In the scorching heat of a summer day, I embarked on a journey to the quaint village of Eram nestled within the Bhadrak district of Odisha. Eram, a place of historical significance, was not only known for its serene beauty but also for its pivotal role in the Indian Independence movement.
As I approached the village, I couldn’t help but marvel at its picturesque surroundings. Eram was shrouded by the Bay of Bengal on one side and two meandering rivers, Gamoi and Kansbans, on the other. Thick jungles encircled the village, creating an aura of peaceful seclusion that transported me back in time.
The village had once been a clandestine sanctuary for Utkal Congress meetings, where eminent leaders like Gopabandhu Das and Harekrushna Mahatab convened to discuss the strategies of the Quit India Movement and other freedom struggles. The echoes of their impassioned speeches seemed to reverberate through the lush greenery that now embraced the land.
On a fateful day in September 1942, a gathering of determined souls had congregated in Eram’s Melana ground. Their intent was clear: to protest against the oppressive British Raj and to chart a course of action for the impending fight. Kamala Prasad Kar led the crowd of around 5000 individuals, all united by a common purpose.
However, as history often reminds us, the path to freedom was not without its sacrifices. The tranquility of Eram’s surroundings was shattered by the ominous footsteps of the police force from Basudebpur, led by DSP Kunjabihari Mohanty. Just as General Dyer had done in Jallianwala Bagh, DSP Kunjabihari Mohanty gave the orders to open fire on the peaceful gathering. The echoes of gunfire replaced the once-ringing speeches of hope and resistance.
In a matter of minutes, the tranquil grounds of Eram Melana turned into a scene of horror. The very place that had borne witness to inspiring meetings now witnessed a brutal massacre. The crowd, whose only crime was seeking a better future for their nation, fell victim to the bullets of oppression. The shots fired numbered 304, leaving 29 souls lifeless and 56 wounded. Among the fallen was a lone woman, Pari Bewa, who would forever be etched into the annals of history as Odisha’s only lady martyr.
As I walked through the somber grounds of Eram, I couldn’t help but feel a profound sense of reverence for the sacrifices that had been made on this soil. The stories of courage, resilience, and unwavering determination whispered through the rustling leaves, reminding me of the immense price that had been paid for the freedom we enjoy today.
Eram, with its serene beauty and poignant history, stood as a testimony to the indomitable spirit of those who had dared to dream of a free and sovereign nation. The summer breeze carried with it a sense of solemnity, urging me to remember the sacrifices of the past and to honour the legacy of those who had fought for the dawn of a new era.
Written by Bibekananda Mishra, 3rd Year