Ramakanta Biswas

He was an epitome of bravery, sacrifice and patriotism who laid down his life for the freedom of the country at a tender age of 12.

As India celebrates its 74th Republic Day, Nilakanthapur, a small village on the bank of the Brahmani river in Dhenkanal district, remembers its brave son Baji Rout, the youngest freedom fighter in the history in India to gain martyrdom. 

Baji Rout, the youngest son of Hari Rout and Rania Devi, had fallen to the bullet of British troop on October 11, 1938 after denying ferryboat to British troop to cross the river in his village. 

Recalling the day, Baji Rout’s friend, Kanhu Charan Mallick says, “We received information that the British troop was moving to our village. Later, it was decided to prevent them. Baji Rout was at the shore at that time. Following our instructions, he was moving the boat to another place. On the half way, the British troop called him from behind and asked him to ferry them. As he refused, the British troop got angry and fired upon him leading to his death.”   

Along with Baji Rout, Laxman Mallick, Fagu Sahu, Hurishi Pradhan, Nata Mallick and Panchu Lenka were martyred on the day. Their names are engraved on the Sahid Smruti Stambh (martyr memorial) at Nilakanthapur village. 

Remembering Baji Rout on the occasion of the Republic Day, the villagers said he was inclined towards the service of the nation since his childhood and joined Banar Sena. 

However, the residents rued that the next generations of the brave freedom fighter have been leading a struggling life and not received any government help. 

The villagers said the Odisha government has set up a Sahid Smruti Pitha and a Sahid Smruti Stambh in the memory of Baji Rout at Nilakanthapur village, but did precious little for the development of the village.  

Kulamani Rout, nephew of Baji Rout said, “We have a homestead land and requested the State government many times to sanction us a house. However, we have not received any government aid so far.”

“Our family did not receive any help from the government,” said another family member of the freedom fighter.

The residents demanded development of the village and installation of Baji Rout’s statues in Dhenkanal and Bhubaneswar. Besides, they urged the government to name a road in the Capital City after Baji Rout. 

Reported by Bidyadhar Baral, OTV