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‘Dandi’ in Gujarat, ‘Inchudi’ in Odisha

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Inchudi occupies an invisible cartographic space, situated about 12 miles from the hubbub of Balasore. It is believed that ‘Inchudi’ occupied the second position after ‘Dandi’, which was led by Gandhiji himself.

By: Abhisek Pani

A felicitous phrase says ‘No one remembers who comes second’.  The country stood up to celebrate the 91st anniversary of historic Dandi March this year. From History books to nostalgic perorations, Dandi is speculated to be the mitochondrion of the Indian freedom struggle, but none remembers Inchudi. 

The Salt Satyagraha was acknowledged nationwide, inviting every citizen to join for the first-ever call for civil disobedience. Before the march began, Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to the viceroy expressing his displeasure over-taxation imposed by the British government on salt. The march was certainly the biggest movement spearheaded after non-cooperation in the early 1920s. ‘Ahimsa’ being kernel, the movement drew national as well as international endorsements. It would not be a mistake to say that ‘Dandi March’ inspired a sense of antagonism against British imperialism in other colonies too. The anti-Anglo sentimentalism penetrated every nook and cranny of the Indian subcontinent, and Odisha emerged as one of the lead centers. 

During the early phase of the 1930s, Odisha fought two separate battles- one, against the colonial government and the other to establish its own statehood.  The burden of political response on the erstwhile ‘Utkal’ was magnanimous. Local leaders took the opportunity for creating a federal system to muster people to fight for India’s freedom on priority, at the same time remaining adamant for separate statehood.  

Inchudi occupies an invisible cartographic space, situated about 12 miles from the hubbub of Balasore. It is believed that ‘Inchudi’ occupied the second position after ‘Dandi’, which was led by Gandhiji himself. 

In March 1930, the Utkal Provincial Congress Committee (UPCC) geared up to launch a civil disobedience movement in Odisha by manufacturing salt at Inchudi. Freedom fighter Gopabandhu Chaudhray was at the helm of the colossal crusade. ‘Congress’ activated its micro level units to induct people to join the movement. Meanwhile, under the vigilance of eminent leaders like Harekrushna Mahatab and Surendra Das, the laying of groundwork at Inchudi shore was accomplished.   

The colonial government ordered for the imposition of Section 144 to prohibit public gatherings. Bhagirathi Patnaik and Lakshmi Narayan Mishra like kingpins were arrested on 17th March for violating government orders. Acharya Harihar, Gopabandhu Choudhray and several other Satyagrahis began foot march from Swarajya Ashram in Cuttack towards Inchudi, intending to cover a stretch over 100 miles.

On their way, Gopabandhu Choudhray was arrested. The remaining brigade led by Acharya reached Inchudi on 12th of April. On 13th April, Acharya accompanied by other Satyagrahis began preparing salt along the coast of Inchudi. Immediately thereafter, Acharya and his adherents were imprisoned. 

Women's faces spread the word of civil disobedience in the entire coastal strip of Odisha. Malati Devi, Ramadevi, were amongst noted women leader convening cerebral role in heralding the movement in Cuttack. More than 500 women Satyagrahis led by Rani Bhagyabati Pata Mahadei of Kujanga royal family played a pivotal role in breaking salt law. 

The participation of teenagers in salt march was something noteworthy. Dubbed as ‘Banarasena,’ referring to the epithet used for Lord Ram’s army in Ramayana, teenagers marched enthusiastically with synchronous chants of ‘Vande Maataram’. 

Just like Dandi is embellished as pan-Indian, Inchudi turned out to be the epicenter of revolution in Odisha. Satyagrahis dropped from all corners of the state without possessing the slightest of fear of being arrested. Not just Inchudi, several centers were opened for breaking the law at Kuhudi, Singheswari and Latra in Puri district, in addition to Huma in Ganjam. 

French ruled a miniscule portion of Balasore, wherein Satyagrahis took refuge at an Ashram after the protest ended. The French hegemony refused to cooperate their European counterpart to permit arrests, seeing the volume of the Satyagraha and owing to the fact that Britishers should not have stooped so low to impose tax on salt. 

The influence of ‘Salt Satyagraha’ is believed to have been the maiden movement where no cases of violence were reported. The success of the movement was highly appreciated in the Indian National Congress (INC) session held at Karachi. Picketing before shops, dharnas and formation of village panchayats became a common phenomena soon after the movement. State based leaders collected a pool of new leaders who could manage gatherings. Moreover, local folklore and literature saw gradual transformation from substance fiction to those filled with deep sense of patriotism.  

New forums emerged soon after the commencement of Salt Satyagraha to assert people’s demands. The general public had rebooted themselves to fight for Odisha’s statehood and serve the greater cause of the nation to free it from the clutches of British government. 

The dilapidated shore city now weeps under the blanket of ignorance and waits for some legend to rescue its glory from exile. The memorial stands miserably neglected. Promises and appeasements vanish in thin air after elections are over. 

History is written in the court of tyrants and historians are merely their courtiers. The contemporary politics is a superficial bed only to pamper short-term gains. Remedying the enduring injustice made by the then slaves of stinking and outdated ideology is the responsibility of present-day thinkers and the statesmen. The absence of political intellectuality is certainly the root cause of prominent historical events rusting to perils. “Inchudi March” is an apt example.  

About the Author: Pursuing B.Tech at CET, Bhubaneswar, Abhisek is also ABVP post bearer as ‘City Joint Secretary’. He has authored historical fiction ‘The Odyssey of Reunion’ and compiled his debut poetry collection The Octahedral Verses’. He’s also received ‘Odisha Youth Award-2019’ as ‘Emerging Author’ and conferred by ‘Odisha Press Academy’ with ‘Odisha Sanman’. 

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