Bhubaneswar, Aug 15: As people are celebrating 77th Independence Day today to mark India’s freedom from British rule, let’s commemorate and honor valiant freedom fighters from Odisha who played pivotal roles in the freedom struggle to free the nation from the oppressive British dominion.
In 1803, the British took control over Odisha, and a year later, the first rebellion against their authority erupted in Khordha during the rule of minor king Mukunda Deva II. Jayee Rajaguru, the firm minister of the Raja was hanged in 1805 for supporting the rebellion, thus becoming the first martyr of Odisha.
In 1817, around 400 Kondhs from the Ghumusar region rose in revolt against the British. Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bharamarbar Rai, also known as Buxi Jagabandhu, the military commander of Mukund Dev II, led a troop of Paikas to join the Kondhs' uprising. The Paikas set ablaze government buildings, confronted the British, and seized the treasury along with the British salt agent's ship on Chilika. They later proceeded to Khordha and eliminated several British officials. The rebellion spread to various regions, and the British resorted to martial law to suppress it. Buxi Jagabandhu escaped to the jungles and stayed out of reach of the British until 1825 when he finally surrendered under negotiated terms. He passed away on January 24, 1829, in Cuttack.
Amidst the fervor of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny that swept across the nation, Chakhi Khuntia, also known as Chandan Hajuri, emerged as a courageous leader. He played a vital role in supporting Rani Laxmibai's fight against the British. He aided the queen during a critical juncture by inciting resentment among Indian 'Sepoys' and organized a mutiny, which escalated into violence. He eventually passed away in Puri, focusing on literary and religious pursuits.
Sarala Devi, a freedom fighter, joined the non-cooperation movement during India freedom struggle in 1921. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, she actively fought to reform societal ills and elevate women's status. She became the first woman to be part of the Odisha Legislative Assembly. She also attained the division of being the first female speaker of the Legislative Assembly and the first Odia woman delegate in the Indian National Congress.
Samanta Madhaba Chandra Samantaray:
In 1827, under the leadership of Samanta Madhaba Chandra Samantaray, the people of Tapangagarh rebelled against British oppression by refusing to pay rent. After an ultimatum from British authorities, the Dalbehera of Tapang surrendered to the British.
Veer Surendra Sai:
Veer Surendra Sai, born in 1809 in Khinda, Sambalpur, emerged as a potent force against the British Raj. Despite imprisonment and hardship, his commitment to liberate Sambalpur from British rule remained reliable. He imprisoned in Hazaribagh Jail for 17 years in course of his revolutionary career and after his final arrest for another term of 20 years including his detention of 19 years in the remote Asirgarh hill fort till he breathed his last there.
Baji Rout, the youngest martyr in India's freedom movement.He was killed by the British police for refusing to ferry them across the Brahmani river at Nilakanthapur Ghat in Dhenkanal district. His courageous stance against injustice and oppression at a tender age exemplified his dedication to the freedom.
Laxmi Panda, one of the youngest members of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army, fought vigorously for India's freedom. In a historic role, she joined the INA in Burma, earning her the name Indira to distinguish her from Captain Lakshmi Sehgal. Laxmi Panda's dedication to the INA and her participation alongside renowned warriors underscores her unwavering commitment to India's sovereignty.
Rama Devi was the first female freedom fighter of Odisha. Her marriage at 15 did not deter her from joining the Indian independence movement in 1921. Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, she encouraged women's participation in the movement and actively rallied for change. Rama Devi's imprisonment, arrests, and involvement in various movements exemplified her resolute commitment to freedom.
Malati Choudhury, a remarkable freedom fighter originally from Kamarakhanda, Dhaka, settled in Odisha after her marriage in 1927 to Nabakrushna Choudhury. Her active participation in Mahatma Gandhi's padayatra in Odisha in 1934 and the establishment of educational initiatives showcased her dedication to societal upliftment. Malati Choudhury's commitment extended to her role as a member of the Constituent Assembly of India, highlighting her impact on the country's transformation.