Essay on Civil Disobedience Movement and Orissa

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At a time when India was stirred by the the anti-Simon agitation,Pandit Gopabandhu Das, the main architect of Congress movement in Orissa, popalrly known as "UtkalMani" passed away on 17 june,1928. The mantle of Congress leadership then fell on his followers like Gopabandhu Chaudhury, Harekrushna Mahatab, Nilakanatha Das, Rajkrishna Bose, Bhagirathi Mahapatra, Laxminarayan Mishra, Biswanath Das and Niranjan Pattnaik.

Gopabandhu Chaudhury became the president of the Provincial Congress Committee in 1929 and then in 1930, he took the charge of the organisation as its secretary. Harekrushna Mahatab became the new president of Congress in Orissa and both of them shouldered the responsibilities of leading Orissa in the Civil Disobedience Movement.

The Utkal Provincial Congress Committee met at Balasore on 16th March 1930 and decided to start the Civil Disobedience Movement in Orissa by breaking the salt law. The responsibility for organising the movement was entrusted to Gopabandhu Chaudhury, the secretary of U.P.C.C. The congress leaders, especially Harekrushna Mahatab, the president of U.P.C.C. and Surendra Nath Das prepared the ground at Inchudi, a place ten miles away from Balasore on the sea coast, for the beginning of the movemnt in Orissa soon after the breaking of the salt law by Gandhi at Dandi.

On 6 April 1930 Gandhi broke the Salt Law at Dandi and tsame day, led by Gopabandhu Chaudhury and Acharya Harihar Das, twenty one Satyagrahis began their foot march from the Swarajya Ashram of Cuttack towards Inchudi which was 120 miles away. In the meantime, the Government had planned all precautionary measures for the suppression of tmovement. On 8 April 1930, Gopabandhu Chaudhury was arrested Chandol and the Satyagrahis, led by Acharya Harihar, reached Inchudi on 12 April 1930.

They got enormous support from tlocal public at Inchudi. Large number of Satyagrahis from various parts of Orissa - Puri, Ganjam, Sambalpur and Baripada joined them. In spite of the obstruction by the police, the Satyagrahis manufactured contraband Salt at Inchudi on 14th April, 1930. Soon Acharya Harihar and his associates and Surendra Nath Das, the main organiser of Salt Satyagraha at Inchudi were arrested. The manufacturing of salt continued there for a number of days in spite of the police oppression.

In consideration of the magnitude of the popular response, Inchudi Salt Satyagra occupied the second place in India, the first being Dandi in Gujurat where Gandhi himself led tmovemnt. The major credit of organising the Inchudi Satyagraha goes to the local Congress leader, Surandra Nath Das, who was spontaneously called "Sardar Surendra" like Vallabhbhai Patel, the great leader of Bardoli movement.

One of the striking features of Salt Staygraha in Orissa was the participation of woman Satyagrahis. On 20 April 1930, led by Ramadevi and Malati Devi a number of women took part in the Salt Satyagraha at Inchudi.At Kujanga, led by rani Bhagyabati Devi of the Kujang royal family, five hundred women took part in the manufacturing of contraband Salt. In the district of Cuttack, besides Kujanga, now centres like Chatna, Kalipata, Paradip, and Ersama came into prominence in the manufacturing of salt.

Contraband salt was also manufactured in other places, such as; SAR has been in Balasore district, Kuhudi, Singhswari and latra in Puri district and Huma in Ganjam district. The agitation of Sartha was organised by Mathura Mohan Behera, Karunakar Panigrahi and Nilambar Das. In the Puri district Nilakantha Das and Jagannatha Rath organised the agitation.

In the Ganjam district the agitation was led by Biswanath Das, Niranjan Pattnaik and Sarala Devi. Thus, in the coastal Orissa from inchudi to Kuhudi, Sartha to Huma manufacturing of contraband Salt continued with much vigour and enthusiasm.

The Government arrested and imprisoned the leaders from the beginning of the movement. On 26 April 1930, Harekrushna Mahatab and Gopabandhu Chaudhury, the President and Secretary of the U.P.C.C. were arrested at Balasore and sentenced to eighteen months of religious imprisonment after conviction. Subsequently, Nanda Kishore Das,Nilakantha Das, Lingaraj Mishra, Jadumani Mangaraj, Rajakrushna Bose, Krupasindhu Hota, Rama Devi. Malati Devi, Sarala Devi and others were arrested and imprisoned. The publication of two nationalist newspapers, Samaj and Prajatantra was postponed on account of stringest press regulations.

Another notable feature of the Civil Disobidience Movement was the participation of teen-agers (all below 17) who constituted the children volunteers, army popularly known as Vanara Sena or Monkey Brigade.

When most of the leaders and a number of volunteers including women were put behind the bar, there fire of patriotism was kept burning by the Vanara Sena. Mention may be made of a few boys of Orissa who belonged to Vanara Sena- Lokanath Nayak, Volanath Mohanty, Sanatana Das, Nilamani Swain, Baidyanath Das, Prahllad Nayak, Jadumani Nayak, Golak Mishra and Sachidananda Mohanty. They popularised home spun cloth, carried letters, cooked foods, hoisted flags, pasted posters and circulated leaflets and pamphlets.

Appreciating the participation of the people of Orissa in the Civil Disobidience Movement, Jawaharlal Nehru sent the following message to the people of Orissa on 17 February 1931, "My greetings to the people of Utkal. I have heard of their sacrifice and sufferings in the national struggle for freedom. I congratulate them and trust they will carry on the good fight till our motherland is free."

Gradually the Civil Disobedience Movement was pushed into background. On 8 May 1933, Gandhiji announced the suspension of the movement and afterwards decided to abstain from it. Thus the movement collapsed long before it was officially called off by the Congress in May 1934. The Civil Disobedience Movement and it was organised in terms of Gandhian non-violence.


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