Nabarangpur: Mohammed Baji of Sunari Sahi here is said to be the only surviving freedom fighter of this district.
Even as he has crossed the age of 101, Baji is still strong enough, at least psychologically. He has an indomitable desire to serve the society and refuses to hang his boots, a report said.
Born January 20, 1917, Baji was the 20th among 21 children of his parents.
While he spent his formative years with prominent freedom fighters like Laxmi Chandra Dash, Sadananda Mohanty and Raghunath Choudhury, he had to leave for Jeypore in 1934 for higher studies. Soon, he joined the freedom struggle after coming in contact with Radhakrushna Biswasray and Radhaman Sahu.
Baji joined Indian National Congress in 1936, on the year when Orissa became a separate province on the basis of language.
“I had gone to Cuttack in 1938 to take part in party election and left for Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram in 1940 when he was on a Satyagraha,” said Baji.
He had been lodged in jail and a penalty of Rs 50 was imposed on him after he started Satyagraha in Nabarangpur after his return from Sabarmati. Later, Baji was shifted to Koraput jail and released after six months.
However, he didn’t relent and joined the Quit India Movement and was held August 19, 1942. Baji had to spend nearly five years in jail before being released June 25, 1947.
He is yet to forget the martyrdom of 19 freedom fighters of Nabarangpur on the banks of river Toori during the freedom movement in 1942, said the centenarian.
“I have never seen such an honest Gandhian who has dedicated his entire life for the nation. Baji Saheb, a vegetarian for lifetime, remained a bachelor to serve the society,” said Professor Dr Bijay Kumar Mishra of Nabarangpur.