Post News Network
Papdahandi, August 12: Role of tribals of undivided Koraput district was not less than others in India’s freedom struggle. Inspired by Gandhiji’s call of Quit India Movement, hundreds of youths of the district participated in the freedom struggle.
Several rallies were taken out to support Gandhiji during that period. In one tragic incident, British police had massacred 19 innocent tribals on the bank of River Turi here August 24, 1942. Saheed Diwas is observed every year on this day to mark the sacrifices of the martyrs.
According to reports, on being invited by Mahatma Gandhi, Harekrushna Mahatab and Radhakrushna Biswasray, the latter better known as Gandhi of Koraput, from Orissa had gone to attend a meeting at Bombay. The proposal of Quit India Movement was passed in the meeting. Biswasray returned to Orissa with the role assigned to him in the movement. He sent the details of the plan to three prominent leaders- Radhamohan Sahoo of Jeypore, Laxmichandra Das of Nabarangpur and Biswanath Patnaik of Kujendri in the district.
After getting the messages, Laxmi Das started working on the tasks with support from Sadashiv Tripathy, Mohammad Baazi, Simanchal Behera, Annaji Rao and Jagannath Tripathy. They met on the terrace of Baazi and sent hundreds of leaflets across the district.
August 14, 1942, Madhab Pradhani, a local leader convened a meeting of the freedom fighters and passed the messages of Gandhiji. Two days later, another grand meeting was held at Patraput and a decision was taken to demolish the bridge at Chikili. Accordingly, about 200 tribal members of Patraput, Badakumuli, Sanakumuli, Tanda, Urdi and Phulabasini villages led by Pradhani dismantled a wooden bridge at Chikili. Cases were registered against them. Similarly, over 700 members under tribal revolutionary Sanu Majhi demolished the bridge at Jatabala.
Meanwhile, about 500 freedom fighters assembled at Baghasiuni village August 23 and resolved to march towards Papadahandi the next day to demolish the bridge on River Turi. Sanu Majhi with his 700 followers also joined them on the way. Getting information about the rally by the freedom fighters, circle inspector Ramakrushna Rao alias Kala Naag of Nabarangpur police station with the help of Jeypore reserve police force and forest officials tried to resist them. They had put cannon in the middle of the bridge to stop the revolutionaries. However, a police man got mildly hurt during the hustle when the nationalists tried to force their way to cross the river. Mistaking it as an attack by the freedom fighters on the police force, the officer-in-charge on the site ordered firing on the revolutionaries. 11 tribals died on the spot and eight others succumbed at Nabarangpur hospital. Hundreds of members jumped into the river out of fear. More than a hundred people were rendered physically disabled after sustaining injuries in the incident. The police arrested 140 nationalists and registered cases against them. The incident sparked outrage and several youths in the state joined the freedom struggle following the massacre.
Sahid Minar, a martyrs’ memorial has been set up on the bank of River Turi as a symbol of sacrifice of the local revolutionaries.