22nd November 1899. His hometown being Koraput, he went on to become a Odia-folk hero of the Koraput District. He was a civil rights activist of South Odisha in the Eastern India. His father worked under the Madras Presidency as a tribal chief. The tribal people were treated quite harshly by the revenue officials, forest guides and police officials. Thus, Nayak set the goal to fight against the exploitation by the officials. This brought him recognition as a potential tribal leader and the National Congress admitted Nayak into its fold. All this while, he managed to showcase himself as a worthy tribal leader which further broadened his horizons.
His training in the National Congress inculcated in him a spirit for Nationalism and he started believing in the Gandhian principles of truth, nonviolence and peaceful non-cooperation with the British Government. He carried a Charkha which was used spread the message of the importance of adult education. He also asked the rural community to abstain alcohols from themselves which brought in a lot many positive changes in their lives. He mentored the mission in the Congress campaign in the Koraput Sub-division during the first ever election in 1936. Being a follower of Gandhi, he planned to lead a procession on 21 August 1942 which further created a havoc. The police fired the peaceful administrators in front of Mathili Police Station, which killed forty and wounded more than two hundred people. This implicated Nayak in a case of murder and he was sentenced to death on 13 November 1942. He was hanged on 29 March 1943 in Berhampur Jail.
5. Jayee Rajguru – The First Martyr
Jayakrushna Rajguru Mohapatra (29 October 1739 – 6 December 1806) popularly known as ‘Jayee Rajguru’ was born inof
A Royal Priest, Commander-in-Chief of the king of, Gajapati . He was the first martyr of India against the .
After occupying Andhra from the Nizam of Hyderabad, the British wanted to capture khurda (in Odisha) to gain logistical advantage and shift goods between Odisha and Midnapore(WB). The District Magistrate of Ganjam Col. Harcourt made an agreement with the King of Khurda for the communication of Ganjam and Midnapore.
It was agreed that the British would pay one lakh Rupees (₹ 1, 00,000) towards compensation to the king and to return the four Praganas which were under the control of the
Filled with rage Jayee Rajguru arranged his army and occupied the four Praganas on his own. But, the British tried to capture Khurda by force.
Finally, the historical fight occurred between the military of Khurda and the Britishers. Fight continued for a long period and Jayee Rajguru was arrested. He put his heart out to keep his king safe but finally, Mukunda Dev-II was arrested on 3 January 1805.
Jayee Rajguru and the King were sent to Midnapore Jail where he was declared guilty for waging a war “against the lawfully established Govt. of the land”.
He was ordered to be hanged till death but was finally killed in the most ruthless manner where executioners tied his legs to the opposite branches of a tree and let go of it. The story of Jayee Rajguru can make any Indian’s blood boil and condemn the atrocities of British.
6. Parbati Giri – The Young Fighter
Parbati Giri was only 16 but actively in the forefront of all freedom activities, especially the Quit India Movement. She was also imprisoned for 2 years for taking part in such activities. Giri served the public socially post independence and was also known as the Mother Teresa of Western Odisha.
7. Baji Rout – The Fearless Young Gun
On 10th of October, 1938, around 8 PM, when the British police randomly arrested some individuals of Bhuban village in Odisha. The leaders of the village started protesting outside the police station. All they were demanding was the freedom of the people arrested. Instead of having a dialogue, the British opened fire and killed two. As the matters worsened and the number of protestants increased, the British sensing danger tried to flee the place. They opted to go to Dhenkanal via Nilkanathpur Ghat as it was the shortest route to Dhenkanal.
Baji Rout a young boy of 12 years was in charge of country Boat in the Nilakanthpur Ghat of Brahmani river. The British troops ordered him to ferry them across the river. When he denied vehemently, they cracked his skull with the bayonet.The Young boy was the real patriot of the country who had much more love for the country and he died for the country. He is the youngest Freedom Fighter of the Country.
Let’s not misuse the Independence which came at the cost of other’s sacrifice and do our bit for the Nation.
[Contributed by: Swagatika Dash]