| Members of the Orissa Assembly observe a minute’s silence in memory of martyrs during the 150th anniversary of the first war of Independence. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee
Bhubaneswar, Oct. 17: The usual din of House was pleasantly missing today even as legislators met in a special session at its earlier precinct — Sardar Patel Hall.
The special session of the House was convened to commemorate the 150th year of the maiden war of Indian Independence. The history of past 55 years of the Orissa Assembly was enlivened at the session.
The ambience of Sardar Patel Hall made everybody nostalgic. The old Assembly building was rightly chosen as the venue. The edifice used to house the Orissa Assembly from 1952 to 1960, till the legislature was shifted to its new building, inaugurated on February 12, 1961, recalled Speaker Maheswar Mohanty.
Police band, National Anthem and other patriotic songs aroused patriotic and nostalgic feelings among the members of the present Assembly and the audience as well.
The House observed silence for a minute in the memory of the martyrs. A documentary film on the first war of Indian Independence, produced by the Lok Sabha TV, threw light on the 1857 rebellion led by Mangal Pandey, Rani Lakshmi Bai and others.
Governor Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare, chief minister Naveen Patnaik, leader of Opposition J.B. Patnaik and Speaker Mohanty recalled the contribution of Orissa to the Indian war of Independence. The chief minister announced that a gallery would be set up in the capital at an estimated cost of Rs 50 lakh to preserve the memories of freedom struggle in Orissa.
Rebellions against the British raj had started in Orissa much before 1857. Jai Rajguru had led the popular rising in 1804 till Britons executed him. The Paika rebellion (a revolt by a martial race called paikas) took place under the leadership of Buxi Jagabandhu in 1817, said the chief minister while recalling a series of rising against the British rule in Orissa prior to 1857.
Though the British government managed to quell the 1857 mutiny within a year, the struggle against the British rule continued in Orissa till 1862 under the leadership of Surendra Sai, he said.
Stating that 1857 war of Independence was the culmination of several small armed rebellions in various states, including Orissa, veteran leader and former chief minister J.B. Patnaik said Orissa never distanced itself from the national mainstream. He said hundreds of freedom fighters and martyrs laid down their lives for the country’s Independence.
Observing that the contributions of Orissa to the national freedom struggle has not been properly reflected in the history, Speaker Mohanty stressed the need for further research and debate on the matter.
The speakers not only delved into the hoary past on the occasion but also looked forward to a bright and vibrant future for this “culturally rich and economically poor” state.
“Today we have wars of a different kind on our hands. We have to win the war against illiteracy, malnutrition, unemployment and poverty,” said the governor inaugurating the special session of the Assembly.
“Despite being culturally rich and wealthy in mineral wealth and natural resources, Orissa is among the poorest states in the country. There is no time to lose. With massive planned industrialisation, the government is now on the fast track to economic growth,” said Bhandare, who took over as the Governor of Orissa recently.
“But globalisation must go hand in hand with poverty alleviation,” he stressed.
The chief minister called upon legislators and others present today to vow to make Orissa a prosperous state.