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Odisha centenarian Jitendriya recalls Panimora’s Independence fight

After the death of Dayanidhi Nayak in 2019, 102-year-old Jitendriya Pradhan is the only surviving freedom fighter in the village.

Published: 15th August 2021 11:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th August 2021 11:00 AM   |  A+A-

Jitendriya Pradhan was one of the 32 persons who took part in the movement and jailed, the highest from any village in the State.

Jitendriya Pradhan was one of the 32 persons who took part in the movement and jailed, the highest from any village in the State. (Representational image)

Express News Service

BARGARH:  He can barely speak with coherence but the eyes of 102-year freedom fighter Jitendriya Pradhan light up with excitement when someone asks him about the Quit India Movement. The oldest surviving freedom fighter from Panimora village under Sohela block in the district, he was one of the 32 persons who took part in the movement and jailed, the highest from any village in the State.

Popularly referred to as ‘Sangrami Tirtha’, Panimora, a small village about 40 km from Bargarh town has a revolutionary history. The entire village was involved in the Quit India Movement. Even today, Mahatma Gandhi continues to be the lodestone as residents of the village begin their day by worshipping the statue of the Father of the Nation, installed at the entrance of Panimora.

“When we joined the movement, we were completely unaware about the consequences that might follow. During a padayatra, we walked beyond our capacity to protest and were left with bruised feet. We resisted lathi-charge a number of times before we were taken to the jail”, recalls Pradhan. He was just 23 year old then. Recalling the nine months that he spent in Bargarh jail, he said the police tried to break their spirit by torturing them mentally and physically. 

“They beat up all the 32 of us one after the other and threatened to harm our families”, he said. Being followers of Mahatma Gandhi, none of them retaliated but remained determined not to give up. Back home, hundreds of police personnel camped outside the village to create  a sense of fear in the minds of the villagers.

“Another reason we did not give up was because a large group of our supporters were protesting outside the jail for our release and when we were released, none of us backed out. We continued the movement” he said. He added that the struggle was not a mere political unrest but a fight for social justice, abolition of blind beliefs and boycott of foreign goods. The families of the soldiers and every other person in the village became a part of the movement.

After the death of Dayanidhi Nayak in 2019, Pradhan is the only surviving freedom fighter in the village. Speaking about the contribution of the village in the freedom struggle, Pradhan said, “The Gandhian way of thinking among all the people of Panimora has kept the feeling of nationalism alive in us.

We are proud to have served the nation during the Quit India movement and I feel fortunate that the youth of our village have taken inspiration from us and have kept the ideology alive,” says Pradhan who was recently felicitated by Bargarh Collector on behalf of the President Ramnath Kovind at his village on the occasion of Kranti Diwas.   



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