While the Government goes overboard to rekindle faded memories of the martyrs ahead of August 15, the Gandhi Smruti Peeth under Erasama block has failed to grab its share of the benevolence.
The Smruti Peeth had once been a venue for many freedom fighters who planned to topple the British.
An initiative of local freedom fighters, the place was set up in 1947 and frequented by the pioneers of freedom movement. People were trained here to use the charkha and weave khadi as part of the Non-cooperation Movement.
The ashram boasts of visits by popular freedom fighters of the State.
The picture, though, no longer inspires. Today, it has become a safe haven for drunkards and miscreants who gather there to smoke ganja. Though a ‘Pathaghara’ was opened on the premises of the Smruti Peeth recently, no one visits it. It is only on occasions like Independence Day, Republic Day and Gandhi Jayanti that politicians visit the Smruti Peeth to garland the statues of freedom fighters and Mahatma Gandhi. On the remaining days, the building has no takers.
Sources said freedom fighters like Gaurishyam Nayak, Parmananda Swain, Banamali Swain, Birbar Samant and Ratanmali Jenma use to assembly at the site, where the Smruti Peeth stands today, during the Salt March which took place from March to April in 1930. They had formed a ‘Banar Sena’ which joined Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt March at Oranda village, situated between Erasama and Balikuda. In 1942, the ‘Banar Sena’ set afire Erasama police station in a bid to drive away British from the area.
Five years later, the freedom fighters set up the Gandhi Smruti Peeth and also erected a statue of Father of the Nation in front of it.
Sources said while two groups - Freedom Fighters Parishad and Freedom Fighters’ Legal Heirs Manch - have been fighting over ownership of the Smruti Peeth, none is bothered to look into renovation and maintenance of the building.
Erasama BDO Subodh Acharya said steps will be taken for restoring the lost glory of the Smruti Peeth. “We have spent Rs 3 lakh for opening the Pathaghara and another Rs 3 lakh from the MPLAD funds would be utilised for its renovation,” he added.