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Odisha, a land of rich heritage and cultural diversity, has a glorious history of freedom fighters who played a vital role in India’s struggle for independence. These brave individuals fought relentlessly against the oppressive British Raj, sacrificing their lives and freedom to secure a better future for their fellow countrymen. In this article, we will delve into the lives and contributions of some notable freedom fighters from Odisha, shining a light on their indomitable spirit, courage, and unwavering determination.

List of Freedom Fighters Of Odisha

On August 15, 1947, India gained its independence, ending over 200 years of British control. Today as we remember the independence, let’s remember some of the Odia freedom fighters who made a significant contribution to the fight to rid the nation of its oppressive British tyranny.

  • Jayee Rajaguru

After the British invaded Odisha in 1803, the first uprising against the foreign rulers took place in Khurda in 1804 under the rule of minor king Mukunda Deva II. The tenacious minister of the Raja, Jayee Rajaguru, was executed in 1805 for encouraging the uprising and became the first martyr of Odisha.

  • Buxi Jagabandhu

In 1817, around 400 Kondhs from the Ghumusar area revolted against British rule. Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bharamarbar Rai, also known as Buxi Jagabandhu, led the uprising alongside an army of Paikas (traditional Odia warriors). The Paikas attacked government buildings, killed policemen, looted the treasury, and set fire to the British salt agent’s ship in Chilika. They also targeted British officials in Khurda, resulting in a widespread rebellion across Pipili, Harispur, Kujang, and Pattamundai. The British responded with strong military measures, imposing Martial Law. Bakshi Jagabandhu evaded capture and remained in hiding until 1825, when he surrendered under negotiated terms. He passed away on January 24, 1829, in Cuttack.

  • Baji Rout

Baji Rout, born in 1926, was the youngest Indian freedom fighter and martyr. At the age of twelve, he was killed on October 11, 1938. As a boat boy, Baji Rout refused to ferry British police across the Brahmani River at Nilakanthapur Ghat in Bhuban, Dhenkanal district. In response, the police shot him along with Laxman Mallik and Fagu Sahoo. Baji Rout was an active member of the Vanar Sena of Prajamandal (Party of People) and had volunteered to keep watch by the river at night.

  • Behera Chandra Sekhar 

Knowing a little bit about Chandra Sekhar Behera, one of Odisha’s most well-known figures, is worthwhile. Many people are still moved by his legacy and body of work. The campaign for non-cooperation was led by independence fighter and active member Chandra Sekhar Behera. His efforts were immensely motivating, and he eventually joined the Indian National Congress to strengthen the struggle for national liberation. He was also one of the founders of Sambalpur’s national school. 

  • Veer Surendra Sai

Veer Surendra Sai, born in 1809, was a prominent freedom fighter and rebel against British rule. He hailed from Khinda, near Sambalpur. Despite being the rightful heir to the throne of Sambalpur, he was denied recognition by the British authorities. Surendra Sai initiated his rebellion against the British at the age of 18 in 1827 and continued his resistance for 37 years until his surrender in 1862. He remained defiant even after surrendering and was imprisoned for a total of 37 years, including a lengthy period in Hazaribagh Jail and later in the isolated Asirgarh hill fort, where he passed away. Surendra Sai was not only a courageous revolutionary but also a revered leader among the people. His primary objective was to oust the British from Sambalpur.

  • Madhab Chandra Routray

In Odisha, he instigated a rebellion against the East India Company. ‘Samanta’ was the name by which he was known. Additionally, he battled against Maratha and British laws. At Khordha, his statue is also being built. He battled the British assault on topanga for seven days. He is well renowned in Odisha for leading uprisings against the British and the Indian freedom war. He inspired and encouraged people to speak up for their justifiable rights.

Women Freedom Fighters Of Odisha

Men have dominated the history of the Indian freedom struggle for a very long time. This masculine domination is highlighted by the history and prevalent myths of the struggle for freedom. In fact, there were a lot of courageous women who battled for independence, doing so valiantly and courageously. The stories of the struggle for freedom in India vary depending on the location. But Mahatma Gandhi’s plea for unity stirred everyone. Orissa also had a significant impact on the movement.

In actuality, Odia women were quite important, especially during the Satyagraha movement. While women’s contributions to the independence struggle are sometimes downplayed in historical accounts, it is impossible to ignore their importance. They supported workers’ rights, social changes for society, support for indigenous businesses, and interreligious dialogue. In addition to raising money for the Swaraj Fund, many women were committed to the cause and self-educated. Even they took part, which was widespread and open to the entire province rather than being restricted to a particular area. Get the list of women freedom fighters of Odisha below.

  • Annapurna Maharana

After the British invaded Odisha in 1803, the first uprising against the foreign rulers took place in Khurda in 1804 under the rule of minor king Mukunda Deva II. The tenacious minister of the Raja, Jayee Rajaguru, was executed in 1805 for encouraging the uprising and became the first martyr of Odisha.

  • Sarala Devi

Sarala Devi was a renowned writer, poet, social activist, feminist, and freedom fighter. She joined the Non-Cooperation movement and became the first female member of the Odisha Legislative Assembly. She contributed to the anti-colonial nationalism through literature and authored numerous essays and books.

  • Kuntala Kumari Sabat 

Kuntala Kumari Sabat was a freedom fighter, poet, writer, doctor, and social worker. She used her poetry to inspire patriotism and advocated for social issues such as caste eradication, women’s welfare, and gender equality. She became the first female doctor in her hometown and actively participated in the Swaraj Fund and All-India Women’s Conference.

  • Malati Choudhury

Malati Choudhury, a Gandhian and advocate of civil rights, joined Mahatma Gandhi’s Padayatra and participated in the Salt Satyagraha. She established educational institutions and worked for the betterment of the underprivileged. She founded the “Krusaka Andolana” (Farmers Movement) and played a significant role in rural rebuilding after independence.

  • Parbati Giri

Parbati Giri, known as the “Mother Teresa of Western Odisha,” was imprisoned by the British for her anti-British activities. She dedicated her life to helping orphans and the poor, founding an orphanage in Paikmal village. She was actively involved in social service and contributed to various projects in education, healthcare, and social welfare.

  • Rama Devi

Rama Devi, also known as “Maa,” was a freedom fighter and social reformer. She actively participated in the freedom movement and supported Gandhiji. She joined the Satyagraha movement and played a crucial role in spreading Gandhian ideals throughout Odisha. She also contributed to the Bhoodan and Gramdan movements and fought against the Emergency imposed during the period of Indira Gandhi.

FAQs on Freedom Fighters of Odisha

Who was the most influential freedom fighter from Odisha?

While every freedom fighter played a significant role, Jayee Rajguru’s sacrifice and martyrdom made him one of the most influential figures in Odisha’s fight for independence.

What were the major contributions of Buxi Jagabandhu to the freedom struggle?

Buxi Jagabandhu’s leadership during the Paika Rebellion demonstrated the spirit of resistance against British oppression and served as a rallying point for the people of Odisha.

How are the freedom fighters of Odisha remembered today?

The freedom fighters of Odisha are remembered through monuments, statues, and annual celebrations, keeping their legacies alive in the hearts of the people.

What was Rama Devi’s role in the women’s empowerment movement?

Rama Devi actively participated in the freedom struggle and worked towards empowering women, breaking societal barriers, and encouraging their participation in the fight for independence.

How did the freedom fighters of Odisha inspire future generations?

The sacrifices and dedication of the freedom fighters of Odisha continue to inspire and instill a sense of national pride and unity among the people, reminding them of the importance of freedom and the ongoing struggle for justice.

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