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Satyagraha memory fades with time

Balasore, Sept. 11: The historic seaside village of Inchudi where the satyagraha movement of Mahatma Gandhi first started in Odisha lies in neglect today.

Although, a memorial has been constructed here, nothing has been done about the proposals to set up a museum and library besides installation of statues based on the events surrounding the satyagraha.

Inchudi was a venue for the 1930 salt satyagraha by Gandhi. But memories of the first Odia satyagrahis are perishing because of sea erosion and encroachment by prawn culturists.

“All the promises made by the visiting politicians to preserve the heritage site bearing national significance have proved hollow,” said Jayanta Das, a local resident.

On April 6, 1930, when Gandhi broke the Salt Law at Dandi, freedom fighters Gopabandhu Chaudhury and Acharya Harihar Das along with 21 satyagrahis began their foot march from the Swarajya Ashram of Cuttack towards Inchudi.

The British government arrested Gopabandhu Chaudhury at Chandol, but the satyagrahis led by Acharya Harihar, reached Inchudi on April 12, 1930. Odia freedom fighters had joined the movement under different groups such as the Bajra Stambha Bahini of Balasore, Louha Stambha Bahini of Cuttack, Patitapaban Bahini from Puri and the Paschima Bahini of Sambalpur.

“They fought a pitched battle against the British force. Many of them were injured and thousands of earthen pots, required for salt processing, broken. Even after eight decades those broken pieces are found here in heaps,” said a senior citizen of Inchudi.

“Although the site was declared a tourist spot in 2003, there is no proper communication facility by road,” said Prasant Mohanty, secretary of the local committee that takes care of the memorial statue here erected in the 1950s.

“Even a sum of Rs 5,000 that the state government used to spend for a commemorative function on April 13, has stopped for several years. We contribute for the annual event and observe it even now. Besides, a part of land has been encroached,” he said.

Himansu Das, the convenor of Balasore chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, said Inchudi had been included in their preservation site list.

“The state government has stopped the recurring expenditure fund not only for this event but for many others too in the state since several years. The local committee should take up the matter with the state culture department,” said Kanhu Charan Biswal, the district culture officer.

“A small portion of the memorial has been encroached by a private party. But they have been asked to vacate the land, to which the party has agreed,” said Manas Padhi, the local Remuna tehsildar.